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La Union 1000-Peso Challenge

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La Union – your next destination up North!

La Union, from its direct Spanish translation, “The Union,” is situated between Pangasinan (south) and Ilocos Sur (North), linking both provinces now comprising the Ilocos Region. Its still-to-be-discovered charm cannot be denied, whether from its warm people, pristine beaches, and cool and interesting places you should see and experience yourself. The province is approximately 1 – 2 hours away from Baguio City and is 6 – 7 hours from Metro Manila.

The La Union Welcome Arc (from Sison, Pangasinan) | Turista Boy

The La Union Welcome Arc (from Sison, Pangasinan)

It is also where you will find the birthplace of surfing in Northern Luzon – in the municipality of San Juan, where an annual Surf Break is being held to attract more tourists and to promote the place as the Surfing Capital of the North.

The La Union 1000-Peso Challenge

So I came up with this idea of challenging myself to do the La Union #1000PesoChallenge on some of the country’s promising destinations and our first stop is La Union! (Wooot!) Since it is only an hour and a half away from Baguio and I really want to see the beach, I decided to go here because the place never gets old and because, BEACH!

Urbiztondo Beach San Juan La Union | Turista Boy

My unplanned itinerary included some places in Bauang, San Fernando City, San Juan, Balaoan, Luna, Aringay, and Agoo. In my original plan, we should have also visited a now-famous waterfall in San Gabriel and Naguilian (but time did not permit.) I will also be including some tourist spots with no entrance fees – I know you will love it!

I will be itemizing the places we went to with corresponding expenses for your reference (Sample Itinerary at the end of the blog). Travel expenses from Baguio to La Union (and vice versa) and Accommodation expenses are excluded from this #1000PesoChallenge.

Here are some of the places I went for the La Union #1000PesoChallenge:

San Fernando City Plaza

San Fernando City Town Plaza San Fernando La Union | Turista Boy

I started my #1000PesoChallenge in the heart of San Fernando City – the San Fernando City Plaza. The “plaza” is the main square in the city center. This is where some public events are seen and held. It is also convenient to visit this place because it is just along the Manila North Road (MacArthur Highway).

Saint William the Hermit (San Fernando) Church

Saint William the Hermit San Fernando Church La Union | Turista Boy

The San Fernando Church is dedicated to St. William the Hermit. This is also the main church in the City and is the seat of the Diocese of San Fernando.

La Union Provincial Capitol

La Union Provincial Capitol San Fernando La Union | Turista Boy

The La Union Provincial Capitol is the seat of government of the whole province. Located on top of a hill, it overlooks the San Fernando Bay and downtown city proper. It is one of the smallest provincial capitols I have seen through my #Project82PH journey.

Halo-Halo De Iloko Balay

Halo Halo de Iloko San Fernando City La Union | Turista Boy

One of my staple favorites in La Union is Halo-Halo de Iloko. Located right at the heart of San Fernando City, this home-grown brand not only boasts its famous Buko Halo-Halo, but it also offers delish Filipino food! It is a must-try when visiting La Union.

Halo Halo de Iloko San Fernando City La Union | Turista Boy

Halo Halo de Iloko Balay has become one of the most sought-after restaurants in the metro after it has been featured in various television shows of national scope. The restaurant has an artsy feel upon entering and although the space is very limited, they decided to extend the restaurant up to the house’s former parking area. (By the way, “balay” means “house” in Ilokano.)

When I first went here in 2012, the restaurant only served various variations of Halo Halo. And when we came back this year, they have diversified their menu and added meals too to meet the demands of their growing market.

Poro Point Lighthouse

Poro Point Lighthouse San Fernando La Union | Turista Boy

One of the farthest points of the City of San Fernando is the Poro Point Lighthouse in Barangay Poro. It is one of the more recognizable landmarks in the area next to the Thunderbird Resort. Unfortunately, I have not been given permission to go inside the compound and see the Poro Point Cliffs (hopefully I can visit it again next time!)

Pindangan Ruins

Pindangan Ruins San Fernando La Union | Turista Boy

Now under the care of the Carmelite Sisters of La Union, the Pindangan Ruins was once a catholic church built sometime in 1764. The place is called “Pindangan” as it was once a place where people used to make sun-dried meat.

