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Backpacking in Bali – The Ultimate Guide

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Backpacking in Bali is cheap, easy and extremely beautiful. Read this guide to find out how you can see this country and make the most of your backpacking experience!

Bali is not a country on its own but part of the larger Indonesia. We felt that Bali is so unique that it deserved its own page describing why you should definitely go backpacking in Bali.

From incredible mountains, beautiful temples and delicious food, to boho beach bars, jungle infinity pools and exhilarating watersports – Bali really does have it all!

In this post you’ll find out how to prepare for your trip to Bali, the best places to stay and the best things to do!


Bali on a Budget

Accommodation

Backpacking in Bali on a budget is very easy. You will find that accommodation in Bali is very cheap and also extremely nice. You can get some incredible value for money here – even the budget hostels are well-designed, modern and comfortable!

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Hostel

Tribal Bali

Looking to find the perfect place to hustle, work, rest and play? Welcome to Tribal Hostel, the world’s best co-working hostel!

Located just minutes from the beach, Tribal is a very special hostel… With sleek, custom-designed private and dorm rooms to ensure a good night’s sleep, Tribal is Bali’s newest and most modern hostel and comes with a twist…

Woman sitting on sunbed with laptop by pool, next to large white sign 'TRIBAL'

Check out the MASSIVE coworking area with dedicated booths, plentiful power sockets, high-speed wifi and super tasty coffee and kitchen to fuel a day’s hard hustle!

Groups of people sat at tables working on laptops and chatting, from high angle

Food

Every backpacker knows that food costs can seriously increase your budget even if the accommodation is cheap. You will not have that problem backpacking around Bali.

You really can eat some incredible food in Bali, and we can guarantee that you will not be stuck for options! Whether you’re looking for restaurants in Ubud, Canggu, Kuta or Amed, you’ll find something you fancy

A typical Indonesian meal is going to cost you $1-$2 and they are huge trust me. It can be a full curry with 7 to 9 sides which will fill you up for most of the day, or a bowl of fried rice or noodle dish.

Even if you decide to go foreign food for the day, you can pick up any meal from $3-$5, for example; burgers, smoothie bowls, Mexican, Indian or anything else for that matter. They have it all in Bali and all of it is under $5.

A smoothie bowl by a pool, pictured whilst backpacking in bali
A Smoothie bowl by the pool looks as good as it tastes!

Visas for a Bali Vacation

Less than 30 days backpacking around Bali

There is a list of 140 countries that DO NOT need a visa to enter the country, click HERE to find out if you’re are on that list. If you arrive without a visa you will have 30 days in the country and you WILL NOT be able to renew.

More than 30 days backpacking around Bali

If you are planning on staying in Bali for more than 30 days then you will have to pay for a visa on arrival. The list of countries eligible for visa on arrival is NOT the 140 countries listed above, click HERE and scroll down to the second list to check if you are on this list.

If you do this you will be able to extend the visa ONCE for another 30 days. After 60 days you will have to leave the country. You can come back straight away however and start the process again.

The price for a visa on arrival is currently US$35.

A mural in front of a co living workplace in bali, pictured whilst backpacking in bali
If you are a digital nomad then there are some very good co-living workspaces available

Vaccinations for Bali

As always it is highly recommended that you check you are up to date for all standard vaccinations in your country, regardless of the country you are travelling to. For Bali specific vaccinations please click HERE for all the information you need.

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Hopefully, you don’t have the need for medical attention whilst backpacking Bali but I cannot recommend enough the importance of getting travel insurance. You can be the safest person in the world but that doesn’t mean the people around you share your actions. There are many companies out there but we recommend World Nomads and they never let us down.

Best Time To Visit Bali

Bali is very close to the equator so you can expect a tropical climate all year round so you won’t need to bring a jumper whenever you go backpacking in Bali.

However, because it is tropical it does have periods of time when rainfall and humidity peak and this can make your time slightly uncomfortable.

You also have to take into consideration that high season in Bali pushes the prices for accommodation and tours up by up to 50%.

So, the best time to visit Bali has to be, April, May, June and September. This is the period of time where accommodation will still be reasonably priced and the humidity and rainfall and very low.

