We spent two weeks in Bali last February, soaking up every moment of the exotic, the tropical, the spiritual, and the beautiful! Dylan and I quickly fell in love with the hospitable people, the delicious food, the vibrant culture, and the natural beauty of the island.
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There's one other detail that made us absolutely love Bali.
It's very cheap to visit as a foreigner.
Bali was the one destination where we definitely got the most for our money. During our two weeks in Bali, we had 3-course dinners for $7 and stayed in luxurious bungalows for $35 a night! Bali is paradise on a dime - and a luxury vacation for cheap!
In this post, I'm sharing why Bali has become such a popular destination and how you can vacation like a queen (or king) for next to nothing. I include a total cost breakdown of what we spent in Bali so you can know exactly what to expect! You'll also find recommendations for our favorite restaurants, activities, lodging, and how to navigate eating gluten-free on the island of Bali.
Keep reading to find out how you can enjoy a luxury vacation for cheap with two weeks in Bali!
Two Weeks in Bali: Luxury For Cheap
- Two Weeks in Bali: Luxury For Cheap
- When to visit Bali
- Traveling to Bali
- How to get around in Bali
- Where to go in Bali
- Bali: Final Thoughts
Background on Bali & Balinese culture
Indonesia is comprised of thousands of volcanic islands. Bali is one of the most visited of these islands, especially after Elizabeth Gilbert released her book "Eat, Pray, Love" in 2006. It was later made into a movie starring Julia Roberts in 2010.
Bali's economy thrives on tourism, and the people here will do anything and everything to make you feel welcomed. We found everyone to be super friendly. When a man on the street asked if we needed a taxi one afternoon, I replied, "no thank you,". He immediately said, "you're welcome!"
Though Bali has multiple practicing religions, most Balinese people are Hindu. You will find daily offerings (canang sari) on the streets. These are small little squares with bits of rice, flowers, and food. Don't step on them, as it's considered disrespectful. You may also see demonstrations in the streets or parades to celebrate various temples around the island.
Pointing is also considered rude in Balinese culture. If you talk a lot with your hands; try not to point at a person. Pointing at things is okay! The head is considered the most holy part of the body, with the feet being the most dirty. Take off your shoes when entering a building, and be sure not to touch anyone's head.
It's always important to both acknowledge and respect cultural customs when traveling, especially if you are spending two weeks in Bali.
When to visit Bali
If you aren't sure when to travel to Bali, know this: it is hot and tropical year-round! Bali is located only 8 degrees south of the equator, making the weather extremely warm all the time. There are two main seasons in Bali - the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season is May to September and the rainy season October to April.
We spent two weeks in Bali in the month of February. It was hot and humid, and we had a few afternoon thunderstorms that were like torrential downpours. These rain showers would usually pass quite quickly, so we didn't mind. We would find a café, have a smoothie and watch the rain! It would typically clear within an hour.
The high season for tourists is July and August, as well as late December/early January. By going in February, it was still busy, but not as crazy as other times of the year. There were no huge crowds of people, and we had no difficulty participating in the activities we wanted. It was nice!
Traveling to Bali
We flew from Sydney, Australia to Denpasar, Bali. It was a six hour flight that cost a grand total of...
Yes, you read that correctly. We spent $0!
Wondering how we did it? Travel hacking!
Using my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, I accrue points for purchases. I had a large signup bonus which I redeemed a portion of for this flight. Normally the flight would have cost $456, but since I used my points, it was completely free!
Your flight will most likely be the most expensive part of your journey. Once you arrive, you'll be amazed at how much you can save. Starting our journey with a free flight really solidified the ideal that our time in Bali was a luxury vacation for cheap.
Flights go into Ngurah Rai Airport, which is toward the south of the island. From there, we went an hour north to Ubud, and then east to the Nusa Islands.
How to get around in Bali
It's not recommended to drive a car in Bali. Everyone in Bali is a driver and can take you where you want for a reasonable price! Plus, there's a lot of traffic, and it can be a bit wild. (Once you attempt to cross the street, you'll see what I mean!)
If you are brave, you can try renting a motorbike, but be careful. Accidents are common and if you don't have the right license, you can pay a penalty. The road conditions can also be dangerous. Make sure to do your research to decide if renting a motorbike is right for you. This article provides some great info if you are considering a motorbike rental during your two weeks in Bali.
We walked everywhere in Ubud and Nusa, and got rides on the back of motorbikes from our hosts on two mornings. Even that was a little scary, but a thrill nonetheless!
Our accommodations provided a driver to pick us up at the airport and take us to and from the ferry, which is very common, and also super helpful! It can be overwhelming when you exit the airport to see almost one hundred taxi drivers. Having one waiting with our name who drove us in a nice car with AC was so lovely, and definitely a cost savings!
