Without question, Bali and Lombok have to be high up there among the most beautiful and stunning locations in the whole world, and there’s a lot that the two have in common (they are neighbouring Indonesian islands after all) that can make it tough to pick one over the other.
There are a few differences though between the Island of the Gods—as Bali is often named—and it’s lesser known and traversed next door neighbour, and if you’ve found yourself in the unfortunate spot (or let’s face it, pretty fortunate) of having to choose between the two then you’ll likely need a hand in trying to work out which one is the one for you.
So we’re here to the rescue, ready to pit the two serene dream locations together on a number of important issues to try and help you determine which is the right one for your trip, and hopefully get you out there enjoying yourself much sooner rather than later.
Bali vs Lombok, Round 1: Accommodation
One of the first things you’ll need to consider for your trip is accommodation, and Both Bali and Lombok pretty much have everything covered, with plenty of hotels, resorts, homestays, villas and hostels in vast supply.
Prices between the two aren’t too dissimilar either, although Lombok may be slightly more expensive. For the typical hostel in Bali, you can expect to spend around Rp 105,000 (£5) a night, versus around Rp 136,000 (£7) in Lombok. Alternatively, for a 5 star hotel, prices start around Rp 315,000 (£16) and Rp 420,000 (£22) a night respectively, and luxury accommodation will cost upwards of Rp 5,000,000 (£260) and 3,000,000 (£157) a night.
You’ll ultimately be able to find a lot more to choose from in Bali though, especially when it comes to budget accommodation. Hostels can be found just about anywhere in Bali, but if you’re on a budget and looking for somewhere cheap to stay in Lombok, you’ll only really be able to find hostels in Kuta.
The winner: Bali
While both places are fairly similar when it comes to accommodation, the amount of choice found in Bali pushes it slightly ahead of Lombok as far as this one is concerned.
Bali vs Lombok, Round 2: Food
If you’re a huge food enthusiast then you’ve likely already had Bali at the top of your travel list for some time. If not, then this sentiment alone should hopefully fill you with some degree of comfort.
Just about anything can be found in Bali, whether you’re in the mood for local delicacies (although be careful, it can be a little spicy…), western cuisine, something homely or something posh. The “kaki lima” are worth keeping an eye out for too. These food carts are popular among locals, and you might be surprised to find the food is much better than anything you’ll find in the fancier restaurants around the island.
Lombok has plenty to choose from too for those looking for local cuisine or western dishes, but you won’t be able to find quite the same diversity and sheer number of options as you will on Bali. Popular dishes include ayam taliwang (a spicy fried chicken) and sate pusut (an equally spicy minced satay). One of the main culinary highlights over on the Gili islands is their beachside fresh fish barbecues. Again, there’ll be plenty to choose from, whether you’re looking for fresh local fish, imported steaks, pizza, burgers, Pad Thai, you name it.
Just like in Bali, spice is the name of the game here too, so be prepared if your palate is a little more toward the sensitive side.
The Winner: Bali
While both offer plenty of amazing culinary experiences, Bali wins this one simply by having so much variety to choose from. Any hardcore foodies out there will love eating their way through the island, and anyone with any special dietary requirements, be it vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or allergy based, will find it much easier to get by in Bali.
Bali vs Lombok, Round 3: Weather
The weather in Bali is astonishingly stable all year round. Between the coldest and hottest months of the year Bali experiences a change in the average temperature of just 2 degrees, with the coldest months being January and February—with an average temperature of 26 degrees—and the warmest month being May—with an average temperature of 28 degrees. Highs and lows are 29 and 23 degrees and 33 and 23 degrees respectively, and for the other 9 months of the year, the average temperature is a nice 27 degrees.
The wettest month in Bali is January, where an average 99mm of rain can be expected. The driest months in Bali are July and April, and around 40mm of rain can typically be expected in each. Furthermore, January through to April will enjoy the most sunlight, with around 9 hours of daylight on average each day. With about 6 hours of daylight each day, July and August are the shortest.
Lombok is basically the same, and its average temperatures also differ by only 2 degrees throughout the year. Between the months of October and May the average temperature remains at 28, before dropping to 27 degrees in June, 26 degrees in July and August, and rising up to 27 degrees again in September. Lombok’s warmest months are April, May, October and November, with highs of 32 and lows of 23 to 24. The coldest month in Lombok is July, with a high of 30 degrees and a low of 21 degrees (as if any of these could ever count as low…)
The rainiest month in Lombok is easily November, with a typical 216mm of rainfall throughout the month. The driest month is August, which typically sees just 4mm of rain. When it comes to daylight hours, there isn’t much difference from Bali. September and October have the longest days at 10 hours, whereas February is the shortest at 7.
