Ever dreamed of visiting Bali? If you go make sure you bring this info with you. Here is your Backpacking Bali itinerary for one week and route with 6 days in Bali from $20 per day including accommodation.
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This is a guest post written by Chantell Collins and about her Backpacking Bali trip.
Coming from a Western country, the prices in Bali will seem incredibly low by contrast. It’s easy to become relaxed about spending but every dollar (and Bintang beer) adds up. If you are backpacking Bali on a budget, it helps to have an approximate idea of how much your trip will cost and set a spending limit accordingly.
I have traveled to Bali as a backpacker on a shoestring budget (from $20 USD per day), lived as a digital nomad renting a villa for a month ($27 USD per day), and led an all-female trip around the island with action-packed days, private villas, and even a personal chef ($100+ USD per day).
So no matter what your budget and travel style, this article will help you. Plan your backpacking Bali trip with multiple Bali itineraries and maps including:
- Bali costs guide (average prices – updated in 2019)
- 6 days in Bali itinerary and backpacking route
- 7 days in Bali itinerary from Budget Travel Babes group tour
- Best time to go backpacking in Bali
- How to find cheap flights to Bali
- Arrival tips and visas
- How to order an airport pick-up from Denpasar
- Renting a scooter in Bali
- My backpacking Bali budget.
Bali costs guide (average prices – updated in 2019)
You can estimate how much money you need to take to Bali by searching hotel comparison websites, like Booking, to check the cost of accommodation. Even hotels and hostels will often expect you to pay cash upon arrival. Look for accommodation that includes free breakfast, wifi, and water refills. Tap water in Indonesia is not drinkable and buying plastics bottles is not only bad for the environment but also your wallet.
Then calculate the amount that it will cost for food, drinks, and activities. Following is a guide to the prices for meals and drinks in Bali at local restaurants. Keep in mind, if you eat out at western restaurants and bars, these Bali costs will skyrocket pretty fast. The current conversion rate is 1 USD to 13962, 1 EUR to 15475, and 1 AUD to 9633 IDR (as of 22 December 2019).
- Private airport pick-up to Ubud: 300,000
- Beer: small bottle for 25,000 or large bottle for 35,000-40,000.
- Indonesian dish in a local restaurant: 35,000.
“Warung” (literal translation from Indonesian is a small shop) in the name of the restaurant usually indicates that it is cheap and local. Sometimes more expensive restaurants and hotels will use “warung” in their name too but it can still be a good starting point if you are looking for a low-cost meal.
If you are backpacking SE Asia, you might find the cost of alcohol to be more expensive than places like Cambodia or Vietnam. That’s because there are higher taxes on alcohol and it can be difficult to find in some places in Indonesia. Luckily for those who enjoy an alcoholic beverage, it is still easily available in Bali. We avoided spirits because of the reported fatalities from tainted liquor and stuck to the beer which is cheaper.
My 6-day itinerary budget breakdown, including accommodation, meals, and activities, is at the bottom of the article for backpacking Bali.
6 days in Bali itinerary and backpacking route with a map
Max’s and my route for backpacking Bali was from Denpasar airport to Kuta (3 nights) and then Canggu (3 nights). While staying in Canggu we hired a scooter to travel to Tanah Lot temple and Ubud. On our last day, we took a bus to Gilimanuk (50,000 IDR each), in the northwest of Bali, and then a ferry across to the island of Java.
Day 1-2: Kuta
Places to stay in Kuta: Warung Coco (230000 IDR per night).
Where to eat in Kuta: Warung Indonesia, Jl Popies II Gg Ronta, Kabupaten Badung
Kuta is an unapologetic party town. Its nightclub lined streets are stumbling distance from tattoo studios, beauty salons, massage parlors, foreign-owned pubs, and vendors selling cheap souvenirs and clothing. Kuta is one of those places that people either hate or love.
When you ask someone about Kuta, one of the first things they will probably say is that “it is full of Australian tourists”. Kuta is to Australians what Cancun is to Americans or Albufeira is to the British. Due to the extremely high taxes on alcohol and cigarettes in Australia, many Aussies come to Bali to have a good time while spending a fraction of what they would back home.
