Is Bali Expensive?
Are you asking yourself, is Bali expensive or is it an affordable holiday destination? Plenty of people are working on their Bali budget. I lived in Bali for years so have the inside scoop on the cost of accommodation, food, transport, activities, attractions, shopping and more! Read on for all my favorite tips and tricks for getting the most bang for your buck.
As a Bali resident, I saw firsthand how this idyllic Indonesian island became one of the world’s most sought-after tourist destinations. Bali is famous for its lush landscapes, vibrant culture, and stunning beaches. From the spiritual town of Ubud to the bustling beach clubs in Seminyak, this paradise attracts millions of visitors every year.
But, as an insider, I often get asked one burning question: “Is Bali expensive?” The answer to this – as with most things – is that it entirely depends on your perspective and preferences! Bali can be both affordable and expensive. Generally speaking, Bali is not an expensive destination unless you want to splurge, you definitely can if you want to!
Below I will share my firsthand experiences and knowledge of Bali’s cost of living and provide an insider’s perspective on how to navigate expenses while enjoying the best that this enchanting island has to offer. Whether you’re a budget-conscious backpacker or a luxury-seeking traveler, my goal is to help you make the most out of your Bali experience without breaking the bank.
Please note that while I have given an indication of prices in US dollars (USD), while you’re in Bali you will need to pay in the local currency, the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR).
Table of Contents
- 1 Bali Accommodation and Hotels
- 2 Bali Food and Dining
- 3 Bali Tours and Transportation
- 4 Bali Attractions and Activities
- 5 Bali Shopping
- 6 Balancing Luxury and Budget Travel in Bali
- 7 Do we Think Bali is Expensive
- 8 Is Bali Cheap?
- 9 Frequently Asked Questions
Bali Accommodation and Hotels
Overview of accommodation options
Bali offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every budget and preference. There is definitely a difference between high season and low season. Here’s a quick overview of the most common options:
- Luxury resorts – Bali is home to many world-class luxury resorts that cater to travelers seeking top-notch amenities, breathtaking views, and exceptional service. Some of the most popular areas for luxury accommodations are Nusa Dua, Seminyak, and Ubud.
- Mid-range hotels – For those looking for a comfortable stay without the luxury price tag, Bali has a plethora of mid-range hotels that offer modern amenities in desirable locations. You’ll find these options scattered throughout popular areas like Kuta, Legian, and Canggu.
- Budget guesthouses, hostels, and homestays – For budget-conscious travelers, guesthouses, hostels, and homestays offer an affordable and authentic Balinese experience. These accommodations are usually family-run and can be found all over the island. Prices start around US$5 per night, but be aware that some budget accommodation might not have Western style amenities like sit toilets, air conditioning, and private rooms.
Comparing the costs with other popular tourist destinations
In comparison to other tourist hotspots around the world, Bali offers excellent value for money. Luxury resorts in Bali are usually much more affordable than their European or Caribbean counterparts, while mid-range hotels and budget accommodation provide great value in their price range.
Tips for saving on accommodation
I have a few tried and tested tips to help you save on accommodation in Bali:
- Book well in advance – Early booking can often lead to better deals, particularly during peak seasons.
- Travel during low season – February, March, and October are considered low season in Bali, which often translates to a lower cost for accommodation.
- Negotiate directly with the property – For budget guesthouses and homestays, try contacting the owner directly and asking for a better rate.
- Use booking websites – Websites like booking.com and hotels.com.au often have special promotions or discounts available, or special booking rates and rewards for frequent users of their site.
- Get off the beaten track – Munduk, Lovina, Sideman, Candidasa, and Negara are all beautiful and have an abundance of culture but because they’re not high tourist destinations, they’re much cheaper. Places like Kuta, Seminyak, Canggu, Uluwatu, Jimbaran, and Nusa Dua definitely have their appeal, but because they’re popular, they can also be more expensive.
Be sure to read my in depth guide on how to get from Bali to Komodo Island. Renting a private boat and seeing the dragons was a once in a lifetime trip for us.
Bali Food and Dining
Local cuisine and cost of eating at local ‘warungs’
One of the best ways to experience Bali’s vibrant culinary scene is by eating at local warungs (small, family-owned eateries). Warungs serve delicious, authentic Indonesian and Balinese dishes at very affordable prices, with meals typically costing around US$1-$3.