It’s also a very nice time to go because the crowds have not yet rolled in.

A beautiful building with pond and a lot of greenery in Bali
Get used to seeing incredible buildings and sights like this all over Bali.

What To Pack for Bali

Backpacking in Bali is very similar to backpacking anywhere. The following list is everything we recommend you take for your Bali adventure.

Carrying around a big backpack can be tiring, so you’ll need something extra comfortable like this Osprey Renn. It has an adjustable shoulder harness so it’s suitable whatever your height and the back panel is ventilated which helps on those hot sweaty days! The bag has plenty of compartments for all of your belongings – there’s a space for your sleeping bag, water reservoir sleeve and rain cover too! Click here to buy yours.

If you don’t have a camera then I HIGHLY recommend the Panasonic Lumix ZS70K. It is an affordable point-and-shoot camera that can be picked up and used by anyone of any ability. The camera captures gorgeous images and surprisingly excellent video whilst fitting in your pocket. The main difference between this and your phone’s camera is that it also has an incredible optical zoom so you won’t miss any of the shots you need to take. Check it out here.

We all know that tampons and pads are bad for the environment (not to mention uncomfortable and expensive!) so get yourself familiar with a reliable menstrual cup, like this one from Sirona. These can be reused for up to 15 years – think of the money and plastic waste you’ll save! Made from medical-grade silicone, Sirona’s cup is designed for comfort, sustainability and protection. Click here to choose the right size for you.

If you’re not really planning on doing any major hiking then we recommend that you check out these AKK walking shoes. There are extremely lightweight, breathable and have memory foam insoles to make them super comfy. Don’t make the mistake of spending loads of money on insane walking boots if you don’t need to! Check them out here!

If you’re planning on going to the beach then make sure you have some flip-flops in the bag. There is nothing worse than getting sand in your shoes or socks and there is nothing better than feeling the sand on your feet. We recommend an affordable pair like these Old Navy casual flip-flops. They will get the job done and shouldn’t break almost immediately as other brands might. Check them out in more detail here.

If you’re in the market for an action camera then our current recommendation is the GoPro Hero 9. Yes, the Hero 10 is currently the flagship but it doesn’t have that much more than the Hero 9 and costs a lot more. The front-facing screen is a godsend for selfies and video and you get the famous GoPro durability and stabilisation that they are now renowned for. Check out current deals here.

Don’t even think about stepping out in the sun without protection! This factor 50 sun cream from Sunbum is vegan, reef-safe and smells like summer, as well as being dermatologist approved! It’s non-greasy, easy to apply and doesn’t leave a white cast so you can quickly rub it in and get on with your adventures! Take a look on Amazon here.

Whether you’re visiting religious temples or windy beaches, this long cover-up by Moss Rose is perfect for wrapping around your shoulders. It’s lightweight and has so many uses, plus it looks great too! One size fits all and there are so many different patterns to choose from. Click here to get yours.

If you’re worried about powering your devices on your trip then the simple solution is to take this EPIKA worldwide travel adapter. We have used it all over the world and it has worked flawlessly. Being able to charge up to 5 devices by USB (4 USB-A’s + 1 USB-C) plus a full power outlet socket is incredibly useful and works as an all-in-one solution. Check it out on Amazon here.

If you’re worried about your devices losing power throughout the day then we recommend the Anker 10,000mAh power bank. Anker actually makes quite a few power banks but this one comes with a USB-C and USB-A port which means that you’ll be able to charge any of your devices regardless of connection. The 10,000mAh capacity is enough to completely charge an iPhone 12 twice so you should be good for a number of days with this beast. Have a look at the price here.


For a comprehensive breakdown of this list go to our budget savvy packing list guide.

A pizza prepared in Bali, purchasewd whilst backpacking bali
Even the pizza over in Bali looks ridiculously nice

Pro Tips

Don’t put anything in the day bag when you leave your home country, roll it up and place it in your main bag. This means that you’ll have a whole bag to fill with souvenirs and gifts for the way home.

Getting to Bali

Plane

Bali is a small island so the only feasible way of getting there is by plane to Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar.

Getting around Bali

Obviously, you could hire a motorbike but, as I said previously, ONLY rent one if you have a full license in your home country so you are covered on your travel insurance.

