Travel writer Jack Levitt talks us through his explorations of three major cities in the Far EastWritten by Jack Levitt on 10th December 2017
Cheap Trips: Bali
Travel writer Mollie Johnson reveals how to do dream destination, Bali, on a budget, without forgoing the ultimate island experience
Bali is a small Indonesian island, known for its volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies and dreamy beaches. Whilst parts of Bali are renowned for relaxation, featuring yoga and meditation retreats, other parts are filled to the brim with tourists and bars which stay open until the early hours. It offers the best of both worlds!
For many university students, Bali seems like an unrealistic, dream destination due to it being halfway across the world and there being an assumption that it will be expensive. From my experience, the flights were the most expensive aspect (as assumed), but it is moderately easy to find a cheap deal if you play around with the dates and times. Return flights for early June cost roughly £380 each, which is relatively cheap for a 14-hour long haul flight, 2 hour stop over and then 1-and-a-half-hour flight. If you want to get the flights even cheaper, you can always add in extra transfers. It’s important to know that transfers are a necessity when travelling between the UK and Bali due to there not being any direct flights.
Whilst the cost of flights to Bali can seem pretty steep, the same can most definitely not be said for the accommodation! From luxury hotels to hostels, Bali provides a vast selection of different types and all for a low price; a mid-range hotel room in early June can be as cheap as £20 a night in Kuta and £30 in Ubud. Obviously, prices will vary depending on where you stay on the island, but generally, the costs are significantly lower than hotels in Western Europe.
Kuta is the tourist hub of Bali, situated on the coast and close by to the airport, making a perfect ‘first stop’ on your trip. Ubud is inland and nestled within the rainforest, often coined as the cultural centre of the island and surrounded by the iconic rice paddies. Wherever you decide to stay in Bali, whether it be Lovina which is further North or the Gili Islands which are situated just off the main island of Bali, the price is bound to be relatively cheap and affordable. After all, everything is in Bali!
Depending on how much you want to do and how long you are going for, spending money can range considerably. When I visited, I took £400 for a fortnight and ended up coming home with spare!
Meals are insanely cheap, with them tending to come to £5 each for two courses. Even the fancier restaurants only total roughly £10 each. Most hotels offer free breakfast deals too so you only have to fend for yourself 2 meals out of 3 a day!
The attractions are very similar to the meals, with many of the temples not costing more than £3 per person. Natural attractions, such as the Gitgit Waterfall and the Banjar Hot Spring cost approximately 60p each to visit – you can even bathe in the holy waters in Banjar and swim in the waters around the waterfall.
Transport wise, the buses are quite slow due to the amount of traffic throughout Bali and don’t cost much more than a taxi. If you are going to use a taxi, make sure that you stick with the ‘blue bird’ company as they are recognised as reliable and cost effective. Bare in mind that although you can use Uber there, many of the local taxi drivers do not agree with the company. We found that Uber drivers refused to drive us to Ubud due to the local drivers hating them so much.
I found that if we were going to do a longer trip, it would be easier to hire a private driver for a day. I paid 715,000 IDR (roughly £40) for a 12 hour day exploring the North of the island which involved the driver coming into the attractions with me and acting as my personal tour guide. I strongly advise against hiring a car or a bike, something which you will understand when you see the driving styles of the locals and the cluttered roads!
Top temple picks!
- Uluwatu Temple, a Hindu sea temple, is situated 40 minutes South of Kuta on a cliff. They also put on a fire dance between 6-7pm whilst the sun sets, giving tourists an opportunity to immerse themselves in traditional Balinese culture.
- Tanah Lot Temple, to the North of Kuta, is a popular tourist destination placed in the sea. The picture-perfect appearance of this temple attracts a lot of photo-takers, even though you cannot actually enter the temple. You can, however, cross the walkway at low tide and be blessed by the holy water for a small donation.
- Ulun Danu Temple floats on a lake within the mountains and exudes serenity. Although slightly more expensive to visit, the coolness and calmness are definitely worth the visit.
- Pura Taman Ayun Temple is a large water temple which is surrounded by a wide moat. It was the main temple of the Mengwi kingdom, built in 1634 and renovated extensively in 1937.
Must See’s and Do’s: Top 3
There is so much to see and do whilst in Bali, to conclude I’ve cherry picked the top three.
1. Ubud Monkey Forest
Here you can walk through the woodland amongst free roaming monkeys as they play, eat, fight and everything else that a monkey does! You can buy bananas from stalls within the forest to entice them onto your shoulders for a photo or just pick up some food which is scattered all over the floor. They are mischievous creatures so make sure that you’re careful with your sunglasses and cameras!
2. Turtle Release, Kuta
This is an amazing experience! Bali Sea Turtle Conversation Centre arranges turtle releases on Kuta beach roughly twice a week so that the public can become involved in their conservation efforts. The announcements of dates are usually posted at 9am on the day of release so you’ll have to check their page frequently if you want to participate.
3. Climb Mount Batur
Mount Batur is one of Bali’s active volcanoes and is a must climb. You will need to go with a guide due to the rules enforced by the locals but this should be pretty affordable! Many people choose to climb during the night in time for the beautiful sunrise which is definitely not be missed.
Bali can be, despite many people’s assumptions, a cheap but enlightening holiday. You can climb mountains, immerse yourself within a whole new culture and also visit an abundance of temples. For a journey of discovery, Bali is the place to visit and enjoy, all for such a small cost!