Where to go in Bali
Ubud is considered the cultural heart of Bali. To really see Balinese culture, head to Ubud. We absolutely loved it and spent a full 7 days here.
Where to stay in Ubud
We lucked out with this Airbnb, and I can't recommend it enough if you want a stay that gives you that luxury vacation for cheap feel!
Our host, Surya, and his family live in a traditional Balinese compound. You stay inside the compound in a private room with AC, a private bathroom, queen sized bed, and your own porch. The location is central to everything, and there's a yoga studio right across the road! The grounds are lovely, the room is cleaned daily, and it only costs $20 per night!
In the mornings we'd wake up and find Hindu offerings outside our porch and smell incense burning. Breakfast was served on the patio (included in the nightly rate). They offer pancakes, omlettes, fried rice, fried noodles, fresh fruit, tea, smoothies, and coffee!
Surya is so welcoming and friendly, and his family is wonderful. His mother, Made, is a chef and runs the family restaurant, SunSun Warung, which is right outside your door! His dad helps serve and wait tables.
Lunches or dinners at SunSun Warung for Dylan and I were about $6-7 USD. This included a huge bottle of cold water (you need it), an appetizer, main course, smoothie, and dessert. While we did venture out to a few other places in Ubud for food, we'd always come back to SunSunWarung.
Remember to always double-check before eating somewhere if you have celiac disease. Only eat where you feel comfortable and ask questions! My experience may be different from yours.
If Surya's place is booked, there are tons of amazing Airbnb's in Bali for next to nothing. If you'd rather have your own place, there are lots of options! One quick search and you'll see how much Ubud has to offer in ways of luxury vacation rentals for cheap.
New to Airbnb? Get $40 your first booking!
Activities in Ubud
Sunrise Hike at Mount Batur
Surya organized our sunrise hike to Mount Batur. The sunrise was beautiful, but the hiking was not what we are used to. The trails are packed with people, and you have to walk single file. As avid hikers who enjoy escaping to nature to get away from throngs of people, it was a surprise for sure!
The sunrise was stunning. There was a layer of clouds over the volcano nearby and it was magical to see!
The tour company picked us up and dropped us off at our Airbnb and also provided breakfast and a small snack. We had a small group of only six of us and our guide who taught us about the landscape of the area. Be aware of monkeys at the top. They'll go after your food so watch out or just eat fast!
Cost: 350,000 rupiah/person (about $25 USD)
Traditional Balinese Dance Performance
At most of the temples they do traditional Balinese dance performances every night. (You can also visit the temples during the day, provided there isn't a religious service going on. Worth a stop!)
We went on a Tuesday night and got there about an hour early for good seats. The music was mesmerizing to listen to under the full moon, and the costumes were incredible.
It was so interesting and fascinating to watch! The show lasted about an hour and a half and consisted of excerpts from different ballets, poems, and dances.
Cost: 100,000 rupiah/person (about $7 USD)
Ubud Monkey Forest
The Monkey Forest was really neat, albeit a little anxiety inducing (for me)!
This is not a zoo or animal park. There are about 700 Balinese long-tail monkeys that just happen to live here in this sanctuary. You are visiting and observing the monkeys in their natural habitat, which is amazing to witness!
We saw monkeys grooming each other, swinging from trees, playing, swimming (even one doing a cannonball!), eating, and even mamas nursing babies. They were fascinating, and so funny too!
In other ways, it was a little nerve-wracking. People can be extremely naive when visiting here, and as such, things happen. The monkeys are wild, but they are also smart. This is their home, not yours!
If you have food, they will find it.
If you have something on your head, like a pair of sunglasses, they will grab them.
If you get too close, they may jump on you.
If they feel threatened, they may bite.
Three different people got bitten during our visit for doing stupid things, like coaxing a monkey onto their back, getting too close to a nursing mama, or trying to take a monkey selfie. It was so frustrating and made me really anxious!
You can have a great and safe experience here, and it's worth a visit! Just make sure to read up about the place beforehand, follow the rules, and you'll have a wonderful time! The monkeys are really cute, and we got such a kick out of observing them.
It's a shame many people aren't smart about visiting here, but you can be and you'll have a positive experience as a result!
Cost: 50,000 rupiah/person (about $3.50 USD)
Walk Campuhan Ridge
The Campuhan Ridge walk offers elevated views of rice paddies and local farms and passes cafes, art studios, and more. The walk begins from Warwick Ibah Luxury Villas and Spa and continues for 9 kilometers in total. You can choose to walk whatever you feel comfortable doing.
