I was this close to thinking I was living in a giant oven.
The sun was mercilessly toasting everything its rays touched, heating up the concrete ground. It was a midsummer noon, and I was walking around town trying to find a good place to stay for the next night. A working air-conditioning system, a requirement.
The town of San Juan, La Union, has unusual travel seasons. While most destinations in the Philippines come to life during summer (March-May), San Juan’s peak season runs from October to March, when the big waves make their appearance to play with the town’s growing surfing community. Yet, summer weekends still see a significant swell in the number of tourists. The waves may not be present, but who can refuse the call of a relaxing beach getaway?
This is perhaps the reason why most resorts (and restaurants) are packed that weekend. But to be honest, finding good accommodations shouldn’t be difficult. (I’m just a professional procrastinator. Don’t be like me.) There are plenty of good options along the beach and along the main road. I actually wanted to stay at Flotsam and Jetsam too, but they were fully booked. Here are some of those I was able to try (in no particular order).
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
I was in La Union for an event called “Save Our Seas Coastival,” an effort to inspire beachgoers to be more conscious of the products they bring into the open water. As one of the sponsors of the event, Chill’n hosted some of the participants (myself included) for a night. I took the opportunity to write about the place. (No one asked us to.)
Chill’n is your typical budget resort. The room we were assigned was neat, spacious and air-conditioned. It has a tiled floor and is equipped with only the basic facilities such as wooden furnishings (a side table and a desk), a clean toilet and bath, and a flat screen TV. That’s about it. If you’re in La Union for a staycation and expecting top-notch amenities, this isn’t the place for you. BUT if you’re here to explore the outdoors and only need an affordable place to stay, this could be a good choice.
The best thing about Chill’n is that it’s close to the beach. Service was good, too. The staff was approachable and helpful. There’s also a swimming pool outside.
Urbiz Garden Bed and Breakfast
When the event was over, I had to find a new place to spend the night, and Urbiz Garden was my top-of-mind choice. From the outside, it looks like your dream beach house, surrounded by shady trees and facing the sea. Bougainvillea shrubs and vines cover some walls, adorning it with fuchsia flowers and lots of good vibes (haha). While there were no available rooms at the main house, there was one vacant beach cabana, which I gladly took.
The cabana looks like a honeymoon hut. It was secluded in a fenced corner of the resort, making me feel like it was my own private spot. The room itself was cozy, with only little space surrounding the bed, but fully air-conditioned. The toilet and bath were outside, though, and were more like cubicles than proper restrooms. The arrangement didn’t bother me at all, since the area was somewhat cloistered.
All bookings come with free breakfast, composed of dried fish and rice, which can be served near your cabana or at the common area. The common area was a good place to work — I finished a screenplay here — or just unwind. Overflowing coffee is available, and there’s a cold water dispenser thoughtfully stationed in a corner.
G Hotel (Planet G)
One of the newest accommodations in San Juan, La Union. Strategically located within PLANET G, a complex of restaurants, it is at the very center of the village. The beach, other restaurants, and tricycle terminals are all within easy reach from here.
We booked a premium double room. Spacious, air-conditioned, and had a view of the adjacent road. Because the building was new, the room was squeaky clean. Staff was very friendly; we found ourselves exchanging jokes and having a good laugh with them. The rate was pretty reasonable at P2000 per night. There are cheaper rooms:
- Good for 1 pax: PhP 1500
- Good for 2 pax: PhP 1700
- Good for 3 pax: PhP 1900
On our first day, however, there was no water. (It was town-wide, they say.) So there’s that.
Also, the hotel is located on the third floor of Planet G building, with no elevators. So if you don’t feel like going on a trek every time you want to go to your room, this might not be the best option for you.
Search for hotels here: La Union Hotels
Top Resorts and Hotels in La Union
If you have a bigger budget, here are four of the best-rated hotels and resorts in Agoda as of March 2019.
Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa
Location: MacArthur Highway, San Juan, 2514 La Union
To see more hotels, visit: Resorts and Hotels in La Union
How to get to Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union. In Cubao or Pasay, take a Partas air-conditioned bus bound for San Fernando. From there, you may hire a tricycle to San Juan (P100, 15 minutes).