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How to travel Bali on a budget. Accommodation, getting there, getting around, what to do and what to eat in order to save your money.

I loved Bali because it is amazingly beautiful.  Beautiful glistening and reflective rice terraces, lush tropical greenery, floral and fragrant plumeria trees, and the humble and laid back Balinese were just some of my favourite memories about Bali.

I had the conception that Bali was very expensive to travel and stay in- probably because of all the high end resorts and hotels that have capitalized on Bali’s destination as a tropical vacation spot.

I didn’t spend very much in Bali and at the same time was able to do (and eat so much) so much.

Getting There


Many budget airways can take you to Bali.  One of the ones I took was Tiger Airways.  Sometimes Tiger Airways has deep discounts on their airfares and have seat sales to the tune of $1 per seat (plus fees of course).  It cost me only $180 USD return on Tiger Airways from Singapore.  You can save even more by not selecting a seat ahead of time and only using carry on luggage (for me this wasn’t possible).  Make sure you bring some snacks onto Tiger Airways because they don’t provide anything.  Not even peanuts.

Once you arrive in Bali, make sure you have $25USD (or better, Indonesian Rupiah) exactly for the Visa on Arrival.  Otherwise, you might be gouged on exchange rates and will get charged an extra 3% if you use your credit card.

When you leave Bali (at least until 2013 I would think), you will need to pay about $15 (150,000 Rp) in Airport Improvement fees, so make sure you have enough money leftover at the end of your Balinese adventure for this.


Accommodation in Bali can be expensive- think hundreds of dollars per night (staying a luxury villas or at world renowned 5-star-plus hotels) but it really doesn’t have to be.  Staying at home stays or guest houses can really cut the cost of your vacation in Bali.

I found the guest houses we stayed at on Tripadvisor and paid $25USD a night for this beautiful guest house that included a delicious breakfast each morning (fruit juice, scrambled eggs, fresh papaya and pineapple, and fresh croissants).  The garden was beautiful and I got to see what a Balinese family compound looks like.  They even picked us up from the airport.

In Ubud, I paid $15 a night for a home stay/ guest house that included breakfast each morning as well and was in the heart of Ubud on Monkey Forest Road.  I found Ubud a bit too touristy or “yuppie” (all the yoga centres and expensive looking boutique shops gave it away), and really liked Sanur.  If you like to part-ay, apparently Kuta is the place to do it.

Getting Around

You can rent a bicycle for $3 USD/day at most places, you can rent a moped/ scooter to get around, or you can use a private driver for $45USD for 8 hours or so and they can take you to wherever you want to go- you just need to pay the entrance fees yourself.  The car rental includes gas, air conditioning etc. and works out to be a good deal especially if you have a few people in your traveling troubadour.

If you’re in touristy areas like Ubud, you’ll often hear “transport?” “taxi?” and you can barter for a lower price for taxi service.  To the airport from Ubud costs about 180,000 Rp (about $19USD) and it takes about an hour.

Sights and Attractions

I waited until we got into Bali before we started booking anything because I find that prices on the internet for sights and attractions are often inflated.  At the airport, there are a plethora (literally dozens and dozens) of tour agency brochures that include prices in USD for sights and attractions.  These include a private guide, a car, and often other bonuses, like set meals (like the famous Jambaran seafood dinner).  It might be a better deal to book a package instead of doing it “DIY” because many of these tour companies have contracts with these restaurants and attractions.

For example, we did the Mt Batur sunrise trekking tour which included a cute packaged breakfast (consisting of a hard boiled egg, and two pastries, water), a driver to and from our hotel, a guide for Mt Batur, and a 2 hour Balinese massage after our arduous ascent up the mountain.  The driver was able to help negotiate with the tour agency for $5 off since we basically spent three days of sightseeing with him.  So the total price only came up to $55 USD for a 12 hour day.  Although it looks like a long hike, it only took 2 hours up to the top and 2 hours to get down.

We also went white water rafting (complete with helmets, life jackets, etc.) for $30 USD at Ayung river in Ubud.  The raft held about 5-6 people and it was a fantastic unforgettable experience.

Beautiful Bali on a Budget

Bali is absolutely beautiful because of its people.  I highly recommend visiting this country and I hope to visit it again in the future.  Bali would be a fantastic honeymoon location and I think that there’s plenty to do to satisfy any type of traveler, be it budget traveler, extravagant traveler, adventure traveler, or rest and relaxation traveler.

Article comments

Avi says:

I’ve been to Bali 4 times – Canadian from Vancouver – Expect people to sell you things, you are in a tourist area and just say No thank you. They only make $15 a week and work 16+ hour days. I’ve stayed outside Kuta but planning to stay in Kuta this time (should be interesting). All I can say Bali still has culture and beauty. The people are fantastic and don’t be afraid to talk to people – they respect you like a family member!! The snorkeling in Nusa Pendina is fantastic – the temples are outstanding. Food is everywhere – they appeal to everyone (11 page menus) I hire a driver (now my personal friend) we go all over the island. I take him to places he has never been. I have been all over the world and Bali is a rare gem – my favorite place – if you go – Read about where you are going. Kuta is not Bali – There is tons to see – tons to experience – if you need an itenary for 2-3 weeks for Bali and a few options off the island – feel free to contact me

Courtney says:

Hi Avi, my boyfriend and I are going to Bali in the end of January. I would love some tips or advice on seeing Bali on a budget 🙂

Avi says:

Courtney email me at tvilone@telus.net and I’ll send you my plan
the plan is designed to see items in the North / east / west/ south — so the day tours are compact to each area – you will love it – the feed back I have gotten is OMG so many things off the beaten path – but worth it….I suggest using my driver as he knows the routes + tell me what city have booked your hotel in – also January is a bit rainy!!!

