Bali on $33 a day

My best friend Hannah and I spent 3 weeks in Bali and only spent $700. You can too!

Uluwatu, Bali

Most people have at least heard of Bali before, but what they don’t realize where its geographically located. Just north of Australia, Bali is a fairly small island belonging to South East Asia’s, Indonesia. It’s a 13-hour flight from LAX to Taiwan where you will most likely also have a layover. From Taiwan to Bali, Indonesia its another 6 hour flight, you basically loose a day in travel, so plan accordingly.

South East Asia

Buying your ticket will be the most expensive part of your whole trip to Bali. We bought our tickets about nine months in advance, we were leaving in August during our summer break which is Bali’s dry season. We each paid about $800 for our round trip flight. Hannah leaving from SFO and myself from LAX.

Bali, Indonesia.

Once you arrive in Bali you must use “The Blue Bird Taxi” service, they will give you the best rate. The other taxi drivers at the airport are very pushy, so have a plan and know where you are going. Wifi is free and available everywhere in Bali. As soon as you get a chance log onto wifi and you must rent a scooter online from “Bali Bikes” its much more practical to get around and way less expensive than a taxi.

The most reliable taxi in Bali.

Bali Bikes is great because you give them your location and they come deliver the scooter to you with a helmet and registered paperwork. We rented a scooter for eight days and paid $60. All you have to do is email the company where you left the scooter on your last rental day and they will come pick it up! There was a sneaky $100 hold on our account while we had the scooter but it was returned after they picked the scooter up.

Hannah sneaks a photo from the back of the scooter as I steer us through the gate.

We traveled 100’s of kilometers going from city to city on riding double on the scooter with all of our luggage!

Petrol is cheap and sold from carts on the side of the road in bottles of Absolute. We stayed in hostels only costing $10 a night. Although if you plan to stay more than a few nights you can bargain for a lower rate.

Once we got to Uluwatu, Bali we rented two surfboards at Padang Padang right on the beach for $7 an hour. The quality of boards was a bit of a concern traveling there I did not want to lug around my personal board and beat it up so we took a gamble and relied on rentals. They had a fun selection of fiberglass boards. Its always different riding a break you’re not familiar with especially one with a reef. The locals are great surfers and give lessons, I paddled out alone and realized there were other tourists with locals who were coaching them on the waves. I sat next to them and got the scoop, no need to pay for a lesson.

Hannah and I are scuba certified and went diving four times while we were in Indonesia. Once on the island of Nusa Lembogan and once on north east Bali in a town called Kubu. At Nusa Lembogan the dive cost us $70 usd each. This included gear rental, two dives, boat ride out to the dive location and lunch. Back on the main land in Kubu the dive deal was $40. This was a beach dive where we dove through the defeated USS Liberty and checked out a reef wall full of aquatic creatures.

starfish on reef wall in Kubu, Bali

The exchange rate for American dollars to Indonesian Rupiah is insane. One dollar to 13,048.53 IDR. There are way too many zeros in the Rupiah currency and the locals will agree with you. It can be overwhelming when you first go to the ATM and see your bank account in the millions. 1,305,000.0 is the equivalent to $100. Take out lumps of money at a time because the atm fees will start to add up.

The food in Bali is amazing, eating out in certain cities can be expensive, especially in the popular surf destinations. Go to the market and buy a cup of noodle or fill up on Satay Ayam which means “sauteed chicken” and can be found from numerous vendor carts. Don’t feel bad bargaining with vendors in this third world country, it is part of their culture to bargain. I would often hear “good morning price, good luck price” they like to bargain with buyers.

If you want to see monkeys there is a forest in Ubud where they want you to pay to visit them. Alternatively you can travel farther north and interact with the monkeys for free on the side of the road or one of the many volcanoes.

Hiking Volcano, Mt. Batur. Hannah found a monkey.

Booking.com was very useful in finding cheap hostels to stay make sure you bring your own lock. Most hostels have a cubby where you can store your belongings.

Our hostel in Ubud.

There are lots of fun things to do in Bali. Most touristy adventures are promoted through shops on the sidewalk. Look for Groupon and compare vendors. The package deals are actually a pretty good deal. They will usually pick you up from your hostel and provide food and drink for you. Free transport is always a plus.

Anytime you travel internationally its always a good idea to learn some simple phrases in the local language. “Terima kasih” means Thank you and “sama sama” means you are welcome. These are commonly used and can increase your likeability and comfort in Indonesia.

One final tip is travel light bring a travelers backpack, its perfect for riding on the scooter and small adventures around town.

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