Bali On A Budget: The Ultimate Guide To Saving Money When You Visit Bali

Travelling Bali on a budget isn’t as easy as it once was, but you don’t have to spend a fortune if you know what you’re doing, either.

We’ve got 20 amazing tips to help you save cash on your trip and some sample budgets to help you plan your time in Bali so that it’s as kind to your bank account as it is to you.

Is It Possible To Have Fun In Bali On A Budget?

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Yes! Bali is in Southeast Asia and while it’s not as cheap as it used to be here, compared to most of the Western world, Bali is a low-cost destination.

Sure, you can’t spend every day in fine-dining restaurants and 8-bedroom villas with private pools and expect to spend less than $10 a day but if you’re realistic about visiting Bali, and you take some of the tips below which were generated by your fellow travelers (based on real experiences here in Bali), you can spend much less money than you might expect here.

Our 20 Top Money-Saving Tips For Visiting Bali On A Budget

Look At Flight Deals

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Flight prices used to be really dependable. You could book 6 weeks in advance of travel and be reasonably certain that you were getting the best deals, sadly, this is no longer true.

Airlines now use a thing called “dynamic pricing” which means prices vary depending on the current demand.

They combine this with tracking how often you look at a flight online, so they know that you’re interested in travelling to a destination before you book and the more you look, the more they figure you will be willing to pay.

That means your best bet to booking a flight, for a Bali on a budget holiday, is simply to hunt around for the best deal when you want to book and if you’re looking online, you should clear the cookies in your browser before you make any kind of commitment to booking.

You are most likely to get the best prices during the low season here in Bali (that’s September to April) but not during school holidays (Christmas and Easter, in particular) when demand goes shooting up.

 

In the main, you’ll find that budget airlines will be the cheapest carriers, but make sure you’re comparing “like with like” as many of these airlines now hit you with a bunch of surprise charges at the last minute during the booking process for luggage, meals, seat bookings, etc.

Note: We have a guide to the airlines that fly to Bali to make it easier for you to check and compare prices.

That’s why we use the Bali Res Centre (find their details below) for our bookings because they do all the hard work of comparing costs for us.

Find Out If You Can Travel Visa-Free

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For many visitors to Bali, there’s a $35 (USD) visa fee and the new tourist tax that must be paid before you can enter the country.

However, while the tourist tax (of $10 USD) is mandatory for every tourist, the visa fee is not and people from other countries in ASEAN do not have to pay.

It’s easier to do Bali on a budget with an extra $35 in your pocket. This fee is supposed to soon be withdrawn for Australian passport holders too, but for now, it remains.

Always Eat Local Food Or Hit Up The Markets

top 10 must try balinese dishes

One of the best ways to get the cost of being in Bali down is to avoid Western restaurants. While you may fancy a burger or a pizza, it’s probably only because you have discovered how amazing Indonesian food can be.

Warungs & Street Food

Octopus skewers at a street food festival

Don’t be fooled, some Indonesian dining experiences can still be pretty pricey. There are plenty of fine dining Indonesian and Balinese restaurants here on the island and they cost just as much as their Western equivalents.

However, the humble warung and the street food stalls at night markets and in popular tourist areas are much cheaper to eat in. Some of them even offer a few international options for the less adventurous eater.

Why travel Bali if you’re not going to experience the local food culture? Even in popular destinations, you will find that local prices at Warungs are much cheaper than in other restaurants.

Markets & Cooking At Home

wet market fruits

Of course, the cheapest way to live (though many will, wrongly, insist otherwise) is to cook for yourself and even if you need cooking classes before you start visiting local markets here in Bali to find ingredients, you can save quite a lot of money compared to eating out.

Just make sure that your guest house or accommodation offers cooking facilities if you want to cook your own meals.

Villas Are Not The Only Place To Sleep

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We all dream of spending our nights in a tropical paradise in a luxury villa that could grace the cover pages of Vogue Magazine with Jerry Hall standing in front of it.

Unfortunately, the number one Bali cost is going to be accommodation and budget travel won’t usually stretch to a three-bedroom villa in Seminyak or Canggu.

The good news is that guesthouses are much cheaper than villas and you can stay in the busiest parts of the island in these accommodations. They often look great and they nearly all have free WiFi.

If you really must include a night or two in a villa on your Bali itinerary, we’d recommend that you stay in some of the less visited parts of the island.

