Save up your frequent-flier miles. Bali is more affordable than you think. In fact, for under $200 per day, you and three friends can live it up in Bali, including getting a one-hour massage for only $9.
Where to Stay in Bali
Once you get to this Indonesian island, living large doesn't have to cost a fortune. Bali has several five-star hotels, but nothing says indulgence more than a private villa. Within the past five years, the island has seen an explosion of luxury private villas, especially in the Seminyak and Canggu areas. Most villas feature infinity pools set in lush gardens, four-poster beds with high thread-count linens, in-house staff, chefs and drivers, and the modern conveniences of Wi-Fi, iPod docks, DVD players, and entertainment systems. Villa prices also include private airport transfers and breakfast daily.
- Villa C2 Residence (www.c2bali.com) is behind the Oberoi Hotel on a quiet back street that is a five-minute walk from the beach, bars and best restaurants. An ornate two-bedroom villa with pool is priced from $345 per night, including taxes.
- Villa Jodie (www.villajodie.com) is in central Seminyak, right on Jalan Oberoi. A stunning two-bedroom villa with a pool starts at $350 per night, with taxes.
- Chandra Villas (www.chandrabalivillas.com), also in Seminyak, feature traditional and minimalist architectural elements, blending the charm of Bali with the luxury of a boutique resort. A two-bedroom villa with pool starts at $350 per night, including taxes.
These are all prices during low-season (September to June, except for the Easter and Christmas/ New Year periods). But like most things in Bali, you can always bargain and negotiate a lower price, especially if you're staying a week or longer. With four people traveling together, a stay at one of these villas is about $87 per person per night.
Where to Play in Bali
At these glamorous bars, you'll want to dress up and make sure to sample some of the cocktail specialties. Many bars also have restaurants, so you can start with pre-dinner drinks and just move across to a table at your leisure. Cocktails with top-shelf liquors and freshly squeezed tropical juices in heavenly combinations cost about $10.
- The Haven (www.thehavenbali.com) is the sort of place that looks like it could be in St. Barts, Tokyo or Paris, rather than on the main drag of Jalan Seminyak
- Ku De Ta (www.kudeta.net; Jalan Oberoi, Seminyak) is great for sunsets and cocktails on the beach.
- Huu Bar (www.huubali.com; Jalan Oberoi, Kerobokan Kelod) has 70-plus cocktails in a sublime indoor/outdoor setting.
Where to Eat in Bali
No matter your budget, take your pick at any of the fine-dining establishments in Bali. On average, a three-course meal at even the most expensive restaurant won't set you back more than $50 per head. You can also spend as little as $20 and still savor delectable morsels of fresh seafood and Indonesian specialties. Here are a few suggestions of restaurants that offer exceptional cuisine, ambience, and people-watching. Most are situated within the Seminyak or Kerobokan Kelod area.
- La Lucciola features Asian and Italian cuisine with a manicured beachfront location under a massive open-air thatched roof (Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak)
- Ku De Ta (www.kudeta.net; Jalan Oberoi, Seminyak) whips up fashionable haute cuisine in a drop-dead gorgeous setting.
- Biku (www.bikubali.com; Jalan Petitenget No. 888, Kerobokan Kelod) has a more traditional setting but an authentic modern Indonesian menu.
- The Living Room (www.livingroombali.com; Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak) makes contemporary Asian in a romantic indoor/outdoor venue.
- Cire (www.alilahotels.com/uluwatu; Jalan Belimbing Sari, Banjar Tambiyak,Uluwatu) delivers dishes with organic and regional produce in a stark, contemporary setting.
- Metis (www.metisbali.com; Jalan Petitenget No. 6, Kerobokan Kelod) features elegant dining with a Western flair.
Where to Pamper Yourself in Bali
Massage seems to be a way of life here. You can book a massage on the beach at sunset, in your villa, or head to one of the dozens of spas and beauty centers around the island.
- La Beaute (tel. +62/361-847-6074; Jalan Pengubengan Kauh 18, Kerobokan) is one such center that seems to cater to locals rather than just tourists. The massage and treatment rooms are minimalist yet comfortable. A one-hour therapeutic massage is priced at 8,000 Rupiah (that's only $9!), an hour-long soothing facial is 100,000 Rupiah ($11) and the "four hands" massage, with two people working on you simultaneously is 160,000 Rupiah ($18).
- Another option is Well Being Spa (www.wellbeingspabali.com) in Seminyak. Book a treatment, and they'll send a car to pick you up. A traditional Balinese massage here is $25, or a more extravagant 2½-hour Exotic Touch of Bali package (herbal body exfoliation, skin polish, cooling yogurt body mask, a soak in a floral essential oil bath, and an aromatherapy massage) starts at $55.
How to Ride in Style
Driving in Bali is pretty chaotic and not for the timid, but why do all the work yourself? You can get a chauffeur-driven luxury van for less than $50 a day (including the gas and tip for a nine-hour period). Your villa can arrange a driver for you with only a few hours' notice. Day trips to remote beaches, country villages, or hikes up volcanic mountains are all within a couple of hours' drive of Seminyak. Drivers speak English and can also act as knowledgeable tour guides. The air-conditioned vans are generally late-model Japanese cars and can comfortably accommodate six passengers. In your posse of four, that comes to a mere $12.50 per person per day.
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Bali and Indonesia Forum.