Before I travel to a country, I always do a little research on the country and read travel blog articles pertaining to the areas I am interested in. Once in a while I might also reach out to travel bloggers who live in a particular area to get the inside scoop about places I want to visit.

In February 2011 before my trip to the Philippines, I contacted James Betia of because I was intrigued by his mission of traveling around the Philippines  the most inexpensive way possible. James not only gave me information about traveling around the Philippines, but he also made the trip to Manila to show me around for one whole day!

Recently, I was able to reconnect with and speak to James about his travel and to give readers some tips on traveling around the Philippines.

Journeying James

James in Manila, 2011

James on Travel

What ignited your passion for travel?

I had this small Philippines map near my bed during my college days. I saw that every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to sleep. Sometimes I would tell myself that one day I would explore that map.

I also remember that when I was in third grade, I was always fascinated with the photos of the tourist attractions in the Philippines I saw in our textbooks.

Have there ever been any times during your travels that you have gotten frustrated and just wanted to turn around and go home? What happened during that time and how did you overcome your situation?

Yes. I guess it was when people try to scam you or offer you prices higher than the usual rate. I try to back off from the situation and rethink of other options.

Also during times when I caught really bad disease. I just drink pineapple juice. Works wonders overtime I feel I have colds or flu.

Is there any one place you wish that you could travel to in the world? Where would it be and what would be your budget?

Europe. I wanted to see Europe especially the Eastern part. I don’t know about the budget, maybe 20 Euros per day or less.

James on the Philippines

You have traveled extensively throughout the Philippines. What are the top three areas you would recommend people to visit when they come to the Philippines? Why?
  1. Batad Rice Terraces. You haven’t been to the Philippines if you don’t go to Batad. It’s one site that’s teeming with heritage. Rice is the staple food of the Filipinos. The rice gods “bul-lo” guarding the terraces speaks of our belief before the Spanish started conquering our lands. Now it’s a UNESCO Heritage Site.
  2. Intramuros, Manila. Don’t miss this when you are in Manila. It is a reminder of how rich our country is during the olden times and how the walls around the city are fortified for the many conquerors attack. If only those walls could speak of the rich history of our country.
  3. Palawan. 90% of our tourists go here because of our beaches. If you haven’t seen what paradise is, come to Palawan. I recommend El Nido and Coron.
A lot of people visiting to the Philippines often travel to Boracay. What are your opinion about Boracay? Why did you form this opinion?

It’s one island tourists should stop visiting.

No question that the long stretch of powdery white sand is one of the best in the country and its party is really epic but behind these is a poor waste management. Some hotels secretly dump liquid waste to the sea.

Manila or Cebu has a better party scene than Boracay and if you are looking for pristine white beach, we have a lot to offer in Palawan, Camiguin, Bohol, Pagudpud, Cebu, etc.

James in Binondo

James on Budgeting

You are very good at spending as little money as possible while traveling. Can you offer some advice as to how people can save money and enjoy traveling?

I always ask the locals whenever I arrive in a new destination. I also bring my hammock with me so I can just hang it when I can’t afford to pay the accommodations available in the area. Sometimes I would be surprised as locals would welcome me in their houses and give me a shade for a night.

I also eat local. Given a choice of hotel food or street food, I go for the street food. You learn a lot about the culture of the place especially when you eat with the locals in the streets.

James in Jomalig (Photo by Melvin Brutas)

James on Life

When you are not on a journey, what can people find you doing?

Just sipping my own mix of coffee back at home while surfing the net. Or making a banana-mango shake to cool my day.

James on ANC Dateline Philippines, 2012

You can follow James’ adventures on Twitter (@journeyingjames) and get updates about his life through his Facebook page.