Updated November 20th, 2017.
As the gateway to Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno, Lombok has become a popular backpacker destination. Just a short 20-minute boat ride away from Bali, Lombok has so far escaped the massive growth of tourism that has tainted its sister island.Expect wide, white sandy beaches, challenging hiking and breath-taking views.
Places To Stay in Lombok
There are plenty of backpacker hostels offering dorm and private rooms (or even a picture-perfect bamboo hut) with prices starting from around 150,000 IDR per night. If you’re happy to splurge, there are also plenty of guesthouses and hotels offering spacious suites, private plunge pools and ocean views…
La Boheme: La Boheme is a laid back and super friendly backpacker hostel, situated on the outskirts of the traditional village of Mentigi on the Western coast of Lombok. With plenty of outdoor space, clean and simple dorm rooms and a movie night that’s famous all over the island, it’s the perfect place to relax during your Indonesian trip. Read a full review of La Boheme on our Best Hotels page.
Things To Do in Lombok
- Scale Gunung Rinjani: Dominating the northern part of the island, Gunung Rinjani stands proudly at 3,726m high (and holds the title of the second highest volcano in Indonesia). The best time of the year to climb is April to November, during the dry season. Most treks kick off from Senaru or Sembalun Lawang. A local guide is mandatory, as is registering with Rinjani Trek Centres. Gunung Rinjani, being a National Park, has a small admission fee (150,000 IDR). In return for your money, you are rewarded with breathtaking views from the top over the volcano’s crater lake, Segara Anak. There’s some spectacular flora and fauna to be spotted along the way, from tropical fig trees to green hanging parrots and long-tailed grey macaques…
- Go Jungle Jane and Tarzan: Feeling worn out having trekked to the top of Gunung Rinjani? Take some time out in the sleepy village of Tetebatu. Chill out in the cool climate, rent a motorbike and explore the monkey forest, visit the Jukut Waterfall and drive through picturesque rice paddies for a glimpse of rural life.
- Wander through Cakranegara Market: Found in Mataram, this is one of Lombok’s best markets if you’re looking for clothes, traditional jewellery or souvenirs. Pick up some local Indonesian pottery whilst you’re there!
- Cycle to Sekotong: Avoid the crowds of holidaymakers relaxing on Senggigi’s beaches. Instead, use a little pedal power to head off the beaten track and cycle to the peace and quiet of Sekotong. There are plenty of tour operators offering group trips or grab a map, hire a bike and head off in search of adventure. Don’t forget to pack your snorkel!
- Hit the Waves: Lombok’s top surfing spot is Kuta Beach, a reputation that has transformed it from a traditional fishing village into one of Indonesia’s most renowned beach resorts. If you’re happy to face the crowds and development, then Kuta Beach will reward you with reliable surfing waves and plenty of surf shops to hire from. For slightly quieter beaches, hire a scooter and drive to Selong Balanak (shallow waters and gentle surf) or Mawun (for bigger surf).
Food and Drink in Lombok
Head to the markets! Lombok is covered in traditional food markets. Here you can pick up fresh, local produce for just a few rupiah (although you can expect to pay a small premium as a tourist!).
Go crazy for coconut. A lot of the local cuisine includes coconut in some way. From the traditional Ares, a curry made from a banana stem, coconut milk and chicken, beef or fish, to Sate Pusut, a tender satay stick made from coconut, seasoning and meat, grilled.
Embrace the spice. Don’t be afraid to try Lombok’s speciality dishes, including Ayam Taliwang. Made from chicken, smothered in a chilli and garlic marinade and grilled (or deep fried). Served up with a portion of rice, and a squeeze of lime… delicious.
When it comes to alcohol, stay safe. There have been some worrying incidents of alcohol being fortified with other substances (such as methanol), which can make for a dangerous and potentially lethal drink. Stick to drinks that have been opened in front of you (such as Bintang Beer!) and avoid the locally produced spirits.
Getting To Lombok
There are a few ways to travel to Lombok. You can travel by air, with a one-way quick flight from Bali to Lombok starting at 350,000 IDR. There are public ferries departing every hour from Padang Bai harbour in Bali that will cost you just 40,000 IDR per person. This journey takes around four to five hours depending on the sea conditions. If you would rather a speedier crossing, hop aboard a fast boat from the harbour, prices vary but you can expect to pay anything from 350,000 IDR to 550,000 IDR.
The most obvious place to go next (and where most backpackers head) is to the Gili islands. It’s easy to get a shuttle boat over to the Gili Islands from Bangsal Harbour, which leave twice daily and cost around 25,000 IDR. If you want to travel in style (and you’re prepared to pay double the price) then you can jump on a short 35-minute fast boat ride.
Discover more about the Gili Islands:
By Georgia Wilkinson
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