Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia. People from all over the world visit Bali to practice or learn surfing, experience Hindu religion and culture as well as relax and spend some time on golden sand beaches.
Until a few years ago it was beautifully cheap when compared to most Western countries, but now it may not be so easy on your wallet. This is because so many local people have gotten used to rich kids coming over to forget about common sense and party like it was the last day of their lives. While a lot of things are expensive, there are a few things you can do to avoid overspending and follow your $25 per day budget. Here are 5 tips you can follow.
#1 Never Give Up on Finding Cheap Accommodation
When in Bali, there are two cheap accommodation options – budget hostels and couchsurfing.
If you follow everyone else’s path on arrival, you’ll probably end up with the free tuk tuk ride to a hotel where you’ll overpay (so that they can pay the tuk tuk driver). Therefore, the best thing for you is to find accommodation yourself or book it online through Hostelworld or other options. Yes, it may seem harder, and probably will be more tiring, but you’ll save money and will be able to enjoy your stay more. Before booking anything please read people’s comments and feedback carefully.
One of the cheapest and coolest hostels we have found in Bali was Bed Bunkers. We stayed in 15 bed dorms for only IDR 55.000 a night (around $5). The rooms were always clean, every bed was supplied with a locker and there was great Internet connection everywhere.
Have you ever done couchsurfing? If not, Bali would be a great place to try it. Once you get here, you will realize how hospitable locals can be. Some of them will treat you like a family member, let you stay at their place overnight and treat you with some nice food. There are plenty of people who will be more than happy to host you and show you around telling some interesting stories. More often than not they will want to take you to their village and introduce you to people who have never or rarely met foreigners. If you go for couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org) make sure you start looking for a host at least 7 days before your arrival so that you have enough time to find an appropriate person, and allow them to read your messages and make the necessary arrangements. Before you decide to do couchsurfing though, please make sure you are absolutely fine with its rules and regulations as couchsurfing is not for everyone and it is not always safe.
#2 Always Eat Locally
When in Bali you will be certainly tempted by Western food and fancy restaurants. Fancy pizza, spaghetti or burgers? Don’t be surprised when you pay a premium. Western food is not what local people eat. Therefore, it’s made solely for tourists, and tourists are expected to be able to afford to pay more.
Be smart and go searching for small, rather bad-looking “kitchen-outside” local restaurants. They offer good quality fresh local food (grilled fish, seafood, etc.) at low prices. You can get a meal for two people and wash it down with a beer at the same price as a western style meal for one person. The local option will not hurt your wallet and you will have the benefit of trying new flavors as part of your Bali experience. To give you an example, we paid IDR120.000 (less than $11) for a salmon sandwich with orange juice in one of Western restaurants in city center.
The same day we went outsideof the city centre and found a cozy local place to have a dinner which consisted of grilled fish, plain rice and veggies for only IDR15.000 ($1.33). Can you see the difference? We can!
#3 Rent a Scooter
Central tourist areas in Bali are obviously the most expensive accommodation options. Therefore, the best idea to save money is to stay a few kilometers outside the busy city centers which has the downside of being a distance away from all the hotspots. If you feel like visiting the city center your best option is to rent a scooter for IDR50.000 ($4.50) a day and explore off the beaten paths! The petrol is only IDR6.000-7.000 ($0.50) and it will last you for more than 10 hours of riding. You can rent the scooter at your hostel or any local shop. They are healthy, eco-friendly and affordable! Just check your travel insurance to ensure you are covered before you scoot off.
#4 Keep Your Partying in Check
You are on your holiday and you obviously want to have fun. It all starts with $2-$3 for a draft beer and by the end of the night you find yourself broke after being over charged for your drinks. Going clubbing every night is not the cheapest entertainment option so you should always keep your partying in check. Some locals can take advantage of you being tipsy or drunk and rip you off. If you feel like you might overspend on alcohol, take a friend or two with you to keep an eye on you.
#5 Avoid Guided Tours
Do you want to see Besakih Temple, Tanah Lot or Pura Luhur? Do it on the cheap and avoid all guided tours which are way too expensive. As I mentioned before, you can rent a scooter and go Bali temple hopping on your own terms saving $15+ per day. If you insist on travelling with a guide find some other travellers who are happy to share the bill.
Also, in the tourist areas make sure to haggle and not just pay the initial price. You will probably notice right away that everything in Bali is negotiable. The first price you hear is most likely 3 or more times higher than the price the locals pay so don’t be shy and push hard to get some bargains.
As you can see, Bali can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. It’s even cheaper when you travel with friends and family. By following these 5 tips you will be amazed to see how much more money you have left in your pocket in comparison to other fellow backpackers and tourists you meet on the road!