Bali on a Budget: A Guide to Visiting Bali
February 17, 2020
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Bali is a bucket list destination for many, and therefore is often viewed as expensive and unattainable. The good news, Bali is actually a super budget-friendly destination and visiting Bali on a budget is a completely realistic goal if you plan it out right. Not to mention, Bali is one of my all time favorite places! Beautiful beaches, endless rice fields, and waterfalls all over the island, it is hard to not love this magical island. This blog post will cover everything you need to know about planning the perfect trip to Bali, Indonesia if you’re on a budget.
Is it possible to travel to Bali on a budget?
Yes, yes, and yes again! The first thing to know about planning a trip to Bali is that, like any other destination, a trip here can either be super expensive or super cheap. Most of this is going to depend on accomodation, tours, and where you chose to dine. Prices have definitely risen over the past few years due to the island’s popularity, especially with Australian tourists. However, if you know where to look you can definitely enjoy Bali on a budget.
Visiting Bali on a Budget: What to Know
The currency used in Bali is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). As of December 2020, $1 USD = 14,168 IDR. For quick reference, 10,000 IDR is less than $1 USD (around $0.73 USD as of December 2020). While many places take credit/debit cards, there are a lot of places on the island that are still cash-only. It is relatively easy to get cash in Bali, however it is not uncommon to run into broken or sketchy ATMs. If possible, arrive with some local cash or USD to exchange just in case. Also, be sure to monitor your bank account after each cash withdrawal in case of fraud.
Best Time to Visit:
Bali is beautiful all year round, however there are some busier seasons than others depending on the weather. The seasons are designated by the rainy season and the peak season, with a bit of a shoulder season in between. The rainy season typically lasts from mid-November to March. Travel is definitely still possible during this time, however rainy days are very prevalent during this timeframe.
The busiest time of the year to visit Bali is from mid-May to September. You’ll find the highest number of sunny days, but also highest number of tourists. A great option for visiting Bali on a budget is to visit during the shoulder months, during which time you’ll find cheaper accommodation options. This is best for those interested in budget travel.
What is the Cheapest Time to Fly to Bali?
In general you’ll find the cheapest flights to Bali during the shoulder months. The shoulder months are typically from March-May and September-November. Typically March is the absolute cheapest time to fly to Bali, but you can find deals during any of the shoulder months.
Unfortunately there are no direct flights from the US, but you’ll find direct flights from a number of major cities including Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and many others.
How Much Should I Budget for Bali?
Bali is a super diverse island, with options available for any type of traveler. If you’re interested in traveling to Bali on a budget, you can easily get by on $50 USD per day, especially if you are traveling with someone else. However, I’ve known many people who get by on only $25-30 USD per day as a Bali budget. I think that it is also important to treat yourself a bit if the budget allows.
Where to Stay in Bali on a Budget?
Where you choose to stay in Bali is going to be the first factor to make or break your budget. Luckily for all the luxury resorts, there are an equal amount of budget-friendly accommodation options. One of the best ways to save money when visiting Bali with a group is to book an AirBnB. There are so many private villas that won’t break the bank! For those of you that are traveling solo, there are tons of great hotels for both the social butterflies, and those looking for a bit of space and privacy.
If you’ve never used AirBnB before, use this link for $55 off your first booking.
Where to Stay in Canggu
Lemon Guesthouse – Lemon Guesthouse is an excellent option if you’re traveling in a pair! The price is super reasonable, and includes breakfast at a local cafe. With only 4 guestrooms, the pool is practically private.
Alternative Beach – This spot is a great option for many as they offer both private rooms and dorm rooms, all surrounding their gorgeous pool. The private rooms are truly lush, with some offering a balcony and rice field views. Not to mention the avocado toast for breakfast is divine! Things can get a bit rowdy depending on the day, as they often host day pool parties. Be sure to check the schedule!
The Farm Hostel – This is quite possibly the nicest hostel that I’ve ever stayed at. Boasting two pools and a beautiful cafe, you’ll quickly forget every hesitation you ever felt towards hostel life. The beds are cleaned daily and have a curtain for an extra bit of privacy. With enforced quiet hours, you can easily get a good night of sleep here.