The center of Kuta is only 15 minutes by car from the international airport, which makes it super convenient. We choose to crash here for a few days for that reason. I was really burnt out after traveling from Spain to Hong Kong to Australia. A few days to catch up on work, sit by the pool and get a cheap massage was the perfect remedy.
Day 3: Travel from Kuta to Canggu
We booked a Grab taxi to take us from our guesthouse in Kuta to Canggu, which was 40 minutes by car. The ride cost 54,000 IDR.
Day 4: Canggu
Places to stay in Canggu: The Kayuri Guest House (250,000 per night)
Where to eat in Canggu: Warung Noni, Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu
Canggu is the current trendy area of Bali with organic food options and beach clothing boutiques. In contrast to Kuta’s hectic streets, here you will find mostly dirt roads with sunkissed tourists zipping past on their scooters with their hair streaming behind them.
There is still a party vibe, but it is far more chilled. Every day of the week you can find people eating and drinking at Old Man’s restaurant next to the beach. The two other popular hangouts are the bar and skate park, Pretty Poison, as well as Deus Ex Machina, which is a motorbike store and restaurant with live music. We also loved Mocca Cafe for their beer and pizza deals. The pizza is amazing and a good size. The first time we came here we shared a pizza but the second time, I had to have one for myself because it was so good.
While you are in Canggu, sunset and beers on the beach is a must!
Day 5: Tanah Lot
Tanah Lot is one of the most visited temples in Bali. As it is a temple on the water, it can make for a breathtaking view and great photos. The downside is that it can be packed with tourists and the admission fee is rather steep at 60,000 IDR each (the same cost to rent a scooter for the day).
I was underwhelmed by Tanah Lot, probably because I’ve had the privilege to see many other beautiful temples around the world. However, if your only stop is Bali, then it is worth a look. The scenery of rice fields between Canggu and Tanah Lot is wonderful. I highly recommend going by scooter if you can.
Day 6: Ubud
Ubud is a destination that is worth a few days of your time. As I had been before to visit the famous Monkey Forest, we decided to just visit for the day. Going by scooter from Canggu to the center of Ubud took 1.5 hours. We came here to see the temple of Pura Taman Saraswati. As most temples require women to cover their shoulders and legs down to their knees, I decided to drop into the Ubud market to buy a sarong. I had read that these markets are overpriced and it is true! But after some tough haggling, I was able to get my sarong for 35,000 IDR (down from 180,000).
In the end, I didn’t need it because there was no one checking at the entrance of Pura Taman Saraswati. Also, entrance is free which is a bonus. We then cruised over to Tegenungan waterfall (in the feature photo) which was one of my biggest Bali highlights. The entrance fee is 30,000 IDR, half of Tanah Lot, and it is an incredible natural beauty. We stayed for an hour or so but then had to return to Canggu as it was getting dark. Riding bikes on the country roads at night can be dangerous because there aren’t many street lights so better to return before sunset if you can.
Other popular places to visit in Ubud include Goa Gajah Temple (Elephant cave) and Tegallalang Rice Terrace (pictured below).
7 days in Bali itinerary from Budget Travel Babes tour
In November 2019, I led a small group of women from Budget Travel Babes around Bali. This trip is not likely to ever be repeated… But the good news is that I’m sharing our Bali itinerary and map so you can re-create it yourself.
- 1 (Ubud): Downhill cycling and rural Bali spirit tour and Kecak Dance
- 2 (Ubud): Campuhan Ridge Walk, Love Swing Ubud, and drive to Sidemen
- 3 (Sidemen): Green Kitchen & Organic Farm then drive to Lovina
- 4 (Lovina): Waterfalls, Lovina, Hot Springs, and Buddhist Monastery
- 5 (Lovina): Snorkeling Trip to Menjangan Island and massages
- 6 (Lovina to Sanur): Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Bali Botanical Garden, and Sanur beach
- 7 (Sanur): Breakfast and beach walk. From here you could also do a day trip to Nusa Penida.