You can still squeeze a villa into doing Bali on a budget but you will have to work a bit harder for it than you once would have done.

Check out this list of fantastic hostels in Bali for some ideas. You might also check out the all-inclusive resorts, they’re not as cheap but can help you lock all your spending into a tight budget. 

Book Accomodation And Tours In Advance

Young woman tourist on Bali swing at Diamond beach at Nusa Penida island Bali, Indonesia

We think one of the keys to successfully spending time in Bali on a budget is to fix as many of your costs as possible before you come to the island.

Yes, we know, there are lots of people who will advise haggling on the doorstep of a guesthouse for 3 hours in the boiling heat to save $2-$3 on a week’s stay, but we don’t.

We think when you come here, you’re on holiday, you want to spend the time you do have to have fun, seeing the sights and getting a tan on the beaches, you don’t want to spend it wandering around with a giant backpack on and arguing over pennies on the doorstep of a guesthouse.

Sometimes, it’s worth paying a little extra for convenience and this is one of those times. So, book your flights, hotel and tours in advance and you will already have most of your spending locked in.

Of course, you should hunt around for the best deals on these things but overall, you’re going to be happier if you know your budget before you fly than trying to desperately get a good deal in Canggu in peak season.

Consider Your Local Transport Options Carefully

Woman with helmet and scooter outside in bali

You’re going to see a lot of advice that says “Save cash by getting an international license (International Drivers Permit) and hire a scooter”.

That’s not one of our favourite money-saving tips. Even if you have travel insurance, it often doesn’t pay out in the case of an accident on a scooter (and accidents are very common due to the state of the roads and local driving standards) because it’s not so easy to be road-legal here.

The easiest way to bust your Bali travel budget is to end up in a hospital facing a huge medical bill.

We prefer to recommend Grab or Go-Jek (the local versions of Uber) for short journeys and hiring a car and a driver for long drives or to see many different places in a single day.

It might be slightly more expensive than a scooter but it’s much cheaper than taking a cab or hiring a rental car at home and it’s way safer.

Use Cash Not Cards

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You can use cards in Bali though you may find that your favourite beach bar only accepts cash still, but it’s not very convenient and many stores will add on a percentage fee (even though they’re not supposed to) if you want to pay by card.

However, using cash means working out with your bank (or getting a new bank account) low or no-fee use for ATMs overseas. Either that or you bring a huge bundle of cash with you.

You also need to be careful when you withdraw money because Bali suffers from scammers that modify card readers on ATM machines so that they can copy your card and PIN number.

We always recommend that you take out cash from an ATM in a bank or inside a store or mall where the ATMs are covered by CCTV cameras. Budget travel gets expensive if somebody else empties your account while you’re traveling Bali.

See our guide to Bali currency and money on the island for more tips. 

Beware Of Scams

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We cannot stress enough that your travel insurance is very unlikely to pay out if you fall victim to common scams in Bali or anywhere in Southeast Asia.

Now, because Balinese culture leads to the people here trying to live in harmony with their neighbours, the good news is that scams are not as common here as they are elsewhere in the region.

However, they’re not non-existent, either. The best way to avoid a scam is to ask yourself, “Does this sound too good to be true?” and if it does, it probably is.

The hardest scam to avoid here is the taxi scam. You can find out more about Bali taxis and how to stay safe when using them in our guide to Bali Taxis.

The other popular scam is the money exchange scam. This is a “too good to be true” moment. Use an official money exchange and you won’t be cheated.

The exchange rates don’t vary very much between the official exchanges and anyone offering a better deal than standard is going to try and cheat you.

Use The Internet To Find Great Deals On Entertainment

Young female freelancer working on laptop near the pool . Busy woman at holidays. Distant remote work concept. Copy space girl in black bikini beach holding a glass with a non alcoholic fruit cocktail

One of the real secrets of budget travel is to learn to use the internet to unlock a few options on the places that you visit.

For example, if you want a lovely day bed at FINNS Beach Club, you can often reduce the minimum spend required to secure one by booking online on our website, particularly in the low season.

The same is true for everything from entry fees to hot springs to package deals on scuba diving among the local marine life.

If you want to see famous sites in a budget-friendly manner, then there’s almost always a deal to be had on the internet.

