Most of us know at least a little about Bali, and it’s a topic that many—us included—have written about extensively. But what about those looking to visit Lombok, Bali’s sister island to the east? Is Lombok worth visiting?
The Indonesian island often gets a little overshadowed by its more popular neighbour, but in recent years, thanks in part to its proximity to the Gili islands, Lombok, Indonesia has been seeing more and more interest, especially from those looking to relax somewhere a little quieter and off the beaten track.
So we’ve put our collective brains together to come up with some of the best things Lombok has to offer, and from the amazing beaches and cuisine to the even more amazing culture and scenery, we’re going to count down our top 9 reasons why you should visit Lombok, Indonesia, starting with…
The Beautiful Beaches
Kicking things off with one of the most obvious: if you’re looking for a beach, Lombok has some seriously beautiful offerings, with all the perfect white sand you could ever dream of. Better yet, unlike Bali, many of them won’t be remotely crowded, and there’s a good chance you’ll end up with an entire beach just to yourself.
Even Lombok’s more popular beaches like Senggigi, Mangsit, Nipah, and Pandanan don’t get all that crowded, although you would likely find otherwise if you’re heading over to Gili Trawangan.
One of the most popular beaches of all in Lombok though is Pantai Tangsi, found in Jerowaru, in the eastern region of Lombok. Perhaps more commonly known as the Pink Beach, Pantai Tangsi stands out amongst all of the other white sand beaches in the area with its own unique pink sand, supposedly thanks to the coral that surrounds the island.
Obviously you’re coming to the area to take advantage of a beach at some point, and at least compared to its next door neighbour Bali, this is one place where Lombok really shines.
The Amazing Cuisine
While Indonesian food isn’t quite as world renowned as say, neighbouring Thailand’s food, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some amazing things going on here in Lombok.
You’re definitely going to discover a dish or two you’ll love, especially if spicy food is your thing. If not though don’t worry—every meal comes with Sambal sauce served on the side so you can decide how spicy you do or don’t want it. Even then, there are still countless amazing spice-free delicacies to sink your appetite into.
That being said, just about nothing beats fresh grilled fish with plenty of Sambal, and you’ll often find it in abundance wherever you go. Many Lombok beaches will even serve it for you to eat right there.
Perhaps the most famous dish in all of Indonesia though is Nasi Goreng, which you may already be somewhat familiar with. For the uninitiated, Nasi Goreng is a fried rice dish, combined with egg and whatever meat and fish is available—typically chicken and prawns—along with vegetables. Wherever you go it’ll be unique, and certainly better than anything you’ve had at home.
The Fascinating Culture and People
Every one of Indonesia’s islands has its own unique culture (and even language), helping them all to stand apart from one another. In Lombok, the locals are known as Sasak, and the Sasak culture is definitely something you’ll love to explore.
Whether it’s their architecture, traditional dances, handcrafts or festivals (such as the Bau Nyale Festival—with just about everything you could possibly imagine going on), there’s no end of amazing things to set your sights on.
With any luck you’ll have the opportunity to witness one of their amazing wedding parades. These happen almost weekly down each town’s main road, and all of the traditional dancing and Gendang Beleq music that comes in tow is definitely a sight to behold.
If you’re keen to visit any mosques while you’re visiting Lombok, you’ll be glad to know their reputation as “the island of 1,000 mosques” isn’t unfounded. The enormous Islamic Center in Matram is definitely worth a visit too; you probably saw this from the plane as you were coming in (it’s HUGE).
Balinese temples are also aplenty, and while there aren’t quite as many as there are over in Bali’s Ubud, there’s still plenty of great culture to soak in from these temples.
The Stunning Hotels and Resorts
There are all sorts of places to stay when you visit Lombok, with just about every type of budget catered for, whether it’s a 4 to 5 star resort for the perfect luxury vacation or an affordable hostel with like-minded backpackers.
Lombok has you covered with some truly stunning options, and perhaps best of all though, no matter where you choose to stay, the prices will be incredibly agreeable.
For the average 5 star hotel, you’ll be looking at spending about Rp 420,000 ($30) a night, with the most luxurious resorts peaking around Rp 3,000,000 ($213) a night. If you’re on a budget, the average cost of a bed at a hostel is Rp 136,000 ($10).
If you are looking for somewhere cheap to stay in Lombok, Kuta in south Lombok is probably the region to aim for—you’ll typically only find hostels down here in the Kuta region.
Stick around to the end though to find out more on the best area to stay in Lombok.
The Endless List of Things to Do
No doubt you’re looking to get out and explore while you’re in Lombok, and you’ll be glad to know you won’t be lost for things to do.
There’s all sorts to see and do on the islands, whether it’s visiting beaches, rice fields, or a day trip to a waterfall or a local village. One of the best activities of all in Lombok is hiking, and there’s no better hike though than Mount Rinjani — the second highest volcano in all of Indonesia.
Numerous multi-day tours and are available to the volcano, where visitors can enjoy some truly breathtaking views of the crater and all of Lombok and Bali. For an extra spectacular experience, try and organise it so you can catch the sunrise.
If diving is your thing, then there are all sorts of underwater treasures to uncover around Lombok and the Gili Islands. All sorts of tours are available too, with sea turtles, sharks, colorful clownfish and all sorts to catch a glimpse of.
If you’re looking to stay firmly on the ground and out of the ocean though, then how about hiring a bike or a car and heading out on the open road? One of the most popular routes is the coastal road to the north of Senggigi. The views along this route are truly something to remember, as you pass all manner of bays, beaches, and hills; and experience spectacular views of the Gilis and Bali’s Mount Agung volcano in the background.
