This post was most recently updated on October 17th, 2018
Many of us want to escape their jobs and go for a quick vacation but without spending a lot of money. Well that’s exactly what we did a few days ago. Although I would say it was a long planning, took us a year to finally make it happen, the time surely helped us securing a low budget travel. Another thing is that it was really hard to meet our schedules since we had prior commitments that we had to attend to. Anyway, going back to the topic, I would highly suggest that you should go to a place not that far but enough to forget your office deliverable for the mean time. Here are my tips for traveling to La Union on a budget – a list of things that I think you should also probably do and things that we learnt from this travel that you can avoid.
We all know La Union is one of the surfer’s hives in the Philippines. Given its popularity, you might have probably heard and read information about the things to do, where to stay and eat, and the attractions not to miss. However, following these can just add up to the expenses and make your quick get-away less affordable. And because I want you to stretch your money during your trip, I listed down below the travel tips I can think of that will surely help you get the cheaper deals, while still allowing you to maximize the fun and enjoy your trip to La Union on a budget.
Here Are My Tips To Travel La Union On A Budget
Bus tickets from Manila to La Union ranges from 400-600 pesos one way. There are bus lines that you can choose from, leaving terminals as early as 2am and as late as 11:45pm. Or if you’re traveling with a large group, you can hire a van for 5000-6000 pesos a day! I think you can also save there plus the comfort.
Visit on an off-peak season
Prices during holidays and peak season can double. Tourists prefer going between the months of October and March due to the surf season. However, the place can get overcrowded, making it hard to look for cheaper deals. From April to July, you can find lower prices, although the only downside of traveling to La Union on these dates cannot guarantee you good waves.
Stay on a budget-friendly hotel
Accommodation options vary greatly in La Union. You may find anything from budgeted hostels, mid-range and up to luxury hotels. Stay in cheap hostels instead since you’ll be spending most of the day outside. There are so many artistic and affordable hostels in the area that can be quite overwhelming to list down. I would recommend checking out Flotsam and Jetsam, The Circle Hostel, and Vessel Hostel. I also included Ganaden’s Nook and Camp Avenue both of which I just discovered recently. On average, you’ll be spending around Php400-800/night.
Flotsam and Jetsam
Flotsam and Jetsam is a perfect place for every traveler looking for an artsy and stylish hostel. You don’t have to find somewhere else since you’ll find a cafe and bar just around the corner.
Book Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel
On the other end of San Juan, you’ll find another colorful and vibrant Circle hostel. It’s a chain of eco-hostels found in the surfing locations in the Philippines. Other two branches are in Zambales and Baler. One good thing about this hostel is its common area where you actually meet and make new friends with other guests.
Book Circle Hostel
Owned by the power architect couple Buji and Nikki Libarnes, the Vessel Hostel occupies a four-storey building using shipping containers. The hostel is very accessible from the highway and just walking distance from the beach. Due to its setup, it can only accommodate a few number of guests so better to book ahead of time if you’re planning to stay here.Book Vessel Hostel
When all else fails, there is one accommodation, which I just found on the internet, that will save you from keeping your La Union trip. Ganaden’s Nook is a budgeted, beachfront hotel with restaurant and bar. They offer cabanas, air-condition room for very affordable prices. We stayed here only for a night but I could say that the experience here was good.
Go check out its Facebook page or you may contact them at 0927-269-5053.
Getting its popularity across the social media, Camp Avenue looks very promising with its hammocks and tents. Pay for 500 pesos each for the tent rental and just 300 pesos fee for pitching if you bring your own. I’d recommend this if you want a laid-back getaway in La Union.
Buy food in the local market
Even the food in La Union can be insanely expensive. Restaurants are left and right and the average meal is about 200 pesos. You should head to the nearest market and buy raw food which you can later ask to be cooked or grilled for a minimal fee. Though there are some cheap restaurants too, like Tagpuan, which serves the famous Bagnet. Tip: Buy their bestseller ‘Bagnet’ meal as early as possible because they often run out of Bagnet. Pork Bagnet Rice is 120 pesos—a plateful of crispy pork, rice, and tomatoes. You may also customize it by adding egg and tofu.
Check out my first time travel story in La Union.
Negotiate on Activities
You can’t go to La Union without surfing. Given that, you should also allocate budget for surf boards rental and an instructor fee if applicable. Haggle for a cheaper price. From what I notice, they sometimes agree to lower the price if you’re more than 3 who will be availing their services. Things To Do in San Juan, La Union
To avoid hassle and spending on miscellaneous. Bring the basics – shampoo, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste. You may not feel its importance yet but it’s actually also helpful in the upcoming trips.
