Explore Bali – on a budget

Wake up in the dark, catch the train or drive into the city, pick up a $5 coffee on the way to work. Work for a few hours, eat a $12 sandwich from the deli over your desk, drive or train home, arrive in the dark.

When your reality sounds this bleak, Bali just sounds that much better right?

It’s just a hop, skip and a jump – or even easier, a plane ride – from our shores, and Bali doesn’t even know the meaning of ‘office casual’.

Pack your casual casual clothes, embark on a holiday to Bali and try out this guide for how to do it all on a budget.

Spend time, not money

The joy of Bali is that it is a resort island. As in, the entire island is a resort. This means you should be able to keep your money in your pocket for the most part and pass your time enjoying many of the natural features and attractions.

Monkey around

Head to Sangeh village, about 20km north of Denpasar. Here you’ll find the Sangeh Monkey Forest – and it’s exactly what it sounds like. There are three great reasons to visit – the 17th century Pura Bukit Sari temple, the six hectares of impressive nutmeg trees (they grow over 40m tall) and the thousands of monkeys roaming the forest. Keep your valuables well hidden or leave them at home, as these monkeys give mischievous a new meaning and they certainly don’t have a conscience about helping themselves to your things. You’ll find hours of entertainment and dozens of new Facebook profile snaps.

Drive yourself wild

Hire a car and try a self tour around the countryside (remember, getting lost is just another part of the adventure). Visit the famous rice fields of Bali – these are dotted around the countryside but you can find a particularly stunning example on Sidemen Road in eastern Bali. Stop off in Sidemen Village and check out the local arts and crafts markets, then head an hour inland to the temple of Gunung Kawi. This Hindu complex is carved into the rock with two sets of tombs right on the banks of the Pakerisan River.

Also known for its rice fields is Ubud, a hub of relaxation and culture in the heart of the country. It’s a must for yoga or pilates escapes, and is a scenic trek away from Mount Batur, one of the most active volcanoes in the region.

A bargain sale is still a bargain

Take yourself window shopping in Seminyak. This is generally a more upmarket area of Bali, but there are plenty of bargains to be found amongst the extensive markets and stores.

Have your cake and eat it too

Feeling peckish? Sign yourself up for a traditional Balinese cooking class. These are available virtually anywhere in Bali and only come at a small cost. Plus, you get to eat whatever you create as well – provided it is edible.

Life’s a beach (and some)

It wouldn’t be a trip to this Indonesian resort island without at least one day spent at the beach. Upgrade this classic holiday option by hiring a sunlounger and umbrella. Taking along a book and a picnic doesn’t cost a thing, or you can hire a surfboard or snorkels and flippers for cheap and spend the day acting out a commercial for tropical islands. Plenty of people go to Kuta Beach in the south, but for a quieter and less crowded spot, make your way to Jimbaran beach just down the road. This is also nearby to stunning Nusa Dua beach, although this is a pricier area, so steer clear of hotels here if you’ve got a budget to stick to.

Kuta isn’t just about the beach either. It’s packed with markets where you can pick up all your fake-brand essentials such as watches, wallets, bags and NBA, AFL and Football jerseys. This is also a great spot to pick up the Bing tang singlet tourist-essential of the area (basically the Bali version of an ‘I <3 NY’ cap).

Culture on a shoestring

Finally, make your way to the Pura Uluwatu temple to witness and enchanting Kecak fire dance. Held at sunset, your guide will explain the significance of this ritual as the sun sets for a totally affordable night out.

Virgin Money tips for Bali

  • In Bali, Rp doesn’t stand for ‘retail price’ – it stands for the Rupiah, their currency!
  • Double, triple an quadruple check your notes when paying, as some look incredibly similar
  • Helpers such as bag porters and guides at attractions will expect a tip
  • Exchange rates are typically better in Bali, so change your money in the airport when you arrive
  • Don’t go without decent travel insurance, as it could save you more money than any of the tips in this whole article!
  • Check out Virgin Travel insurance to review our product offerings.

What’s your Bali-on-a-budget activity advice?