You’ve drooled at endless websites and Facebook pictures of your friends holidaying in style in Bali.
Now it’s your turn!
Also read: The ultimate guide on where to stay in Bali
You no longer need to make excuses such as “..Bali is too expensive”.
You know you deserve that luxury retreat in the Island of the Gods, and we’ve come up with a guide on how you can do it a fraction of the cost!
1. Planning your trip
a. Take note of the Peak, High and Low travel seasons
Deciding when to go can have significant impact on hotel and flight prices. Peak season in Bali is typically around the end of the year (mid Dec to early Jan) when prices are really at its most expensive.
And then there’s the High Season, when domestic visitors on school break collides with international tourists on summer holiday around July to early September. Opting to go during normal or low season help you to save more than you can imagine.
For example, you can get a return ticket from Jakarta for $100 during the low season, while the cheapest you can get during peak season will be $145.
The difference in prices is even more jarring if you’re traveling from Singapore – a return ticket to Bali starts at $135 during low season and $255 during peak season. That’s almost 90% higher!
b. Take advantage of long weekends
So it’s really quite okay to plan your trip around the normal or low season since Bali is blessed with tropical weather all year round. And if it does rain, it usually clears in a few hours or at worst overnight.
That said, sometimes you just have to make the most of the public holidays and long weekends.
We’ve gone ahead and done some clever planning for you – sifting out 10 long weekends in Indonesia in 2015
Just some tips to plan your trip by taking minimal leave!2. Checking for the cheapest flights
a. Sign up for e-newsletters
As an established international destination, you probably wouldn’t have a problem finding a flight to Bali that suits your schedule and budget.
The obvious budget-saving move would be to choose budget airlines like AirAsia or Tigerair. Sign-up for their e-newsletters so you will be amongst the first to know whenever they are slashing ticket prices.
b. Compare flights
You can also compare prices via travel search engine such as Skyscanner.com. It would save you time and money by finding the best airfare deals in just seconds by comparing flights from most airlines and online travel agencies.
Image courtesy: Skyscanner
It’s good to compare across different such search engines meanwhile as well, to have more comprehensive results.
Take note that you are not booking your flight directly on the site, but instead, you will be directed to the official website of the airline or online travel agencies to complete the booking, so no hidden charges and fees.
But of course, the rule of thumb is – always check the final price on the official website itself before making any bookings.
You can also make use of some of the perks these flight-search sites offer.
For example, as prices of airlines usually rise and fall (just like in the stock market), sites like Skyscanner will actually email their subscribers when the prices of their chosen airlines have risen or fallen.
Image courtesy: Skyscanner
So you just simply need to sign-up for the service (click here for Bahasa version!). And you’ll have the updates all delivered to you nicely.
You can also compare prices via online travel agencies such as Traveloka.com or Zuji.com to get a sense of which is the cheapest airline to go to.
But here’s a little insider tip: Before you decide to book from these online travel agencies, go to the Checkout page first, take a look at the final price that you may be paying for.
That’s because some online travel agencies don’t include taxes and other miscellaneous booking charges you need to pay for until you reach the final Checkout page.
So these websites are good for comparison between airlines, but take note when you are booking from them.
3. Booking accommodations smartly
a. Don’t miss promotions on hotel booking websites
Hotel booking websites such as Agoda usually have special promotions for members. It’s free to sign up and you can also benefit from their loyalty reward programs. For Agoda, members get special discounted rates on Fridays, so make sure you get onto their mailing list to get the reminders via email!
b. Book a huge villa at very affordable rates
If you’re traveling in a group of four or more, why not rent a villa instead of booking a hotel room?
With the same amount of money, you can get awesome villas with luxury amenities from websites like Airbnb (not an Airbnb member yet? And as our reader, you – yes YOU! – can get an awesome $25 CREDIT if you sign up via this link )
If you are into stunning 180° clifftop ocean view, try these cliff villas you can rent for under $100 per night!
For beach person, you can try these beachfront hotels and villas in Bali for less than $100 per night.
Of if you’re traveling as a couple and consider privacy a luxury, try these private pool villas you can rent for under $100 per night. How’s that for cost saving?
Or if you’re looking for affordable suites that still provides you with great privacy, I stayed at [email protected] (one of Bali’s unique hotels) with three buddies, and the suite features an amazing view of the river gorge. The design of the suite takes full advantage of this view with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, even in the bathroom!
It’s suitable for youngsters and honeymooners, definitely worth the price we pay (it shares the same view as Four Seasons, and we only paid about $150 a night!), and proves to be a hidden gem among the often expensive Ubud accommodations.
