One of the things that is very easy to do, is overspend when you are on holiday. In a place like Bali, where the currency is vastly different to what you are used to, it can be tricky to truly know how much you are spending. Bali is known for its affordability, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to budget and to be careful with how much money you are spending each day. We’ve put together a handy guide to help you enjoy your holiday without draining your account.
As with all destinations, it’s possible to have a budget holiday in Bali, as well as an extravagant one. Once you have paid for your flights and accommodation, do some research and find out the cost of all the activities you want to do. If you want to visit places that have an entry fee, or do a day trip somewhere, you may be able to pre-book your tickets or plan to purchase them from a Tourist Information kiosk when you arrive. Add up the cost of all the extra activities you plan to do and set aside the amount you need.
Before you leave, you should have an idea of how much spending money you have to take with you. Divide this up by the number of days you are staying in Bali and you’ll have your daily budget. Of course, you’ll have some days where you don’t spend much at all, and others, like shopping days, where you might spend more. Knowing how much you have roughly for each day will stop you from over spending. If it helps, you can even divide up your money once you’ve exchanged it, and only take your daily amount with you when you leave your hotel, this will also ensure that the rest of your money is safe while you are out and about.
How much do I need?
How much you need each day really depends on the type of holiday you are having and who your travelling companions are. If you are in Bali with your children, you need to ensure your budget covers their needs as well. Just as, if you’re planning to relax in your resort for your whole trip, you won’t need as much as someone who is doing a lot of activities or shopping. Food and alcohol can be quite expensive, depending where you are dining, so don’t get caught short after having a few cocktails. If you budget around $100AUD a day for singles, and $150-200 a day for a family for four, you should have enough for food, drinks, activities and shopping. You can always use your credit card for larger purchases if you have your eye on something in a shopping centre.
Cash is easy to exchange in Bali and to get the best rate you should exchange your money once you arrive. One trick is to take $50 and $100 notes to exchange and to try and get the newest, crispest notes you can. If you ask at your bank, they should be able to oblige this request. Keep an eye out for a good rate, and try not to exchange cash on a Sunday, as this is traditionally the worst day for rates. Don’t feel like you have to exchange all your money immediately. Wait until you feel confident and have a sense of the rates from the places near your hotel.
Beware of money changers who are not with reputable agencies. Although they might boast lower fees, some may be dishonest and you can end up with far less than you had to start with. Two of the best places to exchange your cash are: Central Kuta Money Exchange and Pt. Bali Maspintjinra AMC, both of which have locations all over Bali.
If you do exchange all your cash when you arrive, lock some of it away in your safe at the hotel (or ask at reception if you don’t have a safe in your room) and only take as much as you think you’ll need each day. If you have a credit or travel money card with you, this is good backup if you want to spend more.
Although there are ATMs in Bali, there is a limit of how much you can withdraw, and fees attached to each withdrawal, so frequenting the ATM is going to get expensive. However, they are a good backup and also handy if you find yourself caught without cash. BCA ATMs, with a blue sign, are known to be reliable. Be careful to cover your hand when entering your PIN and make sure you have both your cash and your card before you walk away. If you forget your card, it will be gone and you may find your money gone very soon as well.
Credit cards and travel money cards
Credit cards can be used in many places in Bali but your safest bet is to use them in the bigger shopping centres and hotels. Having a travel money card with a small amount loaded onto it, that you can access with a PIN in-store or at an ATM, is a good idea for emergencies. You should always insist that the cashier swipe it in front of you and don’t allow them to take it out of your sight. This is why it is a good idea to use cash in bars and restaurants. If you are going to be visiting a big shopping centre for some retail therapy, you know you’ll be able to use your credit card easily, just be aware of the fees. Some travel money cards offer fee free credit transactions (Visa purchases, etc) and these are perfect for shopping days.
Note: If you are planning to use your everyday credit or debit card overseas, you need to let your bank know your travel dates, or else they might cancel your card.
It’s common knowledge that there are people in Bali who would like to relieve you of your hard earned money given the chance, but that should not put you off enjoying this beautiful destination. As long as you only take small amounts of cash with you each day, keep your credit card safe and stick to reputable money changers, you are sure to have a wonderful holiday without any money mishaps.