When we reached Karsa Day Spa & Cafe about 45 minutes in to our walk, we noticed the sky beginning to darken, and within minutes it was a complete downpour! We grabbed smoothies and sat under some shelter to wait out the rain.
This walk is considered one of the best treks in Ubud. It's peaceful and the views of the hillside are tranquil and lush. The best times to go are early morning and late afternoon to avoid the heat or the rain!
Shop The Local Markets
The local markets in Ubud are brimming with shopkeepers looking to sell you something fast. They have art, paintings, clothing, fresh fruit, backpacks, and more!
It's okay to haggle here on prices and try to get the best deal. You'll find lots of amazing items at fairly cheap prices. I bought a blue cotton dress my first day in Bali which I then wore almost every day as it was so light, cool, and comfortable!
Cost: Free (unless you find something you like!)
For beaches, resorts, snorkeling and more, check out the Nusa Islands. They are a 30-40 minute ferry ride from the mainland, in the port of Sanur.
There are 3 islands total: Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida. Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan are small, and you can travel between them across the yellow bridge that connects them. Nusa Penida is much bigger!
We spent three full days on Nusa Lembongan and did excursions to the others during our stay.
Where to stay in Nusa
The ultimate place to have a luxury vacation for cheap was Pondok Lembongan!
We loved our stay at this family run guesthouse. It just recently opened last year and the owner Kunang and her family make you feel so welcomed. We were greeted with fresh, cold orange juice and enjoyed an incredible private bungalow with AC for only $35 a night!
Our bungalow had strong AC, a queen sized bed with mosquito net, two bottles of water that were replaced daily, housekeeping service, a porch, and an awesome outdoor shower/bathroom!
They served us breakfast every morning (included in the nightly rate) of eggs, fresh fruit, tea or coffee, had stunning gardens, and a brand new pool! The family here also arranged transportation for us, gave us rides on their motorbikes, and coordinated a snorkeling trip for Dylan and I. They were so friendly and helpful!
Learn more about Pondok Lembongan on Booking.com and discover more luxury for cheap B&B's, guest houses, apartment rentals, and hotels.
Activities in Nusa
Yes, the water really is that color! No photo editing here!
The owners of our lodging dropped us off by motorbike at this spot on Nusa Ceningan for us to explore. It was magnificent, but we were so hot! The water looked so inviting, and many people do cliff diving right near here at Mahana Point (see below).
It's a stunning place to see in person and you can walk around on the rocks above.
Mahana Point & Cliff Jump
If you are feeling brave, you can jump into the water from Mahana Point Cafe. We opted to watch others instead!
Right by Mahana Point is this stunning beach. After our break watching the cliff jumpers we went for a swim and it was absolutely glorious. The waves were fairly strong that day and we saw plenty of surfers here too! It was one of my favorite stops!
Cost: Cafe at Mahana Point has food & drinks, beach is free! Cliff Jump costs vary from 25,000 rupiah - 50,000 rupiah, depending on which one you choose (small jump or big jump). That's about $1-3 USD.
Beach Bars on Nusa Ceningan
The beach bars on Nusa Ceningan were so fun! They had basic menus with small plates and snacks; drinks, and fruit juices. Many of them also had hammocks and swings in the water (what!) as well as comfy chairs, umbrellas, live music, and a perfect spot to relax. We walked by these on our way back to Nusa Lembongan one night and couldn't resist stopping in for a drink. Totally worth it!
Cost: Drinks were a bit more because it was mainly catered to tourists. For two drinks and two snacks it ran us about $10 USD.
Snorkeling Trip around Nusa Penida
Our hosts organized a day time snorkeling trip for us that lasted about 5 hours. We were dropped off at Mushroom Bay and has a private boat and guide who took us to three different snorkeling locations around the big island of Nusa Penida.
We saw the mangrove forests, beautiful coves, sandy shores, and tons of colorful fish! The last stop was to Manta Bay, where usually they have large numbers of manta rays. Unfortunately, none were there that day. Bummer! We still had a nice afternoon and it was a fun adventure together!
Cost for 2 people: 500,000 rupiah (about $35 USD)
Oh man, the spas - this was the real luxury for cheap activity.
Bali is known for its spa treatments that can range from simple foot massages to fill out flower baths. All of them looked amazing, but I knew we had to stick to our budget.
We wound up choosing to do a two hour couples package at Harumaya Day Spa. This included a flower foot bath, a one hour body scrub and a one hour full body massage. We finished with ginger tea and cookies (Dylan got all of those!). It was relaxing and glorious!
Enjoying a spa treatment, in my opinion, is super luxurious - especially in a tropical and beautiful destination like Bali.
