Hidden gems of the Philippines: Bauang, La Union

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When I first moved to the Philippines we drove around the country stopping here and there until myself and my partner happened upon a place that we felt would suit us to stay at long term.

When we arrived in the province of La Union, sandwiched between the foothills of the Cordillera Ranges and the Gulf of Lingayen we knew we’d found our bolt hole. So we decided to rent a place for a few weeks and take a look around for something to buy.

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For the princely sum of 10,000 pesos a month (about 200 USD) we rented a two-bedroom cottage literally on the beach and attached to a local-style beach resort.

For me it ticked all the boxes. I could walk out my back door with my dogs, through a small gate, and be on a wide expanse of beach. Were I so inclined I could instead walk out my front door, through a slightly larger gate, and find myself sitting at a bar which, as the barman told me on my day of arrival, guaranteed that the SMB was as cold as my ex’s heart.

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Bauang
Me outside my back door with the dogs

Bauang itself is on the southern outskirts of the La Union provincial capital,  San Feranando City, and as such has all of the conveniences you’d expect, such as fast food joints, banks, supermarkets and shopping malls (all the things that I didn’t want right on my doorstep).

It also has quite an active expatriate population and some very good watering holes (be sure to check out Pejos). One other, extremely important convenience,is a nearby immigration office available for tourist visa extensions and other annoying little documents.

Bauang
Annual Banka Boat parade going past the resort

While the City of San Fernando is home to supermarkets and shopping malls, as I mentioned above, the local wet market has always been more my style.

The market at Bauang does not disappoint, with a full range of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and amazing seafood. If you’re a fan of fresh fish then the markets on this part of the coast are a godsend. With a large tuna fishing fleet based near Bauang as well as a large inshore reef fishing fleet you can get everything from a barracuda to coral trout very cheaply.

Eventually we chose not to live in Bauaung, primarily because I’ve lived in Asia for a long time, and slotting into another local expat scene really didn’t float my boat.

I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, but I’m more of a homebody who prefers a couple of quiet beers and reading a book in a hammock. That said, I would highly recommend that people put Bauang on their itinerary if they are travelling around Luzon. Especially if you’re new to the country, it’s a great place to get a soft landing. To get there from Angeles Airport is 4,500-5,000 pesos in a taxi or from 400-450 by bus from the city’s Dau terminal.

There are also loads of great places to stay between Baccuit Norte and Pagdalagan all of which are cheap, friendly and most of which are right on the water:

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