Bali on a Budget
Posted on January 15 2019
If you are flexible with time I highly recommend checking out credible airline booking sites like Momondo or Kayak, which offer multiple dates and airlines to compare prices with. If you see a flight that is still a little over budget, look into flying directly to the major connecting hub first, and book a separate flight from that airport to Bali. Many flights to Southeast Asia from the US fly out of major airports like Los Angeles international (LAX), San Francisco International (SFO), O'Hare International (ORD), and often times flights out of these hubs are much cheaper than other airports; it can be worth extending your vacation by making a trip to a hub town before flying to Bali.
Flights also tend to have lower airfares on weekdays, so keep an eye out for flights leaving Monday through Thursday. For the traveler that can plan long in advance for a trip, you're in luck. Even booking flights during peak season you can find great deals by making a reservation at least 6 months in advance.
Another great way to find lodging is to simply explore areas and ask around. Often times small family-owned bed and breakfasts do not have websites and are not searchable on-line. The only way to find them is by stumbling upon them or being referred. One of my favorite stays in Bali was in a private room in Bingin Beach with a great view of the point break for only $12 USD a night. There was no website for it, you just had to find it yourself. In addition, the locals appreciate you supporting local small businesses.
The best and most recommended way to travel in Bali is to rent a scooter or a car. If you are comfortable and very experienced on two-wheels, then go with a scooter. They rent for about 5 US dollars a day and it is an awesome way to explore the island while bypassing Bali traffic. The least expensive way of commuting is by taking the public minibuses called bemos, however they can be a lengthy and confusing ride for travelers. There are also a few tourist shuttles that make traveling to popular areas a breeze.
There are dozens of surf breaks in diverse and gorgeous beaches all over Bali, like Uluwatu, Keramas, and Canggu. There are breaks for surfers of all levels and boards rent for as little as $10 USD a day. You can bring your own board for the price of airline board bag fees, although you definitely want to make sure your board is fit for Bali waves before lugging it there. Another option is to buy a surfboard in Kuta, which has tons of new and used surfboards for sale. You can either sell your board back to the shops before you leave, or bring it home with you if you absolutely love it.
Bali is well known for its many sacred and awe-inspiring temples such as Tanah Lot Temple, Uluwatu Temple, and Pura Luhur Batukaru Temple, just to name a few. Exploring these temples will run you a few dollars for the day, which is a small price for a truly enriching Bali experience. For an epic adventure take a boat or ferry to a nearby island like the Gili Islands, Nusa Pendia, Lombok or East Java.
Your hotel should be able to recommend a credible currency exchange shop with fair rates. There is no shortage of currency exchange shops in Bali, so if you're bringing cash to exchange just make sure to bring fresh new bills with no tears or blemishes. Usually larger bills get a better exchange rate. If the cash exchange shop's rates seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for shops that will take advantage of the complicated exchange rates - since $100 US dollars gives you around 1.5 million rupiahs it can be easy to over look a few 10,000 rupiahs. Make sure to always count your money and bring a calculator. If you don't like traveling with cash, you can always use your bankcard at an ATM to get rupiahs, which gets you good rates with a small bank fee.
While you can easily look up and find some great restaurants online, sometimes nothing beats exploring and finding your own off-the-radar eatery. Often times on weekends food stands tend to appear offering delectable flavors at local prices. Another great way to save money on dining is choosing a hotel with breakfast included. The complimentary breakfast can be quite impressive and can range from extravagant buffets with lunch items, to tasty custom breakfast plates usually with assorted seasonal fruit.
The Matador Hip Pack and Matador Camera Base Layer were probably my most used items while traveling Bali. The camera base layer gave my camera a lightweight layer of protection while the hip pack was the perfect hands-free bag to use in airports and to run around in town with, easily fitting important documents, money, phone and accessories. The Matador NanoDry Shower Towel is super helpful for traveling light. This compact towel works so well without taking much space in your pack. If you plan on exploring a lot, bring a good pair of sneakers or broken-in hiking boots and a pair of supportive sandals. Also, bring an electrical plug adapter if you don't have two-pin plugs and of course a good camera, because the views in Bali are absolutely astounding!