Bali on a Budget – Matador
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Bali on a Budget

Posted on January 15 2019

Bali: A paradise island with lush tropical lands, surrounded by clear water beaches, and etched with mesmerizing cultures. Bali has so much natural beauty and wonders it's no surprise it's such a sought after vacation destination. While Bali may be any traveler’s dreamland, it may also seem like an expensive trip. Even though it is the most expensive island in Indonesia, I'm here to tell you it is possible to travel to Bali on just about any budget, and here are some great tips how.
Flights
Depending on where you're coming from, airfares to Bali can be pretty steep. Upon first glance, one-way flights out of the US typically range from $1,000 - $2,000 USD plus for coach tickets. However, with a little research and patience you can get steals for under $400 USD a flight. Peak season is something to consider while traveling to Bali. In July and August and December to January, flight prices tend to increase. That doesn't mean you need to pay heaps more to fly during that time; you just have to be a bit more strategic.

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.
Lodging
Private rooms in Bali can range from $8 USD to over $10,000 USD for private villas. It all depends on your preference and budget. Fortunately, websites like Booking and Airbnb can be really helpful in finding a great stay. They have map features that can help narrow down your ideal location while searching for the best deals, and of course there are plenty of reviews too. From these sources you can choose to have a place with breakfast included, a room with a view, and all other amenities that are important to your trip.

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.
Transportation
Once in Bali there are many options for transportation. To get airport transportation to your hotel you can easily hail one of the many taxis waiting outside the airport. Just note that these taxis can try to charge you up to 10 times the going rate, so make sure to bargain like crazy if you are going this route. Another option is to arrange airport pickup from your hotel. This might be a little costly as well, but it will save you from haggling with airport taxis. If you are traveling in Bali with taxis look for companies that use a meter, like Blue Bird. They offer very fair rates.

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.
Activities
Hiking, surfing and exploring are all incredible and budget friendly ways to spend your days in Bali. Bali offers breathtaking hikes like Mount Batur, which is an active volcano that overlooks the stunning Lake Batur. Guided tours start from $25.00 USD. Other places that offer great hiking are Sekumpul Waterfalls, Munduk Jungle, Sambangan Secret Gardens and the West Bali National Park.

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.
Currency
The Indonesian Rupiah is highly inflated. At the moment the exchange rate is 14,568 Indonesian rupiahs to 1 US dollar, making money exchanging a bit overwhelming, especially for those of us who aren't used to counting bills into the millions. It's a great ideal to exchange a little cash before traveling at your local bank or travel agency to have money for transportation and food upon arrival without having to pay the costly airport exchange rates. Typically US banks and travel agencies have very high exchange rates, so I'd advise to exchange just enough money to get from the airport to your hotel.

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.
Food
In Bali you can find just about any kind of cuisine you can imagine at very reasonable prices. A great way to try authentic Balinese food is by checking out traditional local warungs, which are family-run small restaurants. Warungs are an inexpensive way to experience Bali’s culture. There you can meet and eat with locals while broadening your taste buds.

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.
Shopping
Shopping in Bali is fantastic. There are tons of shops filled with beautifully crafted items in most towns. Markets are a great place to shop to support local artisans and get authentic items for a deal. In markets and small shops it is important to bargain. Bargaining is a standard in Indonesia, as most shops tend to have higher prices in touristy areas. If you want to impress the locals brush up on your Balinese and try bargaining in shops using Balinese phrases. This will make you look like a savvy traveler and will usually get you better prices.
Packing
The temperature in Bali ranges from about 70°F to 95°F. That being said, you can easily get away with packing light with mostly short-sleeved clothing. One bag that made an impressive carry-on bag was the Matador Beast28, which easily fit all the essentials like toiletries, clothes, and some camera gear. One of the most practicable items for Bali is the waterproof Matador Freerain24 Backpack, which was so convenient on scooter excursions, beach hikes, and exploring new surf breaks. It is especially handy during rainy season.

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!

Guest post written by Stephanie Lacerte and Zach Bankhead.
Stephanie Lacerte (@s.lasurf) and Zach Bankhead (@shred_yeti) are both travel enthusiasts who like to immerse themselves in different cultures while searching for unspoiled waves.






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