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A Travel Guide for Lombok: Everything you need to know before you go!

Updated: Jun 20

In this travel guide for visiting Lombok, we will tell you everything you need to know to plan your trip to this gorgeous Indonesian island! Find out where to stay in Lombok, things to do in Lombok, how to get there, when to visit, plus a list of all the pros and cons of travelling in Indonesia!



CONTENTS




 


Why Did I Choose Lombok?


After hearing many whispers of Lombok resembling 'the Bali of 20 years ago' - it had been on my list to visit here for a long time. Contrary to what my article on Bali in 2024 may have you believe, I do like Bali in many ways, otherwise I wouldn't have been there 4 times!


On my most recent trip to Indonesia to scuba dive in Komodo I chose to tag on a 2-week stint in Lombok to see what it was all about and whether Lombok could match the charm of Bali without the madding crowd.


So in this travel guide here is everything you need to know to plan a trip to Lombok; Bali's less popular but still happening little sister.



 


A Travel Guide for Lombok: Everything you need to know before you go!


This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may get a commission if you make a purchase through this website, at no cost to you. I only link to products I use and love.


Where is Lombok?


Lombok is an island that is part of the Lesser Sunda island chain - which encompasses the major islands of Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and Timor, and many other smaller islands. On a broader scale, it is one of the 17,000 islands that make up the dizzyingly diverse country of Indonesia.


Nowadays this part of the world is famous for fantastic surfing, and for being slap bang in the middle of the coral triangle, which means the diving and snorkelling are up there with the best on Earth.


If you look at any 'Top things to do in Lombok' list, most of the points will invariably talk about the famous islands of Gilli Trawangan, Air, and Meno.


When I was 15 years old I remember reading a Guardian article about some undiscovered secret islands, one of which was Gilli Trawangan.


I truly believe this article sparked my lust for far-off tropical places and mango trees. Anyhow, 17 years later Gilli Trawangan is not what it once was (think party boats and mushroom shakes), so on this trip I chose not to ruin my teenage dream and visit the Gillis at all, and you won't be reading about them in this post.



Lombok white beach and clear sea
Lombok beaches are awesome!

 


How to Get to Lombok


Lombok does have an international airport that currently only serves Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Most people tend to fly to Bali and then take a short domestic flight from there. These sit at about £60 one-way, all year round. Always check prices on Skyscanner and then book directly with the airline.


You can also take a ferry from Bali. I took mine from Nusa Penida, a little island off the east of Bali with a rustic feel and excellent scuba diving. There are public ferries which would cost you only a few pence, but being monsoon season, and aware of the horror stories, I chose a tourist ferry with an excellent safety record.


This claimed to take 2 hours but in actuality took 4 hours, including drop-offs at the Gilli Islands.


The ticket cost 400,000IDR (£22). They blared techno music from the roof and tried to sell us beers to enjoy the 'party boat'. I had to keep telling myself it was this or drowning on a rickety public ferry.



 


Why Visit Lombok?


Lombok vs Bali


Everyone in Lombok that we met was super nice. I have read some weird stuff online saying Lombok locals are quite hostile and I highly doubt this is true. Since tourism is a fairly new concept on the island, local people can be shy if they are not directly involved in the sector.


Joe and I were collected from the harbour by a prearranged taxi. It felt strange that our driver wasn't called Wayan, as we were getting quite used to that. Did you know that in Bali the firstborn is always called Wayan? Boy or girl. The secondborn is called Madde. The third Nyoman, the fourth Ketut. And if you have a 5th child? Back to Wayan. Almost everyone we met in Bali was called Wayan. Confusing much!? The taxi driver brought his wife and child for company, this is quite common in Indonesia, and the child slept in the boot while we made the 90-minute journey to our chosen place of stay: Kuta.


So for a start; the majority of people from Lombok are part of the Sasak ethnic group, who speak Sasak and practice Islam.


Bali on the other hand is mostly Hindu, and the beautiful temples and offerings left by the Balinese in the form of flowers lining the pavements outside their homes are probably what draws a lot of foreigners there... the allure of art and spirituality.


Lombok does not have these little mysticisms, but I immediately notice how much cleaner it is. The beaches are a thousand times nicer than Bali, there is a million times less traffic, and most of the landscape is green and lush.



Lombok panoramic view of green hills and dark skies
The less-visited north of Lombok

 


Where to Stay in Lombok


Most tourism is centred around three spots; Senggigi, Kuta and Mt. Rinjani.


