La Union

La Union

The surfing capital of Luzon is also known for its pilgrimage sites.
By TravelBook

Overview

La Union is a province with a rich history that is known for its ancient churches and pilgrimage sites. In recent years, the town of San Juan and the city of San Fernando have gained popularity as a surfing destination for beginners and experienced surfers alike. As part of the conversion of a former US military air station, the tiny Poro Point peninsula is being developed into a tourism and industrial estate, complete with a five-star resort, golf course, and casino.  

History

The province La Union was created almost two centuries ago. Some highlights:

  • The province was formed by the towns of Benguet, Ilocos Sur, and Pangasinan—and thus was aptly called “La Union” (the union). Queen Isabela of Spain made the declaration of the province official through a Royal Decree in 1854.
  • The region was involved in a number of conflicts throughout the Spanish, American, and Japanese occupations. In 1901, the province came under American control.
  • In 1993, La Union became the center of media attention as then-16-year-old Judiel Nieva claimed to have witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary in Agoo.

Travelers’ Attractions

La Union provides a variety of activities for different travelers:

  • Ancient structures—or for some, what’s left of them—are perfect spots for visitors interested in history, culture, and architecture. While most of the buildings and ruins are Catholic churches, a Taoist shrine is another notable edifice.
  • Sports buffs and thrill-seekers are spoilt for choice—surfing and scuba diving are popular in La Union. Nature lovers can also hike trails in the province.
  • Travelers who wish to enjoy their downtime can stay in resorts—the most popular of which is the Santorini-inspired Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point.

Getting There and Away

  • Buses from Partas, Dominion Bus Lines, Fariņas, Philippine Rabbit, Maria de Leon, and Viron will take travelers from Manila to La Union.
  • La Union is roughly a five-hour drive from Manila via the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).
  • Zestair has flights to and from San Fernando every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
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San Juan Beach

San Juan is a popular tourist destination for surfers. Many of the resorts lining the beach offer surfing lessons.

Luna Church

The Luna Church houses the Shrine of Our Lady of Namacpacan, the patroness of Ilocano travelers.

Pindangan Ruins

The walls of an old church built in the 18th century can be seen at the Pindangan Ruins. In the background, beyond the crumbling walls, the steeple of a new church run by Carmelite nuns can be seen.

Ma Cho Temple

The Ma Cho Temple is a Taoist temple perched on a hill above San Fernando. From the main steps of the temple, the sea can be seen through the gates.

Luna Watch Tower

The Luna watch tower stands guard by the pebbled beach of Luna. The watch tower has split into two; concrete beams are propped up on one side in an effort to support the structure.

La Union Botanical Gardens

The La Union Botanical Gardens have numerous themed gardens as well as an orchidarium, an aviary, and a butterfly garden.
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