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La Union Travel Guide

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La Union is one of the four provinces of the Ilocos Region. Literally coming from its name, it connects the province of Pangasinan (South) to the Ilocos provinces in the North. It is also the surfing capital of the North, specifically in the town of San Juan. This is one province I am longing to discover. Here is my own version of the La Union Travel Guide! Read along!

La Union Overview

La Union Provincial Capitol San Fernando La Union | Turista Boy

The province of La Union is situated on the northwestern side of Luzon island, bordered by Ilocos Sur to the North, Benguet to the East, West Philippine Sea to the West, and Pangasinan to the South / Southwest. The GPS Coordinates of La Union are 16.6159° N, 120.3209° E. The province is also referred to as “The Garden Coast of the Philippines,” thanks to its numerous botanical gardens. It is also referred to as “The Surfing Capital of the North” for its surf-friendly coasts, especially in San Juan.

Being an Ilocano myself, I have easily identified and easily interacted with the locals of “Elyu” because of their warm, approachable, but a bit shy disposition – a typical Ilocano trait. Once you get to interact and exchange stories with them, you can be best friends instantly.

Read also: La Union Province: 1000-Peso Challenge

Best time to go to La Union

MaCho Temple San Fernando La Union | Turista Boy

The best months to visit La Union are from November to February where there is a little amount of rainfall and it is also the beginning of the Northeast Monsoon (Amihan) Season where cool winds visit the Philippines. There are mainly only two seasons in the Philippines, the wet (May to November) and dry (December to April) seasons. The annual average temperature in the province is at 25 – 31 °C (77 – 88 °F).

How to get to La Union

Since “Elyu” connects the southern and northern provinces of the Ilocos Region, you can easily reach the La Union via these options:

By Land

La Union Tricycles | Turista Boy

Since La Union is the converging point of the Ilocos Region, it is easily accessible by land. Major highways such as the MacArthur Highway and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) are the major roads leading to the province. If coming from MacArthur Highway, the exit point would be from Sison, Pangasinan. And if coming from TPLEx, the exit point would be the Rosario Exit.

If coming from Manila (Cubao / Pasay), travel time is approximately 5 – 6 hours, depending on traffic conditions. There are numerous bus lines plying the highways of La Union so it would not be a problem when you are going to visit the province.

If coming from Baguio City, travel time is approximately 1 to 1.5 hours, via the Palispis-Aspiras (Marcos) Highway, Naguilian Road, or Kennon Road.

By Air

The Community Airport of San Fernando (SFE) in Poro Point is currently not serviceable for commercial flights. It is however available for chartered or government-sanctioned flights when needed.

By Water

The major seaport in the province, the San Fernando International Seaport is mainly used for transport of goods, supplies, and commodities only. There are no commercial trips to and from this port.

Things to know about when visiting La Union

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

The total land area of La Union is around 1,497.70 km² (578.27 mi²), slightly bigger than the island of Guam by land area. The languages and dialects spoken in the province are Filipino, English, Ilocano, Pangasinense (minor), and Kankana-ey (minor). Cellular Signals in the province are: Globe – good to very good; Smart – very good; Dito – fair to poor.

The Socket Standards in La Union are: Type A (2 flat parallel pins); Type B (2 flat parallel pins with 1 round earth pin); and Type C (2 round pins). Standard Voltage is at 220 V and Standard Frequency at 60 Hz. The main mode of payment in La Union is still cash, though numerous establishments accept Online Transfer (Maya / GCash) and Wire or Bank Transfer (Debit / Credit) as well.  The currency used in La Union is the Philippine Peso (PH₱).

Basic Ilocano Sentences / Phrase you might need to know

– Hi / Hello = Hi / Hello

– Goodbye = Agpakada Akon

– Thank you = Agyamanak

– You’re Welcome = Awan Anyaman (from Walang Anuman) – though not used often

– How Much? = Mano? / Sagmano?

– Good morning = Naimbag Nga Agsapa

– Good afternoon = Naimbag Nga Malem

– Good evening / Good night = Naimbag Nga Rabii

– How are you? = Kumusta kan?

– Where is ___? = Ayan na ti ___?

– Delicious! = Naimas!

Famous food and delicacy in La Union

Famous / Known La Union Dishes

Kinilaw nga Pugita (Octopus Ceviche)

Kilawin or Kinilaw is an Ilocano term for raw seafood dish in the northern part of Luzon Island. In this instance, octopus tentacles are the stars of the show. Mixed with fresh ingredients found abundantly in the province, it is a must try dish when visiting La Union.


Kinigtot means “surprised” in English as this dish is made from abruptly pouring hot edible bile soup (papait) to the stir fried meat (beef) that is closely related to the dish “Pigar Pigar” of Pangasinan. The beef strips are tender and have a bitter after taste.


Pinakbet Halo-Halo de Iloko San Fernando La Union | Turista Boy

Known to be an Ilocano vegetable dish staple, Pinakbet is a mixture of all fresh vegetables that can be found in your backyard, combined with bagoong (fish sauce) and sometimes fish or meat strips according to your liking, it is a signature Ilocano must-try.

La Union Delicacies / Beverages

Naguilian Basi

This well-known beverage, especially in the town of Naguilian, is one of the staple drinks in La Union whenever there are celebrations. The Naguilian Basi is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane juice and is stored in earthen jars or “burnay.”


As Filipinos are known to be sweet-toothed, Halo-Halo is the first thing that comes to my head whenever I think about Filipino desserts. Good thing there are two local homegrown brands that serve this sweet Filipino dessert.

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

First is the Halo-Halo version of Halo-Halo de Iloko Balay in San Fernando City. Everytime I visit La Union, I always drop by “HHDI” for my Halo-Halo fix. I particularly order their Halo-Halo sa buko because their servings are put in a fresh buko shell.

Ciano Umok Gallery Cafe Bauang La Union | Turista Boy

Another version that I tried is that of Ciano Umok Gallery Cafe. Located in the nearby town of Bauang. Acclaimed for its unique artistry and homey vibes, what I enjoyed most is their creamy and milky version of Halo-halo (which I love because I personally like sweet stuff!) 

Exploring in and out of La Union

Urbiztondo Beach San Juan La Union | Turista Boy

As La Union is the Administrative Center of the Ilocos Region (Region 1), getting round and about the province is not a problem. Their main modes of transportation are: tricycles (₱ 15 minimum fare), jeepneys (₱ 13 minimum fare), and buses (₱ 20-30 minimum fare). Traffic conditions throughout the day are moderate in the wee hours and heavy during rush hours. Road conditions in the entire province are generally concrete and paved.

Read also: La Union Province: 1000-Peso Challenge

*Note that the places, prices, and information written as of publication date and time are true and are given best during my visit. Changes may occur without prior notice. If you notice any changes to the information given above, you can e-mail me here so we can dish things up!*

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