Guest blogger Scarlett shows you how you can enjoy the best of Bali while on a budget…
Bali was once a far away world full of hippies and adventurers searching for their paradise; now, it’s home to backpackers, tourists, surfers, yoga instructors and Instagrammers. It’s the ultimate paradise of luxury villas, beach clubs, spas and more. But is it still possible to travel Bali on a budget without missing out on all the beauty?
I’ve visited Bali twice in the past few years; the first time for a total of six weeks and then again more recently, for a whistle-stop tour of two weeks. Bali will remain one of my favourite places to visit and I’ve been determined not to ditch the glamour and paradise, but instead, quickly dispose of the ridiculous price tags.
To start thinking about your own budget, Budget Your Trip gives an average price range of how much you’ll be spending in Bali but it is possible to spend both more or less. Furthermore, if you like the idea of the glam and glitz of Bali but not the crowds, this blog post also covers quieter locations equal in attractiveness. Let’s dig in…
Accommodation in Bali
It’s easy to spy the more famous villas and accommodation that Bali has to offer. They’re often tagged on Instagram posts or promoted in blogs; however, almost entire replicas of these villas that you see online can be found on Airbnb or Booking.com for a fraction of the price. If travelling as a couple, Booking.com will be your cheapest option – look for the highest reviewed and then compare prices from there. When travelling in a larger group, Airbnb is the place to go; private villas in Bali can be an absolute steal and having that personal space (and probably a delicious pool too), could be the cherry on top at the end of a busy day exploring or relaxing at the beach.
These are some of my incredible faves for couples:
Kartika Bungalows, Ubud – £22 per night for two people
Angels Suite, Canggu (unreal) – £44 per night for two people
Vertical House, Uluwatu – £24 per night for two people
Loft in Jimbaran – £18.50 per night, per person
Villa Gili Aya, Seminyak – £22.25 per night, per person
(Obviously all these prices depend on the amount of people, days of the week and availability.)
Transport – Travelling around Bali
The quickest but by no means safest mode of transport in Bali is a scooter. They’re incredibly cheap to hire and you’re entirely in control of your own itinerary and desired locations. That being said, accidents DO happen and I’ve witnessed many ‘invincible’ young people, thinking ‘oh it won’t happen to me’ having mishaps. Always demand helmets, and to be safe it doesn’t hurt to have an international drivers license in case of being stopped by local police – although it’s not necessary.
Anyway the main point here is always drive carefully; you may be having the time of your life cruising the sun-kissed shores of a beautiful country with no worries in the world, but things can turn sour quick, and you wouldn’t want to cut your trip short and miss out on any of the goodies you’ll find in this blog.
If the need for speed doesn’t take your fancy then your best bet is to hire a car and driver for the day. When travelling with more than one other person, this proves to be the cheapest option to get around. Grab (the ‘Uber’ of Asia) is the champion for affordability and safety. The drivers are still local but the prices are seriously competitive and will not break the bank. A full day hire up to Northern Bali and surrounding areas costs 625,000IDR (£35 approximately) for 10 hours, which with four of us in the car was less than a tenner for the entire day. This option gives you the most freedom when picking your favourite spots to visit and also ensures luxurious locations without the crowds.
Food and drink in Bali
My first and most important tip is to take a water bottle. Tap water is undrinkable and as Bali has recently passed non-plastic laws, a lot of restaurants won’t offer bottle water. You also won’t be offered plastic bags in supermarkets. Many restaurants and cafés will refill your bottle for free or for a small charge. By taking your own water bottle you will not just be saving money but also the environment, after all everyone – especially Instagram – loves an eco-tourist.
Happy hour is your best friend (when is it not?). If you like a drink then always look out for happy hours at the more boujee beach bars. This will help you keep back on your spending whilst also still being able to experience the places you wish to. My preference for happy hour and a strong ping-pong tournament on a Wednesday is Old Mans in Canggu, for a younger crowd, or La Brisa.
I could talk about Bali food for hours. Not only are the local dishes delicious (Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng yuuum) but also for a place that is so far from home, the quality of Western food is truly incredible. Unless you head towards the overly Instagrammed locations like Kynd Community, Finns or Motel Mexicola, the options are actually pretty cheap for really amazing boujee food.
