Budget Travel tips for Bali, with family

The travel freak in me saw us at Delhi at the start of October 2016 and at Bali at end of October 2016! Bali is a Hindu state within Indonesia extremely rich in nature, temples, rice fields, scenic seasides, cheap accommodation, great food, paintings, nicest people and service. Also now that it’s visa-free for Indians (and many Asian nationalities) and that rubbish airport tax removed, THIS IS the time to visit Bali, repeatedly.

Bali has the beauty of temples, farms, beaches, mountains and volcanos. Very very few destinations give all five in one!

I try to keep my recommendations within budget prices and serving families with young kids. So here goes for Bali.


If you are likely to spend more time in the beach, watersports and lazing, then touristy Nusa Dua is the best. The cheapest best hotel we discovered there was Ion Bali Benoa. At 35 SGD = 27 USD = 2000 INR per night you get a neat double  room, decent buffet breakfast with options for vegetarians, 7 mins walking from the beach & water sports, next to biggest hotel chains, amidst sea of outstanding economic restaurants (AtliChanya, Glaze, Bali Cardomom restaurants) and 24 hour supermarts.

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We took two rooms interconnecting and kids loved the modern colourful decor, slight ocean view and dipping into the pool – See the slideshow above. Alternately there are great Budget hotels in Kuta (Febris chain) if you looking for more fun, city, shopping options and in Ubud, if you looking to stay near rice fields.

This giant store, unbelievably, is the place for souvenir shopping at cheapest rates and only the best guides will take you there who don’t have commercial tie-ups.

Tour guide

Bali doesn’t have much public transport options and hence the best way to move around is to hire a car with or without a driver. Our tour friend there has always been Mayun (In Bali Travel) and whomsoever I recommended with him has come back happy. Bali is filled with nice drivers but Mayun is non-fussy and very flexible. Charges 45USD = 60 SGD = 3000INR for whole day sightseeing (won’t mind if 8-9 hrs becomes 10-11hrs) and willing to drive back to the hotel for kids to sleep at noon and then restart. Also, his recommended restaurants are budget classy finds and he took us to massive wholesale gifts shopping outlet where only Indonesian tourists and locals shop. Outside tourists have no clue.

Trust Mayun to be flexible, non-interfering and give good outing at budget prices. I normally get him to arrange for entire day tour including buy entrance tickets and water sports options. If you walk into a water sports outlet they will fleece you – an average they will charge 50 USD per ride – whilst Mayun got us for less than half the price at the semi-peak season.

Currency Exchange

Bali has nicest people with the most fraud money changers. The more impossible rate they commit, the more likely they are to cheat right in front of your eyes. Go only for decent money changers. And count your money immediately after any transaction is done, right in front of the guy. Important.


Our flying fish experience at Nusa Dua

Keep watersports, beach and souvenirs shopping for one day. The other day this is the suggested itinerary on what to do, what not to do. Essentially if you cover these six spots below, you would have seen best of Bali within a day.

1. Kintamani volcano – visit the volcano but don’t opt for the standard lunch there.

2. Gunung Kawi temple – From the volcano head straight to Gunung Kawi temple. Here you get the fun of a temple, as well as walk by the sprawling rice fields. This means you don’t need to view rice terraces separately – which are normally from a distance. Gunung Kawi temple is cheap, non-touristy, serene – but has some 15 mins of steps descending and ascending – aged people or people with disability issues do note. Internet will tell you to visit the excess touristy Besakih temple where almost everyone asks you for money and spoils the experience. Avoid that temple. Go to Gunung Kawi temple and get rice fields experience up close, instead.

3. Hot springs temple

4. Lunch at Bale Udang Mang EngKing restaurant Ubud. Must experience. Lunch for four with mocktails, desert and seafood will barely cost 500K IDR = 60 SGD = 45 USD. And by the rice fields inside stylish gazebos. We ordered full fish, tom yam seafood soup inside a giant coconut, four stylo drinks, one vegetable and one eggplant crispy starter and the bill was 20% lesser than the amount I mentioned above.