Go on a Group
I guess everyone already knows this but you can save a lot when traveling with a group. All expenses will be divided equally on each individual. Rooms, food, and even the tour guide fee when you visit Tangadan Falls are good for sharing. Besides, it’s more fun when you’re with your close friends.
Things are not always go as we planned. These greatly affect our budget and expenses. It’s better to have a list of plan B. So when plan A doesn’t work, there will always be another option. Always keep your eyes open and take advantage of the offers that come up.
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Hello. I am a Filipina who has migrated to the US. I loved reading about La Union! My father is from Naguilian, quite near the places you are describing. Yes, it is so affordable to make a trip to this surfing destination. Thanks for all the tips!
Actually I didn’t knwo of La Union before reading your article! I have been looking for things to do in the Phillipines for an upcoming holiday – and we’ve been considering the Phillipines because we need a budget option for our current bank balance! This advice therefore is spot on! Thanks so much for the great detail including the bus timetable and prices, I also didn’t know there is a haggling culture/ it’s permissable – so another great tip there!
I am trying to explore more of the Philippines and you got my interest up with La Union. I don’t know much about the attractions of La Union. But if you can travel it on a budget, then I guess it is worth a shot to go there.
We spent a lot of time travelling through the Philippines last year and loved it. Have never heard of La Union – but looks like a lovely stop on a trip there. Thanks for sharing.
Great tips. Thanks. And many of them can translate to other places too.
La Union seems like our kind of place! Watersports, hiking, crazy sunset – what else do we need?
I’m not a surfer at all but La Union looks beautiful. You give some great tips on travelling on a budget. Those hostels you mentioned look like a great and affordable place to stay!
These are some great tips. . Travelling to LA next month and will see if i can go to LA union as wel as it looks amazing. Thanks for sharing
I am a surfer from California, who recently transplanted to inland Florida. I’ll have to be travelling to catch waves. La Union looks like a cool mellow town, and doing it on a budget would be even better. The little wave that girl caught looks like fun. Nothing that’s going to thrash you but it wasn’t closing out too fast either. Taking a hike to the falls when the wind kicks up looks like a great way to spend an afternoon.
Nice! I’m always looking for ways to head somewhere new without breaking the budget. 😀 Love you tips – and am intrigued by the shipping container hostel! Thanks for some new ideas. 🙂
I’m ashamed to say that I actually know very little about travelling in Philippines. Thanks to your post I know a little bit more now. Agree with you on the idea of travelling in low season, it can really make a difference to the travel costs.
Those are super helpful tips. I followed the same for my Europe Trip and did it on a pretty decent budget. As a matter of fact, a lot of tips I mentioned on my blog are in sync with your recommendations. Haven’t been to the Philippines till now, but a visit is soon on the cards.
I hadn’t heard of La Union ebfore reading your blog, so it’s a cool place to keep in mind! I’m a huge fan of travelling by bus and shopping in local markets (food is usually better). I’ve never surfed before, but I’d like to try!
I actually really love travelling on a budget. I feel you kind of get a feel for the locals and the communities more! Love the tips on travelling by bus, staying in hostels and buying from local markets- for me that’s where true experiences lies. Thanks for sharing!
We had not heard of La Union until this post but looks like it is a must visit on a trip to the Philippines. Generally, April to July is a peak season for most tourist destination so its good to know that La Union can be an option if looking for a nontouristy and budget destination. Thanks for the detailed information.
I like that you included so many practical details. Perfect inspiration for anyone looking to plan a trip there!
Love the van, love the surf, love the hiking! Everything about this trip looks right up my alley! I’m hoping to make it to the Phillipines in 2018 and this is definitely going on the itinerary. Thanks for the tips!
I’ve always wanted to learn to surf, maybe La Union is the place for me! I think you give some really good tips for managing expenses.
I’m usually all about budgeting when I go on my travels and most of these are useful for a trip to anywhere! So I’ll certainly use them for my next trip 🙂
Some great tips! Off peak and cheap accommodation are always out go tos when we’re on a budget! That camp looked incredible!
Philippines is on my mind! And your post is truly useful 🙂 Agree with most of the points, especially staying in budget hotels and hostels that provide an authentic experience and also using local transport and eating in local markets. Not only do these save money but also provide a great experience!
La Union sounds like a really fun getaway. I can see your group had a rocking time there. Yes if one is looking for travel on a budget the tips outlined by you are practical and sensible. It really makes sense to travel during the off-season as you obviously get better rates at hotels and the best part is you encounter lesser crowds too.
We went to the Philippines and never even heard of this place! You have to visit this country out of season though as it gets really busy. You mentioned some really great tips here, We going back soon so they will help. Cool pics!
La Union is one of the important tourist destinations in the Philippines. If you are a budgeted person and wants to visit La Union without spending more money, then consider for traveling tips with minimum budget.