PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Serbia is the Republic of Serbia Dinar / the RSD (I will refer to them as S$s). At the time of writing, US$1 = S$105.
We have just spent 4 nights in the famous Ski Resort town of Zlatibor.
I purchased my ticket to Bajina Basta the previous day to guarantee a seat. The ticket costs S$400. The bus leaves at 2:15pm. You pay an extra S$50 for each piece of stowed luggage. The bus was a typical ‘short distance’ bus. The seats were comfortable and they reclined. This time, I only stowed my suitcase and took my backpack on the bus with me.
From there, it was an easy 600 metre walk to my hotel.
The town sits on the north-eastern edge of the Tara National Park. In the 2011 census, the population was 9,148.
In 1834, Bajina Bašta was established on the remains of the old Turkish community of Pljeskovo. By the end of the 19th century (in accordance with the Serbian-Turkish agreement) the local Muslims moved across the Drina River into Bosnia. In English, the name Bajina Bašta literally means “Baja’s Garden”.
It is just a normal Serbian town that, itself, holds little of interest for tourists. Bajina Basta is best used as a base to explore the surrounding attractions.
A typical, small, non-touristic Serbian town.
This is what GRANDPAckers can expect to find within 1km of the City Centre at short notice in early August:
PLEASE NOTE: HOTELS usually display prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES. But many search sites (like HOTELS) don’t provide a ‘private bathroom’ filter, so be careful with some of the cheap hotels and make sure that you read the room details. HOTELS does not do well in the Serbian marketplace.
AIRBnB / HOLIDAY RENTALS:
A good alternative is an AirBnB or Holiday Home:
PLEASE NOTE: Other sites (such as Homeaway, FlipKey and VRBO are also worth a look).
GRANDPAckers can find accommodation in the Town Centre within our price range. AirBnB is your best bet.
A good location only 600 metres from the Bus Station and only 100 metres away from the cheap restobars in the town centre. Very friendly, helpful, and hospitable hosts.
WHERE TO STAY:
You can stay anywhere.
But, for the best experience, get yourself within walking distance of the Brace Nincica – Kneza Milana Obrenovica road junction.
Have a look yourself:
EAT & DRINK:
There are several supermarkets around town. This makes a ‘Self Catering’ option viable.
In the centre of town you will find a small local restaurant that does simple traditional Serbian meals. Here is their menu. These are the real prices that you pay when you get away from the tourist towns.
On my way to the Raca Monastery (see, below), I stopped off at the Rojal Restaurant for Breakfast. They had the best Komplet Leminja that I have had to date … it had bacon inside for only S$150! Yum. The 500ml beer was S$120.
A local 500ml beer at a supermarket will cost about S$60. A 2L about S$155-S$200. Expect to pay about S$130 for a local 500ml beer in ‘typical’ cafe.
Breakfast is not normally included in Serbia. Expect to pay an average of S$250 each for a cheap local Breakfast with tea / coffee.
Expect to pay an average of S$250 for a cheap Lunch with fruit drink.
Expect to pay an average of S$450 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / 500ml Beer.
Obviously, if you had Self Catering accommodation, you could bring in groceries and eat more cheaply … but, for comparative purposes, this is not GRANDPAcking Standard.
The Bus Station services many local and long distance routes.
Their are banks and ATMs in town.
INTERNET / WIFI:
Their are 3 main providers in Serbia: MTS, Telenor, and VIP. I chose the 2nd biggest: Telenor.
MTS and VIP offer 1 week tourist voice and data prepaid packages (with free SIMcard) for about S$300.
I need data: I don’t use voice nor SMS. Telenor offer a 15 day prepaid data only package including SIMcard with 10GB for S$545 (about US$5). This was perfect for me and my 2 week stay in Serbia.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.
WHEN TO GO
Bajina Bašta’s climate is moderate continental with four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and pleasant with cool nights. Winters are sunny, with snow levels high enough for widespread winter sports.
The summer is short with the best months being July and August. We are here early August.
WHAT TO DO:
I got about 500 metres from Raca Town but, alas, I couldn’t find the right road … they all turned into farm tracks. So, I doubled back and took the same route home.
WALK TO THE DRIVA RIVER ROCK HOUSE:
BOAT TRIP TO VESIGRAD:
You have to book this tour at least 2 days in advance. I used Tara Tours. The 1-way price is S$1,900. The return price is S$2,500. You need to make your own way to the meeting spot east side of the hydrodam. The first bus from Bajina Basta to Perucac (about 12 kms) is 6:10am; this is the only bus that gets you there in time to catch the boat. Boat registration isn’t until 8:45am. This gives you 2 hours to kill in Perucac before you sail. I was lucky, some people in the Konak B&B were also going that day … so, they gave me a lift.
The boat trip is 3:30 hrs each way. The boat does not serve food. You are advised to bring your own snacks. You are not allowed to bring your own drinks on board. You must buy drinks from the boat bar.
You are expected to have lunch here. But, don’t worry if you don’t have any Bosnian money. They all take Serbian Dinars … even the supermarket. Given the fact that this is a bit of a tourist trap, prices are quite reasonable. A 500ml beer costs S$130.
If you don’t have your own transport then, again, you have a problem. You have missed the 6pm bus back to Bajina Basta and the next (and last) bus doesn’t leave until after 9pm. My friends went for a meal. I hitch-hiked. The 6th car that passed me stopped. I was back in Bajina Basta by 7:15pm.
The round trip takes 10 hours. It is pleasant and relaxing. Vesigrad was pleasant too. Personally, I thought that 7 hours on the boat was too long … perhaps, we could have cruised back to Perucac faster so that people could connect with the 6pm bus?
Bajina Basta is not a long term holiday destination. You will probably only want to stay a few days so that you can do some day trips. For that reason, I have not bothered to provide the usual breakdown of monthly costs.
Yes, Zlatibor is nicer … but Bajina Basta is more authentic … and, it is just as close to the attractions in the Tara National Park (such as Mokra Gora and the Sargan 8 Train). The advantage of Bajina Basta is that you can also easily do the day boat trip to Vesigrad.
Could you afford to retire here on a GRANDPAcking budget? YES.