There is 1 operator that run from Manila to San Juan, La Union, with 6 departures per day. If you decide to take a Bus, you can take the Tourist and Standard options.
Making your way north from Manila to San Juan, La Union usually takes about four hours by bus with the earliest of eight daily departures leaving before dawn. Tickets are affordable, not more than US $20, and there are two types of bus to choose from: Tourist and Standard.
Most travelers make the journey to San Juan from Manila for just one reason, and that's to surf. Seasonal waves, from July right the way through to March, are suitable for relatively experienced surfers looking for consistent sets and plenty of sunshine. And, if you don't fancy taking your board all across the Philippines, you'll find numerous rental outlets as well as surf schools which include board hire. There's also lots of beach-side accommodation in San Juan, La Union, and booking somewhere before you make the ride from Manila is best advice if you want to avoid a frantic search with all your gear.
If you're not into surfing or you're also looking to find out more about local life, San Juan has lots of traditional cottage industries to visit. These small workshops are where all manner of baskets, blankets and bamboo items are created and a visit also offers insight into rural communities away from the tourist hot spots on the beach.
Taking a bus is basically the only way to travel overland from Manila to San Juan, La Union. The distance is 277 kilometers (172 miles) and the total time is approximately four hours. Both types of bus, Tourist and Standard, are air-conditioned with reclining seats. The more popular, and slightly more expensive, Tourist Bus also features an onboard bathroom, televisions and Wi-Fi access, where available. Bus capacity is for around 44 passengers and you can usually get an even better deal if you book two seats at the same time.
Many travelers heading out of Manila will be looking to grab some rest on route to San Juan, La Union. However, as the journey's only four hours, an equal amount of people will use the time to chat, play cards and make new friends. Of course, it's up to you how you spend your time. Just take ear plugs and a travel pillow if you fancy getting some sleep. Oh, and don't forget a cozy sweater as that air conditioning unit is always cranked up to its highest setting!
Leaving behind the Philippines' capital city of Manila takes you away from the high rises and into the suburbs where local communities live in ever-increasing urban sprawl. The journey north to San Juan in the province of La Union takes around four hours to complete the total 277 kilometer (172 mile) distance. Bus travel offers a comfortable and affordable ride for travelers and also gives you a chance to get to know fellow passengers without being cooped up for too long. Most buses will make at least one rest stop along the way, especially if they don't have an onboard bathroom.
Once you've exited Manila's city limits you'll follow the highway north with the usual blend of traffic. The closer you get to San Juan the more the scenery turns to agricultural fields of corn and livestock as you pass by rural villages and small coastal communities. Keep your eyes peeled for workshops where cottage industries produce numerous products, including bamboo baskets, pottery and even concrete blocks.
Taking a bus
Bus rides from Manila to San Juan, La Union are the best way to get out of the city and along the coast. All buses are air conditioned and have reclining seats for a relatively comfortable experience. Some buses will also include onboard bathrooms. Those that don't will make a rest stop for comfort breaks. Televisions and access to Wi-Fi might also be available on board.
There won't usually be any food or drink available to buy on board so grab some bottled water and some snacks for the journey before you set off. Bus types include Standard and Tourist buses. Both are up-to-date with modern safety features and the Tourist buses will also include an English-speaking host who will point out a few sights along the way.
Basically, it's a four hour journey which will usually fly by, especially if you're happy to be getting out of the big city and heading to the beach. It's a good time to grab some rest as you watch the world pass by the window. Alternatively, you can get to know a few of your fellow travelers or just pass the time playing cards or swapping stories. If you're taking your own surfboard, it's best to check with the bus company before you turn up at the terminal. Boards are available to hire in San Juan so give this some thought if you're looking to hit the waves in the Philippines' surf center.
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