The Isle of the Gods is a bucket-list-busting travel destination if there ever was one. Smoke-plumed Hindu temples lurk in the jungles and surf crests against idyllic shores, all while volcanos dominate the horizon and parties roar on until the early hours. Today, the island attracts its fair share of jet setters but also remains a favorite of the shoestring crowd. It’s the latter we’ll focus on here, in a guide to the cheapest places in Bali.
Truth be told, the whole of Southeast Asia is a firm favorite for budget seekers and it pretty much always has been. It’s a region where beautiful sandy beaches threaded with stooping coconut palms can be yours for just a fraction of the price of, say, the Caribbean or the Seychelles. Bali’s right there in the thick of it, too, offering tropical charms but without a hefty price tag to match.
This guide to the cheapest places in Bali will hop from the wild peaks of the northern coast to the wave-washed bays of the southern Bukit, all on the hunt for bargain homestays and hostels where you can holiday without breaking the bank. It’s about giving a taste of the mystery and the magic of this much-vaunted Southeast Asian isle without costing you stacks of dollars along the way.
First off: Lovina. Located in the north of Bali, Lovina is a remote and often skipped-out destination for the average traveler. We’d also rate it as arguably the cheapest of all the cheapest places in Bali that still have mainstream traveler appeal. Getting here takes time, though – you’re looking at roughly five hours in the car from the airport, going through the very heart of the island past waterfalls and wild jungles.
If you prefer things on the quieter side, then this is the place to go. The small town is traditional and simple, with only a handful of guesthouses and warungs strung out along one long beach road by a black-sand beach. The main attraction are the dolphin tours. They take place each morning before dawn and start at around $35 per person. Cheaper things to do come in the form of the bubbling Banjar Hot Springs and the Banjar Temple, not to mention jungle hikes and lazy days on Lovina Beach.
The key to a bargain trip to Lovina is booking the right place. There are stays here to suit honeymooners at the luxury end of the spectrum but also options for those on a real shoestring. We’ve picked out a few of the latter below:
- Funky Place ($) – Funky Place is almost a party hostel but still rolls along to the chilled vibes of Lovina and the north coast. Nightly beer pong tourneys and live-music shows help to keep things lively.
- Apollo Hostel ($) – 300 yards from Lovina’s dolphin-swimming beachfront, this hostel is simple but affordable.
- Lovina Loca ($-$$) – A boho stay with loads of character and charming outdoor terraces and patio spaces, Lovina Loca is a real bargain for those who want something a bit different.
Ubud is in the center of Bali. Even though it’s a popular spot on the tourist map, prices remain low and affordable. There are a number of warungs and restaurants serving delicious international and local food. The center is also full of boutique shops and has a fantastic market – the Ubud Bazaar – where you can put your haggling skills to the test.
The Ubud Monkey Forest and rice terraces are the two biggest attractions in the area. You can see them both without spending all that much, too. The first is an enthralling complex of ancient shrines and Hindu effigies that’s draped in vines and moss, costing 80,000 IDR ($4) per person for a single entry – though you’ll pay more for a bunch of bananas to feed the macaques! The latter can be reached by taxi or motorbike to the north of town and are basically entirely free, save for a nominal $1 entry fee and extra charges for some of the best photo points.
The best and cheapest way to get to Ubud is to rent a scooter and drive yourself 40 minutes from the airport. This is only recommended for people who are confident and competent on bikes. Otherwise, negotiate a price with a local driver and share the cost of the car with other travelers. Canggu to Ubud should cost around 350,000 IDR ($25 USD).
Considered the artistic and spiritual center of Bali, Ubud is home to umpteen yoga and wellness retreats. We’ll warn you, though: These tend to cost more, particularly if you want to stay in the lush forests and rice paddies that surround the town. Generally speaking, the best bargains on accommodation are right in the thick of the town. Our choices would be:
- The Wayan House ($) – It’s all about the vibe at the Wayan House, which is in a traditional Balinese cottage near to the Monkey Forest. The pool is lovely and the flow of fun travelers means making mates is all but inevitable.
- WW Backpackers ($) – One of the best swimming pools of any budget accommodation in Bali awaits at this lovely bunkhouse on the western side of town, all surrounded by rice paddies and corn fields.
- Poshtel Ubud ($) – Just as the name implies, this is a stylo hostel stay that offers bunks in 8-bed mixed dorms. It’s located smack dab in the heart of Ubud town and has a lovely al fresco terrace area where you can meet and mingle with other backpackers.
- Lagas Hostel ($) – Lagas is set in a tranquil area of Ubud, just a five-minute drive from Monkey Forest and the center. Rooms are a comfortable 4-bed dormitory style with shared bathrooms. There is free wifi, good air conditioning, and spacious parking for anyone who rents a scooter.
- Damuh Guest House ($) – Damuh is surrounded by beautiful gardens in a peaceful area of Ubud. The guesthouse is one of the cheapest places in Bali to stay; it has free wifi available and the large garden space is perfect to roll out a yoga mat for an early morning sun salutation.
