Bali is not only a very pretty island to visit for a break or an extended vacation, it is also a very budget-friendly destination, despite all the tourism it has experienced over the years.

If you are looking to travel Bali but not sure how much to budget, I would roughly say USD50 per day to find a comfortable guest house to stay, eat delicious local food and do a lot of self-driving on a scooter or sharing a taxi to explore places.

Of course, you can spend a lot more too, if you like to splurge or are on a honeymoon with you one and only! But this article is about traveling Bali on a budget. Yes, you can totally do it!

Here are some of the best tips on how to travel Bali on a budget, by people who have actually traveled Bali, once, twice or even three times and some who have lived there for an extended time.

travelling to Bali on a budget

#1 Meet People At Hostels & Book Airbnb's

Bali was one of the first destinations in Southeast-Asia that got me completed obsessed with long-term budget travel and backpacking culture. It's super affordable to travel through, and you're guaranteed to meet dozens of new friends staying at hostels. 

One of my favorite things to do while backpacking in Bali, was to meet people at a hostel, and try to find enough people to split EPIC Airbnb villas with private pools.  You can get amazing deals that sleep 4-6 people for like $30-$40 a night, and it's a much more comfortable vibe than staying at your standard budget backpacker hostels!

Book your stay with Airbnb through this link and get you’ll get $30 in credit – that’s a free night’s stay in a guesthouse in Bali already!

Bali On a Budget
Bali Money saving tips

I did this quite often in Seminyak & Canggu, and I'm sure you'd be able to do the same! Backpackers in Bali all tend to be on a budget, but people can be easily persuaded to deviate from their individual Bali itinerary, and hang out with other backpackers in epic villas!

Trust me – I do this all the time, and it made for a much more memorable backpacking experience in Bali! 

Dave from Jones Around The World.

#2 Avoiding Scams For The Gili Islands

Bali is a phenomenal destination to travel around on a budget, but unfortunately there are a few scams to be aware of that can easily make costs unnecessarily high. It’d be impossible to plan a trip to Bali without venturing out to the beautiful slices of paradise that are the three Gili Islands. However, in planning your adventure, be aware of the following.

When heading to the Gili Islands, you’ll need to organize a boat transfer from Padang Bai Port. What’s great is that you can arrange to be picked up from wherever you are in Bali to be taken to the port and over to the Gili Island of your choice. What’s not so great is that agreeing a price for this can be somewhat challenging.

There are little street stalls throughout the main areas of Seminyak, Kuta, Canggu or Ubud where travel agents will arrange these transfers, but very often they’ll try to persuade you that you must book a return journey.

Three different agents told us that booking the return leg of the journey from on the Gili Islands to get back to the mainland would be over 1 million IDR.

Cheap travel to Indonesia

This isn’t true at all – the cheapest way to visit the Gili islands is to book two single journeys, one from on mainland Bali, and one from on the Gili islands. Try to barter this down to 200 000-250 000 IDR each way.

Annie from Off Goes Annie.  

#3 Avoid Touristy Areas

Avoiding the touristy areas is key to traveling Bali on a budget because prices are always higher than average. Restaurants will be a few dollars more expensive for the same meal, hotels will often be double the price or more without having better standards.

This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to stay in some remote town in the middle of nowhere, but just walking a few blocks away from the main street when choosing a restaurant and go for the places where locals eat will save you a lot of money, and often give you a better food experience as well.

For example, I found a local restaurant called warung Gauri away from the touristy areas of Ubud, and they served Indonesian food for 2-3 USD. If I had eaten at one of the tourist cafes or restaurants the price would easily have been around 7-10 USD for the same meal.

With hotels, it might be worth paying extra for the location but it depends. If your goal is to spend as little as possible but still enjoying Bali, you might as well find a guesthouse which is 15 minutes walking from the main area, and you'll save lots of money.

The same goes for beaches and shopping. Find local shops away from the main street, and find more secluded beaches were prices for sunbeds and drinks and snacks are lower. The more local you go away from the tourist areas, the cheaper prices and better for your wallet and bank account.

Alexander from Destinavo.

#4 Go To Places With Happy Hour For Drinks (And Where To Find Them)

Bali is one of the best travel destinations for travelling on a budget, whether you are eating at the local warungs or chasing the various happy hours.

One of the best cheap eats in Ubud is Warung Citta Ovest. A pizza and pasta joint in the heart of Ubud, offering a margherita pizza and a small Bintang beer for only 50k IDR between 3pm and 5pm.

Bali budget travel

In Canggu, Old Mans bar becomes most popular between 5pm and 6pm, when happy hour begins. As the sunsets over the sea, two Bali Hai's will set you back just 25k IDR, less than half the price of anywhere on the island. A Bali sunset will be one of the most beautiful sunsets and with cheap beer in hand it is even better.

Moving on to Seminyak, another pizza deal makes happy hour the best time of the day. This time the Persian restaurant Passargad offers a pizza and two Bintangs for 100k IDR. Just a 10-minute walk from the beach, the place is perfect for a post-sunset snack before you head home to prepare for the nights party.

Despite the stereotypes, Western meals can be found cheap during happy hours in Bali. All you have to do is know where to look!

Gemma from Highlands2hammocks.

#5 Take Only Bluebird Taxis Or Use GoJek & Grab

If you are traveling to Bali on a budget, the first problem you will encounter is how will you get from the airport to where you are staying? The moment you step out of the airport, you will be bombarded by airport taxis, the only taxis that are authorized to pick passengers up from the airport.

These taxis are usually several times higher price than the regular taxis or “Bluebird” taxis. They are called Bluebird because their color is a specific light blue and they will say Bluebird taxi on the side.

To get them, you will have to walk out of the airport a little bit until you are no longer in the airport pickup zone. It is a 5-10 minute walk but can save you a lot of money. When you are in Bali, the same principle applies, Bluebird taxis or use the app GoJek or Grab, they are the equivalent of Uber in America.

Using this tip will save you lots of money on transportation especially if you are staying a long time in Bali!

Just remember to plan a way to get back if you are going somewhere secluded like the waterfalls in Bali.

Sean from Living Out Lau.

Backpacking bali on a budget

#6 Never Hold Your Phone In Your Hand While On A Motorbike

Bali might have the most incredible waterfalls and some of the most breathtaking temples, but there are some things that you should be careful about when visiting this famous island.

Apart from the beautiful scenery, Bali is also known for the kindness and friendliness of its locals. Although most of the Balinese people will do anything they can to make you feel welcome, here is one thing that you should be aware of.

If you're feeling adventurous and plan to rent a motorbike to explore the island, make sure to guard your phone with your life. I know that the roads can be quite confusing and you might want to check Google Maps every 10 seconds, but don't!

There is a high possibility that someone on a motorbike will pass by and basically grab your phone from your hand. It happens quite often unfortunately. When you want to check Google Maps, make sure to stop on the side of the road. It's a little inconvenient but at least you won't risk losing your phone.

Aurelia from Dailytravelpill.

#7 Find Shops On The Smaller Streets & Always Bargain

I spent four months backpacking around Bali and one of the first things I noticed was how many beautiful things there are to buy. Everything from clothes to art and crafts are on display in the stores to tempt you into making a purchase.

When you’re travelling Bali on a budget, the trick is to learn where and how to shop for the best price.

Bargaining in Bali

For example, I wanted to buy a tie-die jersey dress and I found quite a few cute examples on the main streets. I discovered that if I ventured away from the well-trodden tourist areas and onto the quieter streets, I could often find the same items but much cheaper. I ended up buying a dress from a secluded stall next to the Monkey Forest in Ubud for a great price.

The key is to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. As soon as the shop owner sees you are interested in something, the bargaining begins. They will name a price, but don’t accept the first price you are given. It is part of the shopping culture here for customers to persuade the shop owners to reduce their prices.

It’s a friendly encounter and one you will learn to enjoy. They will try to argue why you should pay the price they quoted, but they are probably overcharging you. Make your case until you can agree on a price that you find fair and reasonable. Sometimes it can end up half of the original price they originally quoted, or even less.

Claire from Backpacking Bella.

#8 Get An International Drivers License

If you’re coming to Bali, you’re most likely going to rent a scooter. There is no better way to navigate the Island of the Gods than on a scooter. The streets are narrow and full of traffic, a car isn’t an option as it’s a nightmare to drive.

The scooter let’s you go anywhere and at a pace you’re comfortable with. The reality is that if you want to drive a motor vehicle overseas, you should have an international drivers license. Most people don’t get one before taking off and this makes for a great second income for many police officers in Bali.

If you’re just driving around the side streets, it’s not a big deal. The moment you start hitting some of the major throughways on the island, be prepared to get pulled over.

Once you’re pulled over, they’ll ask for your International license. If you don’t have it they will slap a fee on you. When you’re home it’s quite easy to get, simply follow a few instructions and pay a few dollars and you have it. Just so you know, the fine you might pay could be more than the cost of the license!

