Anyone who tells you that you can’t get to paradise on a budget has never been to Bali.
As Indonesia’s, perhaps even Southeast Asia's, most famous island, Bali has been enchanting tourists for decades. Some arrive here seeking a serene jungle escape or a relaxing beach vacation. Others come in search of a killer surf destination or, more recently, a digital nomad paradise. That’s precisely the beauty of the Island of the Gods: Bali can be whatever you want it to be. No matter your budget.
So whether you’re checking out the coworking cafes and beaches of Canggu, the yoga studios and jungle waterfalls of Ubud, or the idyllic islands like Nusa Penida and the Gilis off the coast, here are our top tips for visiting Bali on a budget.
Bali on a budget: Know before you go
Local culture and customs
The island's religion, Balinese Hinduism, is an integral part of daily life. You'll see daily offerings (Canang Sari) outside your accommodation, it’s not uncommon for roads to be closed or congested due to ceremonies, and you may be asked to dress appropriately in certain settings such as visited sacred grounds. Remember to always be respectful and just embrace it. It’s all a part of the magic of Bali.
It's gotten more expensive
While you can definitely visit Bali on a budget, its rise in popularity means that it's become more expensive than some of its Southeast Asia counterparts such as Thailand or Malaysia in recent years. Plan your smoothie bowl and pool brunch (yup, that’s a thing) budget accordingly.
Getting around Bali
Many of Bali’s most famous attractions are spread out across the island. The lack of public transportation means that you’ll be relying on taxis, rideshare, or private car services to travel between attractions. Be sure to factor the time and cost of transportation or tours into your trip. For short trips, you can usually use GoJek or Grab, the two premier rideshare apps in Bali.
Free and cheap things to do in Bali
Take a sunrise trek up Mt. Batur
Mt. Batur is an active volcano in Bali’s Kintamani region. One of Bali’s most popular treks, this hike will take you to the top of Mt. Batur and provide you with an absolutely breathtaking view of nearby Mount Agung and Mount Agang. You’ll have to wake up early – like 2:30 am pickup time early – to get the full experience of hiking Mt. Batur but one glimpse over the horizon and it’s all worth it.
If you want to know what it’s like to trek up Mt. Batur at sunrise, check out this detailed guide from Gian at Carry On Babe.
Climb the Tegalalang Rice Terraces
You’ve likely already seen a few snapshots of Bali’s cascading Tegalalang Rice Terraces. Located just north of popular Ubud, this collection of rice terraces forms a maze of dirt paths and, for better or worse, extremely Instagram-worthy photo spots.
The terraces have become a popular attraction over the years and can become quite crowded even by mid-morning. But if you can handle getting up early enough, make it a point to be there at sunrise. Not only are the usual crowds still sleeping in their guest houses, but the morning sun breaking through the treetops is truly a sight to behold.
Pay a visit to Uluwatu Temple
Bali’s religion, Balinese Hinduism, is an important part of life on the island. As a result, there are more than 20,000 temples across the island and many of them are worth a visit. But if you only have time to visit one, make it Uluwatu Temple. Seated atop a cliff more than 225 feet above the waves, this sacred sea temple is one of the island’s six main temples. Come for the incredible views of the Bali coastline, but stay for the daily traditional Kecak and fire dance performance.
Go chasing Bali’s best waterfalls
Bali’s jungle waterfalls are just as iconic as its beaches. Perhaps even more so.
Some of Bali's incredible waterfalls are easy to get to, while others require a lengthy trek to reach them. Choosing which falls to cool off in might depend on where you’re staying, but some of the island's top choices are the easily-reachable Gitgit Waterfalls, Tegenungan Waterfall just outside Ubud, and Sekumpul Waterfall, which is considered by many to be the island’s most beautiful waterfall.