Cost: 850,000 rupiah (about $60 USD for two plus the tip)
Sunset at Devil's Tear
This spot was truly magical. We made it to this point on Nusa Ceningan right for the sunset and it was incredible. We watched the powerful waves come in with the tide, spotted two sea turtles and a pod of dolphins. It was so special to just sit and witness this beautiful place together. Definitely one of my favorite moments from the Nusa Islands.
Now that you've seen how to turn Bali into your luxury for cheap vacation, you might be wondering how much everything cost!
Total costs for Bali (11 days)
Sydney, Australia to Denpasar, Bali Virgin Airways
Actual Cost: $462
We paid: $0
We booked this flight by travel hacking -using points earned through my Chase Sapphire credit card, so the flight cost us nothing!
Actual Cost: $102
We paid: $102
We were provided with a taxi service to our AirBnB from the airport in Denpasar to Ubud, and a taxi service to and from the ferry for the Nusa Islands.We paid out of pocket for the ferry, plus one taxi ride in Denpasar when flying to Thailand (to the airport).
Actual Cost: $293
We paid: $263
We stayed in an Airbnb in Ubud, used Booking.com for our guesthouse in Nusa, and stayed in a hotel in Denpasar the night before our flight to Thailand.
Actual Cost: $210
We paid: $210
We rarely cooked our own food as we didn't have access to a kitchen. I used my Gluten-Free Indonesian Card when dining out and also dined at a few dedicated gluten-free restaurants.
Actual Cost: $170
We paid: $170
In Ubud we did the sunrise hike, monkey forest, dance performance, and I went to a few yoga classes. On the Nusa Islands, we went snorkeling and did a spa day treatment of a body scrub & massage.
Actual Cost: $50
We paid: $50
Random things that don't fit into a category, like having to buy extra toiletries, getting laundry done, and our sarong purchases at the Ubud market!
Actual Cost: $1287 USD
What we paid: $792 USD
Savings: almost $500!
Price Comparisons: Bali & Other Popular Travel Spots
Travel hacking definitely helped us cut costs in Bali, but even without that, Bali is still extremely reasonable if you are looking for a high quality stay for little cash. We saved a considerable amount in transportation costs by booking places that provided extras. Both lodging prices included taxi services so we did not have to pay for most of our transportation. We walked everywhere in Ubud, as it's small and easy to do!
Here's a comparison of how much it costs to spend just one week as a couple CHEAPLY in other popular travel destinations. I am looking at numbers from Budget Your Trip, and comparing the CHEAP estimates, without airfare.
Here's how you could spend a cheap vacation in popular destinations around the globe. Be mindful of exchange rates here - they will play a big role in your luxury for cheap goals!
To spend a week in London as a couple, on the cheap end, it costs an average of $959 USD.
To spend a week in Hawaii as a couple, on the cheap end, it costs an average of $1387 USD.
To spend a week in Italy as a couple, on the cheap end, it costs an average of $1933 USD.
That's close to $1,000 USD - $2,000 USd for a week in each of those places, for cheap. That means hostels, cooking your own food, walking everywhere, minimal excursions, and little opportunity to indulge.
Or, you could spend a week in Bali for about $311 USD, which will include beautiful lodging, cheap and delicious food, and multiple opportunities to find luxury for pennies.
Once you arrive, you can enjoy beaches like these...
And then there’s $2 smoothies, and $7 dinners, and local markets, and more!
By choosing a luxury for cheap vacation destination like Bali, you are setting yourself up for success and keeping more money in your pocket.
Bali: More Information
Bali is well worth a visit, and there is so much more to see than just Ubud and the Nusa Islands. If you are planning to spend some time here on your own cheap luxury vacation, I highly encourage you to look into the other nearby towns & beaches to get the most out of your stay!
These articles provide excellent information about where else to visit in Bali if you are looking to see more:
No matter where you choose to visit in Bali, you'll enjoy making memories and won't spend a ton of money, either!
Bali: Final Thoughts
As I reflect back on our two weeks in Bali, there are small things that will forever remind me of Indonesia and our cheap luxury vacation. The sounds of morning doves outside, the sight of flip flops left on doorsteps, the smell of garlic frying from Sun Sun Warung, and plumeria flowers will always bring me back to our time here.
Bali quickly became one of my favorite destinations on our round the world travels, and I know we will be back someday. Do yourself a favor and book a trip. You'll soak up the sun, unwind, and marvel at the beauty of this island, all while enjoying true paradise on a dime!
Maybe we'll see you there on our next luxury vacation for cheap to wonderful Bali, Indonesia!
Have you ever been to Bali?