How to Travel Bali on a Budget as a Frugal South African


Bali is a budget travellers dream. When was the last time you went to a restaurant, and the entire meal cost you R 20?

Before coming to Bali, such prices were myths I heard from my parent’s “back in my day” speeches.

I’ve been in Bali for almost a month now with Find Your Pack, and I’m happy to report that such things aren’t piped dreams on this side of the world. I’ve been surprised just how rand-friendly Indonesia is as a destination for South Africans.

Even with Bali being a popular tourist destination, you can still find incredible deals on accommodation, food and activities – without sacrificing comfort.

Don’t let your wallet hold you back from that dreamy tropical island getaway. Here are my top tips for travelling Bali on a budget!

How to Find Cheap Flights from South Africa to Bali

Flights from South Africa to Bali will be your biggest expense. I booked mine with Skyscanner 2 weeks before I left and managed to find a return ticket for just over R 7000.

But if you book further in advance, it’s possible to scoop up much better deals. I’ll also recommend checking return flights from Thailand. It’s the cheapest South East Asian country to fly into from South Africa and depending on when you book, it might be less expensive than direct flights.

Where to Stay in Bali on a Budget

accommodation in bali

Villa Kakul: Where I’m staying for the month with Find Your Pack

The best thing about travelling to Bali on a budget? What you usually spend on hostels in other countries can get you a room in a 3-star hotel or even a private villa!

During my trips to Armenia, Georgia and Istanbul this year, I spent on average R 150 to R 250 on dorm rooms.

In Bali, you can stay in a beautiful guest house with a private room for only R 220! Plus, most places throw in a free breakfast and an airport pick-up.

If you’re travelling in a large group, booking out a villa is one of the best ways to get a taste of luxury without breaking the bank. Don’t believe me? You can rent out an entire three bedroom villa for just R 600 a night! That’s either R 200 per person or R 100 if there are three couples.

And if you’re determined to travel to Bali on the lowest budget possible, you can grab a dorm room for as little as R 90 per night.

Food in Bali on a Budget

My biggest expense when I travel is food. Since becoming vegan, I’ve found myself becoming more of a foodie and always on the hunt for delicious and affordable meals.

Well, I’ve hit the mecca in Bali. This place is literal vegan / vegetarian heaven. Never in my life has it been so easy for me to find plant-based food and not have to pay out my ass for it (I’m looking at you Cape Town).

So just how expensive is it to eat out in Bali?Β It all depends on where you go.

There are local restaurants called warangs. These are the best places to frequent if you’re travelling to Bali on a budget. A massive plate of food will only cost you R 15 to R 25, and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options to choose from.

If you have room in your budget to splurge on some Instagram-worthy looking food, you won’t be disappointed. Prices for meals in restaurants are on par with South Africa, and it will cost on overage R 100 to R 200 for a meal with a non-alcoholic drink.

Which brings me to my next point, alcohol is fucking EXPENSIVE in Bali. If you need to have a drink, stick to the local beer. Otherwise, you’re going to wake up the next day with a hangover, crying as you stare into your empty wallet.

To give you an example, cocktails or a glass of wine are over R 100.

Alcohol detox anyone?

Here are some of my favourite vegan-friendly spots in Bali:

  • Atman Cafe (try the curry and the vegan desserts!)
  • Warung Biah Biah (for that cheap R 20 for a plate of food fix).
  • Sage (go here if you’re craving smoothie bowls.)
  • Alchemy (the best salad bar in Ubud hands down.)

Transportation in Bali on a Budget

Transportation has been the biggest thorn in my sight while travelling in Bali.

You see, I have no sense of balance and as a result, can’t use the main mode of transportation – scooters. This has meant I’ve had to rely on my friends for trips to town and hiring a driver for activities around Bali.

But if you aren’t as hopeless as me, hiring a scooter will only cost you R 30 to R 50 a day. Maybe this is why I keep falling off bikes; it’s just too good of a deal for me to stay upright.

If you aren’t comfortable riding a bike, getting around by taxi isn’t that expensive. You can hire out a six-seater vehicle with a driver for as little as R 400 to R 700 a day depending on where you want to go.

So if you’re travelling in a group or you make some friends in Bali, you can basically create a private tour for as little as R120 per person.


If you want a reliable driver who speaks excellent English who knows all the best places to go, I highly recommend Yuda. I used him for most of my trip around Bali and cannot recommend him enough. Drop him a message on Facebook if you want to use him and be assured he won’t try to rip you off.

