If you think La Union has nothing to offer but surfing, you are making a serious mistake! Elliott has a bizarre set of surprises that have been placed on knuckles and cranes. But if you are in Urbiztondo, San Juan, there is an attraction that you should not miss Tangadan Falls!
There are more than a dozen waterfalls across the province of La Union – from the lightly sloping Lang-aye Falls in Tubao to the little-known Lunar Okalang Falls. But perhaps the most popular of these cascades Tangadan Falls, Stuck in the sleeping town of San Gabriel. Marking a portion of the Barrow River, the waterfall has two levels, each with a natural pool at its base, surrounded by limestone hills and huge boulders.
Tangadan Falls is located in the mountainous area of San Gabriel in La Union. So the first step is to enter La Union. This waterfall is too far for a direct one-day trip from Manila, so most travelers visit it as part of a larger La Union trip. They usually book a hotel or resort in San Juan (especially Arbizitondo Beach) or San Fernando City. From here, you can dedicate half a day to this waterfall.
Planning to visit Tangadan Falls soon? Here are some things to know before you go.
What is covered in this guide?
1. Take the bus to San Fernando.
If you are coming from Metro Manila, we know that the only transit companies that take passengers directly to La Union are PARTAS and VIRON Transport (as of May 2022). There are terminals between the two Cuba. You can find La Union-bound buses at Viron’s Sampalok Terminal.
Take a bus to San Fernando City or San Juan, depending on where you live. Most La Union buses end up in San Fernando City.
Alternatively, if you are somewhere else, you can take a bus to Abra or Ilocos instead and get off at another city in San Juan or La Union. (Note that not all buses allow this, so it is important to ask a staff member before booking a ticket.)
For schedules, rentals and other important reminders, we’ve written a dedicated article here: La Union bus travel information from Manila! 3
If you bring your own car, just use Google Maps or Waze, then search San Gabriel Municipal Hall.
2. Ride a tricycle or jeepney to San Gabriel Town Proper.
Travel time is about 45 minutes from San Fernando and about 30 minutes from San Juan. Jeep fares between P15 and P20 pesos.
- If you are coming from San Fernando, go to Tanki Transport Terminal to catch a jeepney.
- If you are coming from San Juan, visit the People’s Park located across San Juan Municipal Hall.
A more convenient (but more expensive) option: a tricycle heel that will take you directly to San Gabriel Municipal Hall. Roundtrip fares start at P500 if you are alone, or more if you are in a group. (We provided P800 for a party of 3 people.) The driver can properly wait for you in town and pick you up at your hotel or resort.
If you want to spend most of your day, arrange a combined Tangadan Falls + Northern Tour (which includes the Emoki Island of Baconotan and the Luna Stone Attractions). Such tours range from P1800 to P2000.
3. Pay the entrance fee to the municipal treasury office.
The tricycle will throw you around San Gabriel Municipal Hall. It is located next to the turn police station.
Pay the environmental fee / entrance fee to the municipal treasury office. Fee P30 per person.
The “No Receipt, No Entry” rule applies. You may be asked to present an official receipt while on site.
4. Hire a tour guide.
Yes, it is necessary. A “no tour guide, no entry” is effective. You will find a tour guide station next to the police station.
P500 per tour guide fee group. We couldn’t figure out how many members were allowed in each group. But we were a team of three and we were considered a team.
5. Ride a hub-hub or jeepney up the trailhead.
Choose between a Hubble-Hubble (motorcycle) and a Jeep.
- Hubble-Hubble roundtrip rental P400 per unit. One unit can carry 2 passengers. If time is an issue or if you visit too early in the morning, this is the transpo mode for you.
- The rent of a jeepney is around 150 rupees per person. But it may wait for more passengers before leaving.
Travel time 20-30 minutes.
6. Waterfall trek.
A 15-20 minute walk down most of the waterfalls down the concrete stairs. But it still depends on your speed.
Note: The road to the trailhead is narrow and winding, and some parts are steep. This is quite challenging if you are not familiar with the road.
We have a video version of this travel guide here:
- Swimming. Immerse yourself in the cool fresh water of the Barrow River. If you are not a confident swimmer, you can rent a life vest or just swim in the shallow part. The algae rocks are very slippery, so be careful.
- Duraroha mountain climbing. If you feel adventurous, go Cliff Jumping! Before taking a dip, check to see if there are any swimmers downstairs. Note that the main cliff jumping point is closed for safety reasons, but you can still jump off the cliff below the waterfall.