Best time to go Backpacking Bali
On my recent trip, I visited Bali in December, which along with July and August, is usually the peak tourist season. December is also right in the middle of the rainy season (October to March). Although it did get a bit wet, we found that if it rained in the morning it would usually clear up in the afternoon or vice versa. This meant that we were still able to enjoy our days.
For example, one day it started pouring down while we were having lunch at a restaurant, so we settled in with beers and the free Wifi to wait for the sun to come back out again. Once the rain had gone, we hopped on our scooter and headed off on an adventure.
April, May, June, and September are the shoulder season when prices will be lower than the peak of the dry season in July and August.
How to find cheap flights to Bali
Bali can be a very affordable destination to travel to, especially if you are flying directly from Australia or within South East Asia. The main airport is officially named Ngurah Rai International but commonly known as Denpasar. Flights from North America or Europe will likely have to stop in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Manila, or Taipei.
Rather than booking your connecting flights on one carrier, it may be more economical flying to a major SE Asian city then switching to a budget airline (e.g. Jetstar, Scoot, Garuda Indonesia, AirAsia, etc) to go to Denpasar. Another option to get more value for your money is to also visit neighboring Indonesian islands or countries such as Thailand or Malaysia. Once you arrive in SE Asia, the flights will generally be a lot less expensive.
We booked a one-way ticket from Brisbane, Australia to Denpasar to kick off our 4-5 month backpacking trip. We didn’t have any solid plans about how long we would stay in Bali or where we would go after. However, when we tried to check-in for our flight, we needed to show a ticket (either flight or ferry) departing Indonesia. While at the Jetstar check-in desk, we used our mobiles to book cheap flights from Jakarta to Singapore three weeks after arrival in Bali. Once we showed them to customer service, they handed over our boarding passes.
If you have big dreams of flying to Bali on a one-way ticket, you may also run into trouble. Although, we weren’t asked for evidence when we arrived at Denpasar, make sure you have a backup plan.
Arrivals tips and visas for Bali
In many countries I’ve traveled to in South East Asia, you need to pay cash except if it’s a major fast food or supermarket chain. So here, where cash is king, it can be too easy to make multiple ATM withdrawals and rack up bank charges. To keep your expenses low, I would recommend estimating how much you will spend, adding 5-10% extra for padding, and then take out cash once.
When you arrive at the airport and pass through immigration, there will be two ATMs immediately after exiting customs. The ATM on the left is the ATM in the airport with the highest withdrawal limit. I have a Wise Borderless Account and MasterCard which has fewer fees than most traditional banks. In Ubud, the CIMB Niaga ATM which let me take out a maximum of 3,000,000 IDR (approximately $214 USD). The Wise fee was only $0.95 USD and the local bank charged me around $4 USD.
How to order an airport pick-up from Denpasar
If you are arriving at Denpasar airport for the first time, it can be overwhelming walking out to a huge and loud crowd of people offering their taxi and drop off services. There is an official airport taxi desk but the rate of 220,000 Indonesian Rupees (IDR) we were quoted to go to Kuta Central was much higher than the rate of 150,000 we negotiated with a private driver. We were later told by the owner of our guesthouse, Warung Coco, that the normal rate is around 60,000 and even as a tourist you shouldn’t pay more than 90,000.
In October 2019, we hired a private driver through INDI BALI TOUR for 300,000 IDR ($21.29 USD) to get dropped off in Ubud. I wasn’t at all worried about safety with having a male driver – rather wanting to support the female drivers who may not have as many employment opportunities. The other drivers/tour companies that I recommend is ONE and ONLY tours. You can contact both these companies via Facebook.
Getting around Bali
While staying in Kuta and Canggu, we mostly got around on foot with the exception of once when we were caught in a torrential downpour and took a taxi. Walking around is generally very safe.
Like when you traveling anywhere in the world, you should be aware of your belongings and keep valuables close (e.g. don’t leave your phone in your back pocket or bag open). Although I never felt unsafe or worried about pickpockets in Bali, I always kept my bag in front of me when out and about.