Kuta always deserves a mention on lists of the cheapest places in Bali. Why? Well…it’s been firmly established as the island’s main backpacker hub for some years now. It’s the spot that first attracted the shoestring travelers back in the 80s and 90s and things are still the same. Yes, there’s been a recent turn to more hedonistic vibes, but the underlying budget nature of the place remains palpable.
Kuta spreads along the built-up and developed southwestern coast of the island. It’s basically the first resort you reach when you head out of Denpasar Airport. (Upshot? It should be cheap to get to from the arrivals hall by bus or Uber). It’s also packed to bursting with hotel options, which jostle to offer the best rates no matter the season.
The main activities in Kuta are partying in the night and surfing in the day. The first comes courtesy of the mega clubs that cluster along Jalan Legian. They include legendary names like Sky Garden Bali and Engine Room, which offer some surprisingly affordable all-you-can-drink and all-night entry tickets that would make places in Ibiza blush. The latter – the surfing – is all along Kuta beach. It’s the most beginner-friendly on the island and costs upwards of $35 an hour for lessons and $10 per hour board rental.
You’ll never be short of a bargain, backpacker hostel in Kuta. Check out:
- Lokal Bali Hostel ($) – Lokal’s much-vaunted hostel looks more like a stylo Balinese villa than a bargain backpacker lodge. The shared lounge is divine. The interiors are cool as.
- Da’Housetel Kuta ($) – A fun and welcoming bunch of guys wait to help you have a top time in Bali’s main resort in this simple but comfy hostel stay. There’s even a small pool!
- Beach Hut Hostel ($) – Channeling the vibes of a 1950s Cali beach hut, this edgy hostel has some real charm.
Padangbai, sometimes spelt Padang Bai, isn’t a stop that’s usually on the tourist radar in Bali. It’s tucked away on the eastern coast of the island, a few hours’ transfer from the main tourist strips between Kuta, Legian and Canggu. The main footfall the town gets is on account of the regular boat arrivals that skim across from Lombok and the Gilis, though there’s a nascent honeymoon scene and some great dive schools that bring in others.
The point is that the region around Padangbai is nowhere near as busy as the south coast. That helps to keep costs real low, helping you get that taste of salt-washed seaside life on the Isle of the Gods for a little less. There are some fun activities to get through here, too, from fishing trips into the Bali straits to snorkeling in what some say is the single best spot on the whole island at the Blue Lagoon just north of town.
Padangbai itself is a vibrant fishing and transport town. The whole coastal promenade is a string of dive schools and dive hotels that ends in a cluster of coffee shops and warung taverns. When to comes to bedding down, we’d recommend picking one of the cheap spots in the main town center. Just bear in mind that the best beaches are located to the south in the form of Bias Tugel and Secret Beach.
Here are a few low-cost hotel choices for Padangbai:
- Bamboo Paradise ($) – A really nice pad to chillax at only a couple of minutes’ walk from Bias Tugel (the best beach in town).
- Lemon House ($) – You’ll get big, clean double rooms and a fun breakfast at this charming homestay.
- Bagus Homestay ($) – One of the best-rated homestays in the town center, Bagus is close to the port and the dive schools.
Sanur is a harbor town on the southeast coast of Bali. It’s also seen as the gateway to Nusa Lembongan and Lombok islands, which means it’s often overlooked as simply a transport hub for folks getting on and off the boats. However, those who linger a little will find plenty to like, including some charming stretches of yellow sand (actually quite rare on Bali!) and one of the better low-season surf breaks on the island.
There are also several dive schools in Sanur and the surrounding area that offer PADI certification courses that you’re likely to find A LOT cheaper than the ones you get in Europe and North America – we’re talking between $320 and $450 for the full course. When underwater, you can discover a whole new side of Bali in the shipwrecks and fish-teeming reefs.
And when you tire of the beaches that are right on your doorstep, a boat out to the neighboring islands won’t break the bank. You’re looking at dropping something like $37 return to get to the fabled Gili Islands on the fast boat and even less than that to get to Lombok over the strait (tip: Both of those mentioned are cheaper alternatives to Bali itself!).
Homestays and guesthouses are popular accommodation choices for travelers in Sanur, many of which come with bargain price tags. Here are just a few that we think are worth considering:
- Blind Dog Inn ($) – We love this backpacker haunt on Sanur Beach. It’s centered on a long swimming pool and offers pretty chic doubles with balconies, along with a number of shared dorm spaces that should be cheaper.
- COZYROOM ($) – A relatively new option that’s cheap and cheerful, basic but clean.
- Kirana Home Stay ($) – This one might not be a five-star resort but it is a step up from your usual hostel dorm. Check out the lovely, local rooms and service at this spot behind the main beach in Sanur.
We hesitate to mention Canggu on a list of the cheapest places in Bali since the town has changed a whole load in the past 10 years. Once a distant fringe of the south-coast tourist strip that represented hidden surf breaks and wild vistas of rice paddies, it’s since risen to become arguably the digital nomad mecca of Southeast Asia, supplanting even Chiang Mai of Thailand with its co-working spots and remote work camps.
