- Find out which cards to use for bonus points to cover airfares to Bali, fee-free overseas purchases and free Wi-Fi, and cash on the ground
- Get tips from an expert on where to stay, eat, drink, shop and play, without breaking the bank
A lot of Aussie travellers are drawn to Bali as a destination thanks to price and proximity. Denpasar Airport is about six hours from Melbourne and Sydney, three hours and 45 minutes from Perth and only two hours and 50 minutes from Darwin. Flights are affordable if you book in advance and visit off-peak, but you can also fly return for free. The catch is you still pay a little tax, but other than that all it takes is signing up for a Qantas Premier Platinum Credit Card if your current card is nearing expiry.
Signing up scores you 100,000 Qantas points, and when I last looked, a return economy flight to Denpasar from Melbourne in the first week of September burns through a measly 45,000 of those – meaning it will cover flights for two. The card links to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, so you'll also earn a Qantas point for every dollar (up to $10,000 per statement). Although the credit card fee seems expensive ($149 per annum for the first year, then $299 thereafter), it pays for itself by covering travel insurance, two annual Qantas Club lounge entry passes and up to 20 per cent off selected domestic flights. Basically, if you’re a traveller, it’s worth it.
It’s different once you’re overseas, as exchange rates and charges can sting if you use credit cards. Personally, I have been travelling on my 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard for years. It doesn’t earn points but there are no overseas transaction fees, no annual fee, and free access to Wi-Fi hotspots. I pay for everything with it when I can, but I don’t withdraw cash, because that incurs a fee. It’s also important to pay it off within 55 days to avoid interest charges. As for cash-only spending on the ground, I budget approximately how much I need each day, buy it online at Australia Post and then pick it up at my local post office around the corner. You can also use Travelex and pick up from airports. Here are some other ways to save when you arrive in Bali, specific to one of the country’s most popular destinations, Seminyak.
You can find beautiful Airbnb accommodation for as little as $20 per night in Seminyak. Stick to places with high guest ratings and look for private rooms in villas. It’s no different from sharing hotel grounds with other guests, except here you often get to know your host and other travellers. If you’d rather have space to yourself, another $5 to $10 per night will return some gems.
If you want to experience the ‘real’ Bali, eat like you’re Balinese. Push aside any pre-conceptions about travel sickness and go with your gut (pun intended). A busy warung is an indication that the food turns over regularly and is fresh. If it smells good and looks good, it probably is. Nasi goreng fried rice and noodle dishes start at around 10,000 Indonesian rupiah (or $AUS 1). Babi guling (suckling pig) is my pick. Not convinced? Tacos at thumping, colourful Motel Mexicola are 30,000 IDR ($3). Try the taco mañanero with a crispy egg, beans, chicken skin and pico de gallo.
Receive up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points!
Receive up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points (20,000 points per month for the first 6 months) when you spend at least $1,500 each month.
Reduced annual fee of $199 p.a. in the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter).
Enjoy 6 months interest-free on your first purchase of selected Qantas products and services.
2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
This credit card offer is subject to change and may not be directly related to the content of this article.
The cheapest way to enjoy a tipple in Bali is to stock up on Bintang from a local shop and enjoy it in the comfort of your accommodation or a public place with a view, but tourist-friendly Seminyak is awash with happy hours deals. Try Azul Beach Club for two-for-one Tiki Thursdays between 6pm and 8pm; Mrs Sippy pours two-for-one beers and slushies between 5pm and 6pm daily, extended from 4pm Thursday and midday on Sunday; order half-priced food and drink on Friday nights and $1 tacos on Tuesdays at Ling Ling’s; and 40 Thieves serves two-for-one cocktails on Friday and Saturday nights – to name but a few.
Playing & Exploring
Websites like Viator and With Locals support local entrepreneurs who offer tours and classes, from $30 surf lessons and food tours to a 10-hour Instagram tour of the country ($43 per person). Another option is to rent a scooter (around 50,000 rupiah or $5 for a day) and explore – but insurance only covers you if you have a bike licence back home. To immerse yourself in nature and verdant rice paddies, spend some time in Ubud.
Shopping, especially in Seminyak, ain’t cheap. With so many tourists, prices aren’t what they once were, and bargaining is more difficult here because if you’re not a sucker, the next person is. Still, I tend to offer around half of the stated price as a starting point when haggling, and only budge to around three quarters of the original price if I really, really want something. You’re best bet is to do your research before arriving so you know how much things should cost. This is a handy and recent price guide.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your bonus points credit card, your travel-savvy credit card, your travel money card, and go!