Bali For Under $8 USD A Day

Bali, an island paradise nestled in the heart of Indonesia, is a relatively cheap holiday destination. And there are ways to make it even more affordable. I spent two months in Bali and surrounding islands on a shoestring budget of about 100,000 Rupiah a day. Does that sound like a lot? Let’s remember that’s equivalent to approximately $8 USD. This budget covered my food, accommodation, entertainment and I had the time of my life! Below are a couple of the tips and tricks I used to keep my costs low and my spirits high.

1. Rent a Scooter

Renting a scooter in Bali is an absolute must if you want independence to explore the island fully. Taxis in Bali are quite pricy and the public transport system is very confusing, almost all the locals ride scooters.

The trusty rust bucket and I about to go on an adventure!

The trusty rust bucket and I about to go on an adventure!

It’s advisable to get the necessary international license in case you get stopped by the cops, although most agencies will rent you a scooter if you promise them that you’ll wear a helmet. It is also a good idea to practice riding a scooter before you get to Indonesia. I had my fair share of falls. There are loads of gravel roads that are slippery under brakes and the traffic in the bigger cities is just insane.

Renting a scooter is way cheaper on the weekly/monthly rates than the daily rates and these rates are usually negotiable. My monthly scooter rental ended up being around 30,000 Rupiahs per day or about $2 USD. This was split in half a month into my trip when I met a fellow South African girl and we decided to share a scooter between the two of us.

2. Stay in a Home Stay or Surf House

Surf House I stayed at near Seminyak in exchange for making pancakes

Surf House I stayed at near Seminyak in exchange for making pancakes

If you’d like to get the most authentic Indonesian experience I would suggest staying in a Home Stay. Home Stays are usually run by Indonesian families who live on the premises. Most include breakfast with an option of affordable lunches and dinners. Some Home Stays are incredibly basic and for that reason are very cheap; I paid as little as $4 USD per night for some of the Home Stays I shacked up at.

There are loads of Surf Houses in Indonesia where surfers rent entire houses. There are always surfers coming and going so if you keep your ear to the ground you could land a pretty sweet deal. I stayed in a Surf House for about half of my time in Bali and the agreement was I could stay for free if I made pancakes for the surfers each morning.

3. Eat at Warangs

Eating Western-style food at beach side cafe’s with a cocktail in hand may sound tempting but if you do it too often it will blow your budget out of the water. I ate at Warangs (traditional Indonesian cafeteria-style eateries) for about 90% of my meals. The cheapest Warangs are in the least touristy areas. I found the meals to be tasty, wholesome and enticingly cheap (especially if you're a vegetarian). My average meal cost under $1 USD.

A yummy breakfast at my Homestay in Ubud

A yummy breakfast at my Homestay in Ubud

4. Don't Blow your Budget on Partying

Drinking in Bali is exorbitantly expensive in comparison to your other expenses. I noticed alcohol was almost double the price I would pay in South Africa while the food was about half the price. Although there are some great parties to be had in Bali, I only went out about once a month to keep my budget in tact.

Friendly Magic Mushroom Seller in Kuta

Friendly Magic Mushroom Seller in Kuta

5. Surf, Surf, Surf (or learn to surf!)

Great News! Surfing is free! Surfing in Bali costs, at most, a short scooter trip and maybe a couple of reef cuts. The variety of waves on offer is absolutely incredible and there are waves for novices and pro’s alike. If you are new to surfing, there are many affordable surf schools and surfboard rentals available.

I spent my time doing a variety of other free activities such as reading my book on the beach, going for strolls and exploring little villages.

Surfing Bingin, my favourite wave in Bali!

Surfing Bingin, my favourite wave in Bali!