Where to Stay in Ubud
Budget: Merthayasa Bungalows – located right on Monkey Forest Street, these bungalow rooms are perfect for couples or friends looking for a quiet escape. Basic rooms with a great little pool. Starting at $13 USD for a private room with breakfast.
Budget: Puji Hostel – A great option for solo travelers, featuring a swimming pool amidst the rice fields. Private bungalows are also available. Walking distance to a number of attractions, restaurants, and a great massage parlor.
Luxury on a Budget – White Stone Villa – While definitely pricier than the other options in this guide, this villa is the definition of a luxurious Bali vacation. The villa is located in the midst of a private rice terrace with a private pool. The villa price starts at $450 USD per night but fits up to 8 individuals with breakfast included. Also, if you’re new to AirBnB you can use this link for $55 USD off of your booking.
Avoiding the Tourist Centers in Bali
One of the best tips for traveling to Bali on a budget is to spend more time outside of the large, tourist centers — such as Canggu, Ubud, Seminyak, and Uluwatu. While all of these locations are great, you’ll find a more authentic experience (with more authentic prices) as you travel further north or towards the East.
On my most recent trip to Bali we spent some time visiting the northern cities of Munduk and Lovina. Both destinations serve as great starting points for visiting the many waterfalls of Bali. In Lovina we found a resort for only $19/night for 2 people. This included a private room, free mini massages per person, a welcome drink, and breakfast. Overall I’d recommend the resort, located right on the beach with a pool on-property, but I’d recommend avoiding the rainy season at all costs. Visiting in May, just following the rainy season, the mosquitos were out and ready to attack!
While in Lovina we visited a local side-of-the-road warung, where we were able to enjoy 3 entrees and 2 bottles of water for under $3 USD.
Best Things to Do in Bali on a Budget
Appreciate Bali’s Culture on a Budget
Explore the Local Markets
There are so many amazing markets throughout Bali, where you can purchase fun souvenirs and artisanal goods. Some of my favorites include the Ubud Market, Love Anchor, and the Sunday market at Samadi in Canggu.
Visit the Temples
- Pura Taman Saraswati (Ubud Palace) – Located right in the center of Ubud, this temple is free to visit and explore.
- Uluwatu Temple – you will need to fight the crowds for a little space, but the views from Uluwatu Temple at sunset are unbeatable. Entrance tickets cost 50,000 IDR.
- Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan – Located in the Northern Bali village of Munduk, Pura Ulun Danu Tamblingan is a must-visit while in Bali. Entrance into the temple grounds costs 50,000 IDR.
Take a Cooking Class
One of my absolute favorite things to do in any city is to take a cooking class. Taking a cooking class in Bali allows you to experience the local food and culture, plus save on a meal or two. Many of these classes have you preparing enough food that you should be set for two meals! If you’ve visiting Ubud, I recommend Periuk Bali Cooking Class.
Explore the Bali’s Nature
Sunrise Hike to Mt. Batur – One of the most popular things to do in Ubud is the Mt. Batur sunrise hike. Unfortunately it is mandated that you visit with a guide, which makes the adventure a bit more expensive. I recommend booking your trip with Sunshine Tours (+62 878-8904-6155), priced at approximately $26 USD/person.
Tegalalang Rice Terraces – These rice terraces are a sight to see, and one of the most popular destinations for travelers visiting and I recommend visiting in the early morning for the perfect light rays. I was only required to purchase a ticket 10,000K (~$0.75), however I have heard from others that the price is much higher depending on where you enter. You may also be stopped by locals along the way asking for “donations”.
Enjoy the Beaches of Bali – Bali is known for their amazing beaches, but it is important to know the best ones around the island. In my opinion, you’ll find the best beaches in Uluwatu, and on the nearby Nusa Islands.Here is a list of some of my favorites, along with any costs:
- Green Bowl Beach
- Karma Beach
- Padang Padang Beach (10,000 IDR entrance, 5,000 parking fee)
- Bingin Beach
Explore the best Bali Waterfalls – There are so many amazing waterfalls in Bali that it’s impossible to visit them all. Both Ubud and Munduk, in north Bali, are great jumping off points. The cheapest way to visit these waterfalls is by renting a scooter and exploring on your own. However, if you aren’t comfortable driving then you can rent a private car for a half-day driver for approximately $35 USD. Here are a handful of my favorite Bali waterfalls: I have included prices below for each of the waterfalls. For under $2 USD a waterfall, you can have a full day of exploring Bali on a budget.
