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.
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.
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.