Bali on a Budget: Your Ultimate Guide

10 Tips to Save Money While in Bali

Enjoy Bali on a budget with our useful insider tips gathered over years of experience. By following our leads you will find out that you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy the full on Balinese experience. Visiting this world-favourite island destination is easy for almost everyone and even though some of Bali’s beach resort areas are definitely upscale and dense with among Bali’s finest resorts and restaurants, there are ways to get a cheap Bali holiday.

With a bit of know-how, you can really sleep, dine, shop and get around the island for much less than you might have imagined. Some attractions don’t even require any tickets or fares! Here is our Bali on a budget guide – 10 tips to save money. It’s proof that this is still the world’s favourite island destination that all can enjoy.

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Firstly, you can enter Indonesia visa-free if you’re from any of the listed 169 countries and sovereign states (as of March 2016), which includes: China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Chile, Marocco, Peru, Vietnam, Equador, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Hong Kong and Macau, among others.

With that out of the way, get yourself the cheapest airfares to Bali. Aussies, added to the visa exempt list in late March 2016, get the most fun with the cheapest direct airfares. Those coming from farther countries could consider splitting their holiday or hop on a different domestic (cheaper) flight and continue to Bali. Go for the low season when the fares are much cheaper. Read More...

The moment you touch down at Ngurah Rai International Airport and go right out through immigration, not only does Bali welcome you, so do the scams! Anything from trickster money changers to non-meter taxi rides and peculiarly too-friendly people, you better always keep your radar on and ensure that you and your money are not so easily parted.

Getting out from the airport particularly requires you to get a taxi, but if you want to avoid the monopoly in place there, you can grab your backpack, go the length and walk out of the airport to fetch the meter taxis roaming the public roads (who aren’t allowed to pick up passengers inside). For this inconvenience, expect to save up to IDR 20,000-50,000 depending on your destination. Read More...

The backpackers realms in Bali are located in Kuta, Legian and around Denpasar, while some cheap guesthouses operated by local villagers are also available in other resort areas like Sanur and Ubud. Although they tend to be very basic, they’re good for a night’s sleep. And if you can afford fans in place of air conditioning, you could keep the budget down even further. Prices start around USD 17, and guesthouses and dorms can go for lower than USD 10 per night. 

Cheaper than that, will be a call for challenge and exploration, and if you are game enough for walk-ins, you might get lucky around Poppies Lane in Kuta or Jalan Kajeng in Ubud. Ultra-budget recommendations in the Kuta and Legian area are the Nakula Stay and the Billy Pendawa Homestay. You don’t have to opt for room with breakfast, as you can search for cheaper snacks and meals outside your hotel. Read More...

Best avoid the fancy French and Italian restaurants altogether… go local instead and enjoy the flavours of local Balinese while you are here. Warungs are the way to go: usually street-side stalls selling traditional cuisine. And there are actually good budget restaurants that borrow the name ‘warung’ and sell very decent dishes in cosy settings. All along the beach resort areas, especially the beach promenades, you will find food galore in a wide variety, from meatball soups to nasi goreng fried rice, and noodles; all starting from as low as IDR 10,000 (80 US cents). Here’s a compilation of the best local restaurants to try while you’re here. You might also want to head for the night markets for dinner. Read More...

When you’re on a budget, sipping fine wines is out of the question… And if you’re yearning for a cheap Bintang, avoid hotels and restaurants and drop by a convenient store (mini-mart or mini-market as they refer to them here). They should be around the IDR 15,000-20,000 range for a small 330ml bottle. And if you want to enjoy your own sunset chill-out, the beaches are free… and so is the strip in front of that popular and sophisticated (expensive) beach bar or club. Beats spun from the DJ booths are audible enough from where you’re sitting and you’ve got your own beer with you anyway. Read More...

There are several types of ways to get around Bali. Although still in its early phase, Bali has a new public bus system called the Trans Sarbagita. These bright blue buses stop at various sheltered bus stops at unpredictable time frames due to the unpredictable traffic conditions in Bali. Fares are very cheap, from IDR 3,500 per transit; the bus operates from 05:00 to 21:00. Mostly targeted at locals, reflected by its routes that aren’t much related to tourist destinations, it’s a true backpacking-adventure style of travelling. But for the true spirit of exploration and venturing off beaten tracks, hire a motorbike. Just be sure you have an international license. Rental fees for a moped range IDR 50,000-150,000 per day. It goes without saying to drive with caution and always wear a helmet – the police will surely stop you and it will cost you money. Read More...

Freebies are always just around the corner in Bali. From natural vistas of beaches and mountain panoramas, to temples and royal palaces, most are free while some temples urge you to pay a ‘donation’ at the gates. You don’t need tickets to watch villagers rehearsing their dance performances at banjar communal halls, or during regular repertoires by students of the Denpasar Arts Institute in their campus amphitheatre right behind the Denpasar Arts Centre. And there are annual festivals that put on a public parade for all to enjoy, such as the Bali Arts Festival and the Bali Kites Festival. And if you want to experience Bali’s most unique celebrations, enjoy the ogoh-ogoh parade of papier-mâché ogres during the eve of Nyepi or the Saka New Year. You won’t be able to do anything or go anywhere the next day though! Read More...

Cheap knock-off items sold by peddlers at the beach can be tempting, especially if that Oakley or Rolex is offered at a price that is too good to be true. Because it obviously is! Better avoid. Bali’s wealth of art markets are a good starting point but it is always a hit-and-miss, and all goes down to how well-honed your bargaining skills are. They offer the most unique shopping experience, where you can discover a treasure trove of artworks and handicrafts by talented local craftsmen, all at bargain prices. Aggressive bargaining is by going down to a third of the offered price and working your way up to an agreeable amount. Nevertheless, there are fixed price art shops such as Erlangga and Krishna Bali that can save you a lot of hassle. Read More...


‘Spa’ on the Beach

After a long day out exploring and bargaining, why not unwind with a bit of pampering on the beach? Beach masseuses are generally very skilled and do a pretty good job at kneading muscles and putting you off into a slight slumber, accompanied by the gentle sea breezes. You can bargain low too. Normal prices range for a half-hour back massage to an hour’s body massage ranges between IDR 25,000-100,000.

Pre-arranged transfers are best. Even some budget accommodations have free shuttle transfer services to the airport; better ask the front desk just to be sure. And always make sure you have saved enough Rupiah for the way back to the airport, including the airport departure taxes. An IDR 200,000 (around USD 15) departure tax is applied for international passengers (since February 2015, the tax is included in your air ticket). For those who have spent too much money having too much fun, you can even walk to the airport from your accommodation in Tuban or South Kuta. Read More...

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