in a nutshell
Lombok is quite possibly the greatest island in the whole of Indonesia. While this may seem a strong statement, our experience of this magical place has given us this unprecedented conviction. Disclaimer: Reality is subjective, and so must be our opinion herewith. However, we’re pretty sure we’re right.
Why go to Lombok
The list of reasons to head over to Lombok is long. It also looks much more like a bucket list than it does an itinerary. Lombok is a magical place filled with truly incredible, jaw dropping landscapes.
If you like waterfalls, then get ready to have everything you thought you knew about waterfalls be radically challenged. Just quickly, go head and search Air Terjun Tiu Kelep. We know, it’s outrageous. When you’ve been there you’ll want to check out Sindang Gile. After that, Betara Lenjang. They’re all just far too special to encapsulate in small whimsical sentences. You must, must go.
There are a good couple of beaches on the island, too. Selong Belanak is a great beach for some surfing while Tanjung A’an is a great beach for marvelling at the tiny, tiny stones on the beach that look like pepper. The latter of these beaches makes for a great day out, too. Grab a coconut and do some shopping – good times.
Possibly the biggest highlight of the island is the massive, awe-inspiring Mt Rinjani. To get to the view from the top, you need to do hike for a couple of days. It would be worth hiking for a month. It’s absolutely breathtaking. There are a bunch of other shorter treks in the area for anyone keen to get involved but don’t think they could handle the summit up Mt Rinjani.
There are cooking classes, surfing opportunities, snorkelling spots and biking tours. Early to bed and early to rise, then.
When to go to Lombok
Unlike many destinations in the world where your best time to visit can be scrupulously determined with a bit of research, Lombok should never be off the cards of the interested traveller. While it is not too dissimilar from the rest of Indonesia with wet and dry seasons, the implications of these seasons in Lombok is almost inconsequential. The dry season stretches through from May through to September while the wet season spans the months between October and April. There are a few more tourists bouncing around in the dry season and the weather is a bit more humid. Temperatures also escalate a couple of degrees in these months. Considering the lowered humidity and temperature levels, along with the fact that Lombok’s wet season is very mild, a wet season visit may actually set you up with the experience you’re hoping for. If you’re the kind to wake up early, these are the months where you’ll find yourself alone at the waterfalls!
Where to stay in Lombok
Options for accommodation in Lombok are exceptionally extensive. Between the most incredible, five star resorts that you have yet to lay your eyes on and the most basic of hostels that offer little more than the pillow under your head, you won’t struggle to find something to suit your needs here.
Really cheap options include Ogie’s Place and Bar and Pondok Guru Bakti in Senaru. Both of these properties provided tremendous service that seemed to go way beyond what you would expect for the price. There are, of course, many places that we didn’t stay at so this may just be an Indonesian thing! Something a little more expensive but a whole lot more impressive is Dream Catcher Camp. Check it out!
Looking for the fanciest of the fancy? Check out the Oberoi Lombok. It’s outrageously astounding. A more competitive rate for a similar level of extravagance is offered by the Katamaran Hotel. We really liked this place. We really, really liked their baths.
Where and what to eat in Lombok
The island’s most renowned dish is probably Ayam Taliwang. Spicy chicken with tomatoes and turmeric. Delicious. Sares is another dish well worth trying. Banana pith, coconut juice, chilli and some sort of meat are mixed to make something vastly different to what you have eaten before.
Of course, you’ll be able to find your classic Nasi Campur wherever you go. You’d be wise to order some tempeh with that, because it may actually be impossible to get enough of it. Warungs and small restuarants are in all parts of every town and will always be available to give you what you’re needing. Well, as long as what you’re needing is a basic cultural dish that’s on their menu.
The price of food varies a lot in Lombok depending on where you are. The most popular areas like Senggigi and the Gili Islands charge much more than the less touristy areas. That being said, these areas also offer much more variety and generally have a good supply of international dishes.
How to get around Lombok
For an island that encapsulates so much of the idyllic deserted island feel, there are a shocking amount of options for transport around the island. Whether you are into a traditional and very slow donkey-drawn cart ride or your own private car, the options are as varied as they are numerous.
Getting between the various cities is most cheaply down through the public busses. They are, of course, not especially comfortable or efficient, but they’ll get you to where you’re going. Public busses make trips between the airport and the major cities.
Taxis are a good way to get around in Lombok. They are well priced and always go by the meter. They are a reliable way to transport yourself late at night or when you’re feeling wary.
Bemos are a very easy way to get between short stops in the city in you’re in. Just hop on a bench in one of the vans and wait a few short minutes. Enjoy the twists, turns, the faces of those sitting opposite you, and the wind in your hair. Short journeys around town are incredibly cheap. Bemos are most prominent in the cities of Senggigi and Mataram.
In the absence of a bemo, there are always a good few motorbike taxis around, waiting for you to stretch your comfort zone and take your chances with a stranger. The prices about the same as what you will pay on a bemo.
The most exciting way to see the island is with your own set of wheels. With the ability to go where the wind blows you, the independence you feel changes the entire experience. Hiring your own car is first prize what with the safety of its four doors. Your next best but substantially more dangerous option is hiring your own scooter. You’ll be looking at a price around 130, 000 IDR per day for a motorbike. You’ll be paying much more for a car.
On the Gili islands, there is no motorized transport. As such, the only two modes of transport that outpace you and your two feet are bicycles and donkey-drawn carts. These are both fun options. Bicycles end up being the cheaper option over the course of the day. There are donkey carts on the mainland, too. So, if you’re in the mood for it, take a ride! Also take some snaps, because how often can you do that in this day and age?
How to get to and from Lombok
Seeing as it is an island, transport to Lombok is limited to two options – air and sea travel. Of course, the prior of these options is the most preferable. Not only will you be in Lombok in a fraction of the time, you’ll also be treated to a brilliant birds’ eye view of the islands of Indonesia.
Getting in from Bali with one of the many airlines will take you less than thirty minutes. We know, amazing. From Jakarta? Your flight won’t be longer than two hours. You can get to and from Surabaya in less than an hour! While the flights are certainly much faster than any boat trip you may take, they are also a fair bit more expensive. Flights from Bali can cost anything between 200,000 and 300, 000 IDR. You can expect to pay the amount for flights from Surabaya.
There are many airlines that run these domestic routes. Some of the most reputable include Lion Air and Garuda Indonesia .Flights arrive at the Bandara International Lombok Airport (BIL) which is located the city of Praya. The airport is in a southerly central part of the island. From the airport you can take the airport bus to the cities of Mataram or Senggigi. The fares are cheap (25,000 IDR) and the trips regular. There are also airport taxis and other metered taxis that can get you where you’re going. Avoid any informal operators and those advising against legitimate services – they don’t have your best interests at heart, despite what they may say.
You can grab flights straight to Lombok from international destinations, too. Get in from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur with either Silk Air, Singapore Airlines or Malaysian Airlines.
If you’re heading over to the island via boat, it’s probably best that you avoid travel agents you offer end-to-end packages. The prices for such services are always very inflated. Rather head to the departure point for your ferry and organise a trip with the companies directly. A trip from Bali will take around 5 hours and will set you back around 50, 000 IDR.
Is Lombok a safe place to visit?
Your biggest concern around these parts is probably some sort of bug from a meal that you shouldn’t have eaten, or one that your stomach just can’t handle. In such an event, grab yourself some medication from the local pharmacy and rest a little. Beyond any food you may eat or injury you may sustain while hiking, you’re good to go in these parts! No mace spray required. Yay, more space for snacks!