What will you do when you’re feeling some wanderlust but you only have the weekend to spare? Consider going to La Union! Here are some details about my weekend trip to San Juan with friends.
Very important note when you’re taking public transportation: take a bus which uses TPLEX!
We took a Vigan bound Partas bus departing from its Cubao station at four in the morning one Saturday of September 2016. Our travel time took 8 hours! There were a lot of stops since it didn’t go through TPLEX. We actually didn’t check the route and just took the earliest departing bus. The fare from Cubao terminal to San Juan La Union (and vice versa) was 422 PHP each.
On the way back to Manila, my female friend and I also ended up riding a Partas bus which doesn’t go through TPLEX (Yup, another 8 hours of travel). The men left a bit later than we did and were able to flag down a Dominion bus using TPLEX. Their travel time was 6 hours with a fare of 325 PHP each from San Juan La Union to Cubao. Cheaper and faster!! Those men were lucky!
Flotsam & Jetsam Hostel
My female friend and I stayed at Flotsam & Jetsam Hostel. The bus can drop you off at Flotsam since it’s located along MacArthur Highway, where buses ply.
Their check-in time is 2pm while check-out time is 11am. We arrived at the hostel at around 12 noon but we’re allowed to check-in early since the room was already available.
We booked a 2-bed Cozy Room for 1,200 PHP per person. It comes with free breakfast and has a shared toilet and bath. The room we got is at the second floor of their new building. Our wing in the second floor has 5 rooms – two 2-bed cozy rooms, one 3-bed cozy room, and two 4-bed premium dorm. Also in this floor are two shared toilet with shower (one of which is for ladies only), one separate toilet only, and one separate shower only. Three sinks are available outside the toilets/showers.
For breakfast, you’ll get as much cereals, bread, spreads, coffee, juice, and milk that you want. Breakfast is served from 8-11am.
Sebay Surf Resort
I don’t really have much to say about Sebay since I didnt’t stay here, the men did. They booked a room good for 3 pax for 2,100 PHP. It comes with a private bath, but no breakfast is included. I’m also providing Sebay’s website so you can check it out. This is also along the highway so the bus can drop you off. The bus will pass-by this property first before Flotsam.
The falls is located in San Gabriel, La Union. Since we only have the weekend for this get-away, we scheduled the trek on the first day of the trip. Our travel time estimate was 5 hours which is much lower than actual, so we ended up doing this activity late. We originally planned to start by 12 noon, but it was already around 2pm when we left San Juan for San Gabriel.
We arranged for our guide to pick our group up from Olas Banditos in San Juan with his tricycle. The one-way cost was 250 PHP for all five of us.
Our first stop was the municipal hall of San Gabriel where we registered and paid tourism fee of 30 PHP per person. We then headed to Duplas drop-off point, where we started the trek through rice fields, forest trails, and a river to reach Tangadan Falls. The trek took about one hour for our group.
The good thing about starting late with this activity is that we had the falls to ourselves! The other visitors were already starting with their trek back when we got near the falls. Our group rented life vests for each of us and a raft to take us near the falls’ edge where we had a bit of a shower. The raft didn’t go all the way under it since the current was strong. It even became stronger while we were enjoying our shower and the guide immediately told us to go back up and stay out of the water already.
Going back, we took the easy way out. We did just a bit of trekking (around 15 minutes), then took a habal-habal which dropped us off at the jeepney terminal where we took a ride going back to San Juan. Each habal-habal costs 250 PHP and can accommodate 2 people plus the driver. Jeepney fare to San Juan was 26 PHP for each person.
Don’t forget to bring some water for drinking, and maybe a little preparation for the physical exertion. DON’T forget to get a guide! I felt lucky that ours was attentive and made us leave the water when the current became stronger. Always be safe, everyone!
Paddle Boarding / Surfing / Kayaking
We wanted to try surfing on Sunday morning but we were late at giving advice to the hostel. I think it was already 9pm of Saturday when we told the reception that we wanted to take surfing lesson early the next day. They tried reaching out to La Union Surf School but were not successful at getting a reply. We were told that the representative usually comes in at around 8 or 8:30 in the morning, so we just decided to try our luck the next day.
Come Sunday morning, we headed down past 8 am but the representative was still not around. We decided to head-out to El Union first to grab some coffee. We walked through the beach and noticed that the water seems flat – there weren’t much waves. We decided, over coffee, that we won’t try surfing anymore and just do kayaking since we saw some kayaks along the beach the previous night. After El Union, we walked by the beach again until we reached the part where there were kayaks. BUT, aside from kayaks, they were also renting-out paddle boards! So from surfing to kayaking, we ended up doing paddle boarding. We rented one which can hold 2 people for 400 PHP an hour.
In case you’re thinking how much surfing lessons are, the rate quoted by Flotsam was 400 PHP per person. That’s for 1-hour and is inclusive of board rental.
Here are some other photos from this weekend get-away
- Tangadan Falls photos were taken by friends (one of whom is @johnkalkin. Check-out his IG for awesome photos!)
- Our Tangadan Falls guide was Manong Juan Andaya. Great guide! His cell number is +639274580424