The best way, in my opinion, to get around Bali is by using the app GoJek. This app allows you to call a vehicle anywhere you are easily and all in English. The price is very reasonable and there are always drivers available to take you where you need to go.

If you are going to be in one place for a long time, I recommend renting some bicycles. Everything will be so close to where you are staying that these give you the ability to get around as well as being able to claim on your insurance if an accident does happen.

A view of rice paddies in bali, pictured whilst backpacking bali on a budget
If you manage to get out of the towns then the views are spectacular.

Where to stay in Bali

Bali is a paradise for cheap luxury accommodation and is a budget Bali backpacker heaven. There is really no need to look at sites like Air B&B to try to find cheap deals or better accommodation.


Book your favourite hotel here

Where will you go?
Booking.com

We use booking.com for all accommodation in Bali.

Most backpacker accommodation in Bali will have both dorm rooms and private rooms. Neither are expensive but if you are in Bali on a budget then the dorm rooms are exceptionally well priced.

Best Places to Visit in Bali

Take a look at our packed 1 week Bali itinerary for more information about this beautiful part of Indonesia.

Canggu

A chilled digital nomad’s heaven, Canggu has everything you could possibly want.

The world-renowned Tanah Lot temple is just up the road and is one of the most Instagramable spots in the whole of Bali.

Purple and pink sunset over Canggu whislt backpacking in Bali
The Colours in Canggu after mind-blowing during a sunset

You can buy any cuisine you could possibly want and all of it is of amazing quality.

Surfing in Canggu is pretty good as well. They say it is best for intermediates but I have known many a beginner who has braved the waves with an instructor to help them out.

Ubud

Ubud is one of the most popular locations for backpacking in Bali because of its beautiful scenery and relatively close location to so many things to do.

You can go to cooking schools, white water rafting, hiking mountains at sunset and even play with monkeys in the monkey forest.

A monkey hanging around on a branch with wet fur
This wet monkey was just laying about in the Monkey Forest

The town is famous for its large sprawling market in the centre of the city which is great for souvenirs and gifts.

Check out Ubud’s awesome tours

Pro Tips

The market in Ubud is renowned for suggesting prices 8-10 times higher than they should be. Do not feel bad about slashing the price right down because they really do try to rip you off here.

Nusa Lembongan

Nusa Lembongan is a small island off of the south-east coast of Bali. It isn’t Bali itself but the culture and atmosphere are very similar. You can take a day trip, but I highly recommend going over for a few days at least, especially if you are a couple as this island is much quieter than the mainland and has some very romantic spots.

A fiery sunset on the island of nusa lembongan off the coast of Bali, pictured whilst backpacking bali
This is the sort of view you’ll be able to see in Nusa Lembongan.

Gili Islands

The Gili Islands are the definition of paradise beauty. If you can afford to grab a boat over there then you will struggle to find a more beautiful place for the rest of your life.

If you do go over activities like swimming with turtles, snorkelling and diving are some of the things that will be easily booked.

Check out the top tours to the Gili Islands

Mount Batur

Climbing this volcano at sunrise is something you won’t forget.

The Best Tours in Bali

Best Things To Do In Bali

White Water Rafting

You can book a white water rafting tour and be picked up in the morning from pretty much anywhere in south Bali.

I recommend booking when you are staying in Ubud as you won’t have to wake up as early to be collected from your hotel.

A white water rafting boat in bali with 4 people in
This was pictured right at the beginning before it gets interesting.

Monkey Forest

Playing with the wild monkeys in the monkey forest is always a fun experience. The monkeys climb on you and generally have a good time whilst you are walking through. If you are new to Ubud, and most of you will be, it can be quite chaotic.

It is one of the busiest places in all of Bali. To maximise your time and experience I recommend booking a tour around the best spots in Ubud that includes the Monkey Forest.

Monkey eating a big banana
Just chilling eating my banana.

Cooking School

Balinese food is so damn nice that you’d be crazy not to do a cooking school. We went to Lobong Cooking School and it was a 5-star experience from start to finish.

