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

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!

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.

Read More: How To Book Cheap Flights From South Africa To Your Dream Destination


The Cheapest Time to Visit Bali

The beautiful Tirta Gangga Water Temple in 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

accommodation in bali

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

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

Smoothie bowls in Bali are delicious, but EXPENSIVE when you can eat out at a local warung for more than half the price.

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

Kelingking Beach in Nusa Penida

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.

GoJek

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.

Private Driver

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

Living my best life on the famous Bali Swing!

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:

Accommodation

  • 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)

Food

  • 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

Transport

  • 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:

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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
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36 Comments

  1. ceecestravelblog
    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
      Author
      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
      Author
      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
      Author
      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
      Author
      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
      Author
      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™‚

  7. Lisa
    October 16, 2018 / 11:40 am

    When is the best time to visit Bali?

    • lauren
      Author
      October 17, 2018 / 8:41 am

      Hey Lisa, there isn’t a bad time to visit Bali πŸ™‚

      High season is during dry season. April, July September, August are the busiest times for the island. So prices for flights and accommodation will be higher around those months.

      If you want to travel Bali on a budget, I’d recommend the wet season months. The rain doesn’t last the whole day, it’s usually just short bursts and the weather is still warm. You’ll have better luck finding deals on flights, accommodation and tours.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Alicia Kaye
    November 3, 2018 / 6:30 am

    Hey! I really enjoyed reading this post and I’m so happy to have come across your blog! Although not South African myself, I’m glad to hear that Bali is totally doable on a budget! We are taking a round the world trip next year and will be incorporating Bali into it and I’m so excited to go! What time of year did you go? Looking forward to reading some more of your posts!

    Alicia
    Xx

    • lauren
      Author
      November 4, 2018 / 9:37 am

      Hey Alicia!

      That makes me so happy to hear you liked my budget guide for Bali πŸ™‚

      I went there from the beginning of Nov to the beginning of Dec.

  9. Yvette
    November 20, 2018 / 7:19 pm

    Hello Lauren! Thank you for this post- I want to surprise my sister with a trip to Bali for her 30th birthday coming up in January 2019. It’s short notice but wanted to at least surprise her with a ticket. Or at least some things we could do there ON A BUDGET. Your post was inspiring, especially because I love to travel and haven’t been abroad (Qatar) in 6 years. You know, life, Kids etc. but I’d love to do more of these types of trips. Traveling really does something to replenish my soul. As an artist, I also draw inspiration from scenery- the colours and how connecting with people makes me feel. Besides my advocacy work also depletes as much as it is rewarding. Apologies for the essay.

    Annnnyway, thank you for this post. It gives me an idea as to cost. Now to figure out when. That’s the big one.

    Mmmm. Would it be nice to do a couple of traveling art retreats?!

    Thanks again.

    Yve

    • lauren
      Author
      November 22, 2018 / 9:18 am

      I’m so stoked you found my post helpful! I haven’t done an art retreat before, but if that’s something you want to do – go for it!

  10. superadmin
    December 3, 2018 / 12:50 pm

    Hey Lauren, great blog. found this very useful.
    What I would like to know is, on the SkyScanner prices, which company did you eventually buy your tickets from.
    I have seen in recent searches, MyTrip.com always comes in cheaper. However, have read a few forums that they a bit dodge on flights and support isn’t that helpful and make last minute changes etc. Just interested to know who you got your tickets from in the end? XD

    • lauren
      Author
      December 3, 2018 / 1:37 pm

      Hey! I usually buy my tickets with GotoGate or Tripsta. They usually have the best deals when I’ve booked my flights. If you don’t feel comfortable booking with MyTrip, rather pay a little bit more to get your tickets with someone else so you have that peace of mind πŸ™‚

  11. Lisa Nkosi
    January 7, 2019 / 2:42 pm

    Thanks for the article. Very helpful tips.
    I’m planning a trip to Bali in April.

    • lauren
      Author
      January 7, 2019 / 9:19 pm

      Ah that’s an awesome time to go! Hope you have an amazing time in Bali πŸ™‚

  12. zahir
    February 3, 2019 / 6:59 pm

    Thanks so much for the article in deed impressed, me and my family of four will be going to Bali this coming June July and reading your article really made my day ,now i am less stressed as paying for a family of 4,food transport entertainment can be stressful but rested assured i am more settled now lol.
    Regards

    • lauren
      Author
      February 10, 2019 / 10:26 pm

      I’m glad to hear my Bali guide has helped you!!

