Southern Hemisphere Sun At A Discount: Bali versus Queensland, Australia


For as long as anyone can remember, Australia has been associated with bright, sunny weather, rolling surf, and brilliant white sandy beaches, encircling  this massive nation in its magnificent embrace.

And even though the weather here can get a touch too chilly to indulge in beach bumming during the winter, all a beach freak had to do in the past was to set their sails northward and flee for the permanently warm weather of tropical Queensland.  Here, the weather is especially dry during this time, which had made it a choice hangout for those that abhor the damp, wet cold of the south in the winter.

However, as Australia’s economy has soared in recent years, prices have gone up along with them, making the tantalizing beaches of Cairns and Townsville look less appealing, especially when the exotic paradise island of Bali, Indonesia only lies a short distance to the north of Oz.

Just how cheap is Bali compared to the Aussie tropical mainland? We’ve compared a range of prices on things that your typical traveler would spend money on in both Cairns and Bali, pitting them against each other in a cage match to the death (just kidding, until KO/submission :P).

The result? Call the medics, because this tilt wasn’t even close!



One of the more famously high costs of traveling in Australia is the cost of food.  Even in a causal dining restaurant, one can expect to pay about $18 for their meal on average.

Flip over to Bali, and one can only expect to pay about $3 in Bali for a multi-course meal of rice and meat dishes, with drinks costing only slightly more.  You can’t even get a combo at McDonald’s in Cairns for less than $7 generally!



Those seeking a good deal to rest their weary body after an active day at the beach or sightseeing will do better for themselves in Bali, but at least here, it’s a fairer fight.  Private rooms in guesthouses and hostels will generally run you $10-15 at the low end, with pricier options costing $30. Those seeking a hotel room can get away with paying as little as $12 for a place (Tune Hotels, Kuta Bali), with middle of the road accommodations setting you back only $50-60.

Meanwhile, in Cairns, snagging a private room in a hostel will cost you at least $20 (average cost $25-30), and a cheap motel room will require you to part with at least $40, with a mid-ranged place asking for around $120 of your hard-earned cash for a night’s stay.



Both Bali and Cairns are quality places to go for a snorkel amongst colourful reefs and the many sea creatures that they harbour. Unfortunately, going out on an excursion in Australia will cost you dearly – even as a snorkeler, expect to pay well over $100 for the day. A beer at the bar afterwards will cost you about $5 per pint, adding to your budgeting woes.

In Bali, things are much more affordable. A snorkeling trip here will generally only set you back $20 for the cheapest company, and the Bintang that you’ll share with the divers afterwards will only set you back $2.25 per large bottle … yeah mate! If you’re enjoying these comparisons be sure to visit Budget Direct’s cost of living index for more.

If you always wondered why there are so many Aussies sulking about Kuta Beach in Bali, it’s more than the good surfing that has drawn them here. Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world, and given a chance to leap at a killer deal on their doorsteps, many of them have taken the plunge!

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