Mt Rinjani is an active volcano in north Lombok, which you can trek quite adventurously in 2D1N. Most people recommend taking it a bit slower with a 3 or 4-day trek to soak up the magnificent views. Whatever length trek you choose it's still not recommended for casual walkers, being the second-highest volcano in Indonesia it's quite the challenge.


Sengiggi is the original tourist spot in Lombok, which some could say is a little past its heyday - with the word 'tacky' thrown about a fair bit. Joe and I chose to base ourselves in Kuta on the south coast. With an array of horse-shoe-shaped beaches to choose from, along with plenty of cafes that have copied and pasted their menus straight out of a Sydney brunch set, it's a pretty nice spot.


Kuta has numerous beautiful resorts at a fraction of the price of the West, all complete with infinity pools worthy of any influencer's backdrop. We chose to rather stay in a homestay, as we wanted to save money and also have a more family feel, as I always say, resorts can be anywhere... we're visiting LOMBOK.


We picked Herry's Homestay - a really cute bungalow-style accommodation about 10 10-minute walk from the action. I chose it specifically because it is a minute's walk from Mana Eco retreat which has an excellent Ashtanga programme I was interested in, and it's only £10 a night which is mine and Joe's budget for our trip around the world.



 

Not sure what to pack for your trip to Lombok? Check out the I Dream of Mangoes article:



 


When to Visit Lombok


WET: October - April

DRY: May - October


Okay so Lombok is one of those places you could visit all year round, you've just got to prioritise what's important to you.


Yeah, October to April does look like a long rainy season, but it's so unpredictable! It could be sunny for weeks on end, or just have a quick afternoon downpour and be done with it.


As a rule, December and January have the heaviest rain, and that's also when the herds of Aussies go to Bali for Christmas, which may spill over into Lombok.


May to October is the dry season, but it's also peak and can get a little busy, especially in the summer months of July and August. You can expect prices to skyrocket at these times as well, they will double, if not more. For me, I would choose to go when there are fewer people and take the hit of some rain. February and March are good for this but be warned, this is peak heat and can get to a stifling 97% humidity... Choose your battles!



 

FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE I normally have a browse on Travel Supermarket - there are some GREAT DEALS on there, and choose a cheap policy from a UK provider with a high Defaqto rating.


 


Things to Do in Lombok


1. SURF


The most popular thing to do in Lombok is surf. There are many, many surf spots all over the island. Some, like Desert Point, have been pegged as the best location in the world for expert surfing.


If you're an advanced surfer it's great, just bring your board, rent a moped, and have all of those monster breaks to yourself.


If you're a beginner surfer it's a different story. Most of the beginner breaks are far from the shore, so you'll need to pay 50,000 IDR (£3) to hitch a ride out on a little boat. Once you get there, you'll be sharing those waves with at least 50 other surfing plebs!


If you still want to give it a go, I recommend renting a surfboard from Turtle Warung on Tanjung Aan beach for 50,000IDR (£3). They don't specify when you need to return the board so I assume you can use it all day, but you'll be well tired before that. If you would like to take a lesson it will knock you back about 500,000 IDR (£30).


 

2. YOGA & SPA


There are quite a few yoga schools in both Sengiggi and Kuta, but I chose to practice at Mana Retreat specifically because I practice Ashtanga and they have a teacher who is authorised from SYC in Mysore. (Picky, I know!)


I paid 900,000IDR (£50) for a 10-class pass. The studio itself is really pretty and peaceful, and they have a restaurant on site serving delicious dragonfruit smoothie bowls for after class.


Visiting a spa is one of the best things to do in Lombok, and I am a firm believer that Balinese massage is the best style of massage in the world - and this is what you'll find in Lombok.


The on-site spa at Mana is fantastic, and a fraction of the price back home. I paid 220,000 IDR (£12) for a 60-minute massage. As a rule in Indonesia, I wouldn't spend less than 100,000 IDR on a massage. Unless you want a questionable patting from an untrained masseuse in a dingy room.



Dragon fruit smoothie bowl in coconut bowl
Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl at Mana


 


3. DIVING & SNORKELLING


Diving and snorkelling is another great thing to do in Lombok. For the best reefs, you'll need to head Southwest to the other Gillis. Yep, that's right, there are others! Gilli just means island - and the ones where you wanna snorkel are in Kecamatan Seketong.