Waterbom Bali

Ranked the 2nd best waterpark in the whole of Asia, Waterbom Bali is phenomenal fun. A little pricey but at the end of the day, you’ll think to yourself that it’s well worth the price. It can get very busy at Waterbom, so if you’re worried you won’t get a ticket then you can book your Waterbom ticket in advance.

Two people looking very frightened coming down a green waterslide
I only had one hand because of the Go Pro so don’t judge my fear! 

Learn to Surf

There are so many surfing spots all over Bali, ranging from beginner and up. If you are starting out then remember to always have an instructor and never go alone. I don’t recommend going surfing, for the first time, alone. Book a surf school to minimise the risk.

Trekking a Mountain at Sunrise

If you can get up at 2 am for the ride over then you’ll be blown away by some of the views at sunrise over the top of Bali. There are even some tours where you camp out for two days on top of the mountain and experience the sunset and sunrise!

Day Trip to the Islands

There are many tour companies that will ride you over in the morning for you to explore the islands. You can even go over to floating play parks and spend the day in a waterpark in the sea. What’s not to love?

A large sprawling market with many colours, pictured whilst backpacking in Bali
The Ubud Market was very big and was really fun to walk around.

What to Eat in Bali

Nasi Campur

Nasi Campur is a Balinese dish that consists of rice in the middle of a plate with 7-8 sides placed around the rice. You choose your sides from a buffet style counter and eat the rice as you make your way around your choices.

If you go to the right place then this dish is probably my favourite out of all the Balinese cuisines you can buy.

A rice and curry dish in Bali, if you are backpacking around bali then don't buy in the evening
This is the Nasi Campur, it tastes so good but buy early in the day.

Nasi Goreng

Nasi Goreng literally translates to fried rice and is usually served with a fried egg on top. It tastes slightly different to other fried rice I’ve had throughout Asia but rest assured it very good! It also costs $1 so you can’t really go wrong.

Nasi goreng and mie goreng pictured whilst back[acking bali
Nasi Goreng on the left, always served with a fried egg on top.

Mie Goreng

Mie Goreng is fried noodles. Just like fried rice, it has its own Balinese twist that makes it unique and tasty. You can also pick this up for a $1 so you’ll be getting fat in no time.

Fried noodles and prawn crackers pictured whilst backpacking in bali
Fried noodles with typical trimmings in Bali

Bebek Betutu

Bebek betutu is fried duck served with rice and vegetables. It differs quite a lot from restaurant to restaurant but it tastes so bloody good. The duck is wrapped in banana leaves and left to slow cook for 6+ hours so it falls off of the bone when it finally reaches your plate.

A slow cooked duck with rice and sauce, pictured whilst backpacking around Bali
One of the nicest Balinese dishes but also one of the most expensive. usually around $6

Non-Balinese Food

Everywhere you go in Bali you’ll have access to other nationalities cuisine. This food is nearly always only slightly more expensive than the Balinese food and is also don’t very well.

Places like Canggu have literally everything you can possibly think of so don’t worry if you’re feeling like something from home.

Burritos in a mexican restaurant in Bali
Even the foreign food in Bali is ridiculously good.
Booking.com

Staying Safe in Bali

Motorbikes

Every single backpacker in Bali we ever met was hiring or using motorbikes to get around. They are literally everywhere. Nearly none of the people we spoke to about it realised that their insurance does not cover any accident involving a motorbike if you don’t have a FULL motorbike licence in your home country. This INCLUDES if you are a passenger.

A collection of motorbikes in Bali, not recommended whilst backpacking around bali
There are plenty of motorbikes but do you really want to be risking it?

I think the common mistake is thinking that you are riding a 50cc moped. In most countries, you do not need a licence to drive a 50cc so people assume that they are covered to ride the motorbikes in Bali. The motorbikes look like the 50cc mopeds you have at home however they are all 125cc and above.

When we went backpacking in Bali we literally saw so many people limping along with bandages on their knees and feet. I strongly advise against anything that is not covered by your insurance.

Theft

I haven’t heard a lot of stories about crime happening to backpackers in Bali, however, one thing that has come up a few times is theft whilst riding bikes.

If you do choose to hire a motorbike then do not put your bag on the floor of the motorbike between your legs.