Ma-Cho Temple

MaCho Temple San Fernando La Union | Turista Boy

This popular Taoist temple is built in honor of the Chinese Sea goddess Mazu. Ma-Cho Temple is one of the more popular tourist spots in downtown San Fernando City and is also a good spot to chase the sunset.

Mebuyan’s Vessel

Mebuyan's Vessel San Juan La Union | Turista Boy

This art installation built along the shores of Urbiztondo, San Juan is an eye-catching masterpiece made up of recycled materials such as unused water gallons and other plastic materials. Mebuyan’s Vessel is also a perfect spot right across the shore to witness the sunset.

Bahay na Bato

Bahay na Bato Luna La Union | Turista Boy

As the name suggests, Bahay na Bato is a house compound entirely made of stones and pebbles. Found in the historic town of Luna, these interesting structures feature everything made out of rock, pebbles, and stones – and they transformed it into pieces of art.

Baluarte Watch Tower

Baluarte Watchtower Luna La Union | Turista Boy

The Baluarte Watchtower is one of the most historical sites in Luna, La Union. This 5-meter brick structure used to be a lookout point for incoming pirates in colonial times and was also used during World War II. The original structure was then rebuilt and refurbished.

St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church (Shrine of our Lady of Namacpacan)

Luna Church Luna La Union | Turista Boy

The St. Catherine of Alexandria Church, or more locally known as Luna Church, also serves as the Shrine for the Our Lady of Namacpacan. It is strategically placed within the town center and is the main and biggest catholic church in the municipality.

Luna Monument

Luna Monument Luna La Union | Turista Boy

Built in honor of the Ilocano General, Antonio Luna, the Luna Monument serves as a roundabout in the town center of Luna. It is also adjacent to the Luna Church and the Luna Sports Complex.

Sts. Peter and Paul (Bauang) Church

Bauang Church Bauang La Union | Turista Boy

The neoclassical-designed Church of Sts. Peter and Paul is the main church in the town of Bauang. The church was founded by Augustinian Friars in 1580 and the church was dedicated to the saints in 1587. The church is easily seen at the intersection of MacArthur Highway and Naguilian Road (going to Baguio).

Ciano Umok Gallery Cafe

Ciano Umok Gallery Cafe Bauang La Union | Turista Boy

The Ciano Umok Gallery Cafe is one of its kind in the town of Bauang. Featuring several local artists and their art in its spacious galleries, Ciano Umok is also a perfect spot to chill after a hard day’s work. The most notable of their food offerings is their signature Halo-Halo, which is likened to the Korean Bingsu, where its shaved ice is creamy and is topped with tropical fruits and ingredients.

Gapuz Grapes Farm

Gapuz Grapes Farm Bauang La Union | Turista Boy

One of the most popular Grapes farms in La Union is the Gapuz Grapes Farm in the boundary of Bauang and Caba towns. This family-grown business is known to have some of the best varieties of grapes in La Union. The entrance fee here is free, you just have to pay for what you pick! It is best to visit the Grapes Farm from February to April!

Gapuz Grapes Farm Bauang La Union | Turista Boy

Ask the locals where the Gapuz Grapes Farm is located. Also ask the driver to stop you over a Car Shop / ‘talyer’ near the Bauang Welcome Arc (Barangay Urayong in the Caba-Bauang Border Arc, look for “Talyer ni Dumo”). From there, there is a road strip leading to the farms. There is a signage leading there so you will not get lost.

St. Lucy (Aringay) Church

Saint Lucy Aringay Church Aringay La Union | Turista Boy

Established in 1736, St. Lucy Parish Church is one of the eye-striking catholic churches found in La Union, specifically in the town of Aringay.

Aringay Centennial Tunnel

Centennial Tunnel Aringay La Union | Turista Boy

This 500-meter tunnel was supposed to be part of the railway system connecting Aringay and Baguio. But when World War I broke out, the project was subsequently abandoned. In 2013, it was named the Aringay Centennial Tunnel for its historical significance.

Minor Basilica and Diocesan Shrine of our Lady of Charity (Agoo Church)

Agoo Church Agoo La Union | Turista Boy

The Agoo Church is the home of Our Lady of Charity. Founded in 1578, the church was designated as a Minor Basilica in 1982.

