BALI TRAVEL TIPS: Costs of Budget Travel Around Bali in 2012
Since I started visiting Bali in 2000, the costs of budget travel there have doubled to tripled. Within a decade, prices of budget rooms have jumped from 50,000 rp to 100,000-150,000 rp. Meal prices at local markets and warungs (local-style restaurants) have also mostly doubled. Transportation prices within Bali continue to soar annually. The only saving grace is that international flights from neighboring SE Asian countries, to get to Bali in the first place, have pretty much stayed the same or even decreased. At least it’s still cheap to get to Bali!
At the same time that most prices in Bali have been increasing dramatically, international exchange rates have become slightly worse for most currencies against the Indonesian rupiah. Back in 2000-2002, the exchange rate for $US was 10,000-12,000 rp / $1. Since 2010 it’s held steady at about about 9400-9500 rp / $1 US. That difference also makes Bali a bit more expensive for visitors, compared to just a few years ago.
I’ve recently spent more than two months living / traveling around Bali, staying in just about every region of the island. I’ve scoped out the going rates for everything from budget rooms to local meals to transportation, internet access, sim cards and other daily expenses.
Here’s my report on the cost of budget travel around Bali in 2012.
Before I dig into costs within Bali, here are a few notes about flights to Bali. Way back in 2000-2002, I flew to Bali several times from Bangkok. My usual RT fare was about $300 US.
In 2004, I discovered budget airline Air Asia operating out of nearby Kuala Lumpur, so I switched my base to Malaysia. From there I continued paying about $200-$300 US RT each and every year that I visited Bali.
This year my RT flight from KL cost $220 US, all told. I’ve recently researched rates from other SE Asian destinations like Bangkok and Singapore. Flights cost the same or slightly less out of Singapore but slightly higher from Bangkok and other major Asian cities.
Costs in Bali:
Until a few years ago, I regularly lived & traveled around Bali quite comfortably for about $250-300 US per month, making Bali considerably cheaper than other countries around SE Asia (where I could live comfortably for about $400) Nowadays budget prices in Bali have increased so much that Bali costs as much or even slightly more than neighboring countries! Quite a turn around.
In 2012, I’ve had to spend $500-$600 per month to get by.
Here’s the breakdown: (note- 2012 figures based on $1 US = 9400 rp)
Budget accommodation prices in Bali:
Back in 2000 right up to about 2005, budget rooms in great little guest houses all over Bali generally cost 50,000 rp. ( under $5 US at the time) By 2007, they had increased to 70,000-80,000 rp (about $7-8 US). Still not too bad. Unfortunately, since 2008 the price of budget rooms has been soaring annually.
In 2012, most budget rooms around Bali cost 120,000-150,000 rp ($13-16 US).
Budget rooms for 100,000 rp can be found, particularly if you’re traveling solo. Owners tend to be willing to reduce the price for solo travelers if asked.
In some places rooms are available for 70,000-80,000 rp, but those are far and few between.
Single travelers need to budget 100,00-150,000 per room per day.
Couples should budget 150,000 rp.
Those are standard minimal prices at guest houses all over the island in 2012.
Monthly totals for budget accommodation in Bali:
Monthly Total with rooms at 50,000 rp per day = 1,500,000 rp per month ($150 US)
Monthly Total with rooms at 100,000-150,000 per day = 3,000,000-4,500, 000 ($300 – 480 US)
Local food prices in Bali:
Street food prices have also increased significantly. Right up through 2010, I was able to eat many local meals for 3000 rp-5,000 rp, with 10,000 rp my maximum meal price. Fresh fruit juices cost 5000 rp.
Now those 3000 rp meals cost 5000 rp while 5000 rp meals are now 7000-8000 rp. However 10,000-12,000 rp is the average price of most meals at markets, street stalls and warungs these days.
Masakan Padang (Javanese warungs) have always been slightly more expensive and set in larger, slightly fancier shops. They used to cost about 10,000 rp per meal. In 2012 meals at Masakan Padang cost 12,000 – 15,000 rp.
Although these prices might seem quite cheap to most western travelers, the difference in prices really adds up over the course of one month. I used to be able to eat all day for about 20,000-25,000 rp / day. Now my food budget is 40,000 per day.
Monthly totals for eating local meals in Bali:
Monthly Total at 20,000-25,000 rp per day = 600,000 – 750,000 rp per month ($60-75 US)
Monthly Total at 40,000 rp per day = 1,200,000 per month ($130 US)
Transportation costs in Bali:
Public transportation is not easy in Bali like it is in every other SE Asian country. The Balinese have distinctly segregated transportation for locals and transport for tourists.