Now, the exception to this is during the peak season when there are queues down the road outside of the most popular destinations here, at those times, you may find that no matter how many travel tips you read, there just aren’t any discounts to be had.

Hit Up Lesser Visited Spots

Rice tarraces and some huts between, Sidemen, Bali, Indonesia

If you head out to the Eastern coast of Bali, you will quickly find that it’s a much more budget-friendly area than the South.

That’s because fewer people head out that way and therefore there’s less competition for hotel rooms and restaurant seats.

These areas are still full of friendly locals who will be only too happy to see you in their neighbourhood and some of the most interesting tourist sights on the island and are off-the-beaten-path too.

We find the best local markets are out of the main tourist areas too.

Denpasar, Bali’s capital city, is also a great low cost option for bargain hunters. 

However, your airport transfer might take a few hours longer than it does to Batu Bolong Beach, for example, because it’s a lot further away.

We should also note that if you stay in less visited places, that you will save money on everything, from accommodation to food. The more popular an area is in Bali, the more expensive it is as a rule of thumb.

Happy Hours Are Your Friend

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If you come to FINNS we have an amazing happy hour every single evening but we’re not the only place in Bali with a happy hour.

In fact, Bali is full of happy hours and you can get discounts on drinks and quite often on food too. We’ve got a round-up of what we’d consider to be the best happy hours in Bali.

One of our top travel tips is that taking a holiday on a budget doesn’t mean giving up all the experiences that you want to enjoy – it’s learning to get those experiences for less money than normal.

Instagram Is A Great Source Of Discount Drinks & Food

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Every country has its preferred social media platform and in Indonesia to the largest extent that platform is Instagram.

That means many businesses offer their best deals and latest promotions on their Instagram accounts.

Interestingly, some of the smaller businesses (often where you get the best prices in the first place) will only have an Instagram account, no Facebook and definitely no website.

So, if you want to tap into the best deals here in Bali, you need to be on Instagram. Follow the places you’d like to visit, eat, drink, etc. at and visit their profiles when you’re here.

Make sure to check out the “stories” each day, that’s often where the deals are.

Discounts for Drinks & Food Using Delivery Apps

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Grab and Gojek are the two big food delivery platforms here in Bali and you will want their apps on your phone as they’re the best way to get around Bali.

However, when you order food on these platforms, they’re packed with discounts that you may not see at first.

If you spend a tiny amount to upgrade to their “premium” offering, you get access to a much higher tier of discounts, the last time that we did this, it more than paid for itself with a single order for two.

These savings can be so substantial that you’re essentially getting free delivery and a large chunk of the cost of the meal discounted.

However, the savings are not added automatically, when you check out, you need to look for the offers tab, click on it and pick your savings. Otherwise, you pay the standard price.

Learn To Haggle

Woman buying gifts in local exotic market stock photo

Balinese shopping culture is all about haggling and if you don’t learn to get the best price on the things that you buy, you’re going to find your costs go through the roof without you even realizing it.

Haggling here is always done in a good-natured fashion. You can haggle at any market stall and even in local shops unless they are international brands or have clear “fixed price” signage.

It begins with the vendor offering a price. This price is almost always outrageously expensive and the most that the vendor could dream of anyone paying for the item.

You then make a counteroffer. We’d start at 25% but we know people who go lower with their first price too.

You then begin a series of back-and-forth discussions until you reach a price that you’re willing to pay or you walk away.

It’s fine to walk away at any time in the negotiations up to the point you agree on a price, if you shake on it, you’re meant to buy the item.

Ignore any comments from other people that “haggling is unfair”. Never in the history of mankind has a Southeast Asian trader agreed to any deal that didn’t make them a profit.

That’s why haggling is such a good-natured affair in this region. The vendor will simply refuse to sell at a loss.

Come In The Off Season

Rice fields, Bali, Indonesia

Eight out of ten dollars in the Balinese economy come from tourism. The whole island’s economy depends on visitors from overseas and so do many jobs and livelihoods.

In the busy season, there is a lot of competition for access to hotel rooms, restaurants, etc. and prices are high.

In the off-season, some places are still very popular and their prices won’t change very much but others will need to offer discounts to keep the rooms or seats, etc. full and that’s ideal for a budget holiday.

