As the gateway to the popular Gili Islands and the starting point of the famous Lombok to Flores boat trip, Lombok has become a very popular backpacker destination in Southeast Asia.
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 volcano hikes, delicious Indonesian food, a unique Muslim culture and breath-taking coastal views.
Where 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 $5 USD 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…
You are likely to spend your first nights on Lombok in Senggigi as this is the point where most backpackers will arrive on the island. Read our in-depth guide to Senggigi town here.
Some of the best hostel options in other areas of the island are…
1. Dream Catcher Camp – Tetabatu
A magical place set in beautiful surroundings near Tetebatu Monkey Forest. Dorm beds cost $5 USD, while private rooms will set you back $10 USD! Incredible value for money and with fantastic food, many people describe Dream Catcher Camp as their highlight of Lombok. This unique experience will not, however, be what you’re after if you’re used to 5-star luxury. Only hippies need apply!
2. La Boheme – Mentigi
La Boheme is a laid back and super friendly backpacker hostel, situated on the outskirts of the traditional village of Mentigi (Teluk Nara) 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. Dorm beds cost between $9 USD and $11 USD. Read a full review of La Boheme on our Best Hostels page.
3. Qurnia Homestay – Kuta, Lombok
Very possibly the best value for money in Kuta Lombok, Qurnia Homestay provides basic double private rooms for $10 USD. The rooms are spotless, comfortable and quiet.
4. Pandan Duri Homestay – Tetabatu
If you’re after a countryside stay with a lovely hospitable family, for an incredibly low price, Pandan Duri could be the place for you. A private room costs $7 USD in this village getaway in the Rarang area of Tetebatu.
5. Merendeng Hostel – Kuta, Lombok
With dorm beds around $10 USD, Merendeng Hostel offers a nice atmosphere, friendly staff and a twenty-minute walk to the beach. (Kuta Lombok)
6. Sasak Homestay – Kuta, Lombok
If you want to spend a bit more, Sasak Homestay offers charming, super-clean bungalows just far away enough from the busy streets of Kuta Lombok for $28 USD.
Top 7 Things To Do in Lombok
1. Climb Gunung Rinjani – Mount 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). If you’re looking for a recommended tour company, check out the highly-rated Mount Rinjani Tour which you can book through this website.
In return for your money and your efforts, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views from the top over the volcano’s crater lake, Segara Anak. There are some spectacular flora and fauna to be spotted along the way, from tropical fig trees to green hanging parrots and long-tailed grey macaques… it’s one of Lombok’s best adventures and is not to be missed!
2. 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 in the centre of the island, surrounding by lush green rice terraces and lots of fresh air! Chill out in the cooler climate, rent a motorbike and explore the monkey forest, visit the picturesque Jukut Waterfall and drive through rice paddies for a glimpse of rural life on the island. The are is also famous for local arts and crafts and you will see traditional basket weaving, sculptures and artisanal products.
3. 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 and take it home as a souvenir. Don’t forget to test out your haggling skills.
4. 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!
5. Hit the Waves in Kuta
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).
6. Eat Local Food at 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!). 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.
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. Embrace the spice!
WARNING: AVOID LOCAL LIQUOR ARAK
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.
7. Book Your Lombok to Flores Boat Trip
One of the best adventures that the island has to offer is the awesome 4-day, 3-night sailing adventure from Lombok to the island of Flores via Komodo National Park. Along the way you’ll visit uninhabited islands, visit Indonesia’s famous Pink Beach, take in amazing views of Komodo National Park, swim and snorkel with manta rays amidst pristine coral reefs and, of course, go on the hunt for Komodo dragons! It’s an epic backpacker adventure that’s not to be missed and it’s super cheap, costing just $165 US for 4-days worth of activities, food, entrance fees and accommodation included. Book the Lombok to Flores boat trip here.
How to get 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.
Where to go next?
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: