What $1,120 per month buys you in Bali

When I tell people I travel the world, a lot of them assume I have some secret stash of money funding my adventures. But I definitely don’t. Instead, I’ve become an expert in “going where it’s cheap.”

As a caveat, you will need some negotiating skills. At the Pertiwi Bisma 2 hotel in Ubud, the official price is $80 per night but they were offering a discounted $1,250 per month. Fred, ever the negotiator, hatched a plan. He told the manager that preferred a different, cheaper hotel, and that he and I were arguing over where to stay. Could they lower the price and make us all happy? Yes, it turns out, they could.

If spending over a month in Bali sounds luxurious, check out what $1,120 – less than the price of your typical big-city apartment – can buy you.

We were greeted with some pretty impressive towel artistry:

Pertiwi Bisma

The bed was made up every day (despite our protests), often with real flowers:

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There was an infinity pool, warmed by the sun:

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The room was large, with two desks, a refrigerator, and big windows opening up onto a balcony:Pertiwi BIsma

Our balcony had a view of the surrounding ricefields, which grew from seedlings into lush greenery within a month:

Pertiwi Bisma

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Breakfast was included, with your choice of Indonesian or American:

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The whole street was pretty quiet, with ricefields on both sides and a soundtrack of frogs and geckos at night. All in all, peaceful:

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The 6 best (cheap) restaurants in Ubud, Bali

“Cheap” is in parentheses, because it’s not something you have to search for in Ubud. You can easily find meals in the $5-10 range, and you don’t have to sacrifice on ambiance. Some of our best meals in Ubud were under $20 total for two people, at a place that could have been a four-star resort in the States.

We spent about a month in Ubud at a hotel – that means, no kitchen – so we must have eaten out at at least 30 different restaurants. Here are the top six – all of which feature delicious, cheap food in a beautiful setting.  

Siam Sally

Siam Sally is a Thai restaurant with a range of traditional dishes. We went there twice on Thursday nights to hear the Cool Tone Blues band, our favorite in Ubud. It’s a two-floor, open air restaurant with lanterns, wicker chairs, and a friendly staff who enjoys grooving to the music. Although I’m not vegetarian, I enjoyed the creamy vegan green curry with eggplant and sweet potato, and a nice and sour tom kha gai soup (both with enough coconut to satisfy my obsession). 

Address: Jalan Raya Pengosekan

Prices: Vegan green curry (46,000 Rp), tom kha gai soup (34,000 Rp), pandanus chicken (58,000 Rp) 

Siam Sally

Siam Sally

Siam Sally

The Pond

The Pond is an Indonesian restaurant overlooking (you guessed it) a pond, as well as some open ricefields. They serve up a large menu of Indonesian and Western dishes in an open-air setting (they’ll happily grab you a mosquito coil if you ask). I thoroughly enjoyed the laksa – skip the tofu, it tastes odd – the crispy duck (possibly the best in Ubud), and the ribs (with a spritz of lime, of course). 

Address: Jalan Raya Pengosekan

Prices: Laksa (42,000 Rp), black pepper beef (55,000 Rp), crispy duck (75,000 Rp), surf and turf (85,000 Rp) 

The Pond

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The Pond

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Bebek Bengil (Dirty Duck Diner) 

Bebek Bengil is where you go to have duck in all its incarnations. We ordered 24 hours in advance and were quickly served up a huge plate complete with duck, vegetables, chicken skewers, crackers, and a fruit smoothie on the side. The place is enormous, with a bunch of different seating pavilions with gardens in between, and we ended up on a second-floor table overlooking the ricefields. 

Address: Jalan Hanoman 

Price: Smoked duck (220,000 Rp for 2 people) 

Bebek Bengil Dirty Duck Diner

Bebek Bengil Dirty Duck Diner

Bebek Bengil

Bebek Bengil Dirty Duck Diner

Cafe Wayan

Café Wayan is famous for being mentioned in Eat, Pray, Love, but we didn’t realize that when we arrived. We just saw a beautiful, huge restaurant – it extends far back from the street in little pavilions intermixed with lush gardens and exotic statues. The Sunday buffet was a huge spread including curry, satay skewers, vegetables, fruit, and dessert. After you think you’re done, they bring you a bowl of creamy vanilla ice cream. 

Address: Jalan Monkey Forest 

Price: Sunday night buffet (150,000 Rp each) 

Cafe Wayan

Cafe Wayan

Cafe Wayan

Cafe Wayan

Cinta 

Cinta specializes in grilled foods, from finger-licking ribs to buttery seafood. Before our food arrived, the owner came and started telling us the story of Bali’s volcano, Mount Agung. A serene Buddha statue welcomes you in, something you’ll see at many Ubud restaurants. 

Address: Jalan Monkey Forest 

Prices: Pork ribs (150,000 Rp), grilled seafood (125,000 Rp) 

Cinta Ubud

Cinta Ubud

Cinta Ubud

Ibu Rai

Another open-air restaurant, Ibu Rai is enchanting at night with its beautiful spherical lanterns out front. This is probably the smallest restaurant on the list, but the food might be the best – the quality is gourmet, with touches of spices and sauces that elevate it to another level. 

Address: Jalan Monkey Forest 

We ordered: Spring rolls (29,000 Rp), grilled prawn (78,000 Rp), laksa (63,000 Rp) 

Ibu Rai

Ibu Rai

Ibu Rai