Between lying low with strep throat and another visa overstay, my budget for my month in and around Bali may not be the most typical. Still, I hope it will give anyone looking to travel there at least a starting place for how much you might need to save. The grand total of my 31 days was $1,164.89 U.S., for a daily average of $37.58. I stayed four nights in Uluwatu, four nights on Nusa Lembongan and the rest of the month in Ubud. At the time of my travels, the exchange was roughly $1 U.S.=13,200 IDR. Yes, I was a millionaire several times over in Indonesia. This total does not include the cost of my flight from Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar, Bali, which was $63.29 on Air Asia.
I spent a total of $503.06 on accommodation, for a daily average of $16.77. I stayed mostly in guest houses, though I rented an Airbnb apartment for my final four nights in Ubud. I always had a private room and private bathroom. I paid anywhere from $12/night for a guest house to $25/night for the Airbnb apartment. I had air conditioning for four nights out of the 31 days but otherwise used a fan to keep cool.
Food & Drink
My total here was $307.02, for a daily average of $10.23. This comes with my usual caveat that I do not each much in between meals and do not drink alcohol, as well as a side note that I missed some meals on the days I was most sick. Your food costs can vary wildly depending on where you eat in Bali. You can eat very cheaply ordering nasi goreng or other local favorites at small warungs, or you can go much higher in more formal restaurants. I ate at a combination of the less expensive warungs and some of the higher-priced organic restaurants, though never at the most expensive places. Generally, the least I paid would be roughly 20,000 IDR for a light meal at a warung, and the most I paid was 100,000-120,000 IDR, which for me would have been a bigger meal at a pricier place, including a starter and the main dish. I paid the most in Ubud, where it seemed even the nasi goreng was more expensive than it was elsewhere in Bali.
Flavor Notes: You will find lots of fantastic food in Indonesia. One of my best meals was a delicious fresh jacket fish at Nano Nano warung in the mangrove forest area on Nusa Lembongan. My other top bets were all in Ubud. I ate multiple times at Siti’s Warung Little India (Jalan Sukma No. 36), especially enjoying the light and flavorful samosas, tender tandoori with delicious homemade yogurt and cucumber sauce, and a lovely dhal. Warung Biah Biah (Jalan Goutama No. 13) had excellent nasi goreng urutan (fried rice with Balinese sausage), and small dishes of fried potatoes with egg and skewers of satay. I loved the lentil, pumpkin and carrot stew at Bali Bunda (formerly Bali Buda; Jalan Jembawan No. 1). 9 Warung (Jalan Raya Lodtunduh) had tasty vegetarian and vegan food at a significantly lower price than many of the vegetarian restaurants in Ubud. Last, but definitely not least, Warung Rujak Paras Paros (Jalan Peliatan) made a yummy tipat santok, a dish made from compressed rice, bean sprouts, green beans and chilis and covered with a creamy, crunchy peanut sauce so good that I walked an hour from where I was staying to have it one last time before I left Bali. It was worth the sweat, and at only 7,000 IDR ($.50), it is a great option for those on a tight budget.
My total in this category was $135.61, for an average of $4.37 per day. This included taxis to and from the airport; a return trip (taxis and boat) to Nusa Lembongan; a taxi from Sanur to Ubud; a day trip with a driver to a few spots around Bali; and the costs to hire motorbike drivers to take me to various beaches around Uluwatu as well as on three short trips within Ubud. Most people will rent motorbikes in Bali. That is a cheaper option than hiring someone to drive you, though because I went so few places, you may not spend much less than I did in a month even if you rent your own motorbike.
Between surfing, climbing volcanoes, visiting temples and taking classes of various kinds, you can stay very busy in Bali. My total was $145.83, for a daily average of $4.86. The total includes: entrance fees to two beaches in Uluwatu, as well as the Uluwatu Temple; snorkeling in Nusa Lembongan; renting a pushbike in Nusa Lembongan; seeing the Kecak Fire and Trance Dance in Ubud; a five-class pass at Yoga Barn in Ubud; a batik class in Ubud; a one-day bike trip in the countryside outside of Ubud; and entrance fees to a waterfall and temple in the Ubud area.
Highlights? I noted some of my favorite experiences in my posts on Uluwatu and Nusa Lembongan. I will mention two others here. One was the day-long batik class I took in Ubud. I love textiles and design, so I signed up for this course after getting reassurance from the teacher that I did not need to be good at drawing. Each of us in the class selected a pattern, traced it on to a cloth with a pencil (you can also draw your own pattern if you wish) and then applied hot wax to the traced pattern using a “chanting” tool. The next step was to add a border using a stamp also dipped in hot wax and then to color the fabric using various organic dyes, some of which were activated only when placed in the sun and some of which were activated in the final processing stage. Finally, the teachers dipped the fabric in hot and then cold water to remove the wax, activate some of the colors and set the colors. It was a relaxing day, a chance to do something creatively that I normally would not do and a great way to learn more about the level of skill and talent that goes into creating batiks.
Another fun experience was visiting a black sand beach in Keramas. On my last day in Bali, I hired a driver to take me to the beach on my way to the airport. I stayed for an hour or so as the sun set, watching young women sitting in the surf, dogs digging intently for who knows what and chatting with people on the beach. For me, it was thrilling to see black sand for the first time and to be back at the open expanse of water, away from the hordes of people at other tourist sites and out of the tight and busy quarters of Ubud. It was the perfect way to end my time in Bali.
The spending in this category came to a total of $73.37, for an average of $2.37/day. The highest cost was the penalty I had to pay for overstaying my visa by one day. I accidentally booked my flights coming and going from Bali for one more day than the visa allows. I realized it before I got to Bali, but it was cheaper to pay the fine than to switch either flight. The penalty was 300,000 IDR ($23). Other costs in this category included laundry and some pharmacy items when I got sick, as well as a sarong and some incense (when in Bali…).
Visa Note: The 30-day visa that is free for many visitors to Indonesia is counted from the day you arrive (i.e., if you arrive on 14 June your 30 days ends on 13 July, not 14 July; if you arrive 14 July, your 30 days ends 12 August). People mistakenly overstay all the time, so the immigration officials are used to it and were very friendly, even apologizing to me that I had to pay. The man who took my money flipped through my passport and said, “Are you a war correspondent?”
Health Note: Other than some over-the-counter medications, I did not include most of my medical fees in my totals because I will be reimbursed through insurance. However, in case you are considering staying in Ubud for any period of time where you might need medical help–or are just curious to know how much less you can pay for health care outside the U.S.–I paid a total of 1,653,800 IDR ($125.29) for two doctor visits that included several blood tests and a doggie bag of multiple prescription medications.