Before boarding my flight from South Africa, I had no idea how easy it is to visit Bali on a budget.
I mean, when was the last time you paid R30.00 for an ENTIRE meal at a restaurant?!
Or could afford a massage EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
It’s madness, and I’m here for it.
During my first trip to Bali, I spent a month living in Ubud as apart of a digital nomad retreat. The rand-friendliness blew my mind and I wasted no time coming back for a longer stint on the island.
Even though Bali is one of the most popular destinations in the world, it’s still possible to find incredible deals on accommodation and activities (even with a weak currency like the Rand).
If the Island of the Gods is calling your name, don’t let your wallet hold you back from the tropical getaway of your dreams.
Here are my best money-saving tips to help you explore Bali on a budget!
Table of Contents
How to Travel Bali on a Budget
Cheap Flights to Bali from South Africa
Before I start throwing out numbers, I want to remind you that your flights to Bali will be your biggest expense.
If you’re flying from South Africa, you’ll need to keep an eye out for airfare deals and flight packages. It’s also a good idea to book well in advance and sign up for airline newsletters to stay on top of sales.
So how much does it cost to go to Bali from South Africa?
- In 2017, I paid R7000.00 for a return ticket two weeks before my departure date
- In 2020, I couldn’t find anything cheaper than R8000.00 despite booking 3 months in advance.
Tip: I’m often asked what’s the best currency to take to Bali from South Africa. You don’t need to worry about exchanging money before your flights. You’ll get a better rate of exchange by withdrawing cash from the ATM when you arrive at the airport.
The Cheapest Time to Visit Bali
The cheapest time to visit Bali is during the rainy season (November to March). The rains keep most travellers away, meaning you won’t have a hard time finding excellent deals on accommodation.
While the weather isn’t perfect, it won’t ruin your trip.
I’ve travelled to Bali in November, February and March and the rain didn’t last the whole day. It’s usually short downpours in the late afternoon, in the evenings or early in the morning.
If you’re staying around Kuta Beach or Seminyak, you’ll have far less rain than the central mountain areas like Ubud.
The dry season in Bali lasts from April to October. It’s the busiest period for the island, and you’ll need to plan your trip to Bali well in advance to save money on flights and hotel bookings.
But if you don’t mind the price hike or the influx of other travellers, the weather is perfect for outdoor activities and the visibility for scuba diving is at its best!
Where to Stay in Bali on a Budget
The best thing about travelling to Bali? What you usually spend on hostels in other countries can get you a room in a 3-star hotel or even a private villa!
In Bali, you can stay in a beautiful guest house with a private room for only R 220! Plus, most Bali hotels 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? There are three bedroom Bali villas that you rent for as little as R 790 a night! That’s either R395.00 per person or R131.00 if there are three couples.
And if you’re determined to travel to Bali from South Africa on the lowest budget possible, you can grab a dorm room for as little as R 90 per night.
Eat Like a Local
So how expensive is it to eat out in Bali? It all depends on where you go.
Dreaming of that Instagram perfect smoothie bowl in Bali? It’s going to cost you anywhere from 150 000 IDR to 200 000 IDR.
But if you’re not a fan of paying Cape Town prices for food when you’re on holiday, stick to the local warungs. You can eat your weight in traditional Indonesian food for as little as R30.00 per meal!
I eat nasi goreng (fried rice) every single day and it never gets old!
The one thing you may want to avoid is alcohol. You can expect to pay 150 000 IDR and upwards for a glass of wine or a cocktail.
If you do want to have a drink, stick the local beer, Bintang. A bottle at a restaurant costs 40 000 to 50 000 IDR or you pick some up at the shop for around 30 000 IDR.
Another way to get around the high alcohol prices is to bring some with you from South Africa. But Indonesia immigration only allows one litre of alcohol per passenger.
Hire a Scooter or Use GoJek
Hire a Scooter
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 like me, hiring a scooter will only cost you 30 000 to 50 000 IDR (R30.00 to R50.00) a day. Maybe this is why I keep falling off bikes; it’s just too good of a deal for me to stay upright.
Another option is to buy a local sim card at the airport and download GoJek. It’s similar to Uber, but it’s a lot cheaper than using the metered taxis.
- A 3-5km trip around Uluwatu: 9 000 IDR
- A 30-minute trip to Kuta: 30 000 IDR
- A ride from the airport to Balangan: 65 0000 IDR
The only downside to using GoJek is that the drivers are restricted to specific areas and you won’t be able to get a pick-up from the main tourist attractions.
If you need to get back from the beach or a temple, you will have to pay the offline taxi rate. I’ve been charged as much as 200 000 IDR for a 10-minute trip that cost me 19 000 IDR with GoJek.
For day trips to far-flung temples, waterfalls, beaches and abandoned aeroplanes, you can hire a driver. The standard rate is 500 000 IDR for the entire day.
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.
Cheap Things to do in Bali
There are so many things to do in Bali that won’t break the bank! 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 that you can add to your Bali itinerary:
- One hour massage in Ubud: R80.00
- 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): R450.00 per person.
- Go beach hopping (usually free or you’ll pay a small fee of R10.00 – R20.00)
- Watch a traditional dance performance: 100 000 IDR (R108.00)
- Visit the Monkey Forest in Ubud: 40 000 IDR (R44.00)
- Take a Balinese cooking class: R140.00
- Plan a Gili Islands day trip: 790 000 IDR (R800.00)
- Explore the iconic temples of Bali: 10,000 – 50,000 IDR (R11-54.00)
Want more ideas? Check out my other post 8 Unusual and Adventurous Things to Do in Bali
Don’t forget to take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy that will cover you for all the activities on your itinerary as well as less exciting things like stolen bags, flight cancellations and unexpected trips to the hospital.
If you’re short on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, my favourite travel insurance provider!
How Much Does a Trip to Bali Cost?
Okay, let’s whip out the calculators and work out exactly how much a trip to Bali from South Africa will cost you.
Here are some of the expenses you’ll most likely come across:
- Dorm room for 7 nights: R630.00
- Hotel room for 7 nights: R1, 540.00
- Private villa for 7 nights: R4, 200 ( R 1, 400 if split between three people)
- Breakfast: Free at most hotels in Bali
- Local warung restaurants for lunch and dinner: R 50 per day / R 350 a week
- International restaurants for lunch and dinner: R 300 per day / R 2, 100 a week
- Cappuccino: R30.00
- Hiring a scooter: R54.00 a day / R272.00 per week
- Short GoJek trips around town: R9 -R20.00
- Private driver for the day: R544.00
All in all, I’d recommend budgeting around R300.00 – R600.00 per day if you want to visit Bali on a shoestring.
Do you have any Bali budget travel tips? Hit ya gurl up in the comments and let’s discuss!
Planning a trip to Bali travel tips? Check out my other posts:
- Digital Nomad Retreat: Spending a Month in Bali with PACK
- 8 Unusual and Adventurous Things to Do in Bali
- Hiking Mt Batur in Bali: Everything You Need to Know
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