Finally, if it’s your thing, there are also plenty of amazing surfing opportunities in Lombok too. While Bali may be considered South East Asia’s premiere surf destination, that doesn’t mean that Lombok can’t hold its own.
The Breathtaking Scenery
This part of the world is rife with scenery unlike anything we have in our western corners, and all of the amazing greenery, waterfalls, mountains, volcanoes, and everything else you would expect in and around Indonesia is present and accounted for in Lombok too.
The waterfalls are perhaps what really set Lombok apart though, and their most famous is the Tiu Kelep Waterfall. This waterfall can be found to the north of Lombok in Senaru Village, and the trek to Tiu Kelep shouldn’t take any more than an hour.
The Air Kalak hot springs are also definitely worth a visit too, and you’ll pass them if you decide to take a trip up Mount Rinjani. We can’t think of a better way to end the tough hike up the volcano than with a nice relaxing bath in the springs, especially since the high content of volcanic minerals in the water is said to have medicinal properties.
All in all though Lombok is a truly stunning place to not only look at, but to be a part of. You definitely won’t get tired of the breathtaking scenery here.
The Gorgeous Gili Islands
One increasingly popular part of this corner of the world is the Gili Islands. Years ago there wasn’t much interest over here, but some time around the 1980s as more and more backpackers started to swarm to Bali, the less developed Gilis began to see a huge transformation.
Today, the islands have become an increasingly popular destination in their own right, and there’s nowhere with better access to them than Lombok.
There are 3 main islands that make up the Gilis: Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. There is a small fourth island however—Gili Layar—which often goes overlooked, earning it its nickname “the secret Gili”. Gili Layar is a lot more laid back and relaxed than the others—especially Gili Trawangan—and free from the crowds that can often be a real issue for many.
Any turtle fans of will want to visit one of the turtle conservations sites on Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan too. Gili T has a pretty large sanctuary for guests to visit, with numerous pools of turtles and all kinds of information to discover.
Over on Gili Meno on the other hand there’s a small sanctuary run by a local, who collects the turtle eggs from the beach and nurtures the babies until they’re old enough to be released back into the ocean.
For those looking to party, the first thing you’ll notice upon arrival on Gili Trawangan is all the beach bars and restaurants lining the shore. These will be going all night long, some with live bands and DJs to keep the action in swing.
The Unbeatable Affordability
If you’re looking for somewhere affordable, then, just like Bali, Lombok is exactly that. Even if you’re not, then we’re sure you won’t be complaining about how far you’ll be able to stretch your money.
As we mentioned previously, if you are looking for affordable accommodation, then hostels aren’t in so much of an abundance—you’ll only really find them down in south Lombok in Kuta. Homestays are the more typical go-to for cheaper accommodation, and these will typically set you back about Rp 120,000 ($8.50) a night.
It’s not just your accommodation that’s super affordable though. No matter where you are on the island you’ll be able to discover something amazing to eat when lunch or dinner time rolls around, and it’s all deliciously cheap. While everywhere will obviously vary, you can expect something around an average RP 176,621 ($13) a day for your meals.
Generally speaking, Indonesia is one of the most affordable places to live in the world, so you should have no trouble having enough cash to get by.
The Glorious Weather
Let’s face it, one of the main reasons we would want to go to a great place like Indonesia is to take advantage of the amazing tropical weather. Wherever it is you’ll be visiting from, chances are you aren’t enjoying quite the same quality of sunshine near enough every single day.
The weather is pretty stable and reliable in this corner of the world, with the typical year experiencing a mind boggling temperature shift in their highs and lows of around 2 degrees.
There is a rainy season though, and this is usually during the autumn months, predominantly November. Don’t expect it to be cold during this time though—these are also the warmest months, with highs of 32 degrees and lows of 24.
How Many Days do You Need in Lombok?
Between three to seven days in Lombok is plenty of time to see and do everything you’re hoping to see and do.
You can get to Lombok from Bali with no trouble at all, with boats making the trip regularly. Alternatively, you could fly there from just about anywhere else in Indonesia, or from elsewhere—they have their own international airport.
Is Lombok Better than Bali?
While Bali may have the greater reputation over its sister island, there are a few key places where Lombok really shines. If you’re torn between Lombok and Bali, then the following are some solid reasons to consider Lombok.
For a start, Lombok is far less crowded than Bali. If crowds are something that bothers you, and you aren’t too keen on how touristy much of Bali and their traditional villages have become, then the beautiful and intimate tranquility of Lombok might be just what you’re looking for.
And speaking of intimate tranquility, you’ll find that Lombok is much more laid-back than Bali is, and far less crowded with party-goers and busy events. If some quality chilling and relaxing is what you would like from your visit, then Lombok is definitely your best option.
The prices in Lombok are much lower than in Bali on the whole too. Again, thanks to how touristy Bali has become, their prices have begun to reflect that. While they’re still both way, way down on the lower end of the costly tourist destinations scale (i.e. they’re not costly at all), Lombok is just that bit extra affordable.
What is the Best Area to Stay in Lombok?
Senggigi and the surrounding areas is the best place to stay in Lombok, and one of the best hotels in the area is the Qunci Villas. Located on a beautiful, quiet, and secluded beach, Quinci Villas are only a short cab ride from the centre of Senggigi. In addition to this though there are still all sorts of great restaurants and shops nearby to discover too.
Lombok is a fairly large island, and there’s all sorts of places to choose from when you’re looking for somewhere to stay. Just about any kind of accommodation of any price range can be found all over the island, whether you’re in Senggigi over on the west coast, southern Kuta, or Mataram, Lombok’s capital.