I have to admit, I haven’t been to many places in the Philippines. I am well aware of it and that’s why it is part of my bucket list to visit as much as I can. So when an opportunity came my way to go to San Juan, La Union, I knew I had to take it!
The Circle Hostel in La Union
I was traveling with Pia of Wander Jungle and we stayed in the The Circle Hostel La Union. It is a backpacker friendly hostel that offers affordable accommodation and they are just 200 meters from the beach. We got there around 7:00 am and luckily our bunk beds were already available and was allowed to check in so I managed to take a nap after grabbing breakfast by the beach.

best place to stay in La Union The Circle HostelThe Circle Hostel is a chain of eco-hostels that is definitely budget friendly. Their two other locations are in Zambales and Baler. The hostel has a very cosy and artsy atmosphere that will make you feel at ease. The staff is very friendly, including the other guests that are staying here. True to their words, there are no strangers in The Circle Hostel.

The Circle Hostel for backpackers
A surf hostel for beach lovers and surfers, The Circle Hostel offers 1 bunk rooms with 45 single bed and 35 hammock with built in mosquito net. A bunk bed costs ₱500 (around $11 USD) and a hammock for ₱400 (around $10 USD).

The Circle Hostel hammock

The bunk beds also have mosquito nets but still bring a mosquito repellant! Once you check in they will give you a clean pillowcase, bed sheet and another linen to be used as a blanket. There are electric fans all around the sleeping area. When we stayed there I actually didn’t need to turn on the one close to my bed. I slept comfortably in my sweater and sweatpants!

The Circle Hostel La Union

Their shared T&B is kept clean all the time. The toilets are fully stocked with toilet papers and soap and have bidets installed in each cubicle.

Tip: To keep yourself organised in using a shared toilet & bath, always take a toiletries bag with you.

best hostel in la union The Circle Hostel

For your valuables, they provide free lockers but for safety reasons, you need to bring your own padlock. Free breakfast is included and they serve pandesal (bread) with different spreads, banana and coffee. It felt like an eat-all-you can because they kept on refilling! Hot and cold water is also available.

best place to stay in San Juan, La Union The Circle Hostel

The common area is where everyone gets together to socialise. It is a relaxing space with pillows and hammock that you can either sit or sleep while staying there. Also, all the power outlets are here. If you feel a bit artistic, you can ask the staff for paint and go on a graffiti spree.

The Circle Hostel cheap accommodation

All in all, I enjoyed staying here and I’m pretty happy with my experience. I really think that the best place to stay in La Union is at The Circle Hostel. It’s cheap, clean and close to the beach and restaurants, what more do you need? Many people think that staying in a hostel is only good for a solo trip but I beg to differ, there were couples and even a family with a cute baby staying there. So if you are feeling quite adventurous, check out The Circle Hostel La Union. And since you are in a surf town, the longboard capital in Luzon to be exact, The Circle Hostel offers surfing lessons and even a waterfalls trip.

What to Bring

Mosquito repellant
Toiletries bag
Waterproof bag

What to do in San Juan, La Union

Other Things To Do/Eat/Drink

Angel & Marie’s Place – the liempo and kilawin are really good!

Surf Shack – great selection of food, they usually have acoustic nights so check that out too

Elyu Classic – I did a 1 hour surfing lesson and my instructor was really good. More about it on a separate post.

If you want a different scenery, go on a waterfalls trip

How to get to San Juan, La Union

From Metro Manila, go to Partas Transportation Company Terminal: 816 Aurora Boulevard, Cubao, Quezon City, (it’s on Google Maps, dont worry)

Tell the conductor to drop you off at Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union or just say Sebay. The fare is ₱543 (roughly around $11 USD)

We left past midnight and took us 6 hours to get there. Ideally, it is best to take a late night trip to avoid traffic jam. If the traffic is really bad, it can take you up to 7 hours of travel time.

Partas busses depart every hour, every day from Cubao going to Laoag. This is the bus that you would be taking. I was quite impressed at how comfortable the busses of Partas are that I didn’t really mind at how long it took us to get to La Union. There is one stop over, in case you are wondering!

If you are closer to Pasay, then you can take a Partas bus from there too!

Going back to Manila

From San Juan, La Union, to Manila you can easily get on a bus back to Cubao from the main road, the same place where you were dropped off. I can’t guarantee that you will have a seat though. So it is best to take a jeep or a tricycle and ask them to drop you off at Partas Terminal where you can buy your ticket.

How to get to San Juan, La Union by car

If you will be driving, travel time is a lot shorter thanks to TPLEX (Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway). It will be around 4-5 hours depending on traffic and how fast you drive. Google Maps will be your buddy!


Roundtrip Transportation ₱1,086.00 Via Partas Bus
Lodging ₱500.00 One night bunk bed in The Circle Hostel
Surf Lesson ₱400.00 1 hour board rental with instructor
₱700.00 1 hour board rental with instructor, 3 hours board rental. So it’s a total of 4 hours
Food ₱1,000.00 Food is roughly around PHP200-300, but you can find other places for as low as PHP100. It all depends on what you want to eat.
Total ₱3,686.00

Budgetwise, I think this is pretty decent especially if you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Aside from getting some beach therapy, you will also get to learn how to surf! If you aren’t a picky eater, the total can go down to ₱3000. Not that bad, right?

Before I end this post, I made a vlog about our trip. Hope you guys like it! It’s my first time to make one, and I’m still learning 🙂 More to come soon!

I hope this helps you in planning your next out of town trip!

Let me know in the comments when you plan to go 🙂