Bali on a Budget

Travel can be expensive. Between flights, accommodations, food, and activities, one could start to see their bank account quickly dwindle. However, not all travel has to be expensive. The best thing to do if you want to save on expenses, but still get the full experience a city or country has to offer, is set a budget ahead of time.

By at least having an idea of the money you’ll spend, there will be less likelihood of surprises when the monthly statement comes in listing all the extraneous travel expenditures.

Bali is one of the premiere tropical locales many only dream about, but don’t realize can be experienced on a budget. Like any popular travel destination, there are expensive spots and things to do that can be worth the splurge. But travelers can enjoy a full Bali experience without a skyrocketing cost – you just have to know where to look!

Abba Chittenden, founder of Lost Guides, a travel website focused on Asia and beyond, says travelers can definitely explore Bali on less than $40 a day. She says, “A fun way to explore the island is by renting a bike, which can be done for around $5 a day. You can ride through the rice fields, venture up to the volcanos and feast on local dishes like nasi campur at a local warung (Balinese cafe).”

Sound like a plan? Here are a few additional Bali travel tips and recommendations to help with mapping out your next getaway.

Eat Local

Photo credit: Will Price

Whenever visiting a new destination, eat like the locals do. Trying new cuisine is one of the best parts of traveling and in Bali, it can be done inexpensively. How cheap? Local restaurants and street vendors offer up plates of food, including grilled pork, chicken, rice, and spicy noodles and soups, for around $1-$1.50 USD. When you’ve got it that good, you can afford to go back for seconds. Drinks are a different story according to Chittenden. Her suggestion: If you’re on a budget, keep the drink orders to a minimum, since alcohol is generally expensive.

Where to go: Head to La Lucciola for casual beachfront dining at its best. Try the pan-seared coral trout or choose from a selection of their homemade pastas. Also, don’t miss out on the night markets to try an assortment of the local street fare. Browse through the vendors who will be dishing up chicken satay, lamb stew, or a variety of rice-based dishes.

Visit the Monkeys

Photo credit: Will Price

Ubud is one of the top visited areas of Bali and the Ubud Monkey Forest is especially known for being ripe with tourists. Depending on the time you arrive, it can get crowded, especially with the long-tailed macaques running around freely. But for approximately $3.00 USD per person, it’s a Bali experience not to be missed.

Where to go: While in Ubud, take in the historical sites and Balinese entertainment in what is considered the cultural capital of the island. It’s Bali’s spiritual center that carries a love for arts, music, and offerings from its local craftsmen. After a morning with the monkeys, consider heading to Yoga Barn to be wrapped up in the feeling of zen. The more classes you take, the more you save. Bliss on a budget? Sounds pretty good.

Save at the Spa

It’s hard to not feel in vacation mode the minute you touch down in this magical place, but a day at the spa can take you over the top in terms of true relaxation. While there are quality spas throughout Bali that can fit within most any budget, why not choose a hotel with an onsite spa? That way you won’t have far to go to unwind.

Where to go: Rock Spa at Hard Rock Hotel Bali offers a combination of pampering treatments with their signature musical style. Even when traveling on a budget, make sure to leave room for a few indulgences.

Hire a Driver

Sounds expensive, but turns out, it can be a cost-effective way to take in the major sites without stressing about getting lost or trying to find other modes of transportation in a foreign place. For about $20 a day per person, you can book a car and a driver and map out a flexible sightseeing itinerary.

Where to go: As many temples as possible. You can’t visit Bali without paying homage to the historical, spiritual relics scattered around the island. Lake Batur Temple, near the village of Kintamani, will be a quieter visit than some of the other temples, where you’re sure to be filled with serenity.

Bike and Explore

Rent a bike or a scooter if you prefer exploring on your own at a more leisurely pace. When traveling, always leave room open for spontaneous adventure. You never know what you might discover when stepping off the beaten path, if only for a little bit.

Where to go: Sightsee through the rice paddies and coffee plantations while learning about Balinese culture. For about $30, you can plan a day full of biking and exploring with the help of a local guide.

Make a List of “Must-Do’s”

Before you plan any travel, make sure you make a list of all the things you’d like to do. Break them down by cost and priority. If all the activities you want to do end up being costly, consider saving in other areas like dining or hotel accommodations.

Or, if you’re set on relaxing at a resort with only one or two things planned every day, save on the activities and splurge on the place you stay. A budget helps ensure you do as much as you can with the spending you’ve planned.