In our Go Local Guides, we’ve teamed up with local insiders from popular travel destinations; giving you their money-saving tips on how to get a taste of the places they call home, without breaking the bank.
Bali-based photojournalist Harry Mark introduces his guide to island life.
Balinese capital Denpasar is a bustling sprawl in the south of an island synonymous with idyllic beaches, golden sunsets and a rich, immersive culture. This Indonesian island province is a dream destination for those seeking adventure. And whatever your budget, you can make it work. You need to head for the hills and the coast to make the most of this amazing location.
The best way to live like a local in Bali is to hire a motor scooter. You can get decent bikes and good deals by booking in advance at places like Bali.com. If you’re prepared to go really local with smaller operators and do a bit of haggling, you can go for as little as 5,000 Indonesian Rupiah/IDR (33p) a day. This is the most efficient way to immerse yourself in the island’s epic scenery - and it will get you off the beaten track and cheaply, too.
One of the most exciting aspects of holidaying in Bali is the diversity in affordable accommodation. Joglo Jati is a typical Javanese-built Joglo (traditional house) in Jatiluwih, with the trademark high roof, lofted by columns. Joglo Jati hosts visitors for 289,000 IDR (£18.83) a night, which is great value and a way to experience Bali culture and avoid pricier touristy chain hotels. The space is fully self-contained, surrounded by an abundance of exotic fruit trees.
Pasars are the traditional Balinese markets, which can be found at almost every corner. The chaotic, colourful, wonderfully-fragrant gatherings of traders sell an abundance of locally-grown exotic fruits, vegetables and flowers. A bunch of bananas usually costs as little as 5,000 IDR (33p). In Denpasar city itself you can find the Pasar Karaneng, which is one of the biggest night markets on the island. This is a funky jumble of everything from local arts and crafts like batik to great local food stands where you can get the famous Balinese suckling pig dish nasi babu guling for around 40,000 IDR (£2.61).
Canggu is a bustling, hip, backpacker and surfer town up the coast from Kuta. It’s a great place to base yourself to access all that the south of Bali has to offer. Even if the waves that wrap into the bay here weren’t enough to draw you, the DEUS TEMPLE OF ENTHUSIASM is reason to visit alone. This multi-layered slice of alternative surf and bike culture is open all day. There’s a great bar-restaurant open all day, a surfboard shaping bay and a bike factory as well as tonnes of great merchandise, and it is staffed by some of the coolest people on the island. Try the Fish & Chips (95,000 IDR/£6.19) and the créme brulée (50,000 IDR/£3.26) if you fancy a bit of western flavour in this exotic surf and bike culture outpost - or you can try authentic Thai fish cakes, too (55,000 IDR/£3.58).
Denpasar itself and the whole bustling south of the island can get hot and hectic. The perfect way to cool off is to head for the hills. About a 90-minute scooter ride from Canggu are Jatiluwih Rice Terraces. Elevated high above sea-level, these rice terraces provide spectacular textured views to the ocean and beyond. There are well-groomed hiking paths through the terraces, and hundreds of tiny birds swoop and dive as you enjoy the sun reflecting off the myriad small streams that flow everywhere. There are hidden waterfalls if you’re prepared to push a little further, and you’ll be able to enjoy them all to yourself. The only cost associated with visiting the rice terraces is a 40,000 IDR (£2.61) entry fee (for the entry of cars and scooters).
Bali grows some of the most spectacular fresh coffee beans on this side of the planet. Batukaru Kopi is a small café that’s part of a resort perched on the side of a rice field. Batukaru coffee is made with 100% organic beans grown 2km away from the cafe. There’s a great value, short but sweet menu, as well as a chilled soundtrack and unparalleled views. It’s a unique spot to perch for breakfast or lunch for as little as 38,000 IDR (£2.48).
Taste the fruits of the earth of what I think might be the most amazing island on the planet.
Batu Karu Kopi offers incredible uncrowded views of Balinese rice paddies. Great coffee is a bonus there too!
Batu Karu Kopi, Jatiluwih, Penebel, Tabanan Regency, Bali 82152
Coffees from 29,000 IDR (£1.89)
Spicy Margarita at Laca Lita Canggu
Pantai Batu Bolong No. 68, Canggu, Bali 80361
97,000 IDR (£6.32)
Mason Bali has a wood-fired oven and grill… and more.
Pantai Batu Bolong No. 39, Canggu, Bali 80361
Wood-fired barramundi fillet:
Hire a scooter! Make sure to wear a helmet at all times
Any street corner. Sometimes offered by your accommodation.
Prices start at 48,000 IDR (£3.13) per day, but negotiate this if you’re hiring for an extended period
No need to tip, prices will usually include a service tax which is in replacement of this
Our insider city guides - packed with tips from locals in the know.