Beach Days Are Practically Free

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One of the biggest reasons that people come to Bali is to spend time on the beach and access to beaches, throughout Indonesia, is free or very low cost. You may also be charged a small parking fee for leaving your vehicle in beach parking.

You won’t spend more than $1 per person to get onto a beach and if you take your own snacks and drinks, a towel and some shade, then you don’t need to spend any more money.

But please keep a careful eye on your belongings, it’s not a good idea to leave your things unattended on a public beach.

If You Can, Use Public Transport

trans metro dewata yang siap beroperasi di kota denpasar

We have to stress “if you can” here. Public transport isn’t Bali’s strong point. There’s not much in the way of a local bus service. The bemos (the local equivalent of a tuk-tuk or Jeepney) are gone. There is a rail project due to commence soon but the first train journeys are, at least, a decade away.

However, there are some buses and if you can catch one, it’s the cheapest possible way to get from A to B. Ask around near to where you are to find out what’s available.

Note: It’s a bit of a pain to use the local buses too. You can’t just get on and pay. You need to buy a card to pay for the journeys from the local Indomaret.

Check Out The Laundry Fees Before You Commit

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There are many laundries in Bali. In fact, it’s pretty hard to walk down a street here without finding one. That means there is plenty of competition for your business.

If you’re doing Bali on a budget then small savings add up. You don’t want to pay too little but you also don’t want to pay too much. Typically $1 USD per kilo is about right in all but the very busiest tourist areas.

Seek Out Spa Deals

body temple spa top spa bali

Want to spend time in a spa? Bali has plenty of spas for you to choose from and that means they have to work for your business as not everyone needs to use a spa.

If you check out a Spa’s Instagram profile or contact them directly, you can often find out if they’re running any promotions that will get you the pampering you deserve for much less money.

Use A Local SIM Not International Roaming From Your Home Network

Set of mini, micro and nano simcard Isolated on grey cloth texture background

Unless you have money to burn, you don’t want to use your home country’s SIM in Bali. It’s going to cost a lot more than buying a tourist SIM and using that for data.

However, you must make sure that your phone is unlocked and can be used on a Balinese network before you travel. Otherwise, the local SIM won’t work on your phone. So, call your usual telecoms provider and check before you fly.

Get The Best Deal On Travel Insurance

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We’re big fans of travel insurance. We can’t imagine anything worse than getting seriously injured somewhere remote, like the Nusa Islands or the Gili Islands, and then having to foot the costs of getting you back to Bali out of your own pocket.

But you don’t have to settle for the first policy you come across, shop around, check the coverage carefully and make sure you get the coverage you want at a sensible price.

Reusable Water Bottles For The Win

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Bali and Indonesia are desperately trying to cut down on single-use plastics, partly because they have a horrible habit of washing up on the beaches and putting tourists off from coming.

Even places like the Gili Islands which are a long way off-the-beaten path have some problems with plastic.

So, in order to encourage people to stop buying plastic water bottles and throw them out, most destinations including FINNS Recreation Club now have endless supplies of free water available as long as you have a reusable water bottle handy.

Sure, you won’t save much more than the cost of a plate of Mie Goreng (fried noodles) or Nasi Goreng (fried rice) but sometimes, the best tips help to save the planet as well as your cash.

So, please, bring a reusable water bottle with you.

FAQs

Is $100 A Day Enough For Bali?

Money and marriage concept

It depends on how you want to spend your time in Bali but there’s no doubt that $100 a day is enough for Bali in most circumstances.

You can easily rent private rooms for under $500 for a month, which then leaves you plenty of money to do more than eat fried rice in local restaurants.

You won’t be able to spend every night downing cocktails in a beach bar, but you will be able to explore the island, do a bunch of interesting activities (including spending a day at FINNS Beach Club), and eat and drink well every day.

Can You Live Off $1,000 A Month in Bali?

Yes, you can live off $1,000 a month in Bali. In fact, we recently explored the cost of living in Bali on our blog.

However, for most people, $1,000 a month might feel a little restrictive and we’d say that $1,500 a month is a more reasonable amount for a single person.

What Is The Cheapest Way To Go To Bali?

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Bali is an island a long way from nearly everywhere except other parts of Indonesia. That means the cheapest option to visit Bali is to fly using a budget airline.

If you opt to travel during the rainy season (low season here in Bali) you will usually save money on your booking too.