If you still want to get more bang for your buck, you may want to spin out the tricks you’ve learned from our 5 Secrets to a Free Room Upgrade that Hoteliers Won’t Want You to Know article.
4. Check out affordable and fun attractions
Did you know, lots of fun things to do in Bali actually cost next to nothing?
After all, to experience the Island of Gods’ natural wonders is a luxury on its own!
Explore hidden beaches or waterfalls …
Go on excursions to other neighbouring islands or indulge in hot springs.Or take memorable pictures in photographers’ favorite picturesque places like this
Or if you’re feeling adventurous, try visiting haunted, abandoned places in Bali
The options are endless!
Most of those places don’t charge you for entry, and even if they do, it’s usually not more than $5 per person.
Who says you have to spend a fortune to have fun in Bali?
5. Getting around Bali
a. Travel on affordable shuttle buses
Public transportation in Bali used to be so scarce, that people would tell you to just hop on a taxi.
While this might still be true in general, the more touristy parts of the island are now served by a fleet of comfortable air-conditioned shuttle busses called the Kura-Kura Bus.
Currently, the buses travel to Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, and even all the way to Ubud.
Single trips cost as low as Rp 20,000 ($2) and you also have the option to get day-passes for unlimited rides.
To give you an idea of the cost-saving potential, taking a metered taxi to Ubud from Kuta could set you back around Rp 200,000 ($20) one way, while a single one-way ticket on the Kura-Kura Bus to Ubud costs only Rp 80,000 ($8).
And guess what? You can also get free wi-fi onboard!
b. Cycle around
Renting a bicycle is also a fun, cost-saving and environmentally-friendly alternative to get around.
You can weave through the traffic and finding a parking spot easily.
If you’re visiting Ubud, riding a bike is the best way to enjoy the lush paddyfields in the countryside, and you only need to pay around Rp 30,000 ($3) for a full day rental.
6. Budget dining options
a. Ask the friendly locals
Understandably, you will want to dine out at these 10 unique cafes.
Having fun at Single Fin Bali
Or take pictures at these great themed restaurants as part of your luxurious Bali experience.
But these places can get pretty expensive and you wouldn’t want to miss some great places where you can eat like locals (at the prices the locals pay).
So how do you find out where? Get friendly with the locals (taxi drivers are usually best) and get the insiders tips on where to eat.
Dinner at La Finca, a restaurant located at the northernmost end of Batubelig. We tried the awesome tapas amidst the ricefields – a hidden gem recommended by one of my hosts on Airbnb.
We got a tip from a taxi driver about this spot to watch the sunset at Kuta beach, without being disturbed by crowds of tourists.
b. Check out online deals
Don’t forget to check online deals on websites such as LivingSocial or Groupon.
Most of them may have only recently opened for business and eager to welcome and get great reviews from potential customers like you!
So even though sometimes the services given may still need some polishing, you have nothing to lose since you only pay for a fraction of the usual price.
And if it turns out to be great, you’ll get to brag about being amongst the first to try them before anyone else does!
7. Tech Tips
You can’t deny that technology nowadays has made it that much easier for us to be budget savvy travelers.
Here’s some tips that may help you when you travel to Bali :
a. When booking tickets via airline websites, take time to clear your cache and cookies. Some airlines programme their websites to see if you’ve searched for a particular date and destination before, so each time you go back, the prices increase – to urge you to purchase the ticket right away before the price increases again.
b. Some recommended mobile apps:
Little Miss Bali – curated list of “cheap and cheerful” eating, especially great for families with kids
Zomato – most recent culinary venues listed (often complete with pictures and menus so you can get an idea of what you’re getting yourself into) and handy link to Google Maps for directions to get there
The Bali Bible – curated list of recommended activities and places to eat with promotional coupons
c. For that all-important wi-fi connection, Bali has tons of places offering free wi-fi. If you’re visiting Ubud, here’s our recommendation on the best places to get free wi-fi.
8. Final Cost Breakdown
So here’s a quick overall cost breakdown if you travel as a couple for a week (7D/6N), assuming you spend 5 days in Kuta/Seminyak and 2 days in Ubud, excluding flight tickets:
∙ Kura-Kura Bus return ticket to Ubud = 2 x $8 = $16
∙ Kura-Kura Bus 5-day pass = $35
∙ Bike rental = 2 x $3 = $6
Hotel/Villa = 6 x $80 = $480
Food = 7 x $25 = $210
Other expenses (round-up of entrance fees to attractions, etc) = $13
Total (excluding flight tickets) = $760/2 pax or $380/pax