Y&T, only problem is you forgot to invite me along. 😉 How dare you leave me here to bear the rain and cold in Vancouver! (ha ha) actually we did have nice sunny weather here while you were away.

Young says:

@TDN- Haha! I wish I was back in Bali today. Where is our Vancouver summer? WHEERREE!!!! 🙂

Forest says:

I would love to go one day and probably would stay away from the really touristy areas. How long does the entry visa last?

Young says:

@Forest- Yes- definitely I didn’t really enjoy Ubud very much (it was WAYYYY too touristy!!). I have a silly way of gauging touristy-ness by how much souvenirs cost and how willing the vendors are interested in bargainging!! In Ubud, they had coconut carved candle holders for about $30 (behind a fancy glass case). On the outskirts/ southern Bali, the same candle holder was $1. That’s a 30x increase in price. Crazy eh?

Forest says:

I found the same thing when I lived in Egypt. I always went local and saved a ridiculous amount in things I purchased for others.

Young says:

Sorry lol realized I didn’t answer your question! I believe the entry visa lasts for 30 days.

Thanks for the great info – I always just assumed Bali was way out of my travel budget – but you’ve shown with a little research it can be affordable destination 🙂

Young says:

@Pamela- I had assumed that too, Pamela. I always thought it was super glitzy but you can go there for pretty cheap and still be happy with the service. That $25 a night place I stayed in was pretty awesome. They even included a free pick up from the airport.

Thanks for these tips! Who knew you could do Bali on a budget? I just recently got engaged and am now thinking this should be our honeymoon destination.

My Canuck Buck says:

Sounds like such an awesome trip. Great tips for getting the most bang for your buck!

SavingMentor says:

I’ve never been one to seek out the cheap accommodations like you. I usually rely on points or Priceline to get the mainstream hotels at a decent price or for free. I did do the hostel thing once and it didn’t turn out all that well (man that place was dirty!).

I might have to try it again sometime though.

Young says:

@SavingMentor- lol yes, I don’t know if I can do the hostel thing for much longer anymore either. I don’t think I would do the hostel thing if I was traveling with a partner. Just not enough privacy 🙂 I’ve been to some pretty disgusting hostels in my short traveling stint… the worst was the constant smell of sewage EVERYWHERE you went. Even in the dorm room…

Interesting! It’s always helpful to know how you can do tourist locations sans the tourist price.

Young says:

@FF- Yes 🙂 There’s total room for pricey budgets- they have all the fancy, ritzy hotels available too. 5 star + and I’m sure those are like $120+ a night. My next goal is to somehow do the Maldives for cheap (average price seems to be $300-$400 a night there).

Julie @ Freedom 48 says:

Bali’s on my bucket list!

Young says:

@Julie, @ Well heeled- It’s definitely a MUST SEE on the bucket list. It’s one of my top 3 places now.

*putting Bali on my list*

Michelle says:

Wow sounds like such a nice trip!

Young says:

@Michelle- Thanks it was! I had a very serene time. Next destination is the one in your avatar. 😉 Where is that?

Young says:

Hey Etienne!

Looks like we almost crossed paths!

You got to go to Gili islands? I didn’t go up there- sounded like fun though.

I had a pretty good time in terms of non-aggression except for one incident at the beach in Sanar. I wanted to check out the beach, and this lady leaps up from her beach chair and asks me where I’m from, blah blah and asked if I’d like to look at her shop in the marketplace. By this time she had walked with me for like 700 m already lol.

I ended up going to her little shop and there was absolutely nothing to buy (I really tried). I ended up getting some incense sticks and an overpriced, old and tattered postcard for $2 US (haha I totally got ripped off, I know).

I guess the one thing is they know how to persuade you- but you can persuade them back, sometimes they pull the guilt card, like: “You’re my first customer, I want good luck, please buy”. Or something like that. Nonethless, I had some fun bargaining to get prices to reasonable levels in Bali.

Etienne says:

I was also in Bali in May for 11 days (including Gili Trawangan). Although some areas are very pretty (esp. the mountains, minus the rain), I found Bali to be wayyyyyy too agressive towards tourists.

This trip was right after spending time in Malaysia and I was getting really annoyed by all the people honking or bothering you constantly to sell stuff. Same for the fees you have to pay everywhere, to park, to enter, to visit, to have a guide (mandatory), etc. This country lives off tourism and it’s fine, but they should slow down the constant harassement.

One other thing, people would always want to help and be freiendly, but 2 seconds later they would sell you something. So their questions were not genuine (like where you’re from, are you looking for something, etc). We had to talk in french and refrain from looking or touching stuff in stores because we’d have the seller asking us 100 times “good price”, ” yes try”, “good price for you”, “you can negociate”, etc.

Vito says:

Oh come on man.. it’s part of the whole experience. Lighten up and laugh about it and enjoy it. That’s what I did. Besides, I miss being Called “BOSS” by all the sellers and being chased down the street by all the cute massage girls. LOL !
Bali is Amazing. Gotta love it ! Can’t wait to go back.