People ride up beside you on their motorbikes and snatch the bag as it is not attached to anything and then ride off.

Booking.com

Street Food

If you go backpacking in Bali you will almost certainly experience ‘Bali Belly’. It’s nothing to worry about, just some bad diarrhoea. If you want to minimise your risk then don’t buy street food that has been out unrefrigerated for any amount of time.

A rice and curry dish in Bali, if you are backpacking around bali then don't buy in the evening
This is the Nasi Campur, it tastes so good but buy early in the day.

I recommend that you always purchase food that has been freshly cooked.

Scams to be aware of in Bali

GoJek Drivers

When you call a vehicle to come and collect you it will say a price on the screen. Half the time the GoJek driver then private messages you and starts negotiating the price 2 or 3 times more than the official price.

This can be annoying because if you say no then they just don’t pick you up. Sometimes it is easy to get another driver more willing to accept the official fare but sometimes you don’t have a choice. Try to barter them down but if you are struggling to get a cab then accept what you think is reasonable.

Visa Renewals

Make sure you go through an agency when you are renewing your visa for the second month. When you start handing over passports then it’s time to use an official source. Don’t open yourself up to theft or being ripped off.

Language in Bali

The official language of Bali is Indonesian however they do also have their own language called Balinese. The general consensus is that less than a third of the population now speak Balinese and nearly all of them also know Indonesian.

English is also spoken to at least a beginner level at all tourist locations.

Key Phrases

Thank you – Terima kasih

Goodbye – Selemat Tinggal

How much? – Berapa banyak

Vegetarian – Vegetarian

No – Tidak

Hello – Halo

Taxi – Taksi

Spicy – Pedas

Yes – Iya NIH

Toilet – Toilet

Currency in Bali

The currency in Bali is Indonesian Rupiah. Unlike other backpacker countries around the world they do not accept USD as a currency so you have to get your home currency exchanged before you purchase anything.

Pro Tip

There are many places around Bali that exchange money and they have slightly better exchange rates than the airport. I recommend changing a small amount at the airport to pay for your transfer and maybe a meal for that evening and then exchange the rest nearby to where you are staying.

Our Honest Opinion of Bali

I truly believe that Bali is one of the best places in the whole world for backpackers to travel to. It has everything you would ever want at cheap and affordable prices. The natural beauty is up there with some of the best in the world and the people are extremely accommodating to the growing tourism trade.

They have some work to do to clean up the streets and they are going to have to improve infrastructure if they really want to maximise the potential of the tourism industry. At the moment 99% of the roads in Bali have no pavement so you just walk on the road.

I highly recommend that you go backpacking in Bali as soon as possible!

A beer and a glass of wine on a table overlooking some rice paddies full of water
A couple of drinks watching the sunset over the rice paddies. Bliss.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bali

Which is the best place to stay in Bali?

If you want adventure activities then Ubud as it is close to so many of the rafting and trekking opportunities. If you want to relax and experience the ‘nomad’ lifestyle then Canggu has to be at the top of the list.

When Should I go to Bali?

April, May, June and September. These times are the best prices and fall either side of peak seasons so they will be the calmest. They also avoid the rainy season so the weather is not as humid and hot.

Where do you fly into Bali?

Ngurah Rai international airport in Denpasar

Is Bali a separate country to Indonesia?

No, Bali is in Indonesia however the Balinese have quite a unique culture and language as opposed to other locations in Indonesia.

How much for a meal in Bali?

An Indonesian meal from a local restaurant should cost $1-$2

Can I ride a motorcycle in Bali?

If you have a domestic motorcycle licence and an international motorcycle licence then you can legally ride in Bali However nearly every person who comes to Bali rides anyway as you almost certainly will not be stopped. This is STRONGLY NOT recommended as you will not be insured on your travel insurance in the case of an accident.

What is the local beer in Bali?

The local beer in Bali is Bintang and will cost around $1.5 for a bottle in a restaurant.

What is the local spirit in Bali?

Arak is the local spirit in Bali. It is very cheap but definitely has an acquired taste.

How long should I go backpacking in Bali?

I recommend backpacking in Bali for 2 weeks. This gives you enough time to thoroughly explore the mainland and even get out to some of the islands.


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