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SAN FERNANDO is the capital of La Union province and has few sights itself, but gives access to a number of good beach resorts. Most travellers simply get off the bus here and then take a tricycle or jeepney to the beach, spending little time in the city itself, which is congested and not especially attractive. If you have a few hours to spare in San Fernando between bus connections, take a walk up Zigzag Road, past the popular High Altitude Disco, to the Chinese-Filipino Friendship Pagoda, from where there are great views across the rooftops and out to the South China Sea. A little further up Zigzag Road on top of the hill is the Provincial Capitol Building. Along Quezon Avenue on the northern outskirts of San Fernando sits the impressive Ma-Cho temple, testament to the influence of the Chinese in the area, many of whose ancestors arrived before the Spanish did.
There are two areas close to San Fernando with good beaches and a wide range of affordable accommodation. Bauang is a short tricycle ride to the south, while San Juan is a slightly longer jeepney ride north. The better of the two is San Juan, which is peaceful, sits on a wide fringe of clean beach and has good surfing.