Sample Itinerary for the La Union 1000-Peso Challenge

San Fernando City Plaza

Saint William the Hermit (San Fernando) Church
La Union Provincial Capitol
Halo-Halo De Iloko Balay ₱ 251
*Tricycle Halo-Halo De Iloko to Poro Point Lighthouse ₱ 100
Poro Point Lighthouse + The Cliff at Poro Point (if permitted)
*Tricycle Thunderbird Resort to Pindangan Ruins ₱ 100
Pindangan Ruins
*Jeep Pindangan Ruins to SFC Plaza ₱ 13
Ma-Cho Temple
*Jeep Ma-Cho Temple to Mebuyan’s Vessel ₱ 15
Mebuyan’s Vessel
*Bus Mebuyan’s Vessel to Balaoan Municipal Hall ₱ 50
*Tricycle Balaoan Municipal Hall to Bahay na Bato ₱ 150
Bahay na Bato ₱ 50 (entrance fee)
*Tricycle Bahay na Bato to Luna Church ₱ 40
St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish Church (Shrine of our Lady of Namacpacan)
Baluarte Watch Tower ₱ 90 (refreshments)
Luna Monument
*Tricycle Luna Monument to Balaoan Municipal Hall ₱ 35 (₱ 70 for solo trip)
Balaoan Municipal Hall
St. Nicolas de Tolentino Parish (Balaoan) Church
*Bus Balaoan Municipal Hall to San Fernando City ₱ 60
*Jeep San Fernando City Proper to Sts. Peter and Paul (Bauang) Church ₱ 15
Sts. Peter and Paul (Bauang) Church
*Jeep Sts. Peter and Paul (Bauang) Church to Palugsi Entrance (bound to Ciano Umok Gallery Cafe) ₱ 13
Ciano Umok Gallery Cafe Halo-Halo ₱ 139 (small)
*Bus Ciano Umok to Gapuz Grapes Farm ₱ 30
Gapuz Grapes Farm *depends on grape picking*
*Bus Gapuz Grapes Farm to Aringay Public Market (bus stop) ₱ 20
St. Lucy (Aringay) Church
Aringay Municipal Hall
*Tricycle (roundtrip) 7-11 Aringay to Centennial Tunnel ₱ 200
*Bus 7-11 Aringay to Agoo Church (bus stop) ₱ 20
Agoo Municipal Hall
Minor Basilica and Diocesan Shrine of our Lady of Charity (Agoo Church)
Eagle of the North
*Bus Agoo Church to San Fernando City ₱ 70

₱ 1461.00


La Union can be visited for more or less than ₱ 1000! Yes! But not all tourist spots can be visited in one day. You need at least 3-4 days to maximize your “Elyu” experience. It is a plus if you know someone who is a local of La Union and ask if you could spend the night at their place for this short vacation (Hi, couchsurfing friends!) It is also an advantage if you have your own car to get to places at your own pace.

Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel San Juan La Union | Turista Boy

I also (highly) advise that you invite friends along and go in groups so that you will divide the expenses among yourselves – the more the many-er! In short, visiting La Union is budget friendly! Many places have yet to be discovered in this up-and-coming tourist destination in the North!

Read also: Hotel Review: 3BU Hostel La Union – The Tribe is Here!

You can also visit these places, too! (I will come back and explore them soon!)

– Heroes Hill (San Fernando City)

– Bulalakaw Falls (Bagulin)

– Immuki Island (Luna)

– Tangadan Falls (San Gabriel)

– Tuddingan Falls (Naguilian)

– KamBak Restaurant (Santo Tomas)

– Agoo Eco-Park (Agoo)

– San Juan Lotus Farm (San Juan)

– Mad Monkey’s Burger / The Great Northwest Philippines Travel Stop and Viewing Deck – Layag, Artek, Papa Bear, El Union Coffee, Makai Bowls (San Juan)

– The Cliff at Poro Point (San Fernando City)

We’re born to travel!

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33 thoughts on “La Union 1000-Peso Challenge

  1. Been to Elyu several times for surfing but no matter how hard I try, I always end up spending 2k and above :(. Galing mo!!

    1. Thanks, ate Jian! Almost all of the tourist spots in LU are free that’s why this challenge is really suitable! Weee! 🙂

  2. Wow that challenge again. Your post is very helpful and challenging. I never thought I could get that experience with just a thousand peso. Thanks! Keep it up!

