Travel tips

Bali: a travel money guide

How much money should I take on my trip to Bali?

If you’re off on holiday to Bali, congratulations! You’re about to spend time in one of the friendliest and most beautiful places on earth. Bali should be affordable for any travel budget, but it’s always best to know how much you should be spending, so we’ve been through the costs and fees to make a reliable guide on how much to budget for Bali.

At the time of writing, the exchange rate between Pounds Sterling (GBP) and Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) was 1 GBP : 17,714.58.

Food and drink prices in Bali

Food in Bali is delicious, inexpensive and easy to come by. Wandering around you’re likely to stumble upon a variety of places to eat, from family-run restaurants to street kitchens, as well as high-class restaurants in more urban areas. A meal can cost anywhere between 10,000 and 150,000 IDR, with warungs (family-run restaurants) typically asking 30,000 IDR.

Tap water isn’t safe to drink in Bali, so bottled water is highly recommended. You can buy a 1.5 litre reusable bottle for around 6,000 and 7,000 IDR, and refill it for free. If ice is served at a restaurant or bar, it is clean.

Alcohol prices in Bali

Drinking isn’t a large part of the culture in Bali, so alcohol carries a high import price – which is often further inflated for tourists. Urban areas like Seminyak boast plenty of bars, with a cocktail typically costing around 10,000 IDR and a bottle of wine costing around 200,000 IDR. Beer is probably the most cost-effective drink, which is around 40,000 IDR at a beach bar or 20,000 IDR in the supermarket.

Transport costs in Bali

Cars are by far the most efficient way to travel between regions in Bali – a trip across the island will cost about 110,000 IDR, and one journey about 18,000 IDR (a taxi from the airport to Kuta or Nusa Dua is about 100,000 IDR). When planning car travel it’s best to book in advance, as common journeys often get booked up and prices rise.

Apps like Lyft and Uber don’t work in Bali, but equivalents Grab and GoJek allow you to book short journeys conveniently. Both apps are free, and the fee for either a motorbike or a car are around the same price: roughly 7,000 IDR to start and 3,600 IDR for every kilometre.

If you’re flagging down a taxi on the roadside, always use a licensed one and insist on running the meter to avoid scams. It’s custom to round up your final fare to the nearest 5,000 IDR or 10,000 IDR. Hired scooters are a highly-recommended form of independent transport, allowing you to travel freely from city to countryside. The price of renting a scooter is around 50,000 IDR per day, but you can negotiate a reduced price if you’re hiring for a week or longer.

Cost for activities

The most popular activities in Bali vary from region to region. The south is known for its surfing, watersports, and party scene, the centre for its spirituality, yoga and temples, the north for its quietness and black sand beaches, and the east and west for more laid-back coastal villages. Walking and hiking is totally free and offers stunning views, with some treks leading to secret beaches.

Natural attractions, like waterfalls and rice terraces, typically cost a small fee of around 10,000 IDR to 20,000 IDR, as will entry to temples. Temples are a large part of Balinese culture, though they’re so popular that many have turned into tourist traps complete with the occasional scammer. You can catch traditional dance performances at some, which will set you back around 80,000 IDR.

Watersports are hugely popular in Bali. Prices vary from vendor to vendor and location to location, but you’ll most likely be looking at about 1,500,000 IDR for a dive to 700,000 IDR for snorkel hire.

Private tours of the islands can cost between 400,000 IDR and 1,000,000 IDR for a day, and are usually worth every penny. Most can be customised to your preference, so you can go dolphin-watching, beachhopping or tour the water temple. It’s best to do some research into your tour operator in advance however, so that you don’t get taken advantage of.

Over on the Gili islands, you’ll find relaxing beaches (Gili Air), party scenes (Gili Trawangan) or pure seclusion (Gili Meno). Transfers from Bali are done by boat, and will cost about 70,000 IDR for a return journey.

How much to tip

Tipping isn’t an embedded part of Balinese culture, but the tourist industry has made it more commonplace. If you receive excellent service at a restaurant or on a tour, a tip will be gladly be accepted; an appropriate amount is between 5% and 10% of the total bill. However there is no pressure to do so.

Cash and currency exchange in Bali

Bali is a cash-based society, which means you can expect queues for ATMs, banks and exchange houses in tourist areas (especially at the airport). To avoid these we highly recommend buying currency in advance of your trip. If you need more cash while you’re out there, it’s best to head to an exchange house rather than a bank: these usually have better rates and shorter queues. You’ll be able to spot a legitimate exchange house by its UV lights, used to detect invisible ink on notes. To avoid scams, always count your money and never agree to extra fees for service.

How much to budget in Bali

In Bali your experience will depend on your interests, and so will your budget. If you’ve booked an all-inclusive package to relax on a private beach with cocktails, you can expect your daily costs to stay very low.

Guesthouses – a room with a local family – are a great alternative and one of the most popular ways to stay in Bali, as they usually come with breakfast provided, so you’re free to explore local restaurants and find your own beaches. The most popular self-catering option is Airbnb, where you’ll most likely spend more on food, but of course this price will be balanced by your savings on accommodation.

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