- Tukad Cepung (10,000 IDR)
- Kanto Lampo (20,000 IDR)
- Munduk Waterfalls (10,000-20,000 IDR per waterfall)
- Git Git (20,000 IDR)
- Aling Aling (10,000 IDR for viewing only – NO SWIMMING, 125,000 IDR + for a trekking guide)
Where to Eat in Bali on a Budget
Bali is known for its instagrammable cafes and healthy eats lifestyle amongst travelers and expats. Many of these cafes are super affordable in comparison to similar restaurants in the US and Europe, however the cheapest way to eat in Bali on a budget is at local warungs. Eating at warungs is the best way to experience the local cuisine, without breaking the budget. You have the opportunity to load up your plate with rice and a selection of local dishes, such as fried tempeh or stir fried veggies. You can get a full plate of food for only $1-2 USD. Here are a few of my favorite budget-friendly restaurants in Canggu, Ubud, and Uluwatu:
Warung Biah Biah, Ubud
Warung Biah Biah is a great budget-friendly dining option in Ubud. The warung is centrally located, often filled with tourists and locals alike. Biah Biah offers plenty of seating, so you’ll have no problem enjoying your full plates of the best local grub.
PriMa Warung Vegetarian, Ubud
There might be only one dish served here, the Indo signature Nasi Campur, but they sure do it well. This is perfect for anyone looking to get a taste of the local cuisines, plus it is vegetarian.
Bu Mi, Canggu
Bu Mi is easily one of my favorite spots to eat in Canggu. It’s the perfect lunch or dinner option when you’re looking for something fast, cheap, and incredibly flavorful. Bu Mi might not be the most “instagram-friendly” cafe in Bali, but it is a great option if you’re looking to save money.
Varuna Warung, Canggu
A great local warung located just a few minutes up from the main beach in Canggu. The food here is cheap and casual, with ample outdoor seating available.
Crate Cafe, Canggu
Although eating at warungs is the cheapest way to dine in Bali, even Bali’s trendiest cafes are reasonably priced. Canggu’s famous ‘Crate Cafe’ offers insta-worthy plates and smoothie bowls for an average price of 45K idr (less than $3.50 USD). Crate Cafe is considered by many to be the place to brunch, so make sure to arrive early on weekends to avoid long lines.
Bali Happy Hours
Another option for keeping on track for your budget bali, is take advantage of the great happy hours in Bali’s more touristy cities. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Milk + Madu: 2 for 1 pizzas available on Tuesday and Sunday evenings after 5pm
- There is also live music on these evenings, which is a great free activity
- Luigi’s Pizza: 50K IDR pizzas on Monday nights
- Old Man’s: 2 for 1 drinks, weekdays from 5-6pm
Getting Around Bali on a Budget
Unfortunately Bali is not a very walking friendly city, unless you’re on the main strip of either Seminyak or Ubud. Luckily there are a ton of cheap options for getting around. The most common way to get around Bali is by scooter. Scooters can be rented across the island for an average of 50K IDR/day (under $4 USD). Discounts are available for weekly or monthly rentals. While scooters are incredibly common, please only choose to rent one if you feel comfortable driving in Bali traffic. Scooter accidents are extremely common amongst tourists. Please always drive responsibly, wear a helmet, and avoid drinking and driving.
If you do not feel comfortable driving, you can rent a private driver for approximately 750K IDR per day ($50 USD) Other options include rideshare services such as Go-Jek and Grab, however the usage of these apps is restricted in a number of areas.
Here are some other articles that you should check out if you’re traveling to Bali:
- North Bali Waterfalls
- Canggu Restaurant Guide
- Guide to Ubud
- Best Things to do in Canggu
- Exploring Nusa Penida
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