Ever look at a destination on a map and decided that you just can’t afford it?
Spoiler alert: You CAN.
Although I have been in Indonesia since December of 2013, I have yet to post on what I’ve spent. Let’s face it, budget reports are far less exciting when you’re meeting your idol in person, surfing in crystal waters and playing russian roulette with your digestion.
Bali is an island where you truly can spend what you want. I have spent 10$ a day on some occasions and 50$ on others.
For reference, at the time of writing, the current exchange rate is 11,500 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) to 1 U.S. dollar. I use the exact exchange rate for the big numbers, but round down to about 10,000IDR/1$ when talking about smaller purchases (like toothpaste).
I use this method to underestimate what I’m spending, so when I do go look at my bank account, I will be pleasantly surprised.
Let’s begin with the beginning, shall we?
Food : 3,879,000 Indonesian Rupiah = 335 $
Unless you magically score accommodation with a kitchen (or you rent a house) you will eat out for most meals. This is not as bad as it seems.
You can expect to pay between 10,000IDR (less than 1$) and 100,000IDR (10$ish) for Indonesian dishes. The price difference depends on the restaurant, if it’s a local warung (small restaurant) or a Western style restaurant with Indonesian dishes.
For Western food, the choice is yours. It is still far cheaper than at home, but some of my favorite Western cafes offer salads for around 2-6$, green juices and smoothies for 1-4$ and mains for 3-8$.
Bottled water is the way to go. Do not EVER drink the tap water in Indonesia, unless otherwise noted. Generally in the supermarket and smaller convenience stores one liter bottles cost about $0.50. You can save money by buying an enormous jug (around 25L) for a 4$ deposit and 1$ fee. Save some serious bucks and plastic bottles by going that route.
Accommodation: 1,933,000 IDR = 167$
Because I was splitting my accommodation costs with my boyfriend, we tended to get private rooms, with air-conditioning for around 15-20$. You can go much cheaper by staying in dormitory style rooms, or the more popular family owned homestays for anywhere from 5$-30$ depending on the location and amenities.
A good way to make sure you like your accommodation: Book only one night with the possibility of staying longer. Then shop around for other places in the area if you are not satisfied. This may not work in high season, so do your homework first.
Travel Costs : 1,835,000 IDR = 158 $
This month began with a flight to Bali from Jakarta (our Indonesian entry point) for about 60$, some rip off taxis (always ask to have the meter running… if it “doesn’t work” then don’t get in)… and haggling seriously for long-term motorbike rentals (around 3-6$ a day).
Petrol for motorbikes is around 7,000 IDR (0.60$). I spent 5$ on gas for the month. I tend to forget to write this cost down as it’s so nominal.
Visa on Arrival: 25$ USD. I always stash at LEAST 100$ in my backpack somewhere. It’s good to have in emergencies, in cases where you can only pay in USD (like the Visa On Arrival) and if you don’t use it… it’s an incredible gift to find some cash after a big trip.
Visa Extensions: On arrival you are given 30 days as a tourist. If you care to spend more time in Indonesia than 30 days, you can extend your visa by another 30 days. You can spend anywhere from 45$-80$ for a Visa Agent to do it for you, or if you do it yourself, 25$. The process is intense and you need to take 3 trips into Denpasar, which is enough to deter just about anyone.
Miscellaneous: 5,134,000 IDR = 444$
This was my highest expense category this month and I’m not surprised at all.
I purchased a surfboard for around $150, the used board market is incredible in Bali. We also attended the SoulShine Festival to see Michael Franti, Xavier Rudd and others play at the Green School for about 90$ each. Christmas brought about more expenses as we ate out in a nice restaurant and celebrated accordingly for New Years Eve.
What to expect when shopping and stocking up:
Clothing varies greatly, there are fancier label stores where you can take advantage of the exchange rate and backstreet vendors selling the SE Asian favorites. I purchased comfy clothing for about 6$/pants, 10$ tank tops, 28$ organic cotton tank.
Essentials like toothpaste, shampoo and soaps cost around 2$, if you’re super picky and want specific products, either bring them or go hunting.
Massages: You can get a quality massage for about 5-15$/hour… that’s right… an HOUR. If you hear someone say massage & girls in the same sentence, avoid at all costs – human trafficking is rampant.
Laundry: This costs about 0.70$-1.50$ per kilo. I’ve never had anything stolen from my laundry, but that’s probably because I’m not fancy… this is the case for some, so if you value something highly, I suggest hand washing.
Sunscreen is ridiculously priced in Indonesia. PACK IT BEFORE YOU LEAVE. I don’t care if that means checking your bag for 20$. You will be much happier that you don’t need to spend 15$ on a 3 oz. bottle of shitty sunscreen. Value your skin, it’s the only skin you’ve got.
Yoga classes cost between 5$-20$. As the influx of Westerners hit Bali, so do the yoga prices. My favorite place to practice is at Desa Seni in Canggu. Just under 14$ for some incredible teachers, beautiful grounds and environment, free lemongrass tea and cucumber water afterwards and raw energy balls for about 1$… and a pool on the premises. Why go anywhere else?
My total was a bit higher than I would have liked, but generally I tend to spend a bit more when you first arrive in a country. As a newbie, I fell prey to rip-offs and scams, didn’t know the good places to eat and erred on the side of caution when eating out. Considering this was also a holiday month and I purchased a surfboard, the overall total isn’t SO bad.
Imagine that total if I didn’t shop or attend any yoga classes… if only. My daily budget since this first month has decreased.
This month was a good one. The start of the new year and my 25th birthday AND the anniversary of Global Frolic gave me reasons to celebrate.
Food: 4,979,000 IDR= 430$
This includes two meals a day and extraneous fruits, beers and snacks. You can spend what you want, from 1$ to 15$ a meal. We became (and still are when we visit) regulars at a nearby Cafe called Betelnut. Green juices and epic breakfasts ruled our days… as well as higher bills.
Accommodation: 2,867,000 IDR = 248$
We stayed in Canggu at Agung Homestay longterm. Nightly they charge 250,000 IDR (25$) a night, however if you stay longer you can score pretty good rate. Ibu and Made also became our fill-in parents. Air-conditioning, surf nearby and rice paddy views completed the package.
Travel Cost: 750,000 IDR= 65$
This cost was much lower this month. I learned to drive a motorbike, rented long-term and only took a taxi once.
Miscellaneous: 2,759,000 IDR = 237 $
New Year’s Eve, a visit to the hospital for a nasty ear infection (70$), several yoga classes, frequent massages, my birthday treats and sunglasses attributed to this high number.
Total Bali Budget for January :
11,331,642 IDR= 980$
This number is still too high for me. I budgeted out a MAX of $1,000/month but I would ideally be way below it. As we moved on from Bali to Lombok, the numbers decreased significantly. Stay tuned for the Lombok report.
I firmly believe that people underestimate how far you can actually stretch your money when traveling. The biggest reason people claim why they can’t travel RIGHT NOW is because they don’t have enough money. If only they knew what you know now.
If you are traveling to Bali in the near future, budget out your trip by taking a few things into consideration:
1. Will you be eating Indonesian food? Are you a curious eater? If not, you will expect to pay more to eat like you do at home. Veggie alert: I’ve eaten vegetarian since I’ve arrived and it is FAR easier than it is at home. No stress.
2. Are you dead set on air conditioning? It seems worthwhile, until you realize you need to leave your bedroom to get outside and do things. Go fan or go home.
3. Budget at LEAST 30$ a day. This all depends on you, but I would say on average, 30$ is more than enough to get a room, a motorbike and some meals in.
You have enough. You can make it work. Plan, research, record everything and be mindful.