If you think La Union has nothing to offer other than surfing, you’re wrong! Elyu has a various series of miracles kept in its nooks and crannies. But if you stay in Urbiztondo in San Juan is an attraction not to be missed Tangadan Falls†
La Union has more than a dozen waterfalls scattered across the province – from the gently sloping Lang-ay Falls in Tubao to the little-known Occalong Falls in Luna. But perhaps the most popular of these cascades is: Tangadan Falls, tucked away in the sleepy town of San Gabriel. Crossing part of the Baroro River, this waterfall has two levels, each with a natural pool at the base, surrounded by limestone cliffs and giant boulders.
Tangadan Falls is located in Barangay Amontoc in the mountainous area of San Gabriel, La Union. So the first step is to get to La Union. This waterfall is too far for a day trip straight from Manila, so most travelers visit it as part of a larger La Union itinerary. They usually book a hotel or resort in San Juan (especially Urbiztondo Beach) or San Fernando City. From here you can spend half a day at this waterfall.
Are you planning to visit Tangadan Falls soon? Here are some things to know before you go.
WHAT IS COVERED IN THIS MANUAL?
1. Board a bus to San Fernando.
Coming from Metro Manila, the only transit companies we know of that transport passengers directly to La Union are PARTAS and VIRON Transport (as of May 2022). Both have terminals in Cuban† You can also find La Union bound buses at Viron’s Sampaloc terminal†
Board a bus to San Fernando City or San Juan, depending on where your accommodation is located. Most La Union buses terminate in San Fernando City.
If you are staying elsewhere, you can also take a bus to Abra or Ilocos and get off in San Juan or another town in La Union. (Note that NOT ALL buses allow this, so it’s important to ask a staff member before booking a ticket.)
For the schedule, rate and other important reminders, we have written a special article here: TRAVEL INFORMATION BY BUS FROM MANILA TO LA UNION!
If you are coming with your own car, use Google Maps or Waze and then search for the San Gabriel Town Hall.
2. Ride a tricycle or jeepney to San Gabriel Town Proper.
Travel time is approximately 45 minutes from San Fernando and approximately 30 minutes from San Juan. Jeepney fare is between P15 and P20 pesos.
- If you are coming from San Fernando, go to Tanqui Transport Terminal to take a jeepney.
- If you’re coming from San Juan, head to People’s Park, opposite the San Juan City Hall.
A more convenient (but more expensive) option: Greet a tricycle that will take you directly to the San Gabriel Town Hall. Return fare starts at P500 if you are alone, or more if you are a group. (We paid P800 for a party of 3.) The driver can wait for you in the city proper and then take you back to your hotel or resort.
If you want to make the most of your day, arrange a combined Tangadan Falls + Northern Tour (including a visit to Immuki Island in Bacnotan and stone attractions in Luna). Tours like these range from P1800 to P2000.
3. Pay the entrance fee at the municipal Treasury Department.
The tricycle will drop you off around the town hall of San Gabriel. It is located next to the police station at the intersection.
Pay the environmental contribution/entrance fees to the municipal Ministry of Finance. The costs are P30 per person.
The “No reception, no entry” rule is in effect. You may be asked on site to show the official receipt.
4. Hire a guide.
Yes, it is required. A “No Guide, No Entry” is in effect. You will find the travel agency next to the police station.
The fee for the guide is P500 per group. We were unable to find out how many members are allowed per group. But we were a group of three and we were considered just one group.
5. Ride a habal-habal or jeepney to the trailhead.
Choose between a habal-habal (motorcycle) and a jeep.
- The Habal-Habal return fare is P400 per unit. One unit can accommodate up to 2 passengers. If time is an issue or you are visiting early in the morning, this is the mode of transportation for you.
- Jeepney fare is about P150 per person. But it can wait for more passengers before it leaves.
Travel time is 20-30 minutes.
6. Trek to the waterfall.
It is a 15-20 minute walk along a mostly concrete staircase to the waterfall. But it still depends on your pace.
NOTE: The road leading to the trailhead is narrow and winding, with some sections steep. It’s quite a challenge if you don’t know the way.
We also have a video version of this travel guide here:
- Swimming. Take a dip in the cold, fresh waters of the Baroro River. If you’re not a confident swimmer, you can rent a life jacket or just swim in the shallows. The mossy rocks are very slippery, so be careful.
- Cliff diving. If you’re feeling adventurous, go cliff jumping! Check the drop point if there are swimmers below before taking the plunge. Note that the original cliff jumping point is closed for safety reasons, but you can still jump off the lower rock outcropping near the falls.
- Snap away. Take lots of pictures. This picturesque natural gem, with the surrounding limestone cliffs, makes for a beautiful photo backdrop.
