Minimizing your expenses in Bali (2019)

Bali is such a money-sucking island, okay. They look good in photos for a reason. Because they wanna suck every penny from you, hence they gotta make it look good. No joke. My friends and i call it the Scam Island for a reason. Okay maybe i'm being a little too dramatic but it's true. So you gotta be wary of your expenses there, especially if you're travelling on a budget to Bali.

Arrange your airport transfer before you land.

Don't forget to arrange for your airport transfer before you leave your homeland. Though there are various airport transfers available at the airport, I recommend that you use Klook or any other similar websites for a way cheaper option. 

Speak in Bahasa Indonesia, if you can.

Traveling to Bali for the second time gave me the advantage of being able to compare prices for a lot of stuff. My first time in Bali was with my family, which was led by my mother, an Indonesian. As usual, they say things are cheaper when you're Indonesian or if you can speak Indonesian. It's true. So we spoke mostly Indonesian there to get the best price for everything. 

Rent a bike!

In September 2019, i travelled to Bali again with my three friends, Ayeen, Mai and Emma. We booked a villa via Airbnb in Canggu, somewhere on the outskirts of hustle and bustle of Bali. It’s not in the city centre and it’s not within walking distance from the beach so we rented a scooter. Regardless of where you stay, I would highly suggest that you rent a scooter (or Scoopy, as the locals call it) too. We paid Rph 80,000/day and it should be around that price. Though Gojek is very convenient, you would mostly visit several places in a day and it is more practical for you to ride your own bike.

Airbnb experience vs renting a car.

We didn’t prepare a very detailed itinerary for the trip- our list was more like ‘places to visit’. Like other millennials, we looked up on Instagram and some vlogs to pick the spots. Then we went on Airbnb to look for experiences that could take us to these places. For a full day trip, we paid around RM138 per person. That’s not cheap, guys. But we went on with it anyway because, who knows, maybe it’s on the money? For comparison sake, in 2017, my family booked a 7-seater with a driver and it only costed us Rph 400,000 (around RM130) excluding the mileage. Even with mileage, it’s still way cheaper than paying for Airbnb experience as they charge according to pax.

Know that most instaworthy locations are for photos sake only, less for the experience.

We chose the Airbnb experience that goes to a bunch of Instagram-worthy locations (because, duh, millennials). However, we do value the actual experience of visiting these places as well since we paid quite a lot of money for it. Here’s what you must bear in mind before going to Bali’s instaworthy locations: thousands of people go there to take nice photos as well. You will be queuing for photos, my friend. So what you thought would be a nice time, dipping your toes in water + getting nice photos for your Instagram—would turn out to be thousands of other people posing for their photos as well.  If you swim by the beach of Seminyak during sunset or by the waterfall, you would be the only one doing so. I’m not even kidding. I brought bathing clothes with me because I thought I could bathe by the waterfall, but yo, I was the only one sitting in the water while hundreds of other people were queueing for the golden spot for photos. I felt so barbaric.

People queuing for the golden spot of the waterfall 

The coveted spot

So ready to go home unshowered

So imagine feeling this way for an entire day. For the life of me, I can’t remember how many places we visited, maybe five or six. But throughout the whole Airbnb experience, we were just dreading for the trip to be over. We left the house at 4am just to queue at Lempuyang Temple aka Heaven's Gate for legit over 2 hours, just for that majestic photo by the gates. They only allowed four poses (approx. 10 mins) out of respect to other tourists. By the time we finished taking the photos, we already started feeling cranky and hungry, just tired of waiting. These scenic locations are scattered all over Bali. It would take up to 2 hours to go from one place to another so plan your journey well!

Legit waited for more than two hours to take these photos. No joke.

You have to pay to take photos.

We also visited Tegalalang to have a taste of Kopi Luwak and take that scenic shot of the paddy terrace. But yo, you gotta pay to take photos from the best viewpoint there. You gotta pay to take photos at the round thingy. You gotta pay to go on the hugeeee swing and it’s not cheap.

Around Rph150,000 for 15 pushes on the swing

Almost the whole island is this crowded with tourists.

As we were tired and just wanted to take a breather from the long journey, we sat that one out and opted for the free coffee and tea testing overlooking the paddy terrace. It was a cafĂ© called Alas Harum. Request for the 14 free cups of coffee/tea and act all posh with you friends! Oh, before I forget, they also sell a plate of eclairs for Rph40,000. Don’t order that, it’s not nice. The hardest eclairs I’ve ever had.

Don't order this.

Order this instead. It's free!

Bargain for at least 50% for souvenirs

When shopping for souvenir always try to bargain for at least half the price. For rattan items, you should go and buy at Ubud as that is where rattan things are manufactured. The souvenir stores at Seminyak mostly source their rattan bags from Ubud.

The bottom-line is everyone has different style of travelling; some for the experience, some for the good shots. If you have a lot of money to invest on nice photos, then please do visit the Instagram-worthy locations. However, if you’re going there for the experience, you might want to really consider some places because you would be the odd one there to be doing activities and potentially photobomb people’s shots.

Travel tips: Throughout the trip, we also went to a few nightclubs for the nightlife experience. Getting a Gojek or Uber to nightclubs like Finns Beach Club or Cafe del Mar is easy. Going back to the hotel after that is not. Often times that you would see tourists standing in front of the clubs, struggling to get an Uber back home. This is because ride-hailing vehicles are not permitted to enter the area as the area is reserved for actual taxis. These taxis are not metered-taxis and they offer a fixed price, depending to your area of destination. To get home using a ride-hailing app, walk for about 300 metres away until the taxi drivers can no longer see you, and then you book an Uber. If the taxi driver catches you getting into an Uber within the vicinity, the Uber driver will get into trouble and you don’t want that.

Seminyak has hands down the best sunset i've ever seen in my entire life. Don't forget to watch it yourself!

Have fun in Bali!

Ps: I previously wrote about celebrating new year's eve in Krabi, Thailand. If you're considering a budget trip with your friends that doesn't burn a hole in your pocket, you might wanna give it a read. 


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