Watch where you put your feet while you are walking as there can be broken pavers, holes, or something sticky that you don’t want to step in. Due to this and how long it can take to cross busy streets, the estimated travel time that Google Maps will tell you will likely be half of what it will actually take. Whenever we found a restaurant on Google Maps, it would always take double the time to walk there (and I am not a slow walker).
When traveling from Kuta to Canggu, then Canggu to the bus station, the most convenient options was by car. Generally, we found it difficult to negotiate with taxi drivers in Indonesia and ended up using the “ride-hailing” platform, Grab. Grab was consistently one-third of the price that taxi companies would quote us.
To use Grab you will need a local sim. We purchased a sim card with 4.5GB of data for 40,000 IDR from a local supermarket near our guesthouse. Grab is available for both car and motorbikes, although traveling on the bike might not be ideal if you have a huge backpack.
As of December 2019, Grab can not be used in the center of Ubud, Canggu, or Uluwatu.
Scams to watch out for in Bali
There are two scams to be aware of in Bali:
- ATMs: many tourists that have used ATMs on the street or in a convenience store had their cards copied and then used. So best to use ATMs only at the airport or in banks
- Money changers: A lot of money exchange places will give you the IDR to count, then take it back and count it really fast on a table, while slipping notes through the cracks. If you are exchanging money then check the real exchange rate first AND be the last person to count the money they give you.
Renting a scooter in Bali
After hearing horror stories of friends who were injured in bike accidents while traveling in Thailand, I was adamant about not getting on the back of a scooter in Bali. However, after talking to other travelers in Kuta, I realized that it was the easiest and most affordable way to get around.
The busy roads can get clogged with congestion but bikes just zoom straight past the cars. Because of the traffic and windiness of the streets, scooters generally don’t go fast than 50 kilometers (31 miles) per hour. This sounded like manageable speed to me but what sealed the deal, was the price. You can rent a scooter (plus helmets!) for as little as 50,000 IDR a day ($3.50 USD). Compared to taking a tour or hiring a driver, it is unbeatable.
We decided to hire our scooter in Canggu from our guesthouse, The Kayuri, for 60,000 IDR. It was so convenient to rent it from the place we were staying, plus they let us use their rain ponchos and have the bike for over 24 hours because it rained in the morning.
My boyfriend learned to ride motorbikes in the busy capital of Buenos Aires, Argentina and says riding a bike in Bali can be challenging. If you are not confident or it is your first, time then it may be better to let a friend drive. For those who are traveling solo, you could consider hiring a bike driver for the day. We met a lady from France who found her motorbike driver on Grab then hired him privately to take her all over the island.
Helmets are mandatory by law, so make sure that your rental company provides them even if they say you don’t need one.
My backpacking Bali budget
All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (Indonesian Rupees). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.
Accommodation: My boyfriend and I searched for the best deals for private rooms with complimentary breakfast, free water refills, WiFi, and a pool. If hot water is essential for you, check with your hotel before booking.
- Kuta – Private room for two people (230,000 IDR per night). We stayed at Warung Coco – see current prices or look at other accommodation options in Kuta.
- Canggu – Private room for two people (250,000 IDR per night). We stayed at The Kayuri – see current prices or look at other accommodation options in Canggu.
Food: Breakfast and water refills were complimentary at both the guesthouses that we stayed in. For other meals, my boyfriend and I mostly ate at small, local restaurants but also splurged on the occasional mid-range cost meal. We indulged in many beers too! (219,333 IDR average per day on food and drink).
Activities: 1-hour massage in Kuta (120,000), entrance to Tanah Lot temple (120,000), entrance to Tegenungan waterfall (60,000).
Transport: Taxi from airport to Kuta (120,000), taxi in the rain (10,000), Grab from Kuta to Canggu (54,000), scooter rental for one day (60,000).
Average daily spend: 278,334 IDR each ($26 AUD / $20.71 USD as of 5 February 2018). This daily amount could be reduced by drinking less and only eating at local restaurants.
The images used for the feature and Pinterest graphic are the property of Maximiliano Brunetti. All other images were sourced from Pixabay and are under Creative Commons CC0.
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