Bali is widely synonymous with seemingly endless rice paddies, mythical temples, sacred volcanoes and fantastic beaches. The Island of Gods offers a sublime mix of history and heritage paired with incredible nature and hospitality – no wonder that Bali continuously tops international travel lists as one of Asia’s most popular destinations. The island offers plenty of options if you’re planning a trip on a limited budget. Here’s a breakdown on how to best enjoy a trip to Bali:
Planning your trip
First and foremost, visiting Bali on a budget depends pretty much on the accommodation you plan to choose, hence, it’s better to travel during the low season.
Peak season is during Christmas /New Year and July/August –due to long summer holidays in Europe- as you’ll have skyrocketing hotel rates and airline fares while from September to November are the best chances of getting low fares. It’s always good to compare various flight search engines with the airlines directly.
The climate is all-year-round tropical with an average temperature of 31°C in coastal areas, while the climate in higher regions reaches 27°C on average. The dry season goes from April to September while the wet season goes from October to March.
If you travel during low season you have big chances of getting a real good hotel room for a fraction of the normal rate. This is mainly caused by low demand versus abundance of accommodations, speaking hotel managers-/owners try everything to cover their running costs. As mentioned above with the flights, always check hotel booking sites like AGODA and contact as well the hotel directly. Sign up for newsletters of booking sites, since members receive additional benefits and discounts. Another option would be booking a room, apartment or house via Airbnb.
Food & Drinks
Food is as cheap as it can get comparable to other major tourist areas in Southeast Asia. With prices starting as low as 7000 IDR for Nasi Goreng (fried rice), the signature dish of Indonesia or 5000 IDR for Bakso, a mouthwatering soup with meatballs, you can be assured to fully indulge into Balinese cuisine without thinking of cutting expenses here. Typical local mom ‘n’ pop style restaurants -called ‘Warung’ -are almost everywhere available.
Don’t go too much clubbing as liquor prices add up quickly. A large Bintang beer costs anywhere between 20.000-25.000 IDR per bottle, while single shots of vodka or whiskey cost around the same.
Soft drinks and water are easily available at street vendors, kiosks and supermarkets.
Taxi fares are among the cheapest in Southeast Asia with a starting fee of 6000 IDR (but minimum 25.000 IDR). You can conveniently travel even longer distances without breaking your wallet as 30 minutes won’t cost you more than 35.000-40.000 IDR. The most reliable taxi company around is called ‘Blue Bird’, Tel.: (0361) 701111.
There are no ‘normal’ public buses around but so called Kura-Kura buses which serve however only the southern tourist areas Kuta, Jimbaran, Legian, Nusa Dua and Ubud in central Bali.
Alternatively, you can rent a motorbike almost everywhere around the main tourist hubs like Kuta, Ubud or Seminyak; 24 hours rental cost about 50.000-75.000 IDR for a scooter like Honda Vario or Yamaha Mio. Fuel costs 7500 IDR per litre at gas stations or 8000-8500 IDR per litre (filled in vodka bottles) from kiosks and some local restaurants who earn a small side-income with this.
Bali’s rich culture and diverse landscapes offer many incredible inexpensive and free attractions around the island:
Temples: Visiting temples is somewhat a ‘must-do’ when in Bali especially the so called ‘9 Directional Temples’ such as the impressive Tanah Lot or Uluwatu. These temples are built at key positions around the island, aiming to protect Bali from bad spirits. Entry fees are on average just 25.000 IDR per person. Beware of scammers dressed in traditional clothes trying to tell you ‘’that you HAVE to make a donation” (which you don’t have to do at any time). And if you’re done with those, there are approx. 20.000 more!
Outdoor: The cheapest (and healthiest) way of exploring the serene nature of Bali is renting a bicycle (from 30.000 IDR per day) and start randomly exploring hidden waterfalls, twinkling lakes and sleeping volcanoes. The best areas for cycling around are Ubud and the West Bali National Park. Moreover, trekking along beautiful rice terraces like Jati Luwih or Tegalalang cost you nothing more than a bit of endurance.
Beach: Bali offers so many different beaches that it’s sometimes difficult to see them all on a single trip. Make sure to visit the black sand beaches of Lovina in the north and the scenic beach around the sleepy town of Amed with the majestic Mount Agung, Bali’s highest and most sacred volcano, as backdrop.
Spas: Balinese spa therapists have an excellent reputation. Get a 60-minute relaxing treatment for as low as 50.000 IDR at any of the many day spas.
Festivals: Did you know that lots of visitors come specifically for the many different festivals held in Bali? One of the most popular festivals is ‘’Nyepi” or Silent Day which starts with a carnival-like parade and is followed by a day of complete silence where even the airport shuts down for 24 hours!