For those with a bucket list that includes seeing beautiful Bali the good news is that travelling to this idyllic Indonesian island can now be justified as a budget holiday!

Bali was found to be the cheapest long-haul destination for Britons when compared with 33 locations by the Post Office Travel Money Long Haul Holiday report last year. As European holidays grow increasingly expansive due to the increasing value of the euro, many long-haul destinations are now far more appealing to British travellers. The best value holidays are found in locations, like Bali, where the cost of living is already low and sterling is strong against local currency. In the last year, sterling has been holding the gains it made against the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), making Bali a prime candidate for the best budget destination, although that’s not the reason the island has held first place in the report for over a year.

Bali’s budget beer

One of the methods to contrast the costs of various locations is to compare the average price of a cold beer, a contest Bali wins easily at 91p where neighbouring Australia, the same beer comes to £4.68. The beers are actually but one item, albeit an easy way to spot value, from a basket of ten basic holiday items compared that include the cost of a meal for two in a restaurant with wine, a bottle of water, a chocolate bar, sun cream and bug spray among other items. Bali was by far the lowest total for these items at £37.90, less than half of Australia’s total of £92.50 and these were the costs when purchased at tourist prices in popular Kuta. The report recommends that those considering a long haul trip do their homework and monitor the market movements to be ready to purchase currency when the exchange rate is in their favour. We've done that and more and found that, in fact, Bali can be an excellent value destination. 

Indonesia’s Rupiah

The IND against the pound’s historical rate over the last year has been fluctuating: rising as high as 1GBP=21,285 IND last winter (which would have made it a perfect sunny winter break). It has not been any lower than 18,538 and the Balinese currency is now exchanging at 1GBP to 19,172 IND-not at the nadir of value, but expected to remaining steady after last summer’s legislation to stop accepting foreign currency as legal tender. Australians on holiday in Indonesia were in the habit of using Australian dollars, despite being charged poor exchange rates on purchases, they had long found the convenience of not changing their dollars to rupiah acceptable. Last July Indonesia’s central bank passed new legislation prohibiting foreign currencies from being used in domestic transactions. According to Bank Indonesia, transactions within the country in currencies other than rupiah were totalling $73 billion a year. The move by Jakarta worked to slow the falling rupiah, one of Asia’s worst-performing currencies, it was typically depreciating around 7% against the US dollar. For the immediate future the sterling to rupiah exchange rates are very good.

Best of Bali on a Budget

The biggest budget factors in any long-haul holiday are the flights and hotel expenses and, as one would expect, the over 17 hour flights from the UK to Bali’s Danpasar airport are still dear- although air fares have dropped, at an average £1,000, without the benefit of any sales or mileage programs. The good news is that accommodation options abound, making Bali affordable once the jet-lagged traveller has arrived. Consider that a local family can live for a month on 1,000,000 rupiah or less (about £70) and it stands to reason a holiday in Bali needn't break the bank.

The high end of the spectrum for lodging are the private luxury villas with infinity pools nestled into the lush jungle of palms or set beside surfer paradise beaches which, when shared with a group of friends or family, aren’t much costlier than hotels. 4 star hotels range between £50-£100 a night and both the villas and hotels include airport transfers. Air bnb is a popular choice for those seeking value away from the tourist areas. A room in a restored 250-year-old teak wood villa in the heart of lively Canggu runs to just $35 a night, although we presume the host is following the new law and accepting only rupiah and not Australian or American dollars. Budget hotels are available and also still advertising their prices as $20 US dollars, although we’d expect to exchange currency and make our own calculations, just the same.

Drive on the Left

Those wishing to rent hired cars will find the Indonesian island province differs from the UK in all but one way: they do (in theory) drive on the left in Bali. Scooters are more popular than cars, although locals warn to be ready for cats, dogs, chickens and assorted other vehicles to come from any direction at any time. Perhaps that’s why those who can afford to hire drivers who charge between $40 and $70 a day, or taxis which are safe and cheap. An insider’s caveat: check to see these drivers have licenses and insurance and, in the case of taxis, remind them to turn on the meter.

Surfer’s Paradise: Some Tips 

With more than 100 dive centres and pristine reef dive spots, Bali is the perfect place to take scuba diving lessons or give the experienced diver a taste of the Indian Oceans’ majesties. Several beaches feature the waves that give them the rightful title of surfer’s paradise, in fact Bali is considered one of the world’s very best surf destinations. With so many active at the beach, little wonder massage is readily available and outrageously affordable at about £5 an hour. Mobile phone service can be super cheap by purchasing a 4GB sim card and a month’s international service that allows travellers to phone home and brag about their Balinese exploits for a paltry £7. Shoppers will find bargain handicrafts, clothes perfumed oils and accessories and those seeking to explore Bali’s stately and exotic temples shouldn't miss finding Uluwatu, Tanah Lot and Besakih. One note of caution regarding the monkeys at the temples and in the monkey forest: Do not smile at them as they will react very badly, believing that showing teeth is a sign of aggression! 

Dodgy Street Exchange Stalls

Also, be mindful of hotels and some restaurants advertising rates in Australian or US dollars and make your own currency calculations, paying in IDR as they will attempt to give notoriously bad exchange rates. Also mind the many unofficial money exchange stalls. If they look dodgy, trust they are dodgy. This is the reason travellers shouldn't leave their travel money to the last minute and hope for good rates. It’s best to use a travel card with sterling preloaded and arrive having already purchased travel money from a trusted UK currency provider, as Bali’s street money exchange rates will be even worse exchange rates than airport bureau de change agencies. There is no point in travelling all the way to Bali to save money due to a weaker currency and leave buying currency to the last minute, in fact, it’s even sillier than going all that way only to be bitten by a cheeky monkey.