Everyone's heard of Bali. I bet even if you haven't been there, by the mention of Bali you'd think of lush tropical forests, beautiful beaches, ocean sounds, some exotic culture and coconuts with straws sticking out of them. A luxurious tropical destination. That's exactly how we'd imagined Bali and that's exactly how it turned out to be, except for the price tag that usually goes with the word "luxurious".
Don't get us wrong, Bali can very well be an insanely expensive vacation. But it doesn't have to. As a couple of Bali first timers in their early 30s, we have managed to fully enjoy the island while keeping our expenses within reasonable limits. It wasn't exactly a "Bali on a budget" trip, but we are very pleased our Bali budget per day was under 60 EUR or 70 USD.
As for the luxury, we believe it to be very subjective. For us, luxury is having the freedom to explore new places at your own pace. Luxury is feeling so welcomed at a homestay, you feel like you got a second family. Luxury is learning something new and sharing some unforgettable moments with the person you love. Where exactly you're sleeping while any of this is happening is completely irrelevant. And from that point of view, our trip to Bali was very luxurious.
To help you navigate
Backpacking Bali budget per day
Before we visit any country we set up our daily travel budget. If you are curious to know how we set our travel budget, read our detailed guide to learn more. For Indonesia we had allocated 70 EUR (ca. 80 USD) per day for the two of us. A lot of sources quoted much higher amounts for a travel style we could relate to, so we knew we had to be careful with our spending. Very happy to see we ended up spending a lot less than planned.
In total, we have spent 18 beautiful days on Bali. These two-and-a-half weeks of island vacation resulted in the following expenses for two people (note: exchange rate as of August - September 2018):
NB: Indonesian Rupiah is a rather volatile currency (meaning, the exchange rate tends to fluctuate rather frequently and sometimes significantly). Although the actual prices in IDR might not change so much over time, to get a more accurate estimate for your budget, we'd recommend you check current exchange rates. If you are curious, here are two interesting articles we have found on the topic from CNBC and Forbes.
This is the breakdown of average daily costs into categories:
Daily accommodation expenses in Bali for the two of us:
Not only was this our first trip to Bali, but Indonesia was also the first country we had visited during our nine-months long journey through Southeast Asia. I know, what a start! 🙂 Although we didn't spend crazy amounts on the accommodation, looking back we can safely say we could have easily reduced our daily expenses in Bali. Check out our full budget guide where we share what we've learned about saving money on hotels while traveling.
The first week in Bali we stayed at an amazing little villa with a shared pool in Sanur at Kubu Nyoman Villas. There was almost nobody else staying there at the time, so we truly enjoyed finally unpacking and working from our patio. The villa was completely new, bright & spacious with a beautiful minimalist design. This was a treat.
Why Sanur? Read our experience here.
The accommodation we stayed at later was much less modern and sophisticated, but more affordable and cozy nonetheless. We especially enjoyed Arya's homestay in Ubud. Yes, there were spiders in the bathroom, but we felt so welcomed there, nothing else really mattered. Except that fantastic breakfast they serve, of course. More on that later.
Here below is the breakdown per city for both of us in IDR. We always try to get a bed & breakfast because it helps us save time and money, but sometimes we had to accept that you can't always get what you want. 🎸🎵
|Sanur||private villa, excl. breakfast||400'000||24.0||27.2|
|Ubud||double room, private bathroom, incl. breakfast||150'000||9.0||10.2|
|Singaraja||double room, private bathroom, incl. breakfast||295'000||17.7||20.1|
|Denpasar||double room, private bathroom, excl. breakfast||265'500||15.9||18.1||Daily average||258'750||15.5||17.6|
We did it again.
Staying true to our spending habits, 35% of our entire Bali budget went to food. Yeah, we really do love eating and trying out new things. On Bali this resulted in the following:
Fresh fruits and juices is what really blew our socks off in Indonesia. For Bali first timers, the list of possible ingredients and their combinations can be overwhelming and in some cases even intimidating 🙈. Coming from Europe, we didn't have the faintest idea what a jack fruit was nor how a mix of guava and star fruit should taste. It was an exciting journey, possibly fueled by the sugar rush we got after every drink. (Only much later did we learn to add "no gula!" (no sugar) when ordering our juices - Indonesians like to sweeten everything).
When we didn't have breakfast included in the rate, we bought a whole bunch of fruits, toasts and... Nutella. Oh, those were some happy mornings (high on sugar?)! Speaking of indulgence, one of the most amazing breakfasts we've had to date was at Arya's homestay in Ubud. The family made sure we tried something new every single day of the week we stayed there. Coconut pancakes FOREVA! With every "main course" came a bowl of fruits and a thermos with freshly brewed coffee. These pleasantly long morning feasts took place on our a private little terrace overlooking the green garden. Can we please be teleported there now?