- Snap away. Take lots of pictures. This beautiful natural gemstone with the surrounding limestone cliffs creates a stunning photo background.
Planning to spend a few days in La Union? The best place to book San Fernando and San Juan hotels. They are both centrally located, well connected and close to most attractions. Here are some of the properties available at Agoda.
Below is a full-day itinerary that includes a stop at Tangadan Falls. Note that this assumes that you are in San Juan, as we did. You can use it as part of a big La Union trip.
If the tricycle trip to Tangadan Falls is single P500, if you are a group of 3 then P800. If you also want to see Luna and Imuki Island (after Tangadan Falls), the combined tricycle tour is from P1800 to P2000.
In our case, we all agreed to see Tangadan Falls very early to avoid the crowds. We also had a party of 3 people, shared some expenses.
05:30 AM – San Gabriel Tricycle
06:00 AM – Rent Tour Guide, P166.67 / pax (P500 / Group)
06:10 AM – Pay Tangadan Falls Entrance, P30
06:15 AM – Hubble-Hubble Ride, P200 / pax (P400 / Motorcycle)
06:45 AM – Enjoy Tangadan Falls
08:30 AM – Go back
09:00 AM – Settle the Tangadan Fee (if you haven’t yet)
09:10 AM – Depart for Imuki Island
09:45 AM – Pay the entrance fee to Imuki Island, P20
09:55 AM – Rent raft, P83.33 / pax (P250 / raft)
11:00 AM – Quick Bath – P10
11:20 AM – Bahay na Bato, P50
12:20 PM – Bato de Luna, P50 Entrance, P150 Lunch
01:40 PM – Dessert at Lola Mending’s Cafe – P250
02:40 PM – Watchtower in Baluarte
03:15 PM – Darigayos Beach and Paravar Forest Quick Stop
04:00 PM – Return to Resort, Rest, Fresh
If you are a group of 3 people, each traveler should expect only this tour:
PHP 1677 – Tangadan Falls + Imuki Island + Moon Travel
PHP 664 – Only Tangadan Falls
What are the operating hours?
At the time of writing, visitors are only allowed during:
What is the cost? What is the budget?
Here is a summary of the costs you can expect.
- Bus fare: P505 to P800 (depending on bus company and route)
- Tricycle Rental (San Juan to San Gabriel): P500 for single, P800 for group of 3 people
- Environmental fees: P30 / Head
- Tour guide fee: P500 (up to 5px better)
- Hubble-Hubble Ride: P400 (roundtrip)
- Life West Rent: P50. This is optional only.
What are the travel requirements for La Union?
Among other requirements you will need a NAPANAM QR code. The complete list of requirements depends on your vaccine status and the alert level of the area you are coming from.
To better explain this, we have created a separate article here with more details: LA UNION TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS FOR TRAVELS 2022
When is the best time to go?
The cascades become stronger during the rainy season, but some parts of the trail become muddy. It is better to return after two to three days of rain. There is a high probability of seeing twin cascades even in wet season. However, check the official announcement of the Municipal Tourism Office or the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council for closure and precaution before you visit.
If you want to avoid large crowds, go one day a week. If you can’t help visiting on a weekend or holiday, try getting there early (as we did).
Are walk-in visitors allowed?
Yes! But if you want to secure your slot, you can arrange a tour one day or one night before your visit.
Have a parking lot?
If you bring your own car, you can park at the Jeepney terminal where the tour guide station is also located. But since it is a public terminal, you have to get there before you can fill the slots.
There is also parking space on the trailhead. We’re not sure if they allow private cars to run all the way here.
Do we really need to hire a tour guide?
No tour guide, no entry.
Also, don’t forget the Official Receipt (OR) issued by the Municipal Treasury Office.
Where to eat?
The Trailhead parking area has a snack and souvenir stall (where Hubble-Hubble and “Monster” Zipney Park).
Is it senior- and kid-friendly?
But probably not for seniors and certainly not for those who have mobility problems. Includes ascending trails and long flights of concrete steps on the way back to the jump-off point. Although there are rest stops, it can be challenging for young children, the elderly and those with mobility problems.
- The municipality is: +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 Police Provincial Office: +63 (72) 607 5100/0977 844 4404
- Union Coast Guard: +63 (72) 607 2877/0917 815 2012
- Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office: 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
- Other Police Hotline (for Gender Based Violence): +63 9197777377
- Tissa Justice (Free legal advice for victims of gender-based violence): Globe / TM, 09533826936; Smart / TNT / Sun: 09510774412