As I established in a previous post, Kuta Beach is not for everyone. But if you’re traveling to Bali, chances are you’ll end up spending at least a night or two in this wild and crazy party town. Some people might be put off by Kuta’s spring break-like atmosphere, but in my opinion it’s not the worst place to kill a couple of days. Not only is Kuta set on a gorgeous five-kilometer stretch of beach, but for one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, Kuta is incredibly budget friendly. Don’t get me wrong, Bali is more expensive than other parts of Indonesia. But luckily budget travelers and backpackers will find a plethora of inexpensive restaurants and budget hotels in Kuta.
A Backpacker’s Guide to Kuta, Bali…
Great Meals for Under $5:
Most travelers don’t go to Bali to gorge themselves on Western food. But Kuta has some pretty amazing options for anyone who’s a little sick of eating nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) or soto ayam (chicken soup). A simple stroll through town will reveal that Kuta is packed full of great little eateries where you can easily fill up for a few bucks. Here are a few of my personal favorite budget restaurants in Kuta (and they’re vegetarian-friendly too!):
Mojo’s Flying Burritos
I honestly can’t convey the pure joy I experienced when I came across this burrito joint during my first ever trip to Kuta earlier this year. It’s so good I decided to go back there during my recent trip to Kuta. No joke, I ate there every day I was in town – it was that good! Mojo’s has all of your typical Mexican staples from heaping platefuls of nachos to overstuffed burritos to saucy enchiladas. But the best part is that this modest little eatery does Mexican food really well.
The fresh guacamole is prepared authentically with cilantro and oregano (and it’s most definitely not made from powder like most places in Asia). The salsa is homemade and it actually has some bite to it. The refried and black beans are both excellent. And the tortillas are on par with Mexican food places back in my hometown of San Diego, California. I’m not saying it’s just like home – I mean they do use white rice instead of Spanish rice. But Mojo’s has the best Mexican food I’ve ever tasted in all my years traveling in Southeast Asia, by a long shot. Oh, did I mention it’s cheap? Seriously, these amazing Tempeh Tacos only put me back $2.70 (32,000 rupiah). With most menu items ranging from 30,000-50,000 rp, Mojo’s might just be the best deal in town!
Stakz Bar & Gill
I’ve only ever visited Stakz for breakfast, but believe me when I say that this place does breakfast right. Meals are filling and they serve real coffee in big mugs (not always the case in Southeast Asia). Options range from jaffles (34,000 rp) to eggs benedict (64,000 rp) to the enormous Stakz Hangover Cure (76,000 rp). Because, let’s face it, everyone in Kuta is either drunk or hung over. Because I’m a vegetarian I went for the Veggie Breakie which comes with eggs, sautéed veggies (spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes) topped with pesto, sliced avocado, and hash browns – oh and coffee! All this only cost $4 USD (48,000 rp).
I was so happy that this place just happened to be located right across from my hotel. I’m a huge falafel fan and since good falafel is hard to come by in Jakarta, there was no way I wasn’t going to try this place. Falafel House is a vegetarian restaurant that specializes in falafel wraps, burgers, and Middle Eastern salads. I tried the Lebanese Falafel Wrap (42,500 rp/$3.50 USD) which was stuffed with crispy falafel, fresh cucumber and tomato, tahini, and homemade hummus. And though it was a little on the messy side, it was super good. They also serve fresh juices – such as mango, pineapple, and avocado – and other healthy beverages.
Great Budget Hotels in Bali for Under $20 a Night:
Before I ever traveled to Bali, a lot of my backpacker friends warned me that there was no way I’d be able to afford traveling in Bali on a budget because “it’s just so expensive.” I was worked into a tizzy as I made my way to Bali, fearing that I would be hemorrhaging money and forking out $40 or $50 on a decent hotel room. Oh, how wrong I was. Here are a few of my favorite budget hotels in Kuta:
This lovely boutique hotel has become my go-to budget hotel in Kuta. I’ve stayed here on a few different occasions and I still cannot believe what a bargain it is. I typically only stay at the Pavilion on weekdays, when prices are cheaper. And I always book through a discount booking site because they typically offer substantial discounts. The walk-in rate is around $40-$55 (which is too pricey for me), but I’ve consistently been able to book the most expensive room for $18 through Agoda.com.
I stayed at the Pavilion during my recent trip to Kuta and I still can’t believe what an incredible value this hotel is. I was spoiled with every creature comfort I could imagine as a budget traveler. I had a king size bed, smart TV, mini fridge, coffee and tea making facilities, a huge balcony, and even a pool. This place is a steal for $18 a night. *(Note: The hotel added two more floors in 2015. I recently stayed in one of the new rooms at it was horrible. Definitely ask to be put in the old wing; those rooms are still spectacular!)
Tanaya Bed & Breakfast
I paid $19 for this double room through Agoda. Prices were slightly higher on Tanaya’s website. When I pulled up to the hotel my heart sank when I realized the hotel was located right on the main drag of Jalan Legian, which is where most of Kuta’s noisy nightclubs are. Even though this place was smack in the middle of everything, it was surprisingly quiet. So it’s location ended up being a huge plus. Tanaya’s only downside is that it doesn’t have a pool, so I’m not going to argue that it’s the best deal in town. However, I was really impressed by the hotel’s customer service (I was given a free room upgrade upon arrival without asking) and the free breakfast was a definite perk!
This first time I visited Kuta, I arrived in town at midnight and I made the mistake of not prebooking any accommodation. It was one of those situations where I was faced with the prospect of either knocking on doors in the middle of the night or trusting my cabbie to take me to “his friend’s hotel.” This is one of the only times I’ve handed the reins over to a taxi driver and things have actually worked out. I paid 175,000 rupiah for a double room (this was the walk-in rate for two people). The room was fan-cooled and pretty barebones but it was quiet, comfortable, and clean. This place was such a good value, I extended my stay for three nights. Not only was it located in the heart of town, but it had a great balcony and a pool. Seriously, Mekar Jaya is a great deal for $15 USD a night for two people. Air-conditioned bungalows were available for 300,000rp. (Location: Jalan Benesari, kuta-Bali, Bali 80361, Indonesia – Phone: +62 361 754487)
Have you been to Bali? Did you find it to be too expensive? Do you have any other budget-friendly restaurants or hotels to add to this list?