Mid-range and upscale dining options
For a more sophisticated dining experience, Bali has numerous mid-range and upscale restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, from Indonesian and Asian fusion to Italian, French, Japanese, Mexican, and delicious seafood options. Prices at these establishments vary but expect to pay somewhere between US$10-$50 per person, depending on the restaurant.
Comparing food costs with other countries
Bali’s food costs are generally lower than those in Western countries and even some other Southeast Asian destinations. The affordability of local cuisine, combined with the variety of international dining options, makes Bali a very attractive destination for foodies!
Tips for eating on a budget in Bali
As well as trying out locals warungs for well priced meals and snacks, here are some other insider suggestions:
- Street food – Look for street food vendors, especially around local markets, for inexpensive and tasty bites. Street food vendors often sell their wares from a little cart called a ‘kaki lima’, meaning ‘five feet’ (being the seller’s feet, two feet for the cart, and one wheel that the cart can be pushed along the street on).
- Share dishes – At mid-range and upscale restaurants, consider ordering a few dishes to share between your group to cut down on costs.
- Set menus or lunch specials – Many restaurants offer set menus or discounted lunch specials (for example, a slightly smaller portion served with rice) that can help you save money while still enjoying a quality dining experience.
Bali Tours and Transportation
Public transport options and costs
- Taxis – Metered taxis are readily available in tourist areas, with Bluebird being the most reputable company. There is a flagfall which can vary depending on whether it’s day or night, weekend or weekday, and rates start at around US$0.60 per kilometer. You can download the Bluebird app to make requesting a taxi super-simple.
(Keep your wits about you when using taxis; there is an imitation Bluebird taxi group called Bluebiro that has similar colored cars and uses a similar font – it’s an easy mistake to make! My family and I have not always had positive experiences with them.)
- Online ride-hailing services – Apps like Grab and Gojek are popular for their convenience and affordability. Prices vary depending on demand and distance but are generally cheaper than taxis. Both Gojek and Grab offer cars and motorbikes – don’t forget to specify when booking.
- Kura-kura bus – There is an airconditioned minibus called Kura-kura (which means ‘turtle’ in Indonesian) that runs between 10+ tourist hotspots in Kuta (usually malls), as well as to Ubud and back to Kuta. One-way tickets to or from Ubud start at US$6.50.
- Note on ‘bemos’ – Although bemos (minibuses that operate on a fixed route) are common in other parts of Indonesia, they’re not common in Bali. Having said that, the Kura-kura bus mentioned above is a very sanitized, tourist version of a bemo.
Renting a self-drive scooter or car
Renting a scooter has been a popular and cost-effective way to explore Bali, however, the laws around tourists renting scooters and motorbikes are changing fast, and I suspect foreigners soon won’t be able to. While you can, though, daily rental rates range from about US$3-$7.
For those who prefer four wheels, car rentals start at around US$15-$20 per day.
Be aware that there is likely to be a small fee for parking in certain places like near beaches, tourist areas, and some shopping malls. Expect to pay around US$0.50 to park. While the parking fee collectors sometimes don’t look overly official, they are authorized by the head of the local area to collect money. Some will offer you a ticket as proof of purchase, but some will not. Don’t try to haggle – just pay the small fee and rest assured that you’ve positively contributed to the local economy.
Hiring a car and driver
An awesome way to see the island’s delights while learning about the local culture and cuisine is to hire a local car and driver. Tours can be just a few hours or even a few days, and the cars are clean, cool, and comfortable.
My favourite driver is a lovely Balinese man from the Ubud area called Chatty Putu. His English is excellent, he’s a super-safe driver, and he knows how to avoid traffic in Bali (which is awesome!). Putu knows all the top tourist destinations that you’ll want to see, as well as a whole host of local secret spots that he’s happy to share with guests. Rates start at US$35 and you can contact him via WhatsApp on +62 81 949 002 902 or +62 87 860 632 124. Tell him Belinda says “hi”.
(Please note: I have no affiliation with Putu at all other than that my family and I have used his services many times and have always been impressed. I do not receive any incentive to promote his service.)