Satu Satu Coffee Company, Canggu – Double shot-no foam-extra vanilla-extra hot latte please! Satu Satu will fix all your coffee needs in a modern marble wall, palm tree kind of atmosphere…
25,000-80,000IDR per dish (approx £1.30 – £4.30)
Lazy Cats Café, Ubud – This one’s for veggies and the interior is to DIE FOR, you must visit to see for yourselves.
25,000 – 100,000IDR per dish (approx £1.30 – £5.50)
Tropikale, Canggu – I won’t lie; I ate here with the girls every single day for either breakfast or lunch for the duration of our stay in Canggu. It’s equipped with the western Boujee Bali vibe being open plan and spacious with lots of brass and greens.
45,000 – 90,000IDR per dish (approx £2.50 – £5)
El MerKat, Uluwatu – Best. Avocado. Toast. Ever.
20,000 – 90,000IDR per deliciously boujee brunch dish (approx £1.10 – £4.90)
Taco Casa, Seminyak & Canggu – Taco Casa is the best Mexican food across Bali without the ridiculous price tag that others offer. My advice is to choose a big selection of dishes to share with friends; so yummy and amazing.
60,000 – 100,000IDR per dish for big portions (approx £3.20 – £5.50)
Pizza Fabbrica, Canggu – How could I not mention pizza? Just trust me on this one. Go.
60,000 – 150,000IDR per pizza (approx £3.30 – £8.20)
True to their culture, a lot of western restaurants will also include Balinese and Indonesian dishes on their menu so you always have that option, however, you can’t go wrong with picking up a Mie Goreng from a street vendor.
It’s a moral dilemma on how you’ll fund the tourism industry in Bali. Unfortunately, Australians and New Zealanders run most of the beach bars and clubs. By visiting these, you’re not actually helping the local tourism industry; I think you have to decide on your moral direction before choosing where to visit.
However, if you have a deep craving for the boujee beach bars then here’s a couple of more affordable locations and special deals that won’t be over-expensive but can still make you feel like you’re on a film set…
Sundays, Uluwatu – FREE ENTRY before 10am… There’s a minimum spend once you’re there but if you spend the entire day you’ve made the most of it. There are free games, kayaks and paddleboards for guests, infinity pools and most ironically, a private beach overlooked by the incredible cliff faces.
Happy hours as follows:
20% off between 4-5pm | 30% off between 5-6pm | 50% off between 6-7pm | 30% off between 7-8pm | 20% off between 8-9pm
Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak – One of Seminyak’s biggest hot spots; it’s an easy peasy job to walk through, browse the menu and then set up camp directly in front of the club on the beach. The music will be free, just bring a few canned cocktails and that will allow you to dodge the extortionate prices inside. Job done.
Other budget options:
Temples – pennies
Beaches – free
Sunsets every single day – priceless
Bali Top Tips:
Smile – Indonesian people love nothing more than a smile. Even when haggling costs with locals, a smile goes an extremely long way. Honestly, it is more helpful than I can explain in words!
Managing Expectations – Despite being heavily westernised by Australia, Bali is still a developing island financially speaking. Don’t expect things to run smoothly all the time, as they might just not. Never blame the local people, take it as part of the experience, and most importantly respect everyone.
Home – It might be tempting to want to visit everywhere and stay at all the villas you can possibly find but it’s usually a lot more comfortable if you choose a base and stick to it. Mine will always be Canggu (in case you didn’t notice) but Seminyak is super central and always a good bet (be aware of crowds though). From your base you can organise day tours as aforementioned or grab a bike to explore.
You cheeky monkey – A lot of people aren’t aware but many of the monkeys you’ll find in tourist areas of Bali actually have been trained or have owners. A friend of mine had his camera taken by a monkey so he proceeded to chase that monkey, finding eventually the pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow, which was a man standing there demanding money for the return of his camera. Not only this but I can’t explain the fear of the time when we had a monkey in our bedroom in Ubud but that’s a story for another time. Nine times out of ten if you respect the monkey, it will respect you back, just be aware.
And there we have it. Can you still be Boujee in Bali on a budget? Absolutely.
Now book your plane ticket and time off work and go hit up those beach clubs.
Any questions or advice, drop me a message 🙂