Bali attracts so many people every year, as “the island of the gods” offers everything your heart desires. Everyone is happy and content here, no matter if you’re a surfer, scuba diver, explorer, culture lover or a sun worshipper. This versatility has led to a steep rise in tourism and prices over the past decade. But don’t worry, you can experience Bali on a budget as well! As you’ll see in this article.
Travel in the right season
“Avoid tourist crowds … and the rain”
Bali has two climates, the dry season from April to October and the rainy season from November to March. The monsoon is bearable: it isn’t raining all day and you sometimes even see the sun. If you want to save money, it is best to travel to Bali at the end or at the beginning of the rainy season. During that time, prices are lower and there are fewer tourists in Bali.
We don’t recommend the months of December/ January and July/ August, when either European or Australian crowds escape the winter or are on summer holidays. The best travelling period is from April to June or September to November.
Since Bali is close to Australia, combining Indonesia with your Working Holiday in Australia is a great idea. From the east coast of Australia, you can expect to pay around 350 € for flights.
Cheap Accommodation in Bali
If you don’t want to spend too much money, forget about the dream hotels with infinity pool and jungle views on Instagram. But you can find beautiful accommodations at reasonable prices as well!
To save money, book only the first night in advance. It’s best to negotiate the price for the following nights on the spot: Then you might get a 10% discount! If you travel by yourself, hostels are your best bet. In Ubud or Canggu, you pay about 5 € for a dorm with breakfast. You can also book a room in an authentic homestead for about 15 euros. For breakfast, you get banana pancakes, what more do you need? And if you’re still ogling on the chic hotel pool next door, just order a cocktail over there and you can spend the afternoon by that pool. Luxury for a bargain price!
Food in Bali
“Feast without spending too much”
Isn’t it great to eat at restaurants twice a day when travelling in Asia. The modest prices make cooking for yourself not worth it! Go to a Warung instead of a restaurant. Warungs are simpler and often exempt from the 15% tax. You pay less than 2 € for nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (pasta and vegetables) or gado-gado (vegetable and peanut sauce). In most restaurants, the Balinese cuisine is delicious and not too spicy. If you really don’t like the local cuisine, note that pasta dishes and pizzas in tourist restaurants are about three times more expensive. In addition, alcohol is also more expensive compared to other Southeast Asian countries. But if you’ve come from Australia, you’re going to be thrilled to pay $ 2 for a beer, with your feet in the sand watching the sunset!
“Spend less, travel more”
With an area of 153 km by 112 km, Bali is ideal for exploring several places without wasting time on getting around. There are a number of public buses for less than 5 € that connect the main towns.
Get ready for an adventure: In Bali, the concept of time is not the same as ours. There is not really a departure time, you just have to get up early and wait for the bus to pass the station. You can also book a mini-van, which is convenient for groups of 6-9 people.
However, the most common mode of transport remains by private car of a local driver. Often locals approach you on the street, offering you to take you on a day trip or to the next destination. This is the most comfortable way: a private car picks you up at your accommodation and takes you back at the time you like. Denpasar – Ubud costs about 20 € and for Ubud – Amed or Amed – Munduk 30 €.
To get to the islands, you can take a speedboat (about 20 € for a return Sanur – Nusa Lembongan) or local boats (less than 5 €). Keep in mind, however, that the latter are not known for their safety.
Once there, it’s time for a scooter! Never forget your helmet, otherwise you run the risk of returning you’re your trip with a “Bali Tattoo”. That’s what the locals call the scars of tourists. You can rent a scooter in your hotel for € 3.50 per day.
If you are not confident or have never driven before, you can get to the South of Bali with Grab, Uber or Mybluebird, the local taxi company, at very reasonable prices (taximeter required).
Things to do in Bali
“Be active … without breaking the bank”
The best way to see Bali without spending a lot is to enjoy the beauty of nature. The entrance fee for rice fields, waterfalls and temples is next to nothing (never more than 2 €). There is also a number of other fun things to do.
Bali is internationally known for its surf spots. If you’re a beginner, book surf lessons in Kuta, the perfect place to learn. Canggu and Uluwatu are very popular among among advanced surfers, where you can rent a board for ten euros.
Amed, with its multi-coloured coral reefs and shipwrecks, is the best place for a dive on a budget. Snorkel fans should bring masks and snorkels to avoid paying € 3 for each snorkel trip.
To buy souvenirs, it’s best to head to the huge market of Ubud, where you find carved wooden statues and colourful sarongs. In Bali, you get the best prices … providing you negotiate! Start with a third of the price, but don’t negotiate for a few cents. What is very important in Asia is to always smile!
Itinerary “Bali in 2 weeks”
Avoid the expensive and touristy Kuta and Seminyak. The neighbouring town of Canggu is much more authentic and cheaper and highly recommended if you are in Bali on a budget. Then visit Ubud, the cultural and spiritual capital of Bali. 4 or 5 days are not enough to see all the temples, rice fields, and the waterfalls in the area. Don’t miss a Balinese dance show!
Amed, a small fishing village northeast of Ubud, is a secluded paradise. On the agenda are scuba-diving in incredibly beautiful reefs and riding scooters through the beautiful rice fields. In the beach restaurants you can enjoy seafood and see the Agung volcano. This is one of our favourite places in Bali.
Then on to Munduk, a small village in the mountains of North Bali. Few tourists visit this traditional region of forests and lakes. The wonderful memories of children running after your scooter, the impressions of life in these villages and the farmers along the road smiling at you will stay in your heart forever.
Then it’s time to see the islands! Less developed than the Gilis, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are awaiting you. People say that these islands have the same atmosphere that Bali had 25 years ago. Be enchanted by the breathtaking cliffs and turquoise waters before you say goodbye to Bali.
Written by Emilie Mika
Updated on the 23/01/2020. Initially published on the 23/01/2019.