Affordable luxury in Bali
Glamorous accommodation and delicious spa treatments will take your holiday to the next level.
Bali has long been the destination for travellers on a budget. It's possible to scrape by on next to nothing, while relaxing on the beach or staying in the rainforest up around Ubud. But these days many travellers love to visit Bali because it's known for cheap luxury holidays, i.e. it lets you live like royalty for a no-frills price, right down to having a private pool, personal masseuse and in-house chef.
Tailor-made holidays and luxury Bali villas
Affordable accommodation for luxury couples' holidays and luxury holidays with kids is easy to find in Bali. The entire island is dotted with incredible places to stay. Whether you're a beach resort type of person or you like being tucked away in remote rice paddies in Ubud, there are multiple options.
One place you'll see consistently popping up in luxury accommodation guides is the Hanging Gardens of Bali. Surrounded by lush gardens and jungle, it has beautiful private infinity pools and a stunning in-house restaurant. It's pricey by Bali standards, but incredibly good value on a global scale. Specials are frequently available if you book longer stays - and why wouldn't you, when you are living in the lap of luxury?
Another more affordable resort is Blue Point at Uluwatu, where a superior room costs less than NZD $100 a night. Blue Point has a cliff-edge position, restaurant, spa and infinity pool. The ocean views are stupendous.
Or find yourself a home-away-from home with a hand-crafted Balinese house. Perfect for a family or group, Bali luxury villas give you freedom to cook at home or you can arrange a local chef to come and create an Indonesian feast for you. Here's an example: just out of Canguu, a two bedroom home with a swimming pool, full-time housekeeper, chef and garden/pool staff costs around NZD $400 night. Split between two couples, that's incredible value for money.
If you'd rather be lazing near the beach, a great example is somewhere like Double Six Luxury Hotel in Seminyak, a suite hotel that's close to restaurants, nightlife and plenty of water-based sport options. It's just one of many Bali luxury resorts, most of which have spa and wellness packages, yoga classes and beach front positions.
Beauty, wellness and relaxation treatments
The range of spas and beauty treatments you can access in Bali is unsurpassed. The Balinese have made it their business to provide massages, facials and all sorts of unique therapies to work-weary holiday-goers. The best thing is that most treatments are exceedingly affordable - in a small local spa, you'll pay NZD $10 to $15 for an hour-long massage. Cheap enough to get one a day (and your nails done too!).
Seek out a traditional Balinese massage, which is designed to reduce stress, stimulate blood flow and nourish the skin. There are also Ayurvedic massages, designed to be used in conjunction with ancient Sanskrit practices to encourage relaxation, healing and wholeness. If you like alternative therapies, find a place that gives sound healing (acoustic bio resonance). It uses singing bowls, bells and chimes to deliver therapy that is non-invasive and incredibly relaxing.
Taksu Healing Haven in Ubud offers a range of interesting options, including craniosacral therapy, somalogy, reiki, Japanese facelift massage and past life regression. A full hour of massage costs around $50, so it's a lot more expensive than other places. However their incorporation of essential oils and Chinese herbs makes it something quite unique.
For a standard massage, Prana Spa in Seminyak has such an incredible décor, you'll want to turn up early and spend time Instagramming the interior. It's the largest spa in the area, and hot and cold plunge pools are included in some of their packages. You'll feel extremely pampered in this opulent spa. Read more about Bali's health and wellness scene.
Exciting things to do in Bali
There's so much to do in Bali, and a lot of it is exceptionally cheap or free. You can visit incredible temples, such as Uluwatu or Stairway to Heaven (Pura Luhur Lempuyang, which doesn't have a pool of water at the gates, as the Insta-conners would have us believe).
There are ethical diving companies that can get you up close to turtles in the wild, or you can visit Bali Barat National Park to see flying foxes, monitor lizards and birds in their natural habitat. There are also cycling tours and treks on the island, including the climb up Mt Batur.
If travel for you is all about flavours, then market shopping followed by a cooking class might be more your thing. There are plenty scattered across the island and most will teach you new techniques to help create traditional Balinese dishes.
Food that's delectable and affordable
Bali offers a delectable range of affordable food experiences, from traditional satays and babi guling (suckling pig) to the vegan/raw focus that's all the rage in Ubud. Indonesian food in general will have white rice as the foundation for every meal, with vegetable and meat side dishes. You'll find the standard rice and satay chicken dish in most traditional restaurants.
Keep an eye out for nasi goreng - Indonesia's national dish. The best nasi goreng in Bali, arguably, is at Warung Padmasari in Kuta. 'Warung' in Indonesian is 'shop', so there are a lot of warungs.
Then you'll want to try Indonesian 'tofu' - tempeh. It's made from soy, but has a lovely nutty taste and a satisfying crunch. Swap chicken kebabs for tempeh and you may never revert to meat.
The other famous Indonesian dish is 'bebek' - duck. Ducks are plentiful in Bali as they are kept in rice paddies as pest control. At the end of the day, it's not unusual to see a farmer herding his flock of ducks back to their night accommodation. In terms of food, crispy duck is the way to go. Bebek Bengil in Ubud is famous for its crispy duck, but you'll find it at many places across the Island.
One thing you must try in Bali is a traditional cacao ceremony. It involves using cacao - raw chocolate - for medicinal purposes. to awaken the inner self and encourage revelation. If you want to skip the ceremony and go straight to the chocolate, head for Zest in Ubud. This fully vegan restaurant has incredible food and the 'Cacao Ceremony' hot chocolate is next level.