    1. Thanks, kuya Keevin! Try it yourself, too! <3

  3. OMG. P1000 for the whole tour? This is really a must go. Not only that this is budget friendly, but it’ll also allow you to experience a different kind of culture and fun which is not really not that heart breaking to the pocket. 😀

    1. Yes, ate! Definitely! 🙂 And almost all of the tourist spots in LU are free of charge! You just have to pay for your fare and food! (How amazing is that?) 🙂

  4. Mike says:

    I really love this series! 🙂 La Union, I’ll be there, pretty soon!

    1. You should, kuya Mike! ASAP! 🙂

  5. Emem says:

    La Union has been my first love since it’s where I first started surfing, but I never seen it the way you did. I am so jealous, I’ve tried Halohalo de Iloko and had late lunch at Flot, other than that I feel like I’m missing out. I’ll definitely check out the places you’ve included here, this is very helpful! 🙂

    1. Thanks, ate Em! We should travel real soon! <3

  6. Yrwin Denzel says:

    I’ve been to La Union three times in my life, and it’s so much fun there! Everytime I go there, I HAVE TO go surfing! It is one of those things you must do while in La Union! I cannot believe you were able to spend less than p1000 there! That is literally the most drastic cost cutting method I have seen! I know people who cannot survive spending less than p1000 or $20-25 USD a day, but I’m glad you’re showing that it can be done, without compromising fun and adventure! Cheers!

    1. Yup! It really is possible, kuya Yrwin! Hehehe, talk about super duper budget traveling in one weekend! <3

  7. Mikka Alaia says:

    ugh flotsam jetsam. I just miss the beach already! take me with you chiki!

    ps I miss you!


    1. Lezgo to the beach ASAP, mother Miks! Mishu more! <3

  8. Kat says:

    I love this P1000 peso challenges. 🙂 It just shows how far you can go with as little budget as much as possible. I’ve been to La Union but mainly for surfing only. Some of the places you’ve mentioned are new. I love your photos of Bahay na Bato and Flotsam and Jetsam Artist Beach Hostel.

    1. Thanks, ate Kat! There are still plenty of FREE tourist spots in LU! Especially in Bauang and San Fernando! <3

  9. Nailed it! A whole day of fun and you only spent less than 1000. Flotsam & Jetsam cafe is very new to me. Another cafe that needs to be visited.

    1. Yup, kuya Jeff! There are a lot of new cafes strung ashore, especially in San Juan! Thanks, by the way! 😀

  10. Rachael says:

    Wow! You visited interesting places with only 1000 in your pocket?! I salute you! I’ve been to La Union twice, and when I come back, I’ll make sure to refer to this post. Thank you!!

  11. Niks Mendoza says:

    challenge accepted! spending only 1000php for is inspiring!

    1. Yes yes yes! And you can still go to more places! <3

  12. erwin who says:

    Nice, now I know what I can afford with a thousand peso! Much fun and a new experience. Also an adventure. The best part its near Baguio.

    1. Yeys! It really is just roughly an hour from Baguio! It’s the nearest getaway whenever I feel like traveling! <3

  13. Ferna says:

    I love the idea! must try! oh yeah why not challenge the expenses everyday too. And I love the flotsam jetsam! I also haven’t visited la union yet, this is one great guide for me. Thank you

    1. You should visit LU ASAP, ate Ferna! <3 (If you want, I would accompany you! Hihihi!) 🙂

  14. Charmaigne says:

    Thanks on this! I have plans to travel in La Union within the end of the year as to try surfing in the North. Good job on getting to succeed on the P1K challenge, it just proves how you can travel with less expense! 😀

    1. Yes, ate Charm! LU is really budget-friendly especially for budget-conscious travelers! <3 Hihihi!

  15. Wow! 1000 pesos challenge to travel somewhere? You’re kidding me? This is amazeballs!

    1. Yes! And there is still so much to see in La Union for 1000 Pesos! 😀

  16. marge says:

    Only 1,000 budget but you were able to cover a lot. I say that’s not bad at all. And I’m replicating your itinerary since it obviously works.

    1. Thanks, ate Marge! Hoping to travel with you soon! <3

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