Sometimes being a student and finding money to travel can be hard, but you can definitely get some great travel deals and go to some amazing places in your study breaks. Three friends and I found a really cheap deal and spontaneously booked ourselves in; I actually got an overdraft because it was the only way to pay for it in advance! Having a goal to work towards (in my case, get out of overdraft and save spending money) is really motivating for likeminded people who love travel. The whole trip to Bali costed me about $1900, and that included insurance, flights, accommodation, and spending money! We stayed at the Dewi Sri hotel for eight nights, in Kuta, Bali.
You can hire a driver for a whole day to drive you to pretty much where ever you like; we paid roughly 30NZ$ between us. It is helpful to be aware of this sort of price before going, or else you can get convinced to pay a lot more. Luckily for us one of my friends had been before so knew the reasonable prices to pay for transport. Often your hotel will know of drivers who are trusted and cheap, and the drivers we had were so helpful and nice, and recommended activities and places to go.
We went to Waterbom on our first day in Bali, which is a waterpark. This was a highlight for me; it was probably the most expensive touristy thing we did, but it is 100% worth it! I think we paid around $35 each, and on arrival you get a wrist band you can load money onto to buy drinks and food while you are there. The water rides are insane and there is something for everyone. It ranges from high speed, small tunnel rides, to relaxing in the pool bar with a famous Bintang. A personal favourite was a ride where you stand vertically on top of a door in a capsule-like thing (I am great at accurate descriptions, clearly), and then after a countdown the door opens and you going flying down. The first time I thought I was going to die, but after that you just want to keep doing it over and over again. Waterbom is not only great for value, it is also a perfect escape from the scorching temperatures and is suitable for everyone.
Monkey Forest and Rice Fields
On a day trip exploring out of Kuta, we went to the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal in Ubud. It is amazing; old temples and beautiful sights to look at, while sharing your experiences with hundreds of monkeys! When you arrive and walk around the forest, you can purchase bananas for cheap to feed the monkeys. I would recommend only buying one or two because as soon as you get handed the bunch, monkeys will see you and run at you to get them – the experience is short-lived. Monkeys will not climb on you unless you have food, but always be aware that you are in their home and they are unpredictable. While I had a monkey climbing over my head, it relaxed on me. I wondered why all the other tourists were laughing and pointing, until I realised pretty quickly that the male monkey’s private parts were rubbing against my face! When walking around outside the forest afterwards, be aware that there are monkeys in trees; we got ice creams and within a couple of minutes we were being chased down the road by them, needless to say I didn’t have my ice cream for long!
We went for a 30 minute drive out of Ubud to the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, which was a beautiful sight. It can get very busy here, but when we went in late February it was quiet. It really is something you need to see with your own eyes; the breathe-taking view of the fields, the locals working in the fields, and the cute cafes. Our driver told us that you can actually walk through the fields, but we were way too hot and hungry to do it. Some of the workers offer to let you wear their hat and hold the baskets they use; I took up this opportunity but quickly learnt that I had to pay for it. I really did not mind, but just be aware if someone offers to let you hold or do something, there is usually a hidden cost involved.
The food is amazing! We started off going to McDonalds (they deliver it over there, and sell curly fries!) a bit too much because it was convenient, but did end up going to lots of different restaurants. The Indonesian food is amazing and we did not run into any trouble with food poisoning, but it is better to go for Indonesian food, rather than ordering Western food. One night at a restaurant we ordered a chicken burger and chips; it was the one meal I could not stomach the whole trip. Food is very cheap compared to New Zealand; I got a curry with rice, ice cream, and three Bintangs for less than $15. If you go to some of the restaurants by the shopping mall in Kuta, the prices are much the same to here and very fancy. Something I definitely miss from Bali is the curries, rice, and the $0.50 chocolate coated ice creams!
The people in Bali are very kind and friendly. There is quite a contrast in the type of people you will meet, especially between those at the beach and those at the markets and around the main roads. On the main roads and through the markets, it is generally shop owners asking you to buy stuff or try something on, or quite often attempting to use interesting pick-up lines on you or propose to you; you may get offered drugs too. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, and some people get angry if you walk away, but it is important to remember that it is their life, their culture, and possibly their only source of income. On the beach the locals are welcoming and invite you to play volleyball with them. It was an amazing experience hearing their stories, their culture, and their music. Most of the people on the beach spend a lot of time there (some of the guys had what looked like bleached hair from being in the hot Bali sun so much!), and for a small price you can sit on their deck chairs and drink beer with them; when you come back the next day they will still remember who you are. Sitting on the chairs with locals as the sun sets and playing volleyball with them was definitely a highlight and it can be a relaxing experience. Next time I go I will definitely take up the offer for a day surf lesson from the locals.
Turtle Island/Water Activities
For a day trip we went to Tanjung Benoa which is about 15km from the main airport. It is a place where you can do all kinds of water sports, and go on a quick boat ride to Turtle Island. You can do all sorts of activities, like parasailing, snorkelling and jet skiing. We paid around $45, and for that price we got to go to Turtle Island, go snorkelling, and go on a banana boat. Turtle Island was definitely worth going to, mainly because I LOVE TURTLES. There are heaps of turtles, from babies to huge ones! I can’t help but feel bad for going, simply because there are hundreds of turtles confined to a large water space. While on the island, you can also hold a snake, and look at a number of other interesting creatures. Snorkelling was amazing; we saw a fish that looked exactly like nemo and got to share the ocean with beautiful fish and locals. I had not snorkelled before, so for a first timer it was perfect. The one downside, however, is how polluted the water is on the surface. The banana boating was fun; the three of us were straddled over a giant inflatable banana attached to the back of a boat and going flying through the water. The instructors make the whole experience fun and are constantly encouraging you, making jokes, and will go as fast as you want; we went so fast we all went flying off the banana. Overall, the price for this day was worth it and you can do so much more than what I did. I would definitely like to parasail next time.
I did A LOT of touristy things as you can probably tell, and brought a lot of souvenirs, so if your budget is less, it is definitely affordable! I did more than I put in this post but these were the stand out points for me. I would like to go back and go further out of Kuta and see what beautiful views, beaches and activities there are. Have you been to Bali? What would you recommend? Comment below 🙂