Tourist transport, which you’ll find everywhere, is outrageously expensive. Essentially, you have to hire a mini-van and driver. The lowest transport fare from the airport to the closest destinations is 200,000 rp or more. Prices for a 3-hour drive (typical driving time from one major destination to another) are currently 300,000 rp-500,000 rp ( > $30-55 US) That’s way more expensive than transportation costs in neighboring countries.
The other option is using local public buses. Unfortunately, very few buses go directly from A to B. You usually have to take 2 – 4 buses to reach your destination, which could easily take all day, even for a destination that’s a 3-hour trip by car. In addition, no buses run to/from major tourist areas. So if you’re in a tourist area, your first big hurdle is getting to a bus station. Good luck. In Bali transportation boils down to your time or your money.
Because of all that, I personally believe the best option in Bali is to secure your own transportation: bicycle, motorbike or car. It’s very easy to rent or buy any of them in Bali. I always get around either by bicycle or motorbike. See below for rental prices.
LIST OF SAMPLE BUDGET PRICES:
( in 2012: $1 US = 9400 rp / € 1 = 12,400 rp / £ 1 = 15, 500 rp)
budget room per night:
100,000-150,000 rp per night
occasionally 70,000-80,000 rp rooms are available
meals at local shops (warungs) street stalls and markets:
10,000 rp usual.
5000-7000 rp for others
meals at Maskan Padang: 12,000-15,000-20,000 rp
sample drink prices:
local drinks (bottled iced tea, tea, coffee, etc):
2000-5000 rp. 3000 rp is the most common price
fresh fruit juice: 5000-10,000 rp
bottled water (1.5 L) :
2000-2500 rp at supermarkets
3000-5000 at restaurants, small shops, tourist places
sports drinks/electrolyte drinks: 3500-5000 rp
coca cola & other soft drinks: 4000-5000 rp bottled / 6000-7000 rp cans
espresso coffees: 20,000-30,000 rp
cocktails: 40,000-100,000 rp per cocktail. In many places 60,000-70,000 rp is common.
beer: 25,000 small bottle – 60,000 rp large bottle
budget transportation options:
bicycle rental: 20,000 rp per day is the common rate
30,000-50,000 per day
500,000-600,000 rp per month is the going rate
petrol: 4500 rp per liter (motorbike mileage is generally 30-40 km per liter)
mobile phone costs:
new sim: 10,000-50,000 rp
pulsa (prepaid top up credit):
comes in denominations of 10,000 – 20,000-50,000-100,000 and others
1 domestic sms: 150 rp
1 international sms: 300 rp
domestic call: varies greatly depending on if calling to landline, mobile phone with same provider or not. free to 300 rp/minute
international calls: varies w country called and if landline or mobile number. Most phone providers have special international access codes that make calls very cheap. My overseas calls cost 500-1000 rp per minute
3000-5000 rp per hour at locals’ shops
10,000 rp per hour in tourist areas
wifi: many bars, restaurants, cafes, and guest houses now offer free wifi
usb modem: 300,000 rp
monthly pre-paid internet packages for usb modem: 100,000-250,000 rp
My actual costs of traveling/living in Bali 2012:
food daily avg: 40,000-45,000 rp
(eating exclusively at local warungs, street stalls, markets and masakan padang)
rooms: 70,000-150,000 rp / day. The average was 100,000 rp / day
motorbike rental: 500,000 rp / month
visa extension w misc expenses: 270,000 rp / month
internet package for modem: 100,000 rp / month
misc expenses: 760,000-940,000 / month
(included phone top-up, toiletries, petrol, laundry, snacks, DVDs, occasional transportation and misc.)
total monthly costs: 4,700,000-5,600,000 rp ($500-$600 US / month)
Final word on budget travel in Bali:
Budget travelers might find it increasingly difficult to stick to their budgets in Bali. Since prices in Bali seem to increase annually, I expect costs to become even higher. Fortunately many free, fun, exciting activities are available to help offset the higher costs of food and rooms. Hopefully, that will make visits to Bali still affordable for budget travelers.
Check out my post 10 Free Things to do in Bali that covers activities around the entire island. Since Ubud is Bali’s cultural heartland, jam-packed with art, religious festivals, performances, and intriguing Balinese daily life, the charming town is definitely worth a visit. Here are 10 Free Things to do in Ubud.
Finally, here are 10 Tips and Cautions for Visiting Bali
If you’ve traveled around Bali recently, what were your total costs?
What do you think of this budget and travel style? Cheap or expensive? Fun or too prohibitive?
Come join me on my 2-week small group tour of Bali in June, 2014. Four to ten guests will accompany me on a fun culture and nature immersion tour of the Island of Gods: Bali Nature & Cultural Tour
( note: please refer here for more information about this post)