Bali continues to be a fantastic travel bargain, at least for those who don’t insist on staying in fancy international chain hotels, and Kuta is the best place to find great deals. The city is famous for being the surfing and nightlife capital of the island, and this brings in backpackers and budget travelers in from around the world.
Hotels start at amazingly low prices, though the bottom end means no air conditioning, cheap furniture, and a badly needed paint job. Still, if you are a minimalist then you will find loads of options here. Once you are looking for A/C instead of just a fan then the price starts going up, but you can still find great bargains as long as you aren’t coming during the December holidays.
Sitting around on the beach (while vendors constantly stream by) is the top attraction here and of course that’s free. You can rent a surfboard for a low price and even get proper lessons for less that you’d pay in most other surf spots.
Food and drinks are also very cheap by most standards, though not as cheap as in mainland Southeast Asia. Simple and delicious meals start around US$1 each, and for not much more than that you can get something really filling and sometimes even fancy. Beer is the cheapest drinking option, and it’s the most popular, but mixed drinks are found cheaply on specials at the popular bars as well.
HIRING A DRIVER IN BALI
By far the best way to get around Bali is to hire a driver for anywhere from 4 hours to a week. They are incredibly cheap and also act as a trusted advisor to help you avoid problems and find the best things. Nearly all of them drive mini-vans or SUVs that can hold at least 5 passengers. In Kuta and Ubud you’ll be harassed on the street often by men offering transport, and most of them are honest, but it’s hard to tell in an instant.
Typical 2017 Bali driver prices:
8 hours: 400,000 rupiah (US$30)
12 hours: 500,000 rupiah (US$37)
That price is for a driver AND a van for up to 5 passengers, so it’s an amazing deal. The driver acts as sort of a guide as well, so it’s even more worth it than you can imagine. If you simply want transport from one place to another you can hire an Uber more cheaply. BUT Bali is an island where having a driver who is also a guide is incredibly valuable. You’ll save time and see much more with someone who is experienced in showing off the best sights.
On my most recent month in Bali I hired a driver named Kadek Archa for airport transfers and 5 day trips at the recommendation of a friend. Most drivers in Bali seem to be honest, but I can personally recommend Kadek Archa (email: [email protected], WhatsApp: +62 812 365 277). Tell him Roger recommended him and he will give you his best rates.