You’re planning a much-needed vacation and your first instinct is to lounge on a tropical beach somewhere, anywhere. The amazing island of Bali might be on the top of your list, and for good reason, but you immediately assume the hotels and amenities found in this playground of the wealthy are far beyond your modest travel budget. Luckily for your wallet, it is possible to enjoy the magic of Bali on a tight budget, and don’t think this means you’ll spend the entire trip sleeping on the beach and sneaking onto tour buses. When you’re ready to take the plunge, here are a few of the best ways to save money on your Bali holiday.
The first thing you want to do while planning to visit Bali is book a hotel, because the last thing you want is to be stuck in an unfamiliar land with nowhere to sleep at night. Thankfully this is a remarkably simple process. In just a few seconds, you can book Bali hotels with Expedia. There is a diverse selection available for all tastes, which is incredibly helpful for planning the trip on a budget. Fortunately for Australians, Bali is only a few short hours away by plane and could easily be a quick weekend getaway. Check out your options online before even stepping foot on a plane. This way you can rest easy once you reach the island.
Arriving on the Island
Interest in Bali has picked up over the past 10 to 15 years, and several major airlines — including Qantas — now offer more non-stop flights to the island. Unfortunately, non-stop is also the airline’s way of charging you extra, so if you have the time, cut down on your flight costs by making one or two stops along the way. Once you arrive at the Denpasar Airport, your first chore is getting to any of the major cities or your resort. There are several ways to accomplish this, and don’t be surprised if you see more seasoned travellers grab their pack and start walking; however, to save money, consider taking the free airport shuttle instead.
As with any holiday, it’s always best to book your hotel ahead of time. Luckily, there are plenty of reasonably priced places to stay in Ubudand the island’s other major tourist cities. If you don’t mind living simply, which in terms of Bali lodging means without television or air-conditioning, it’s completely possible to land a modest guestroom for a few dollars each night. The prices go up as you include amenities. If you do book a hotel room during the hotter summer months, you might want to consider spending a few more dollars for air-conditioning. As far as the other luxuries, remember you’re in Bali. How much time are you really going to spend in your room, anyway?
Once again, Bali is the destination of choice for some of the world’ s richest individuals, which is why you’ll notice several high-priced, luxury restaurants in the major cities, including Ubud, Kuta and Seminyak; however, if your budget brings a new meaning to the word “modest,” the quaint, off-the-beaten-path eateries, cafes and roadside stands are your best bet. Believe it or not, it’s actually cheaper to purchase an authentic Indonesian meal than a Big Mac at a McDonald’s. The nightlife in Bali is just as impressive as the cuisine, but be warned the drinks can be very expensive. Always look for drink specials, and if your Indonesian isn’t great, just ask the bartender for the cheapest beer on tap! Don’t worry, it will translate.
Walk through the streets of any major town and you’ll probably notice the locals jumping on and off the bemos, or mini-buses, that act as the island’s main form of public transportation. If you want to take a break from walking or bicycling, travelling by bemos is your best bet; however, be warned the buses are notoriously late, they never follow the set schedule and the drivers are known for travelling well off their set course to drop people at their residence or place of business. There are taxis available, but these are expensive and won’t necessarily get you anywhere much faster than your own two feet. If you need to get between cities, hopping on a tourist bus is your cheapest, fastest and in many cases, only option.
Rupiah is the official currency of Bali, meaning you’ll need to exchange your money either at your bank or once you find a reputable establishment on the island. You’ll notice several ATMs in storefronts and along busy streets. If you’re in a pinch, consider the ATM instead of exchanging your cash in a potentially questionable shop. Counterfeiting is a major issue in Bali, and you might end up trading in your money for some impressive- looking fakes.
About the Author: Morgan Harrison is a guest blogger and author. He is currently penning his third book about his adventures in Indonesia, Thailand and Bali.