The Winner: Bali
If you’re looking for sunshine (which you no doubt are) then both Bali and Lombok aren’t really much different at all. And while Lombok’s days are ever so slightly longer than Bali’s, they experience a lot more rainfall too. Therefore, presuming you’re not going on your holiday looking to enjoy the rain, we’re handing this one to Bali.
Bali vs Lombok, Round 4: Beaches
While Bali has some fantastic white and volcanic black sand beaches, they can often be quite busy, and unfortunately full of litter. There are some quieter and cleaner beaches to be found if you’re willing to go a little out of the way though, and if you’re into surfing, you’ll find plenty it just about everywhere. Some of Bali’s best beaches can be found in Uluwatu, and if you’re around to catch the sunset, get ready for an unforgettable experience.
When it comes to beaches in Lombok, you’ll be almost spoiled for choice with all of their beautifully idyllic beaches. They’ll also have much fewer people on them than in Bali too, and nowhere near as much trash and left over garbage either. In addition, while Bali is often considered one of the best places in the world for surfing, Lombok is even better.
The winner: Lombok
No one wants to be at an overly busy, messy beach, and for this reason, the idyllic, emptier and cleaner beaches of Lombok beat out Bali’s to make Lombok the winner in this round.
Bali vs Lombok, Round 5: Cost of Living
As far as food and accommodation are concerned, both Bali and Lombok are fairly similar price wise, so what’ll likely be the biggest difference coming into play during your holiday will be with transport. Neither Bali nor Lombok offers any forms of public transport, so your own private arrangements will have to be made.
You can find shuttles around Lombok for around Rp 150,000 (£8), or a private driver for around 3 hours will cost you somewhere in the region of Rp 500,000 (£26). By contrast, you could hire a private driver for an entire day for the same amount in Bali.
On the other hand, eating out in Lombok is slightly cheaper than in Bali, where you can expect to pay less than a pound for a meal in an inexpensive restaurant, or around £8 for a three course meal for 2 in a mid-range restaurant. Beer is around the same price in each, although again slightly more expensive in Bali if you’re drinking imported beer.
If you were looking to live in either Bali or Lombok, renting a 3 bedroom apartment in the city centre would cost on average around Rp 11,000,000 (£577) a month in Bali, versus Rp 3,500,000 (£185) a month in Lombok. If you were alternatively looking to purchase property in either Lombok or Bali, the price per square metre in the city centre would cost around Rp 12,500,000 (£656) in Bali, or Rp 10,000,000 (£530) in Lombok.
The Winner: Bali
We’re going to go out on a whim and assume you’re probably only really interested in a holiday in either Bali or Lombok, rather than packing up and moving your whole life out there. Renting or owning property in Bali is a bit more pricey than in Lombok, but then there’s a lot more there. To just spend a few weeks in Bali or Lombok on holiday though, you’ll find the cost of things such as accommodation, day tours and travel a bit more affordable, as since it’s a more touristy destination, there’s more options available that help to keep prices that little bit lower.
Bali vs Lombok, Round 6: Entertainment
There’s all manner of great activities to keep you entertained in both Bali and Lombok. In Bali, you’ll see all sorts of amazing temples, beaches, rice terraces, a volcano trek, and surfing to keep you occupied during your stay, and while Lombok’s activities aren’t quite as diverse, you’ll still find a volcano trek and some arguably better beaches and surfing, along with some amazing waterfalls.
When it comes to nightlife though, this is where Bali really comes alive for many travellers. If the night time party scene is your thing, you’ll find all sorts of clubs, relaxed beach lounges, and a huge variety of packed out, exciting and lively entertainment to keep you going all night long.
Lombok on the other hand is much more chilled and relaxed, and relegated to not much more than calm and quiet bars. If this is more your thing, then this is the place to be, although it’s worth noting that you won’t really be able to find any bars outside of Kuta.
The Winner: Bali
This will ultimately all come down to what you’re looking for entertainment wise, and how rowdy you want your evenings to be, but once again Bali just has a lot more to choose from. If you’re looking for plenty of great activities to keep you busy during your visit then both have tons to offer, but you’ll be a lot more restricted in Lombok. Likewise with nightlife, if you’re looking for a night time party scene then you won’t find it in Lombok, and frankly Bali’s is hard to beat.
Bali vs Lombok: The Winner
This was a resounding win for Bali, almost a flawless victory, but don’t let that suggest that Lombok isn’t an absolutely amazing place in it’s own right. It just so happens that Bali has a few more options to choose from, and is simply just more touristy and better set up to cater to travellers and a variety of interests.
If you’re looking for peace and quiet and something more serene, untouched, and off the beaten track, then Lombok is probably the one for you, but otherwise, with such amazing diversity when it comes to food options, more activities to indulge in, more affordable accommodation to choose from and a much more exciting night life scene, Bali, without question, has to be our pick of the two.
Below are some of the guides we’ve created for Bali. Please take a look through (they’re free!) or find all our guides by typing ‘Bali’ into the search bar.