Vessel Hostel: Our Favorite Hostel in San Juan, La Union!

This hostel is so cool you’ll forget that it’s a shipping container!

VESSEL HOSTEL is a budget hostel composed of repurposed shipping containers stacked on top of each other. Designed by surfer architects Buji Libarnes and Nikki Dela Paz-Libarnes, by transforming vessels originally designed for transporting cargo into this small, efficient, mobile hostel that offers an interesting alternative to the traditional lodging.

With over 22 cozy capsules and 5 suites inspired by modern and minimalistic living for discerning travelers and surfers. It features some of those cool looking pod-style beds complete with neat pull-down privacy shades.  Free breakfast is one of the perks in addition to a pretty sweet location near the surfing shores of San Juan, La Union, you’ll have all the restaurants, cafes, and bars right around the corner.

Here’s a quick look inside our favorite hostel in San Juan, La Union…


Vessel Hostel
Urbiztondo San Juan, La Union
Facebook: VesselHostel


About the Owners:

Buji Libarnes and Nikki Dela Paz-Libarnes fell in love with La Union back in 2000 when they first visited this place. They’ve been surfing since then and try and sneak in a surf session whenever the waves are good. Buji is fond of all things classic, from mid-century modern architecture and vintage trinkets to old music and cars while Nikki loves to travel and visit new places around the globe.



They were really inspired by the “openness”, “lightness” and warmth of 1950’s architecture combined with the space-saving sensibilities of Japanese compact living.



We arrived around 12 midnight and good thing there was someone manning the hotel lobby. As we entered, you could already feel the excitement from all the hip surfer vibe emanating from the hostel.



With rooms that take a maximum of 4 people, you are ensured of relative privacy in this hostel. (P1200 per night inclusive of the continental breakfast.)



If you’re lucky and book early you’ll get the second floor with you’re own private shower and toilet. But if not the third floor has common bathrooms that separate both the men and women.



It features some of those cool looking pod-style beds complete with neat pull-down privacy shades.



There’s a free Wi-Fi access that’s fast at night but slow during the daytime.



It’s a traveler’s paradise. The pods are thoughtfully designed with shelves for your bags, sockets for your gadgets, drawers for your shoes, and even locks for your important belongings.



I was surprised to discover this was a towel rack.



A balcony with a rack to hang wet clothes.



There’s free tissue, soap, and shower gel. But I still suggest you bring your own toiletries.



Our favorite spot is the rooftop, where daily breakfast is served with an amazing view. This is the place where you’ll meet like-minded people that go surfing during the day and chill in the hostel lounge at night.


The guests are a beautiful mix of surfers, people from Manila who want to experience La Union, as well as international travelers and backpackers.



I wonder if banana, pandesal, peanut butter, and coffee a surfer’s breakfast in the Philippines?



It’s simple but a hearty breakfast for surfers who want a light and easy meal before hitting the waves. We just love the malungay pandesal which they buy fresh every day from the local bakery.



There’s parking on the side, but kind of hard to get to since the roads are narrow.



We love the timeless simple design that millennials just adore! I would definitely recommend this for anyone looking for an affordable hip hostel in La Union.


Vessel Hostel
Urbiztondo San Juan, La Union
Facebook: VesselHostel


Live an Awesome Life,

ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: We were media guests of Vessel Hostel.  I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.

P.S. They plan on expanding next year and adding some private rooms!

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