Is Bali Expensive to Visit?

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 07/01/21 •  5 min read

In my mind, Bali, Indonesia has always been the epitome of a world-class tropical destination.

Up until recently I actually knew very little about it aside from umbrella drinks and expensive resorts.  I once heard that Bali has more rooms that cost over $1,000 a night than any other place in the world.  During my time living there, I’m not sure I’ve come across one more than $50.

Kuta Sunset

Kuta Sunset

We booked $200 round trip tickets out of Bangkok on a semi-whim when Air Asia announced that many of their Bangkok routes would be going on sale.  We spent the first three days near the highlands and rice terraces in a town called Ubud.

Ubud was the exact opposite of everything you’d think of when you think of Bali.

Artists, jewelry makers, and craftsmen pretty much sums up Ubud.

If you were to transplant Portland, Oregon and put it in Asia, I have a feeling this is kind of what it would look like.  With a very laid-back feel, no one ever seemed to be in a hurry in Ubud.

Is Bali Expensive to Visit?

Our beautiful room came complete with its own private veranda, where we would find fresh coffee and tea twice daily.

The breakfast was fantastic as well.  If you’ve never had a jaffle, be sure to give it a try when you arrive in Bali.  Oh and it only cost $270 a night.  Oh wait, I meant $27.  $27 is a long way away from the dreams of yachts and beach clubs that I’d been picturing.

Sure, those places are around, but I’ve been shocked at just how affordable Bali really is.

I rarely spend more than $3 or 4 when eating, and you can get a large Bintang beer for $2.50 or less at most places on the island.  After expecting to be eating ramen and drinking water all week, its been a nice surprise to find I can live the high life for such a reasonable amount of money.

If you’re willing to splurge and spend $20-30 on a dinner for two with drinks, you can get something really special.  Honestly, my meal of spare ribs and potatoes at a beautiful open-air restaurant along the river in Ubud would have been well over $100 at a fancy place in the states, here its hardly more than a Big Mac.

View from Teba Guest House in Ubud, Bali

View from Teba Guest House in Ubud, Bali

All of this to say Bali has shocked me.  It’s absolutely gorgeous and after spending time at temples, textile shops, and some of the most quaint and delicious café’s around, I can’t imagine not coming here on a trip through South East Asia.

I hardly know a single person in the states that hasn’t been to Hawaii at some point in their lives.  Yet while Bali may have a slightly more expensive plane ticket to get here, I bet you the whole trip would cost thousands less.  The food will be twice as good, and you’ll get a cultural experience that’s second to none.  Sure Kuta Beach, where I am now, is overrun with Australian surfers, but even that can be overlooked when considering how much the island has to offer.

While it isn’t the super secluded, personal island paradise I may have built up in my mind (although I’m sure that’s around), Bali has definitely not disappointed.  Even passport issues and a flat tire on our motorbike haven’t been enough to dampen the trip.

The people are the friendliest I’ve met in Asia, and everyone is more than willing to help out in any way they can.  When was the last time you were in a place where people would pull over their bikes, just to thank you for visiting their country?


Fire Dancer on Kuta Beach, Bali

Now that’s hospitality.

So while many in the western world only know the side of Bali that caters to jet-set celebrities and millionaires, the truth is that it is actually an extremely affordable place for just about anyone – assuming you can make the time to get here.

It’s moments like these when I truly appreciate the lifestyle I’ve created.  While I may have spent the week being more concerned than I should be about getting work done, the fact that I have the ability to take my work wherever I want to go is a pretty incredible thing.

Many might hate the idea of working in paradise.

However, personally I’d rather have the flexibility to go anywhere in the world, whenever I want, and do a little work in the process, than have to save up a whole year’s worth of vacation time just to get a few weeks off.

Bottom line, whether you are looking to play while you work, or just get away from work altogether, Bali is the perfect place to do it.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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24 comments on "Is Bali Expensive to Visit?"

  1. Haidn Foster says:

    Great to know, Sean. I’ve never been, but I love Hawai’i, and I doubly love the idea of a more inexpensive Hawai’i (complete with huts)! It sounds great; thanks for letting us in.


  2. Matt says:

    Sean, you’ve described the same experience I had when I was there in 2005. It really is an incredible place and once you go there your heart will be captured by not only the beauty of the place but the friendliness of the people.

    Reading this has reminded me again why I am on the path I am on. Can’t wait to go back in a few months!

  3. Glad to hear you’re having such a good time man. We worry and worry and worry about the things we want to do, until we finally muster the courage to do them and then realize, “Hey, what was I worrying about?”

