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Bali On a Budget

Bali is a mood, a frame of mind rather than a destination. Balinese culture plays out in every aspect of life from delicately decorated flower petal offerings, to shutting down roads for colorful religious temple procession to the trance like music and traditional dances. Once you get past the airfare, Bali is extremely affordable and a little money can go a luxuriously long way for backpackers, spa addicts or adventure junkies.

Firstly, wait until you arrive in Bali before booking any tours. Internet prices are inflated and there are a plethora of activity brochures to choose from at the Ngurah Rai Airport. Prices are in USD and include a private car, personal guide and perks like set meals at restaurants with panoramic views of volcanoes and lush emerald vegetation. Catch a golden sunset over a fresh grilled seafood dinner on the south coast’s Jimbaran Beach or go climbing on the Mount Batur sunrise trekking tour, which includes a light breakfast, driver, and a two-hour Balinese massage. Total price? $55 for 12 hours. If those don’t tickle your fancy, try white water rafting for $35 USD on the Ayung River (+62-361-850-6060) for an unforgettable experience.

If you’re looking to party, get your swerve on in Kuta’s popular nightclub, Sky Garden, with four floors of pulsating music.
In between twerk fests, make sure to immerse yourself in the cultural heartbeat of Ubud, a mountain town is in the middle of the island. Check out the local ancient temples like Bekasih or the soaring volcanoes that are still active like Mount Kintamani. Soak up some rays on the beaches of Uluwatu and Sanur on the south coast. And don’t forget to indulge in spa services, no trip to Bali is complete without a relaxing rub down. Hour-long traditional Balinese massages start at $6 at local shops. More luxurious and decadent  four-hour packages are available at hotel and European spas located throughout the island. Treatments usually include sugar scrubs, body wraps, aromatherapy and reflexology and cost $50.

A homestay is the preferred way of boarding in Bali, and the rooms are located on a family’s compound. Most come with an air conditioned, private room with a daily hot breakfast. Over the years, Oka Wati’s Homestay (Jl. Wanara Wana, off Monkey Forest Road, Ubud 80571, $55 a night) in Ubud has grown to boast nine comfortable bedrooms with a swimming pool and a restaurant.

You can book bicycles ($3) and mopeds ($5) for daily rental through your hotel or, you can hire a driver for $30-$50, this price includes gas, and create your own itinerary. Taxis are metered and plentiful in most tourist hotspots, except for Ubud. The town’s small size and narrow streets make taxi stands and parking a logistical nightmare.

Bali has many international restaurants, but you’re not visiting for Mexican or Italian food right? Warungs, or road side cafes, are the cheapest and most authentic. Stop by one and try Babi guling (roasted suckling pig), a popular lunchtime special. The pork is roasted for hours with a special blend of local spices of chilies, turmeric, ginger and lemongrass. Local fare like nasi goreng (fried rice), ayam bakar (grilled chicken) are also readily available. If street meat doesn’t appeal to you, then most western restaurants like Cak Asm in the chic city of Denpasar have Balinese dishes on the menu.

Ayana Spa                                                                                                     Bali Botanica Day Spa
Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera                                                                           Jl Sanggigan, Ubud
Jimbaran, Bali 80364, Indonesia                                                             Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
www.ayanaresort.com                                                                                www.balibotanica.com
Phone: +62-361-702-222                                                                           Phone: +62-361-976-739

– Diana O’Gilvie‘s work is driven by her global curiosity and a mean case of wanderlust, especially in Southeast Asia. Catch her movements at @travelwritefilm and love2travelwritefilm.com.

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