Is Bali Expensive?

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Bali is a dream destination for many and a popular vacation spot in Southeast Asia. There are beautiful beaches, lush jungles, scenic rice fields, and stunning villas. But as Bali becomes increasingly popular among tourists, prices are on the rise leaving many wondering: is Bali expensive? Here’s what you need to know about Bali and tips for saving money on your Bali vacation. 

How to get to Bali 

Bali is an island in Indonesia, and the best way to get there is by plane though it is also possible to arrive by boat, especially if coming from another, a nearby island in Indonesia.

The airport in Bali is called Ngurah Rai Airport. It is located in Denpasar and is the only airport on the island. Denpasar Airport is an international airport though, so depending on where you are flying from, you may be able to find a direct flight. Generally, direct flights are more expensive. However, the extra price is likely worth saving you the time and hassle of stopovers if it’s an option. That said, if you’re flying from North America or even Europe, a direct flight likely won’t be an option. You’ll likely need to stop in Jakarta or another nearby major city first.

Transportation in Bali 

Getting around Bali isn’t as easy as other destinations. Many travellers choose to rent scooters, but you will want to ensure that you have an international driver’s license for this before you go to rent one. Balinese police are notorious for pulling over tourists and giving them a ticket. I’ve even heard a couple of stories where the scooters get taken away, and the traveller gets left behind to find their own way back. Scooter rentals are the cheapest transportation in Bali. However, it’s not for the faint of heart. Make sure you are comfortable and confident on one before relying on this mode of transportation.

If you aren’t into the idea of renting a scooter, you can use taxis and ride-hailing services. If you want an official taxi, use the Blue Bird company. They go by the meter and are a great option for tourists. You can also use ride-hailing apps, including Grab and Go-jek. Both these apps offer scooter service, so not a good idea if you are travelling with luggage. Note that Uber no longer exists in Bali. 

Public transportation in Bali is possible, but it is very erratic and not reliable for tourists. If you need to travel longer distances, look into hiring a private driver for the journey. Your accommodation will be able to connect you with someone. 

Is Bali expensive hotel

Where to stay in Bali

Most people who visit Bali stay in the main areas of Canggu, Seminyak, Kuta, and Ubud. There are a few other spots, but these seem to be the most popular picks for the majority of tourists.

All of these Balinese cities have a wide range of accommodation options, from basic backpacker hostel dorms to luxury, high-end Balinese villas. This makes it very easy to find somewhere to stay to match your budget.  

If you want to splurge, Bali has some absolutely incredible luxury properties, including: 

 If you are looking for cheap places to stay in Bali, then consider these budget hotels and hostels.

Is Bali expensive festival

Cheap things to do in Bali

When it comes to things to do in Bali, there’s a real mix of paid and free activities, making it ideal for exploring for travellers on a budget. This can include city exploring, visiting the beach, and exploring Bali’s beautiful nature, including hikes and waterfalls. That being said, to see some places you will need to figure out transportation to either by renting a scooter or hiring a driver, which will come at a cost. However, if you have some people to travel with and can split the cost of a driver for a day, then it quickly becomes a cheap thing to do in Bali. 

A few ideas for some free things to do in Bali close to the main towns include: 

The Campuhan Ridge walk: A scenic but short trek through rice fields. You’ll pass a mix of local Balinese homes and villas for tourists. It’s best to start early in the morning since it is open and can get incredibly hot in the sun. The Campuhan Ridge Walk is just outside of Ubud. 

The Ubud Water Palace: Bali is full of beautiful palaces and temples. Many of them charge fees, but the Ubud Water Palace does not, which makes it a great choice to explore for travellers on a budget. The beautiful temple is surrounded by water gardens which add to the atmosphere.

Lotus Lagoon: a large lake filled with lotus flowers. The Lotus Lagoon is located in Candidasa. Very popular for photos.  

Taman Festival: One of the eeriest places in Bali, Taman Festival is an abandoned amusement park. It was never completed and now is a crumbling ghost town that is slowly being reclaimed by nature. A good spot to see if you are into urban exploring. Taman Festival is located close to Sanur.

Sunset on a beach: You can’t visit Bali without seeing a beach sunset! Some of the best sunset beaches in Bali include Kuta Beach, Tegalwangi Beach, and Petetenget Beach. Many people choose to enjoy the sunset with a cocktail at a beach bar, but you don’t have to! Just grab a spot on the sand and watch the magic happen. 

What to eat in Bali 

Bali has plenty of options when it comes to food and drink. Being such a popular vacation destination, you can find many Western-style cafes and restaurants serving Western food, which, unsurprisingly, are more expensive. If you are trying to visit Bali on a budget, then your best bet is to stick to the local cuisine, like street food and local warungs (restaurants), to keep your food costs low.  

Some popular Balinese dishes to try include:

  • Gado gado: an Indonesian salad
  • Mie goreng: stir fry noodles
  • Nasi Goreng: fried rice
  • Satay: meat skewers
  • Nasi campur: mixed rice
  • Babi giling: suckling pig

 If you are vegetarian, worry not! Many Balinese dishes can be turned into vegetarian options.

These types of meals can easily be found for US$5 (sometimes less!) in local restaurants. As for drinks, you can get alcohol, including beer and cocktails. The price of beer in Bali is about US$3 – $4 depending on whether you get a local brand like Bintang or an imported beer, while cocktails are about double the price. Of course, it also depends on where you get your drinks. Keep in mind you will need to buy bottled water in Bali as well as the tap water is unsafe to drink. Water will cost about US$0.50 in the supermarkets for large 1.5L bottles.

Is Bali expensive?  

So, is Bali expensive? Well, it depends on your travel style. Bali is considered to be a cheap country for many Western travellers. Because of this, some travellers like to splurge on luxury private villas or resorts, spa experiences, and nice restaurants, which, while possibly cheaper than travel in North America and Europe, isn’t necessarily ‘cheap.’ But, if you truly are a budget backpacker and want to explore Bali for as little money as possible, you absolutely can. Stick to small guest houses and hostels, try to rent a motorbike or work with the public transportation schedule as much as possible, and eat the local food to get the most out of Bali on a budget.

For more information on prices in Bali, check out this article on how much does it cost to go to Bali.

About Hannah Logan

Hannah Logan is a freelance writer based in Ottawa, Canada. She specializes in finance and travel writing and has bylines at Fodor's Travel, O Magazine, and more. She also runs two travel blogs, Eat Sleep Breathe Travel and Ireland Stole My Heart. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @hannahlogan21.

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