But there are still bargains to be had here if you know where to look. Specifically, that tends to mean looking away from the swell-washed beaches abuzz with their avo-on-toast brunch establishments and eco yoga clubs, up to the northern, urban heart of Canggu. Yep, there are bargains there around the intersection of Raya Canggu and Jalan Batu Bolong that costing something in the region of $300-500 for a whole month’s stay!
The downside is that you’ll need to travel a little to make the most of everything Canggu has to offer. The beaches of Nelayan and Megada, the surf breaks, and the famous R&R dives of Old Man’s are all about 10 minutes on a scooter from the inland parts of the town, more if you decide to go when the traffic is bad during the daily rush hour. The upside is that you’ll get to experience one of Bali’s most vibrant corners, with more edgy roastery cafes and late-night music dives than you can possibly get through in a single trip.
These are some of the places we’d recommend staying for a budget trip to Canggu:
- Twins Homestay ($) – On Batu Bolong, the main strip in Canggu, Twins is just half a mile away from Old Man’s and the beach, making it one of the cheapest places in Bali to stay in such a prime location.
- Kultur Umalas ($) – A stylo hostel with a pod bed setup, Kultur Umalas channels a touch of that elegant Scandi-cool design.
- Kos One Hostel ($-$$) – They might call it a hostel, but Kos One is something special. You get splash pools that would look right at home in the Greek Aegean and views of the surrounding rice paddies.
- Lushy Hostel ($) – The party choice, Lushy Hostel is a bar-ready dorm stay that’s got a big outdoor space that gets positively hedonistic when the sun dips low.
The Bukit is the name for the WHOLE of the southern peninsula of Bali. It’s a popular region, not least of all because it’s got some of the best surf breaks on the whole planet – Uluwatu, Bingin. Those, plus the shimmering beaches of golden-tinged sand, have helped it become a bit of a sought-after spot and that’s pushed up prices. However, it’s still possible to do bargain trips here…
Activity wise, you can hit the sands of Dreamland and Balangan Beach for free, soaking up the rays and swimming in the swell-protected lagoons that lie beyond the outer reefs. There are also sunset lookout points that won’t cost a dime, along with those aforementioned surf breaks that are free to all (even if they’re among the busiest in Southeast Asia!).
The key to vacationing for less in the Bukit is picking the right accommodation. It’s possible to spend stacks of dollars on a trip to this part of Bali. But there are still hostels and homestays left in the mix, though you’ll probably have to forgo those dramatic Indian Ocean views. Here are our suggestions:
- Made’s Roejas Homestay ($) – This one is within 1.5 miles of Balangan Beach, one of the best surfing beaches in the Bukit region. The rooms are private doubles with air conditioning and ensuites. Free WiFi is available in every room.
- Rambo Homestay ($) – Rambo is a beautiful spot less than a mile away from Bingin Beach, a world-class surf beach. The front desk staff can help organize rentals, or taxis to beaches, along with watersports and other activities.
- Pondok Indah Bungalow Bingin ($$) – Okay, so it’s not an out-and-out budget choice but if you can stretch to this midrange hotel you’ll be rewarded with a pool and good proximity to the beach.
The cheapest places in Bali – our conclusion
You might be surprised to find that the cheapest places in Bali are actually pretty close to some of the most sought-after spots on the Isle of the Gods. Naturally, you’ll probably have to forgo the jet-setter haven of Nusa Dua, but other resorts can be bargains precisely because they are so popular. That’s mainly because the abundance of hotel choices and eating options works to force up competition for guests, pushing rates lower. The key for bargain stays is to seek out the cheap hostels and guesthouses, which can often cost less than $50 a night in these parts. You’ll also want to eat in local warung taverns and shop in the markets.
Doing all that means you should be able to find bargain destinations all over the Isle of the Gods. This guide alone touches on the mystical jungle and temple hub of Ubud, the surf mecca of Bukit in the south, and the party haven of Kuta. It’s also got tips on some of the more off-the-beaten-track options, like the port town of Padangbai in the west or the quiet, romantic getaway of Lovina in the north.
Where is the cheapest place in Bali?
Truth is: The majority of Bali is cheap. As soon as you move away from the main tourist areas of Canggu and Seminyak, you’re likely to be amazed at just how low the prices are for food, accommodation, and activities. Sanur, Uluwatu, Lovina, and Ubud are some of the cheapest places in Bali where you can experience the real feel of the island.
Is Bali a cheap place to visit?
Bali is one of the more expensive islands of Indonesia and Southeast Asia. However, it’s still considered a very cheap place to visit when compared to Europe or the US! Cheap hotels range between $2 and $10 per night, depending on location and facilities like air conditioning. Eating local food is the best way to keep costs down. A full plate of food and an ice tea or Bintang will cost less than $5 USD per person.
What is the cheapest month to go to Bali?
The cheapest time to go to Bali is during the wet season, October through to April. February is generally the cheapest month to go to Bali; it is the shoulder season and one of the wettest months in the year. To dodge the highest rates, you’ll want to skip the peak dry season months of summer (May to September).