  13. Kidwell
    March 18, 2019 / 2:01 pm

    Hi Lauren

    We are travelling to Bali but we will have a short stay in Hong Kong before Bali do we need to have currency for both countries. Accomodations and Air fares are sorted which activities would you recommend for our 7 day stay at Rani Hotel Bali

    • lauren
      Author
      March 18, 2019 / 6:18 pm

      Hi Kidwell!

      Yup, you’ll need the Hong Kong Dollar and the Indonesian Rupee. I’d recommend unblocking your card for those two countries and then you can withdraw cash at ATMs. You’ll get a better rate of exchange that way. I stayed in Ubud when I was in Bali, but here is a list of things that I got up to that you can look at: https://www.wanderlustmovement.org/blog/adventurous-unusual-things-to-do-in-bali

  14. Avashnee
    April 9, 2019 / 12:23 pm

    Hi. Do you perhaps still have details of where you did paragliding?

    • lauren
      Author
      April 16, 2019 / 9:30 pm

      Unfortunately not! Have you tried looking on Tripadvisor?

  15. Andrea Swartz
    July 24, 2019 / 6:07 pm

    Hi Lauren I will be going to Bali in November, Ubud for 4 days and Legian for 7 days, did you withdraw cash at the airport or change some money to usd before your departure or both. I need to pay my taxi and accommodation in ubud and will arrive at midnight.I am thinking of taking usd and exchanging at airport because I’m Def going to need money.

    • lauren
      Author
      July 24, 2019 / 6:43 pm

      Hey Andrea! I don’t change money when I travel because of the high exchange rates. It’s much cheaper to withdraw at the ATMs when you arrive. There are ATMs at the airport, or you can ask the taxi driver to stop at an ATM on the way.

  16. Heather
    July 25, 2019 / 11:45 am

    Hi Lauren
    Thanks for the blog, can you advise please. I am meeting my daughter in Bali, me coming from SA and her coming from China.

    I have the standard insurance through the credit card, is it necessary to take out additional travel insurance? Then for her coming from China, is it necessary to take out any insurance?
    Thank you

    • lauren
      Author
      July 25, 2019 / 12:53 pm

      Hi Heather!

      You should always take out insurance as you never know what might happen when you travel. From a sudden death to lost bags, these unexpected things can end up costing you a lot of money.

      Standard insurance with a credit card is usually okay. However, it’s the bare minimum coverage. If you’re planning to do adventurous activities, I’d recommend looking into World Nomads.

  17. Hazel Manzini
    December 11, 2019 / 3:35 pm

    Hi Lauren
    I am going to Bali End of Jan 2020, what would the best options of transfers from the Airport

    I am staying an AIRBNB in Sanur, any reviews for this area ?

    • lauren
      Author
      December 12, 2019 / 6:34 pm

      Hi Hazel!

      I haven’t stayed in Sanur before, so I can’t give you a personal rec on the area.

      For transfers, you can download the app Grabr (it’s SEA’s Uber) and request a ride, or use one of the official metered taxis at the airport. Those would be the fastest and easiest options πŸ™‚

      Otherwise, you could look into booking a hotel in Sanur for one night that offers free airport transfers (if you haven’t finalised your AirBnb booking)

  18. Hazel Manzini
    December 17, 2019 / 3:48 pm

    Thanks for that , ill get the app just incase

  19. Waheeda Carels
    January 3, 2020 / 9:36 am

    Hi Lauren

    Thank u for this blog, extremely helpful. Myself & hubby are visiting Bali in March for our 20yr anniversary , going for 11days, We doing 4 days Ubud, 3 days in Kuta, still deciding on the other 4 days, This will be our first overseas trip, I have a few questions.

    Firstly, What should we pack? I don’t want to pack unnecessary stuff.

    Hubby is plant based, any recommendations for places to eat @ in Ubud & Kuta? We love to include a romantic dinner as well, but not too expensive.

    Any cheap beachfront accommodation in Sanur or Jimbaran?

    Any what’s the best market to visit in terms of great pricing?

    Rgds
    Waheeda

    • lauren
      Author
      January 6, 2020 / 11:36 am

      Hey Waheeda!

      I only spent a month in Ubud, so I can’t give you recs for Kuta, Sanur or Jimbaran.

      Ubud has a big market near the palace.

      For packing, bring a raincoat that can fit into your handbag and lightweight breathable clothes as humidity levels will be high.

      I hope you have an amazing time in Bali πŸ™‚ I’m going back for three months this year and can’t wait to explore more of the island!

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