Comparing transport costs with other countries
Compared to other popular tourist destinations, transportation costs in Bali are relatively low. This makes it easy to explore the island without spending a fortune.
Tips for saving on transport costs
- Use ride-hailing apps: They often offer better rates and can save you from haggling with taxi drivers.
- Rent a scooter: It’s a cost-effective way to explore at your own pace.
- Use public transportation: Bemos can be a cheap way to get around, especially for short distances.
Bali Attractions and Activities
Cost of popular tourist attractions
- Temples – Entrance fees for most temples range from US$1-$5, with the most famous ones like Uluwatu and Besakih costing a bit more.
- Beaches – Many beaches are free to access, while others may have a small entrance fee or parking charge.
- Cultural performances – Traditional dance shows, such as Kecak or Legong, typically cost around US$7-$15 per person.
Adventure and outdoor activities
- Surfing – Surfboard rentals cost around US$5-$10 per day, while lessons are approximately US$25-$40. There are great package deals (eg, board & rash vest rental plus a lesson), available at various locations around the island including Canggu and Medewi.
- Jet skiing – Jet skis are available to rent at various places around the island, including gorgeous Sanur beach and Nusa Dua. Prices start at around US$35 for 15 minutes.
- Scuba diving – A single dive starts at around US$30-$40, with discounts for multiple dives or packages.
- Trekking – Guided treks, like the popular Mount Batur sunrise hike, can cost anywhere from US$30-$80. Prices depend on package type, group size, and season of travel.
Bali meditation and yoga retreats
Bali is a deeply spiritual paradise steeped in ancient culture and tradition – the perfect place to focus your energy and get some much needed ‘me time’. If you’re looking for spiritual retreats in Bali, read on!
- Bali meditation retreat – There are a plethora of Bali meditation retreats in Ubud offering drop-in sessions to re-center your calm and clear your mind. Alternatively, book in for a short course over several days for the ultimate soul soother.
- Bali yoga retreat – If you’re after a yoga retreat in Bali, you’re in for a real treat! There are countless opportunities to gently stretch your body and unwind. Like with meditation retreats, there are single class options if you’re short on time, longer courses, or yoga retreat packages that include food and accommodation. Most retreats are in Ubud, Canggu, and Seminyak but there are others popping up in less touristy but equally beautiful locations like Amed and Sanur.
- Bali yoga teacher training – An increasing number of meditation and yoga retreats are offering yoga teacher training courses in Bali.
The cost for Bali meditation retreats and Bali yoga retreats varies greatly depending on the location and how many classes you’re buying. As a rough guide, a five class pass in Canggu could cost US$40 while a 10 class pass in Ubud could cost US$65.
Comparing attraction costs with other countries
Attractions in Bali are generally more affordable than those in many other tourist destinations, making it possible to experience a variety of activities without overspending.
Tips for saving on activities and attractions in Bali
- Group bookings – Organize activities with other travelers to negotiate better group rates.
- Package deals – Look for packages that combine multiple activities or attractions at a discounted price.
- Plan ahead – Research and compare prices from different providers before booking.
Overview of popular shopping options
- Local markets – These markets offer everything from clothing and souvenirs to fresh produce at affordable prices. The famous Ubud Market and Sukawati Art Market are must-visits.
- Boutiques and art galleries – For unique, high-quality items, check out the boutiques and galleries in Seminyak or Ubud.
- Shopping malls – Malls like Beachwalk in Kuta and Discovery Shopping Mall offer a mix of international and local brands.
Bargaining culture and tips for getting the best price
Whatever you call it, bargaining/ haggling/ bartering is expected at local markets in Bali (and all over Indonesia). However, prices at malls or established shops like the local convenience store are fixed (that is, no bargaining). When bargaining, after the vendor has told you their price, try suggesting about half of that price. The vendor will then lower their price a bit, and you increase your price a bit. After a little back and forth, you are likely to land at around 75% of the original price. Treat it like a game!
There are a few things that I like to keep in mind when bargaining:
- Firstly, I always keep the tone friendly and lighthearted – it’s not a battle and what I eventually pay is no reflection on my ‘skills’ as a negotiator.
- Secondly, the folks who sell produce or products at a local market are very likely to be quite poor. As such, I try to err on the side of generosity rather than ‘winning’ because I know the few cents (or even dollars) I pay extra will go to feed a family or help a child access education.
