By Jillian Kramer
June 24, 2019
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Bali is often perceived as a beyond-bourgeois destination — a land of expansive resorts and expensive bills, a place where only the rich can enjoy the beaches and beautiful temples.

But I’m here to tell you that Bali can be done on a budget — and a budget of just $25 per day.

Allow me to explain: when my husband and I decided to visit Bali, we set a strict $50-a-day spending limit, which breaks down to just $25 per person. With a little discipline and a lot of research, we were able to stick to it, averaging just $43.67 per day between the two of us.

We visited Ubud, known for its lush rain forest and rice paddies, and Nusa Penida, an island with stunning beaches and cliff-side sights. We indulged in animal parks, massages, private tours, and more. In other words, our trip didn’t feel like a sacrifice — it just felt like a steal.

How did we do it? Here’s a peak into our spending for our six-day vacation through Bali.

Day 1: Ubud — $31.11

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We arrived in Ubud in the evening, just in time for dinner and to check into our guesthouse.

$3.61: We’d heard that warungs — the Indonesian equivalent of a café — could be cheap, but we were delighted to find we could nosh on nasi goreng (a fried rice dish), vegetable stir-fry, and a bottle of mineral water for less than the price of a children’s-sized McDonald’s meal.

$27.50: We read a lot of reviews before we chose our guesthouse, just off one of Ubud’s main roads. Our room was air-conditioned with a private bathroom and queen-sized bed, but the best part was that it was just steps from a pool. The price included free breakfast, which meant we could save moolah each day by eating fresh fruit, eggs, and sausage there.

Day 2: Ubud, $36.80

In the morning, we walked the Campuhan Ridge while snacking on trail mix we’d brought with us. By 10:30 a.m. we were back at our guesthouse to scarf down our free breakfast.

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$6.94: A trip to Ubud wouldn’t be complete without a vist to its infamous Monkey Forest, a 12.5-hectare sanctuary for more than 700 long-tailed, cheeky, devilish, but adorable monkeys.

$13.49: We hadn’t planned to stay in Ubud a second night, but we weren’t ready to leave yet, so we reserved ourselves a room at a different guesthouse. (The one we stayed at the previous evening was booked up.) This room also included a private bathroom, and had its own balcony overlooking a courtyard. For $14 less, though, this place did not have a pool.

$11.79: With time to kill before dinner, we “splurged” on one-hour Balinese massages. Spas are as common in Ubud as Starbucks are in New York, so it was easy to find a spot that combined a tranquil atmosphere with cleanliness, comfort, and the right prices for our slim budget.

$4.58: At a different warung, we order two fried-rice entrees and spring rolls for an affordable dinner.

Day 3: Nusa Penida, $49.65

Ubud was beautiful but it was time to hit the beach. We went south to Padang Bai’s harbor.

$4.16: We took an air-conditioned shuttle bus, which we shared with others, to Padang Bai.

$4.30: The ferry, what the Indonesians call the “slow boat,” takes about an hour-and-a-half to reach Nusa Penida. The private “fast boats,” on the other hand, take just 45 minutes to go from coast to coast, but they come with a price tag of about $13.87 per person, at minimum. SWe opted to take the ferry and save the cash for a tour we knew we’d take the next day.

$1.73: As we waited for the ferry, we split a huge plate of banana and chocolate pancakes.

$1.39: It’s important to stay hydrated in Bali’s heat; we grabbed four water bottles to-go.

$5.55: Safely in Nusa Penida’s harbor, we hailed two taxi motorbikes to take us to our hotel, located just steps from the beach.

$26: Our hotel, which featured a dive school and dive tours, was on the expensive side — at least for our budget. But the hosts were warm and helpful, which more than made up for it.

$6.52: The hotel’s restaurant had an impressive menu that included a burger. We couldn’t help ourselves: we ordered burgers along with fries to satiate our American cravings. That afternoon, we soaked up the warm sun and put a dent in our books at the local beach.

$5.06: Back at our hotel, we shifted back to Indonesian food, ordering mie goreng — a fried noodle and vegetable dish — and chicken satay served with peanut sauce and steamed rice.

Day 4: Nusa Penida, $58.32

$0.69: After eating the breakfast included in the price of our hotel, we grabbed a 1,000-ML bottle of water to take on the road. It was time to explore the southern tip of the island.

$20.81: We split the cost of a private driver with a pair of women who were also staying at our hotel. The deal was this: the driver would take us anywhere on the island from morning until sunset. We booked him for two days so that we could spend ample time at each place.

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$1.39: At Atuh Beach, our first stop, we paid an entrance fee. But free bean bags awaited us after we hiked down from the hilltop. (You could also rent lounge chairs for $3.47 each.)

$1.39: Sarongs are required to visit Peguyangan Waterfall, where a Hindu temple is carved into the cliffside. Luckily, they were available to rent for about $0.70 per person.

Admittedly, we skipped lunch this day. It could have been the heat, which was intense, or simply that we were very busy; we’re not sure. But we promise we didn’t starve ourselves.

$7.35: The food was so yummy at the hotel that we ate there again, and we didn’t regret it.

$0.69: We also purchased two small bottles of water to re-hydrate after a day in the sun.

$26: We relaxed on our hotel room’s front porch before winding down in some ice-cold AC.

Day 5: Nusa Penida, $58.87

$0.69: Another day, another big bottle of water to battle the heat.

$20.81: We asked our driver to make four stops this day: Kelingking Beach, Broken Beach, Angel’s Billabong, and Crystal Bay, all free, natural attractions on the west side of the island.

$1.04: After hiking down to Kelingking Beach, we were parched and needed another water.

$1.39: Toes in the sand at Crystal Bay, we split a heaping pile of mie goreng for our lunch.

$8.74: We were beat — and we also couldn’t beat the hotel’s menu (and prices), where we ate yet again.

$26: Our last night at this hotel, we enjoyed the front porch again before heading to bed.

Day 6: Nusa Penida, $27.75

We had an afternoon flight to Flores, so we rose early to take a boat back to mainland Bali.

$20.81: When booked through our hotel, tickets for the “fast boat” were discounted, so we took advantage of the deal, saving $7 in ticket costs and 45 minutes of travel time.

$6.94: We met a nice couple on the ferry who, also headed to the airport, agreed to split the cost of a cab. It took some negotiating, but we got the price down to 200,000 Rupiah or about $14.