If you're planning your first trip to Bali and also want to experience that wonderful breakfast, here's how you can book your accommodation with Arya:
Here below is our average price of meal in Bali:
|Snacks, coffee & cake||34'333||1.9||2.2||Daily average||220'250||20.4||23.2|
Prices of eating out in Bali
Luckily for us but less so for our wallets, Bali has a lot of food options to offer. Fantastic seafood at the coastal restaurants, beach bars, little local warungs (family-owned restaurants), international cuisine and the modern hip gastro-pubs cater to anybody's caprices.
Naturally, with the great food choice comes a great price range when it comes to eating out in Bali. If you are fine with street food stalls or small local restaurants, you can easily have a generous dinner for two for just a couple of bucks. If you, however, prefer the beach view, cocktails and some more Western-sounding food, be prepared to pay the same prices as in Western Europe. The latter is also where all the well-off party-loving 20-something surf enthusiasts seem to congregate. It really all comes down to finding the right balance for you.
Since it was our first trip to Bali, of course we wanted to experience it all. We spent a day at the famous La Plancha beach bar in Seminyak - one of Bali's most prominent beach locations. It was fun, but way over our Bali backpacking budget to go there more regularly. So, the next day we had a simple fried rice to get back on track.
Eating out in Bali prices (a couple of examples):
|La Plancha , Seminyak||Whole day snacks, juices & beer||530'000||31.7||36.1|
|Bintang Bali, Singaraja||Seafood platter dinner & wine||420'000||25.1||28.6|
|Alam Pizza , Ubud||Pizzas & strawberry daiquiris||230'000||13.8||15.6|
|Warung Angkang, Sanur||Grilled fish, rice & salad||170'000||10.2||11.6|
|Village warung||Rice, veggies, chicken & tea||70'000||4.2||2.8|
Within our Bali budget per day we spent the following amounts on activities:
You will never run out of things to do on Bali. This island has a lot to offer for everyone. Nature lovers can go chasing waterfalls, wander through rice terraces or climb a volcano (Mt Batur). For culture seekers there is an abundance of temples to visit; dance, fire or shadow puppet performances to attend and traditional dance moves to learn. For chillers and surfers - beaches, waves and coconut stands on every corner. Additionally, Bali is super instragrammable, so you can go photo-hunting for amazing shots at any of the above mentioned locations 😉.
The best part is that the most popular places in Bali, such as Tegalalang rice terraces, Sekumpul waterfall or the Monkey Forest in Ubud are very affordable. This means that even if you want visit most of them, it won't have a huge negative impact on your daily expenses in Bali. Everything is very easily accessible, so we didn't bother with any tours and were travelling around Bali by ourselves on a scooter we rented almost daily.
Our backpacking Bali itinerary
For our first trip to Bali we feel like we did manage to see and do a lot around Bali, especially considering that we were working and doing intensive yoga sessions at the same time. Check out our Bali itinerary for two weeks (ok, two-and-a-half) to get an inspiration for your first trip to Bali. If you have less time, you can probably reduce the time spent in the South and Ubud, but don't discard the North - the Sekumpul waterfall is absolutely worth the trip!
Here below you can also find links to our more detailed blog posts about our Bali trip:
D1 - 7: Sanur, South of Bali
- Discovering Sanur town and enjoying Sanur beach
- Chasing waterfalls on a scooter
- Exploring temples and beaches
- Chilling & working in Seminyak
D8 - 15: Ubud, Central Bali
- Doing an intense week at Radiantly Alive yoga studio
- Visiting the unique temples of Ubud
- Walking through the jungle and rice fields
- Seeing kecak dance and shadow puppet shows
- Doing massages, manicures and pedicures
D16 - 18: Singaraja, North of Bali
- Snorkeling at Lovina beach
- Enjoying affordable seafood and grilled fish platters
- Visiting Sekumpul Waterfall
- Visiting Ulun Danu Bratan temple and the beautiful lake around it
Here are a couple of things we did and their associated costs per person in IDR.
|Waterfall entrance||10-20'000||0.6 - 1.2||0.7 - 1.4|
|Temple entrance (incl parking)||10-30'000||0.6 - 1.8||0.7 - 2|
|Monkey Forest entrance||50'000||3.0||3.4|
|Shadow puppet show||75'000||4.5||5.1|
|Kecak dance performance||75'000||4.5||5.1|
Almost 9% of our total Bali backpacking budget went to transport:
We love discovering places by ourselves. This means we hardly ever book any tours (maintains our activities budget low & keeps things interesting), but do still need a means of transportation. Since the public transport on Bali is not very developed, we rented a scooter almost every day. We did get a flat tire a few times, but it was always resolved quickly and inexpensively.