Comparing shopping costs with other countries
Bali’s shopping costs are generally lower than those in Western countries, and even some other Southeast Asian destinations. In particular, local markets offer great value for money, while high-quality boutiques and galleries provide unique items at competitive prices.
Balancing Luxury and Budget Travel in Bali
How to experience luxury without breaking the bank
- Opt for affordable luxury – Look for smaller boutique hotels or villas that offer a luxurious experience at a fraction of the cost of larger resorts.
- Enjoy spa treatments – Bali is known for its affordable spa services, allowing you to indulge in massages and treatments without spending a fortune.
- Happy hour deals – Many bars and beach clubs offer happy hour promotions, allowing you to enjoy a luxury atmosphere at a discount.
Strategies for budget-conscious travelers
- Stay in budget accommodations – Opt for guesthouses or homestays for a more affordable stay.
- Eat at local warungs – Save money by dining at local eateries instead of more expensive restaurants.
- Use public transportation – Save on transportation costs by using ride-hailing apps, taxis, and renting your own wheels.
- Go off the beaten path – Explore less touristy areas like Amed, Munduk, Medewi (particularly for surfing!), or Sidemen for a more authentic experience.
- Connect with locals – Engage with locals to get recommendations for lesser-known spots and activities. Ask the receptionist at your hotel, your taxi driver, or the person working at the local 7-11 for their local perspective.
(Please note: I am not recommending that you go off with unknown people – just that you strike up a conversation and seek their recommendations.)
- Hire a local Balinese driver – As you might expect, nobody knows Bali as well as the Balinese people themselves! Hire a local Balinese driver for a day or two (or a half-day if you’re on a budget) and ask them to take you to their favorite places.
- Attend local events – Look for community events, such as temple ceremonies or village festivals, to immerse yourself in Balinese culture. There are various locally-produced free weekly magazines in stands at malls and some convenience stores which will list events and activities.
Do we Think Bali is Expensive
No, not really. But after years of living here we learned the various areas, restaurants, hotels, travel costs and more that goes into your total expat budget.
Sometimes we like to splurge and spend the day at the pool of a fancy hotel. Take the whole family, eat and drink all day and you can spend hundreds of dollars. Sometimes we eat nasi goreng that costs less than a dollar per meal.
Is Bali Cheap?
As I have experienced in Bali, living on the island can be very cheap. It can be very very cheap. If you want it to be. You can also live the high live and stay in high end hotels, eat at the best restaurants, drink the expensive drinks. However, if you do the opposite of all these things, then, yes, Bali is cheap. But you have to want it to be cheap.
Some days our family wanted to or needed to save money, so we did the cheap things. Other times we wanted to splurge and treat ourselves, so we went for the much more expensive options. At the end of the day, Bali is very cheap when compared to Western countries if you want it to be.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bali can be considered relatively affordable compared to many other popular tourist destinations. While luxury options are available for those with higher budgets, it is also possible to travel and enjoy Bali on a budget. Accommodations, food, transportation, and activities can all be tailored to suit a range of budgets.
The cost of a week in Bali depends on your travel preferences and budget. For a budget-conscious traveler, you might spend around US$350-$500 for accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. A mid-range budget could range from US$700-$1,500, while a luxury vacation could cost US$2,000 or more.
Bali and Thailand are fairly comparable in terms of affordability for tourists. While some aspects of travel may be cheaper in one destination than the other, overall costs are relatively similar. Both destinations offer a wide range of accommodation, food, and activities for travelers with varying budgets, and both destinations offer beautiful beaches, fabulous food, and cool cultural experiences.
The amount of money you need for 10 days in Bali depends on your travel preferences and budget. For a budget-conscious traveler, you might spend around US$500-$700 for accommodation, food, transportation, and activities. A mid-range budget could range from US$1,000-$2,000, while a luxury vacation could cost US$3,000 or more.
So there you have it, folks! Bali offers a wide range of experiences for travelers on any budget, without breaking the bank. From luxury resorts to budget guesthouses, fine dining to local warungs, and world-class attractions to hidden gems, there’s something for everyone on this gorgeously enchanting island. Happy travels!
I’m always happy to hear from people who would like to share their own recent experiences – drop me a line 🙂