5. Desa Pengalipuran and Bamboo forest – Its a traditional village scene coupled with walking through bamboo forests. The village part is unique, the bamboo forest part even more so.

6. Uluwatu temple The breathtaking temple and the brilliant cliff views overlooking the ocean. Be careful of the monkeys. Avoid turtle island, Nusa Dua – it’s not worth your time or money and reviews are very poor.

7. Tanah Lot temple By this time its sunset and Tanah Lot temple is the best place to view student and post which go back to the hotel. Each of the above are must visit places.

Once you are back you may just feel like going for some health care options. Balinese spa and massages are good. We went for fish spa though.

Thanks for reading my blog. I can assure you, for budget travellers who seek better value than the money they pay, these tips would help. Imagine, the blog above: it covered sightseeing of all key points from temples to cliffs by the ocean to the volcano to lunch by rice fields – all within a day.

So enjoy Bali and enjoy life. Do not over stress in life. Your job is a transaction for the service you give and the money you get. Don’t make that your life. Your life is with the people who love you, respect you and always want to be around you! Always laugh together. In 2017 we laughed together at Kerala, at Delhi, at Singapore, at Costa Del Sol, at Paris, at Barcelona, at Bangkok, at Gibraltar. You must too.

Make life a ‘one big vacation’!

8 thoughts on “Budget Travel tips for Bali, with family

  1. Dear ADP,

    So our much awaited Bali trip finally happened. And we cannot thank you enough for your proactive advices, the emojisarebald blog, the e-mail chain…and for connecting us with Mayun. You won’t believe this, but we actually carried prints of the blog and the e-mail chain…and religiously adhered to it for most of the trip.

    We were met outside the Denpasar airport by Komang, a driver arranged by Mayun…Komang was one jovial character who immediately made us feel at home in Bali. Our kiddo was crackling throughout the way at his jokes and small talks. We felt really good.

    The next day we roamed around the Kuta streets, did some shopping and had Indian and Indonesian food. It was a day well spent.

    We met Mayun on Day 3…he is unarguably one of the best guides that I have come across. The best thing about him is that he doesn’t intrude…he assists, advises, but lets you do your own thing…and is absolutely no-fuss. We covered Lempuyang Temple and Mount Batur…and stopped for a buffet lunch at a beautiful place called Lereng Agung. This place offered a beautiful view the rice fields / terraces as we lunched.

    Day 4 we spent at the beach, swimming pool and shopping…and of course trying Indonesian cuisine. Nasi Goreng is our newfound favourite dish…we even bought some Indonesian rice to cook it here.

    Day 5 was again with Mayun…we covered Watersports, Uluwatu, Tanah Lot and Agung Bali. This was the best day of our trip.

    Day 6 was our departure from Bali with fantabulous memories…kiddo just didn’t want to come back to Chennai (wanted to be put in some school in Bali).

    The one thing we missed to do was the fish pedicure…your (especially Arushi’s) expressions were priceless in the pic that you shared in the blog, and I really wanted to do it.

    In short, we enjoyed our first international trip a lot. And we owe a lot of it to you…THANKS A BUNCH once again.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vijay

      I am so so happy reading this and that you’ll had a dream trip. Yes, basis your itinerary, Day 5 would be the best day. One of my first advice to anyone is to avoid travel in peak Dec weeks .. as visa lines, buffet breakfast lines, luggage issues, tourist queues and prices are highest. Yet, am so happy it all went well and your kid fell in love. Am sure those pictures and memories will stay with you lifelong. Your assessment of Mayun is spot on. Every tourist I have sent Mayun to has come back with satisfaction. Do tell me when you want to holiday again and your budget, I will plan that for you too. Your note will give a lot of confidence to my future readers. Thanks tonnes.

      Happy New Year 2019


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