Activities in Bali on a Budget

There is so much to see and do in Bali on a budget. No matter your interests or travelling style, there will be something to keep you busy.

While there are tons of free things to do, here’s a list of prices for some of the most popular activities in Bali:

  • Get a one hour massage for R 80.00
  • Visit the Ubud rice paddies (go first thing in the morning to avoid any entrance fees)
  • Go on an all-inclusive day tour of Nusa Penida Island (including hotel pick, ferry transfer and lunch) for R 450.00 per person.
  • Take a Balinese cooking class for R 140.00
  • Shop for clothes and pick up dresses for as little as R 50.00
  • Go paragliding for only R 150.00

So How Much Does a Trip to Bali Cost?

To figure out how much money you need for a trip to Bali all depends on your travelling style and how long you want to visit.

Here’s how much money you need for one week in Bali


  • Dorm room for 7 nights: R 630.00
  • Hotel room for 7 nights: R 1, 540.00
  • Private villa for 7 nights: R 4, 200 ( R 1, 400 if split between three people)


  • Breakfast: Free at most places in Bali
  • Local warang restaurants for lunch and dinner: R 50 a day / R 350 a week
  • International restaurants for lunch and dinner: R 300 a day / R 2, 100 a week


  • Hiring a scooter for a week: R 350.00

Total cost for one week in Bali excluding any paid activities you want to do:
R 1330.00 – R 3990.00

So pick yourself off the floor, start browsing for those cheap flights and get ready to put in your leave. Travelling to Bali on a budget is possible even on a weak ass currency like South African Rands.

Want more Bali inspiration? Check out my other posts:


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How to Travel Bali on a Budget as a Frugal South African | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #bali #indonesia #backpacking #travetips

How to Travel Bali on a Budget as a Frugal South African | Wanderlust Movement | #budgettravel #bali #indonesia #backpacking #travetips


  1. February 6, 2018 / 4:46 pm

    Absolutely stunning and informative guide. Shared on Twitter and Facebook at @CeecesTravel. Looking forward to reading more amazing adventures from you.

  2. Priya Pillay
    August 30, 2018 / 1:55 pm

    Thank you, loved the guide.

    • lauren
      August 30, 2018 / 6:27 pm

      So glad to hear that my Bali budget guide helped!

  3. Nafeesa Mahomed Baboo
    August 31, 2018 / 1:36 pm

    Thank you for the detailed information. Absolutely loved it, it gave me a lot of assurance for the trip ahead

    • lauren
      September 5, 2018 / 8:49 am

      Glad I could help! Hope you enjoy travelling to Bali on a budget!

  4. Tishi
    September 6, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    Informative! If you hired a scooter can you perhaps say through which company?

    • lauren
      September 8, 2018 / 12:27 am

      Hey Tishi,

      I can’t ride scooters but the villa I stayed at provided scooter hire for those that have a better sense of balance.

  5. Fabienne
    September 17, 2018 / 10:59 am

    Thank you for the article!

    I generally avoid ATM because of the fees and the unfavourable rate at the exchange offices. Also, especially in Bali, we’ve been cheated at the exchange offices. Of course, it is our fault because we did not recount properly the change but still it can ruin a bit your vacation so pay attention.

    To change cash, there is a new mobile application Fairswap.
    Broadly, we can exchange & convert cash currency in real-time by meeting with each other at a pre-agreed location.

    Could be a good way to find some foreign currency before travelling or get rid of some leftover after holidays.

    • lauren
      September 17, 2018 / 1:10 pm

      You should look into Capitec bank. You don’t get charged for swipes and there withdraw fees are usually R 60 to R 80.

      If you aren’t with them, you should speak to your bank to see if they have a card or a scheme that would suit your needs better πŸ™‚

      Thanks for reading my post on budget travel in Bali! Hope you enjoy the island as much as I did πŸ™‚

  6. Chanelle
    September 26, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    Great guide! Did you convert your rands to dollars before you left? Or did you just draw money from an atm while there?

    • lauren
      September 26, 2018 / 8:50 pm

      Hey Chanelle!

      Glad to hear you have found my Bali on a budget guide useful πŸ™‚

      I’d recommend withdrawing from ATMs. You’ll often get a better rate of exchange, as money exchange places will add a commission. Also, check with your bank to see what cards they offer. I know Capitec doesn’t charge for swipes overseas πŸ™‚

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