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Tegalalang rice fields

When it comes to a, “budget” is probably not the first word that comes to mind. Words you likely think of instead: exotic paradise, far away, honeymoon, or even “that ‘Eat Pray Love’ movie.” (The “love” part of the movie is set in Ubud, Bali). But after you shell out the initial chunk of cash on airfare (I paid $1100 from Los Angeles for October, the shoulder season), Bali is actually a dream for a girl (or guy) on a budget — you can eat, drink and sleep for unbelievably cheap.

The first stop for my friend and me was Ubud, the cultural and artistic capital of Bali nestled in the center of the island.

The best way to save money in Ubud is to stay in a traditional home stay or guesthouse B&B.16146312644_f27de73179_o Although the lower-priced homestays can admittedly get a bit dingy, the slightly higher-end guesthouses — which are still very moderately priced — look and feel a lot like intimate hotels, with pools, canopy beds and complimentary, made-to-order breakfasts.

We delighted in our stay at the lovely Mawa House, a gorgeous guesthouse compound with private terraces, a pool and luxe rain showers — an incredible value at just less than $30 per night.

Ubud is a must-do in Bali, and I’d recommend staying at least a few days in this lush, vibrant town. The air is permeated with the smell of incense, and colorful offerings are ritually laid outside each doorway for the gods (Bali is the only majority Hindu province in Muslim Indonesia).

We enjoyed getting $5 hourlong Balinese massages, playing with macaques in the Sacred Monkey Forest, taking classes at the sprawling Yoga Barn (just per class), filling up on mie goring and nasi goring (fried noodles and fried rice) for less than a plate, and hopping on the back of mopeds to get across the city for just .

16581048268_b1e6bd19fe_bWe also took a quick trip from Ubud up to the Tegallalang rice fields, an endless sea of green. Ubud is packed with cheap activities: if we had more time, we would’ve also taken a jewelry class and cooking class here. Fair warning, though: if you stay a little outside the Ubud city center, you’re likely to be awoken at the crack of dawn by the incessant chatter of roosters, birds, monkeys and stray dogs. Hey, it’s all part of the experience, right?

The most expensive activity we partook in was a sunrise hike up the Mt. Batur volcano, but it was a priceless experience. You’ll need to hire a driver to get you to the mountain and a guide to take you up (a guide is required even if you think you can do it yourself). We paid approximately $50 per person for the bundle, and it also included a sack breakfast. Armed with just a flashlight and the promise of a spectacular sunrise, we strenuously scaled the steep volcano in the pitch of night.

Seeing the glittering night sky was itself a reward — every star seemed to be out and shining. But the true piece de resistance was, of course, the sun slowly breaking over the mountain, illuminating a jaw-dropping panorama of the mountain and glittering lake in the distance.

See also:
Top Spring Getaways for Los Angeles Travelers
Top Spring Getaways for Los Angeles Travelers
Summer Getaways from Los Angeles
Summer Getaways from Los Angeles
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