  4. Bali sounds phenomenal. It’s been a place that’s always been on my to-go list! It’s awesome to read such a candid and legit account of your impressions of the place.

    Must be a great package to get awesomely cheap prices, great people and fantastic scenery all in one. Not to mention a wonderfully historic and rich culture.

    Speaking of working there, I know the legendary designer Stefan Sagmeister recently took a year off his work to be “inspired” by Bali and just up and moved there.

    God, so awesome.

  5. Ben Cameron says:

    Glad to hear you are enjoying yourself, you are actually quite close to a few secluded islands if you hop a ferry over. Also if you like surfing or want to learn there’s some great schools around Uluwatu (30 mins from Kuta), email me if you want a recommendation. Jumpa Lagi!

  6. Joel Runyon says:

    How dare you talk ill of my beloved Hawai’i! 🙂

    If Bali is half as beautiful as you make it out to be, I can’t wait to go on a trip out that way some time soon.

  7. Sean dude, glad you’re enjoying it there—I’ve been meaning to write about our Bali trip for weeeeeks and you beat me to it, complete with a photo taken from the same damn balcony! You’ve one-upped me for the last time, Ogle! 😛

    Hope you enjoyed Teba and have a good time in Kuta man. Did you go surfing? When do we get you back?

  8. Dan says:


    Great piece…sounds like you’re having a blast. Haven’t been to Bali but it looks absolutely beautiful! Enjoy it, man…

  9. Alan says:

    Photos! Awesome.

    Have never been to Bali, but appreciated you sharing your experience. All your hard work is really starting to pay off. What a view!

  10. Ross Hill says:

    People keep telling me I have to get to Ubud – it’s on the list!

    Nice unclutterer article too. Isn’t it funny how attached we become to our bags? I love my Crumpler Mahoubar (

  11. great Pictures, Sean.

    Funny I was just reading about Bali in the book by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat,Pray Love

    I am glad you’re enjoying life to the max.


  12. Nate says:

    Very cool post. Bali a place where I can say I really don’t have a picture in my mind of what it would be like. I’m glad you’ve given me a little perspective. I will absolutely be visiting there in the future. That shot from the Teba Guest House is incredible.

  13. Krista says:

    Such a good post, Sean. Thank you for sharing this side of Bali with us. I really had no idea that it was so accessible.

  14. Matt says:

    Great article. I’ve been to Bali loads of times and can’t wait to get back there in a few weeks time. It’s definately a special place and the Balinese people are awesome.

    Again…. the same advice has to be said for all those reading this… Get away from the tourist trail. Don’t for one second think that Kuta is the ‘real’ Bali. You need to get well away to experience the true culture and uniqueness of the Balinese.

    My favourite place so far is Balian. Secluded, chilled out, amazing surf and stunningly beautiful! We took our mates little monkey swimming in the pool with us, overlooking the beach. Great fun! (I’ll upload some pics one day). PS. Walking round with a monkey on your shoulder is an amazing way to pick up girls… even better than a puppy!

    You’re right about the pricing. I’ve seen the most ridiculous luxury resorts for up to $1000 per night, both on Bali and Lombok. I’ve also stayed in a place on Poppies 2, in Kuta for $5 per night, including a Jaffle for breakfast! Madness 🙂

    Final thought… if you are in the area and get a chance, it’s worth a visit to the Gilli Islands. Beautiful. Amazing scuba diving, a serious tech diving scene if you want to go deep (100m +) and you are almost guaranteed to see a turtle or several if you go snorkelling off the beach.

    Keep writing Sean, loving the posts.

    1. Sean says:

      Thanks for all of the comments everyone! Bali was incredible. If I’d known how inexpensive it was I would have made much more of an effort to spend more time there over the last 6 months. I also wish I had more time to try my hand at some surfing, but alas, we only had a few days at the beach and other stuff seemed to take priority. I’d probably kill myself anyway haha.

  15. Brandy says:

    Glad you’re having a wonderful time, Sean. Bali sounds like a great place, and it’s nice to read about someone enjoying it at a reasonable cost.

  16. Thanks for a great post about Bali. This is somewhere that is on my list of places to get to and you have just ignited the fire. We are talking of Hawaii this fall, I am thinking Bali looks much more appetizing. Thanks! And continue having a great time, I look forward to reading much more…

  17. Milt says:

    Great Picture from the guest house,

    Never done Bali but hope to do very soon.


  18. Angela says:

    Loved this post. It’s great to hear a little more about the side of Bali that gets less press and Ubud. Thanks!

  19. Mark Powers says:

    Thanks for the heads-up, Sean! I’m going to have to make sure to check Bali off the list the next time I make it to SE Asia.

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