Self-Made Yoga Retreat in Bali
If you are planning a yoga retreat in Bali you will have a lot of options. There are countless resorts and retreat centers that organize yoga vacations especially around the Ubud area. Unfortunately for budget yogis, these retreats are often pretty expensive and restrictive on timing and schedule. In April and May 2010 I found myself in Ubud with a few weeks to spare, a strict budget and an inclination to do lots and lots of yoga. Here are the details on how you can manage to spend every day doing yoga in Bali and spend only $30 a day including food, transportation and housing.
Where to Take Classes
There is only one studio on Bali that offers unlimited yoga classes with a monthly fee. The studio is Bali Yoga Shala and they are located in Seminyak. At the time of writing their fees were 1,000,000 Rupiah ($115) for 30 days of unlimited classes. They have a decent schedule for a Bali studio with two classes a day on most days, but the variety is limited. In addition, Bali Yoga Shala is located in Seminyak which for those of you who don’t know Bali is not as conducive to a peaceful experience nor as friendly to budget travelers as Ubud. I briefly considered staging my personal retreat with Bali Yoga Shala but the traffic and lack of cheap lodging made me decide to go elsewhere. You can visit Bali Yoga Shala’s website here.
In Ubud there are several studios but the one with the best prices, scheduling and teacher quality is most certainly the Yoga Barn. Yoga Barn has earned itself a sparkling reputation with its beautiful location and quality schedule packed with great teachers and impressive variety. A single class at the barn will cost 10,000Rp (about $11.50) but if you decide to commit you can get a 20 class pass for 55,000Rp ($6.33) a class!
The classes at yoga barn are also a generous hour and a half to hour and forty-five minutes and are taught in a beautiful studio right near the center of town overlooking the rice terraces. In the couple of weeks we spent taking classes, Kyle and I sampled a good portion of what they offer. I found their Vinyasa Flow classes to be particularly satisfying and was pleased to see an Ashtanga course on offer as well. Kyle said that he enjoyed the morning yoga classes and even gave a class called “tight white guy yoga” a try. They also have Forest Yoga, Hatha, Kundalini and Tai Chi classes. You can see the schedule here.
How to Live Cheaply
Ubud has accommodation to fit absolutely anyone’s budget. If you have a little more to spend you can invest in a nicer room (a pool is nice to cool off after yoga) or visit the area’s many upscale restaurants. If you are like me you and are stretching every last rupiah note, you can still live cheaply and comfortably in Ubud.
Nice rooms can be had for 100,000Rp ($11.50) a night for a single or 150,000Rp ($17.25) for two people. Discounts are often given if you tell the owner you will be staying for an extended period of time and offer to pay in advance. For even longer stays you can get whole apartments at a similar price. There are literally hundreds of guesthouses in Ubud and I have only checked out a few so I will not recommend any here. Show up and ask around, you will find something great. There are even places for less than 100,000Rp if you are willing to look hard.
How to Eat Cheaply
You can easily find a meal in Ubud for as little as 8,000Rp ($1.00). At nicer restaurants you will spend $2-$4) and at the nicest places in town dinner is still only $10-$15. Nearly all guesthouses will include breakfast and even if you have your own kitchen, which we did for a number of weeks, good cheap food is so easy to find that there is really no reason to cook. I kept a detailed log of all of our food expenses in Ubud and found that we averaged less than $10 per person per day. That includes breakfast (when we cooked), lunches, dinner, snacks, and even our beer budget. At that price we ate at a lot of locals’ places but splurged every once in a while on western dishes or a few beers out with friends.
How to Get Around
Rent a motorbike! This is the best way to get around Bali easily and is incredibly cheap. Taxis can cost as much as a full day’s motorbike rental for a 2 km trip!
We rented one motorbike for the two of us and rode it all over the island. At the beginning of the trip I was not very sure of my driving skills but after only a few days I got the hang of it. These are not motorcycles, driving a scooter is just like riding a bicycle. You can find motorbike rental companies all over town. Prices usually start at 50,000 per day ($5.75) but we were easily able to find a bike for only 20,000 ($2.30) since we were renting it for several weeks. Just make sure that you get a bike in decent condition and feel free to walk around town until you find the right bike at the right price.
Bicycles are also an option. Depending on where you are located they can be the perfect transportation. During the day bicycling is quite safe, but relying on a bicycle can limit your nightly activities. Most roads don’t have lights and people drive much faster at night when there are fewer cars on the road. Assess your options and budget when you make a decision. You can buy a bike like we did or you can rent one for as little as 10,000Rp per day. With a little negotiating you can probably get it for half that. Used bikes can be found but they are hard to find. Try balifinds.com for classified ads.
Below is a table of average expenses per person. We have calculated food and gas costs based on our actual expenses. The total daily cost comes to $30.31 per person per day if you are traveling by yourself. If like us you are traveling with a partner you can save on room costs, bike rental and gas. Our actual expenses for our few weeks in Ubud came to only $22.14 per person per day. Note that these costs are what we experienced in the shoulder season of April and May. Costs in Bali go up quite a bit in the high season (June-Sept) and can be even lower in Jan-Mar.
So there you have it! You don’t have to be rich to take a yoga holiday in Bali!