Head to Blongas Bay to dive with Hammerheads or Gilli Nanggu to snorkel. You can rent a moped for 50,000 IDR (£3) a day in Lombok, explore the quiet coastline of Seketong and maybe make a stop at Desert Point to watch the pro surfers!


 


4. TREK MT. RINJANI


There are two main points of entry to Rinjani National Park; the villages of Sembalun and Senaru. You normally depart from one village and descend to the other.


Trekking Mt Rinjani is one of the most popular things to do in Lombok, and most people go for the 3D2N trek, as this gives you just enough time to climb to the summit and also visit the crater lake and hot springs.


You're looking at about £250 per person for a 3D2N, and before you even consider it, it's suicide to go without a guide, as the trails are not really maintained and it's a very challenging walk. The last 4km to the summit (in the dark to reach there for sunrise) takes 4 hours!



Mt Rinjani crater
Mt Rinjani Crater


 


5. HELP SCHOOL CHILDREN WITH THEIR ENGLISH


I always try to include a bit of volunteering in my adventures and this travel guide for Lombok is no exception. You can use Workaway to find a volunteer placement in East Lombok, which is the part of the island that sees very few tourists.


The teachers here are really keen to get their students to speak English well so that they have more job opportunities later in life.


The host will normally offer accommodation and meals in exchange for a few hours of teaching each day - and you don't need to be an experienced teacher to help. I taught English for a few weeks in Sukabumi in Java, and while it was terrifying at first I soon learnt that the students were more scared than me, and all I really had to do was talk to them to improve their confidence.



I Dream of Mangoes teaching English in Indonesia
Me and Marie teaching English in Indonesia

 


6. LOUNGE IN MANY CUTE CAFES


In complete honesty, it's a lot of style over substance here. As I said before, the dishes seem to be copied and pasted out of an Aussie brunch menu but are lacking in flavour and quality.


Ashtari and Siwa both had the best views, perched on the mountaintop looking over Kuta beach. Ashtari wins in vibe and yummy Indian food, and Siwa wins in serving up a beautiful infinity pool anyone can use.

For eating, the best Western joints were The Mexican in Town and KRNK. The former has super authentic tacos and margaritas and at KRNK the burgers are great.


For Indonesian food, Mia Mia's and Warung Flora both served up simple and tasty dishes for less than £1 with great service and a bustling atmosphere.



 


How Long to Spend in Lombok


If you're gonna hike Mt Rinjani I would say 10 days is a good amount of time.


This would mean 5 days in North Lombok, and you could then head down to Kuta for your remaining 5 days for yoga, surfing, relaxing and exploring the south of Lombok by bike.


I strongly suggest pairing your trip to Lombok with another location in Indonesia and diving in Komodo is one of the best things I have ever done. You can easily get to Flores from Lombok by boat or two quick flights and you won't regret it!!



 


All in All


To finish this travel guide for Lombok, let's quickly run through the pros and cons of visiting Indonesia (including Lombok) in a nutshell...



NEGATIVES


  1. Litter is a huge problem, like really bad. Although Lombok is one of the cleanest islands I've seen.

  2. A few animal charities are helping, like Lombok Animal Rescue, but the plight of stray dogs and cats starving or suffering from curable diseases can be upsetting to see.

  3. There is a lot of deforestation, which is sad for obvious reasons.

  4. The food is not great. Mie and Nasi Goreng get boring very quickly.



POSITIVES


  1. The scuba diving and snorkelling are, IMO the best in the world.

  2. There are many amazing places to go surfing.

  3. Resorts are beautifully designed and a fraction of the price of the West.

  4. The people are lovely, the hospitality is generally good and with a mix of cultures, there's always a pretty temple of some kind to go and see.

  5. The landscape is spectacular, especially if you're into trekking.

  6. It has the second highest level of biodiversity in the world (after Brazil), for people who like wildlife and bird watching. Fun fact: Indonesia is the only place on Earth where Rhinos, Orangutans, Elephants, Bears, and Tigers can be found living in the same forest.



That's a lot of positive things to bring you to Indonesia, and it's well worth including a stop in Lombok on your itinerary.



 


Thank you for reading my travel guide for Lombok: everything you need to know before you go. If you enjoyed the read, please consider subscribing to my blog where I post articles every week about my current travels.


Check out my blog posts on planning your trip around the world or on how to travel for longer for more advice and inspiration.


Happy Travels!

xx



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Disclosure:
I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That being said, I only link to products I use and love.

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