Planning to spend a few days in La Union? San Fernando and San Juan are the best places to book a hotel. They are both centrally located, well connected and close to most attractions. Here are some of the accommodations available on Agoda.
Below is a full day itinerary with a stop at Tangadan Falls. Note that this assumes you are staying in San Juan, as we did. You can use this as part of a larger La Union route.
Tricycle tour for Tangadan Falls is P500 if you are alone, P800 if you are a group of 3. If you also want to visit Luna and Immuki Island (after Tangadan Falls), a combined tricycle tour is P1800 to P2000.
In our case, we all agreed to visit Tangadan Falls very early to avoid the crowds. We were also a party of 3 and shared some of the cost.
05:30 am – Tricycle to San Gabriel
06:00 AM – Hire a guide, P166.67/pax (P500/group)
6:10 AM – Pay entrance Tangadan Falls, P30
06:15 am – Habal-Habal ride, P200/pax (P400/motorcycle)
06:45 AM – Enjoy Tangadan Waterfalls
08:30 am – Go back
9:00 AM – Settle Tangadan fees (if you haven’t already)
09:10 AM – Departure to Immuki Island
9:45 AM – Pay Immuki Island entrance fee, P20
09:55 AM – Rent raft, P83.33/pax (P250/raft)
11:00 AM – Quick shower – P10
11:20 AM – Bahay na Bato, P50
12:20 pm – Bato de Luna, entrance P50, lunch P150
1:40 PM – Dessert at Lola Mending’s Cafe – P250
2:40 PM – Baluarte Watchtower
3:15 PM – Quick stop Darigayos Beach & Paraoir Forest
4:00 PM – Back to the resort, rest, freshen up
If you are a group of 3, each traveler should expect to pay for this tour only:
PHP 1677 – Tangadan Waterfalls + Immuki Island + Moon Tour
PHP 664 – Tangadan Waterfalls Only
What are the opening hours?
At the time of writing, visitors are only allowed within these times:
What are the costs? How much budget?
Here’s the rundown of the expenses you could expect.
- Bus fare: P505 to P800 (depending on bus company and route)
- Tricycle rate (San Juan to San Gabriel): P500 for solo, P800 for group of 3
- Environmental compensation: P30/cup
- Cost guide: P500 (good for up to 5 pax)
- Habal-Habal ride: P400 (return)
- Life jacket rental: P50. This is only optional.
What are the travel requirements for La Union?
Among other things, you need a NAPANAM QR code. The full list of requirements depends on your vaccination status and the alert level of the area you come from.
To explain it better, we’ve made a separate article here with more details: LA UNION TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS for TOURISTS 2022
When is the best time to go?
The falls are strong during the rainy season, but some parts of the trail get muddy. It is best to visit two to three days after a rain shower. There is a good chance of seeing double waterfalls in the wet season as well. However, before your visit, please refer to the official announcement of the Municipality’s Tourist Office or the Municipal Council for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management for closures and warnings.
If you want to avoid big crowds, visit on a weekday. If you can’t resist visiting on a weekend or public holiday, try to get there early in the morning (as we did).
Are walk-in visitors allowed?
Yes! But if you want to secure your lock, you can arrange the tour one day or one night before your visit.
Is there a parking space?
If you come with your own car, you can park at the jeepney terminal where the guide’s station is also located. But since it’s a public terminal, get there early before the slots are full.
There is also a parking lot at the trailhead. We’re just not sure if they allow private cars to drive all the way here.
Do we really need to hire a guide?
No guide, no entry.
Also don’t forget the official receipt (OR) issued by the municipal Ministry of Finance.
Where to eat
There is a stall selling snacks and souvenirs in the trailhead parking lot (where the habal-habal and “monster” jeepneys park).
Is it senior and kid friendly?
But maybe not for seniors and certainly not for those with mobility issues. The trek back to the starting point includes ascending paths and a long staircase of concrete steps. Although there are rest areas, it can still be a challenge for small children, seniors and those with mobility issues.
- city Hall: +63 (72) 687 0125 / 0916 479 6253
- San Gabriel Municipal Health Office: +63 (72) 682 0504 / [email protected]
- San Gabriel Police Station: 0928 780 2268
- La Union Provincial Police Station: +63 (72) 607 5100 / 0977 844 4404
- The Union Coast Guard: +63 (72) 607 2877 / 0917 815 2012
- Provincial Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management: 911/0945 283 5067
- La Union Bureau of Fire Protection: +63 (72) 607 4066 / 0917 186 2711
- La Union Medical Center: +63 (72) 607-5938 / 607 5541 to 45
- Aleng Pulis Hotline (for Gender Based Violence): +63 9197777377
- Tisya Justice (Free legal advice for victims of gender-based violence): Globe/TM, 09533826936; Smart/TNT/Sun: 09510774412