Now here are some basic points you need to remember when planning a trip to Bali on a shoestring budget.
1. Book in advance, get the tickets for as minimum as possible. Air fares burn a hole in your pockets, we spent Rs. 54,000 for two in 2010. Anything less than that is good.
UPDATE, May 2015: At that time we did not have a direct flight from Delhi to Bali, so we stopped over in Singapore. Air Asia now, has a direct flight to Bali from Kochi and Bengaluru and costs peanuts 😉 So no more excuses !
2. Break your journey either at Singapore or Malaysia and stay here for a few days, this way you can visit two countries in the same air fare. Better still, stop at Singapore on your onward journey and Malaysia on your return. Do a little online survey and get quotes for different combinations of the break journey.
3. Travel as light as possible. Buy stuff in Bali to wear and bring back home too. Carry empty suitcases from home, you wouldn’t want to carry stuff in a number of small bags or buy extra suitcases from Bali.
4. If traveling by Air Asia, keep in mind that they do not give any luggage allowance. Buy luggage allowance while booking ticklers, it will be around 50% cheaper. Book double the luggage allowance on your return as you will end up shopping a lot of stuff from Bali for yourself as well as for souvenirs.
5. Your first stop at Bali should be Kuta, the most crowded beach in Bali but do not stay for more than a day depending on when you reach and how tired you are. Enjoy the beach in the morning and head to enjoy the nightlife after 12 AM. Don’t be fooled by the quiet you see around you around 10 PM, the actual Kuta life begins at 12.
6. Book a decent and trustworthy hotel in Kuta for a day or two, other hotels must be booked online from booking.com or agoda.com after you take a look at them.
7. Haggle like your life depended on it. Start from 1/10th is the rule even if they make a surprised face. Look at nearby shops, most of them have similar stuff and haggle, you shall get it comfortably in half the price.
8. Conversion rates are the best in Kuta, keep a lookout for the best rate and convert in Kuta for the whole trip. Carry USD or SGD for best rates. INR is hardly converted and the exchange rates are extremely low.
9. Eat in local restaurants called ‘Warungs’ meaning a place to eat. Warungs are easier on the pocket and great if you want to discover the local flavor.
10. Hire a bike without worrying about the International license. If a cop catches you, give him some ‘chai paani’ 😉 Law in the country is pretty much the same as India.