However, if you are coming from other parts of Indonesia, you may find that you can use a train or bus plus a ferry to reduce your travel expenses. This may require a much longer period of travel than flying.

How Much Money Do You Need For 2 Weeks In Bali?

If you want to do Bali on a budget but without compromising on days out and having fun, we’d bring about $1,000 for two weeks. However, we recommend $1,500-$2,000 if budgeting is less of an issue.

Of course, there’s no upper limit to what you can spend when you visit Bali and if saving money is not your priority you can easily spend $1,000 a night or more. Bali has more $1,000+ hotel rooms than anywhere else on Earth!

Is Bali The Cheapest Place To Visit?

No. Bali is not “the cheapest” place to visit. Karachi in Pakistan is commonly considered to be the cheapest place to visit, however, Bali is great value for money and you can enjoy cocktails on the beach in Bali whereas you can’t drink alcohol at all in Karachi (which might explain, to some extent, why it’s so extremely cheap).

Bali was once one of the cheapest holiday destinations in Asia and even today, it’s much cheaper than most Western countries, however, Bali is now a very popular destination and that means higher prices as more visitors compete for rooms, flights, restaurant seats, etc.

If you get off the beaten path here in Bali, though, there are still plenty of bargains to be found and if you want to visit Bali with just $1,000 in your pocket for a month, you could still eat traditional Indonesian food, stay in a private room and enjoy some of the local sights and culture.

How Much Will A Bali Trip Cost?

We have a full guide to “what does a Bali Trip Cost“, but in that guide, we stress that it’s important for you to set your own budget.

Your Bali trip can cost as much as you’d like it to cost, of course, but we usually recommend $1,500-$2,000 for a 2-week stay for one person but you can do Bali on a budget of $1,000 for the same time period and still have a great time, particularly if you’re not drinking very much.

Is Bali Cheaper Than Thailand?

The Giant Golden Buddha in Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen Temple in Phasi Charoen district with boat on Chao Phraya River, Bangkok urban city, Thailand

Assuming that you will stay in equivalent areas and equivalent accommodation and do similar things, you will find that these two Southeast Asian countries are roughly the same cost.

You can certainly spend more money in Bali than in Thailand or in Thailand than in Bali by varying your activities, accomodation, etc. but overall, which is “cheaper” for most people will boil down to the cost of the flights.

Australians will find Bali is usually cheaper because Indonesia is much closer to Australia than to Thailand and thus, flights are cheaper.

Is Bali Cheaper Than Singapore?

Singapore Sands Hotel in the twilight

Yes, Bali is cheaper than Singapore.

Singapore is one of the most expensive destinations in Southeast Asia and while it is possible to spend time in Singapore on a budget, budget travel in that country is going to be far more expensive than in Bali.

Having said that, Singapore has good public transport and that’s relatively cheap.

Is Bali Cheaper Than The Philippines?

Yes. Assuming that you’re going to expect the same standards for food, accommodation, etc. in the Philippines as in Bali, Bali is going to work out cheaper.

That’s because flights from most places are more expensive to the Philippines and high-quality accommodation in the Philippines is more expensive than in Bali.

However, alcohol is less expensive in the Philippines than it is in Bali and that might factor into some people’s holiday cost calculations more heavily than it does in others.

How Should I Book A Bali Trip?

If you’re visiting Bali and you want to save money on your trip, one of the easiest ways to do so is to contact the Bali Res Centre.

That’s a locally owned and operated travel service that can use its relationships on the island to get you the most competitive deals on flights, hotels and tours.

It’s also an ethical choice as the Bali Res Centre is local and that means when you buy from them, your holiday spending stays in Bali to support the local economy, it’s not handed to a multinational company overseas.

Final Thoughts On How To Save Money On A Bali Vacation

Yes! You can do Bali on a budget. It may not be as cheap to visit Bali as it once was but if you save a few dollars here and a few dollars there, it quickly adds up.

Just avoiding peak season, for example, can ensure you get cheap flights and see a mid-range hotel drop its rates to the same as a budget hotel in the busiest part of the year.

The weather’s lovely all year round too, this is the tropics, and even in the wet season, we get 8+ hours of sunshine nearly every day.

And, of course, if you want to come to FINNS, the world’s best beach club, you can check out our website to find all of our latest budget-friendly deals and book in advance to secure your good time for less money.