Over the years the Indonesian island of Bali has been a popular Southeast Asia backpacking destination for intrepid explorers in search of breathtaking beaches, stunning mountain ranges and ancient Hindu temples. Unfortunately, the universal appeal of this stunning island has also attracted thousands of tourists and the increased accommodation rates and restaurant prices that inevitably follow them. However, if you remain discerning you can still enjoy an unforgettable trip to Bali without severely hindering your bank balance. To help you do so, here are some helpful hints on how to enjoy a cheap and cheerful backpacking trip to Bali!
Travel During Bali’s Low Season
One of the best ways to reduce the overall cost of your Balinese vacation is to travel during the ‘low season‘ i.e. when the vast majority of international tourists will be back at work or school. Bali’s ‘peak season’ occurs at the end of the year, from mid-December to early January, and ‘high season’ for international tourists usually occurs from early July through to early September. Consequently, if you can book your trip to Bali between February and June, or between late September and November, then you will benefit from dramatically reduced flight packages and accommodation rates.
Research Accommodation Options Before Departing
If you research your accommodation options online before booking your Balinese vacation then you can save yourself far more money upon arrival! By investigating the regions of the island which offer cheaper accommodation options, such as the popular surfing spot of Kuta, the suburban Legian region, or Ubud which is regarded by many as the spiritual centre of Bali. By investigating the reduced rates of the guesthouses and ‘losmen’ hotels that populate these regions, as well as their idyllic villas which frequently offer discounts for group bookings, you can secure lucrative accommodation deals without compromising on location or comfort.
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Be Discerning When Using Airport Taxis
Upon arriving in Bali you will be faced with a wide range of taxis, buses and shuttle services which promise to transport you to your guest accommodation at a moment’s notice. However, before you step into the first taxi you see, it is worthwhile investigating the various rates on offer. Many Balinese taxi companies have installed meters within their cabs which can drive up the price of transportation substantially.
Out of all your available options, it is recommended that you choose the Ngurah Rai Airport Taxi services which offer more affordable fixed rates. As a Bali travel guide explains; “These guys are the only taxi service that operate out of the airport. They have a service counter located just outside of the arrivals hall (when you exit arrivals turn right). Let the attendant know where you’re going, pay the fare and proceed to the taxi with the receipt. The rates are fixed and this option usually works out to be the cheapest”.
Eat at Local Restaurants
With approximately three million foreign tourists visiting Bali each year, the island now features an eclectic mix of luxurious restaurants which serve all manner of international cuisine; from French bistros to Spanish tapas bars. However, with these multinational dishes comes a substantial price tag. Instead, it can often prove far more cost-effective and eminently more enlightening to sample some authentic Balinese dishes from the local food stands, known as ‘warungs’, or at the buffet-style Nasi Campur restaurants. Not only will these stalls cost far less than the central tourist restaurants, but they will also grant you the chance to discover authentic Balinese dishes; including the mixed rice dish ‘nasi campur Bali’, ‘Bebek betutu’ which is duck stuffed with aromatic spices and wrapped in banana leaves, or even ‘Babi guling’; a spit-roasted pig dish with ginger, turmeric and chilli!
Discover a Variety of Free Island Activities
Bali’s ancient temples, awe-inspiring island scenery and tropical beaches offer a wide range of engaging activities which you can enjoy for no cost at all. So rather than booking expensive surfing sessions and island tours as soon as you arrive, why not make the most of the Bali’s free excursions first? From exploring the island’s stunning mountain ranges and rice fields, to discovering Bali’s cultural heritage within the ancient Pura Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot temples, the island hosts a wide range of free excursions to suit the interests of any intrepid backpacker.
Moreover, throughout the year Bali also plays hosts to a myriad of cultural festivals, street parades and ceremonial events; including the Bali Arts Festival, the Bali Kites Festival and the Nyepi Festival, as well as performances of native Balinese dances within the Banjar community halls and regular exhibitions at the Denpasar Arts Institute. At the end of the day, there is so much to see and do for free in Bali that you will have trouble fitting it all into one trip!
Long Term Stay in Bali
Another option that helps you travel to Bali on a budget is to stay long term and take advantage of cheaper rates when you stay for a week, or even better, a month! If you’re thinking about calling Bali home, at least temporarily, we recommend checking out Canggu. A beautiful beachside town with a plethora of cute cafes, fun bars and always something to do, Canggu makes the perfect spot to set up base for a month to really experience Bali. For those working online, being a digital nomad in Canggu is especially awesome because of the amount of great cafes and co-working spaces to work out of. There are also lots of networking opportunities to connect with people in your field and to work collaboratively on projects.