In order to avoid lengthy transfers between cities on public buses we splurged on Grab (local Uber) paying up to 200'000 IDR (12 EUR / 13.6 USD) for a ninety minute journey. It felt worth the time saved. Follow the link to register to Grab and get a discount.
NB: We didn't include any flights to or from Bali in this budget since it was only a stop (not the destination) on our longer trip through Southeast Asia.
|Ferry & bus Ketapang (Java) to Bali||125'000||7.5||8.5|
|Grab bus terminal to Sanur||120'000||7.2||8.2|
|Grab Sanur/Denpasar - Ubud||150-200'000||9-12||10.2-13.6|
|Flat tire service||17-50'000||1-3||1.2-3.4||Daily average||88'389||5.3||6.0|
Now this is where we went nuts forgetting we were going to travel Bali on a budget.
Darja got an unlimited pass at the Radiantly Alive yoga studio in Ubud and David massaged all the possible knots out of his back. Although we do exercise regularly, this is the most we have ever spent daily in the "staying fit" category in any of our travels. Yes, massage belongs to staying fit 🙂
This quickly became our third biggest daily expense after food and accommodation. Kind of proud us for investing money in ourselves rather than anything else though, to be honest.
Ubud is definitely the yoga mecca in Indonesia and a well-known yoga destination in the entire region. Even if you're only a beginner or are not entirely sure whether this is something for you, we'd highly recommend you give it a go. Instructors are very experienced, inspirational and cater to many different levels. Seriously, don't know anybody who would regret having gone to yoga, only the opposite 😉 🙏.
Ubud is also the place where our long-term yoga relationship began. Ever since this Bali trip, Darja has been practicing regularly. Apparently the positivity she was radiating after each session was so infectious, David decided to join the movement. Now we are both totally zen and very flexible 😂. Or maybe "just" more happy.
Shopping and Other expenses
In total in 18 days, we have spent the following amounts on shopping and other expenses within our backpacking Bali budget:
We usually don't shop nor do we buy souvenirs. We simply don't have space to carry any additional things, plus we don't want to contribute to our friends' and family's dust collectibles. That being said, Indonesia has some of the nicest cotton clothes you can get in Southeast Asia (from our experience). If we'd go back, we'd probably get more of those nice baggy pants and t-shirts 🙂
Here is an overview to give you an idea of the cost of things in Bali:
|Yoga 1 week unlimited||1'073'100||64.3||73.0|
|Yoga drop-in class||100'000 +||6.0 +||6.8 +|
|1 h massage||80-125'000||4.8-7.5||5.4-8.5|
|Manicure / pedicure||60-65'000||3.6-3.9||4.1-4.4|
|Pants, t-shirts on a market||170'000||10.2||11.6|
|Laundry (everything we have)||100'000||6.0||6.8|
Does it suffice to say Indonesia has a 150% import tax on alcohol?
Since this was our first trip to Bali, we were very surprised if not shocked by the alcohol prices. Not exactly backpacking budget friendly. Although we didn't go crazy drinking and partying, the couple of days sipping cocktails on the beach and having a few beers with fellow travellers in a pub set us back to:
Depending on where you go, expect to pay anything from 25'000 to 70'000 IDR (1.5-4.2 EUR / 1.7-4.8 USD) for a bottle of beer. All other drinks are significantly more expensive. If you want to travel Bali on a budget, cutting down on drinking would be the easiest way to achieve that. This applies to any country in Southeast Asia, to be fair.
Bali backpacking budget conclusion
We ate well. We did yoga and meditation. We loved chasing waterfalls. I guess a very unique and unexpected thing to do on Bali, no one has ever thought of before 😂. Unoriginal or the ultimate dream depending on how you look at it, to us, Bali was an unforgettable vacation. Of course, being Bali first timers we made a couple of typical and avoidable tourist mistakes (hey, all part of the journey!), but it didn't ruin our overall backpacking budget. Spending roughly a million IDR (😳) or a thousand EUR or a 1.2 thousand USD for both of us for 2.5 weeks in this tropical paradise seems pretty damn reasonable.
Read our detailed budget guide to learn how we set our financial goals and save money while traveling so that you too can enjoy traveling without going broke.
This was our first trip to Bali, but we're sure we'll be there again shortly 😍 Terima kasih!
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