Here's How I Traveled in Bali on $25 a Day

Kelingking Beach on Nusa Penida Island, Bali, Indonesia
Photo: Getty Images

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

Campuhan ridge walk - Ubud - Bali- Indonesia
Iñigo Fdz de Pinedo/Getty Images

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.

Two long tailed Balinese Macaque and babies at in Bali
Leonora Hamill/Getty Images

$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.

Atuh Beach, Bali
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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.

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