Rob from Stop Having A Boring Life.

#9 Go At The End Of Peak Season

One of my favorite ways to save money while traveling is to go during off-season, but I still didn’t want to arrive in Bali during a monsoon. My mom and I ended up going in September, which is the last month of peak season.

We were able to have perfect weather minus the crazy crowds. The best part is that you can save some money too! A lot of places offer incentives to choose their business over others since there aren’t as many tourists around.

You can usually get deals on rooms and sightseeing tours. I was able to stay on a $30 a day budget while staying in nicer accommodations than I’m used to. Each hotel we picked had a private room, an attached bath, a pool, and the price included breakfast!

How to visit Bali on a budget

We also got great deals on snorkeling, a motorbike tour, and a mangrove tour. Traveling a month earlier or later than everyone else definitely pays off.

Michelle Della Giovanna from Full Time Explorer.

#10 How To Get Your Card Back After An ATM Eats It

We knew with our long term travel plans we were bound to lose an ATM card at some point but 2 weeks into the trip was not ideal. We used an ATM on the back streets in Ubud and after a few seconds the screen went blank with some numbers in the top right hand corner.

That was it. No noise, no more pooing up on the screen and no card.

We had no idea what to do other than walk away. A lady who had a stall next to the ATM was staring at us. Mark looked at her and said ‘It ate our card' She looked at us for a second the smiled knowingly. She motioned for me to follow her back to the machine so I did. ‘Stuck?' she said. I nodded ‘Turn off' she said. I started blankly at her.

‘You turn off, it come out' She smiled at me motioning to the power box on the side of the small cubicle the machine was in.  Now in Australia there is absolutely no way you would be allowed to do this. My mind was telling me it was totally criminal and I shouldn't do it but we needed that card.

I also had my husband begging me on to do it (apparently it was better I did it because I would cope better in prison than he would if it was a totally criminal act).

So I took a deep breath, walked into the booth, located the main power switch, shut my eyes and flicked the switch. Our card immediately popped back out! We were so happy and the poor lady had no idea what to do with my hugging her!

I thought this must have been a problem with that one machine but 2 days later we were at Turtha Emple and we went to use an ATM. There was a young lady looking very sad next to it. When we went to use it she said to us ‘It is broken, my card is stuck'

Well I looked at Mark, smiled at the girl, put my criminal hat back on and flicked that switch again. Her card popped out! There was more hugging and hi-5's all round!

Bec Wyld from Wyld Family Travel.

#11 Travel Slow & Negotiate Room Rates On The Spot In Bali

Backpacking Bali

Having spent years travelling and surfing around Bali, and Indonesia in general, my best tip for saving money in Bali is to travel slow. It might sound weird but the longer you stay in Bali the cheaper things work out.

For example with accommodation, my guesthouse in Canggu has a nightly rate of 350,000IDR, whereas the weekly rate at the same place then drops to 250,000IDR per night, or a monthly rate 200,000IDR. That works out at a saving of 4,500,000IDR over the length of a month, which is some significant savings in your pocket for eating, drinking and exploring the rest of Bali!

These rates are usually only possible when negotiating with the owners of the accommodation directly on the ground in Bali, so if you have some time to spend and would like to spend longer in one place, I advise, travel slow and always, always negotiate your room rates on the spot in Bali!

Chris from Stoked For Travel.

#12 Shopping At Local Markets

After deciding to base ourselves in Bali for 3 months, we challenged ourselves to live on less than £10 a day.  We knew this wouldn't be easy on the island, where exploiting tourists is not uncommon; however, we were determined to make it work.  At least on the days when we were not out exploring anyhow.

If you really want to travel on a budget in Bali, the best way to save cash is by shopping at local markets. And when I say local, I don't mean the big tourist markets such as Ubud or Canggu. If you want to pay the local prices, you need to learn to shop like a local. 

Bali budget backpacking

Local markets selling a wide range of fresh produce can be found all over Bali.  We often found that the prices would be half of the equivalent found in supermarkets.  By eating a vegetarian diet and preparing our own meals, our food costs could be as little as £3 per day.

The same goes for souvenirs and locally produced goods.  The further you travel from the tourist areas, the better bargains you can expect to find.  Shopping is an essential addition to any Bali itinerary.  And by implementing this simple money-saving tip, you can indulge in all the luxuries without breaking the bank. 

Charlotte from Our Taste For Life.

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