Visit Bali's best beaches
If you’re coming all the way to a beautiful island, you’re obviously going to want to schedule some beach time. Fortunately, Bali visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to places to get your dose of sun, sand, and sea. You could unwind on the popular beaches of Seminyak and Sanur or rent a board and surf at the beaches of Canggu and Uluwatu. But for the region’s most impressive beaches, pay a visit to neighboring islands Nusa Penida, Gili Air, or Gili Trawangan (Gili T).
Where to stay on a budget in Bali
From luxury villas and treetop bungalows to beach shacks and bubble rooms, Bali’s accommodation options truly cover the entire spectrum – and then some. Sure, major hotel chains have certainly gained a foothold on the island, but most travelers come to Bali for the experience of staying in private villas, cozy guesthouses, or, depending on your budget, those truly unique made-for-Instagram accommodations.
Budget stays in Canggu, Bali
Gangga Guest House
Gangga Guest House is a charming family-run guest house located right on Batu Bolong, Canggu’s main strip but tucked back from the road to prevent disturbances. The building is on the newer side, the rooms are cozy and clean, and the top floor rooms offer a great view.
Gypsy Moon Bali
As the name might suggest, Gypsy Moon Bali hostel embraces the glam, boho-chic style of so many Bali vacationers. Situated on a peaceful side street, the vibe here is more of a boutique hostel, with a small pool, communal kitchen, 2 mixed dorms, and a private bungalow option.
Budget stays in Ubud, Bali
Bucu Guest House
Bucu Guest House lets you stay in the heart of Ubud while still enjoying the tranquility of Bali. At the center of the property is a serene swimming pool surrounded by lush tropical plants. There are 4 room options to suit every budget but all of them are affordable.
Umah Guest House
Umah Dangin Guest House is a small family-run guest house that provides the hospitality that you’d expect from a more expensive place. In addition to providing great value for budget travelers, the host family goes above and beyond to make your stay the best it can be, from motorbike rentals and car transport to a friendly smile.
Instagram worthy Bali villas
Because why not?
Cheap flights to Bali
Recently, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Bali. On average, our members spent $497 on their tickets to Bali and saved over $536 per ticket. Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.
Los Angeles (LAX) to Denpasar (DPS)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $495
Average Price: $900
New York City (JFK) to Denpasar (DPS)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $545
Average Price: $985
Chicago (ORD) to Depasar (DPS)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $530
Average Price: $890
Best cheap eats in Bali
Warung Bu Mi (Canggu)
Offering delicious, local food at affordable prices, this Canggu warung (small restaurant or shop) is where the local and tourist crowds meet. For about $2 at Warung Bu Mi, you select your rice – white, yellow, or brown – and whatever meats, vegetables, or tofu dishes you’d like to add.
Betel Nut Cafe (Canggu)
If you can’t find something delicious to eat at this budget friendly Canggu institution, there’s something wrong with you. While a lot of eateries in the area have shifted focus to dishes with Instagramability, Betel Nut Cafe focuses on serving delicious wraps, salads, burgers, and more, from morning to night.
Warung Pondok Madu (Ubud)
This is more or less the go-to place for a budget friendly, reliable, delicious meal in Ubud, especially if you like ribs. Warung Pondok Madu is best known for its succulent local style bbq ribs, cooked for 8-10 hours over firewood in the traditional method.
Sweet Orange Warung (Ubud)
This warung is a bit out of the way but the secluded atmosphere is all a part of the charm here. Situated in the middle of Bali rice fields, Sweet Orange serves up local dishes like chicken curry, nasi goreng (fried rice), and mie goreng (fried noodles), as well as fresh fruit juices and smoothies.
Start planning your trip to Bali
Bali may be Instagram famous for luxury villas suitable for celebrities but the island is still extremely backpacker-friendly. With cheap guesthouses and hostels, $1 warung meals, and breathtaking nature that's free to visit, you can still plan an incredible trip to Bali on a budget.
So when you're ready to live it up in Bali, be sure to save this budget travel guide, and sign up to receive cheap flight deals today!
BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.