Why I choose Lombok to spend my 4 month of winter is simple: I love warm climates.
Normally I’m living on my sailing boat in Greece, where winter days range from ‘bearable’ to ‘freezing’, depending where you are. My berth is in Pylos Marina and temperatures get down to 10°-12° which I don’t like. I visited Lombok from start December till end of March.
Nature on Lombok is stunning.
If you avoid the main roads you will see green all around you. It varies from large ricefields to beautiful forests. There is a fair amount of waterfalls all around the main item on the island: Mt Rinjani. You can visit them all with the help of a guide. Of course, you can rent a scooter and do it on your own too, but the guides know the nice spots, so it’s worth getting one, depending on your traveling budget. Mind: the mountain can not be used for trekking/hiking in the rainy season. Some guides offer trekking anyway, they like your money, but officially it’s forbidden because of the possibility of damaging the tracks and landslides. If you absolutely want to visit the crater lake you have to come after April and before January.
My visit was in the rainy season. As you may expect, that is the period where rain may fall. Don’t worry, I only had 3 days of almost continues rain, 80% of the days was without rain and the rest had a shower every now and then. But even the days with some rain were dry for about 75% and the rain tends to fall in the (late) afternoon or night. You can see it coming over Rinjani. Whatever season, the temperature is around 28°, plus or minus 4° depending on the weather and day/night time.
Travelling in Lombok can be done in many ways.
- Taxi with a meter, they transport you the 15km from center Senggigi to Epicenter, Mataram, for only ±70kRp*. Install the BlueBird app or wait by the side of the road.
- Driver with car who transports you for an agreed price which may be a little lower than a taxi.
- Go-Jek is a scooter driver system where you sit on the buddy seat. They will charge you ±30kRp for the ride. Install the GoJek app or wait by the side of the road.
- Rent a scooter for ±60kRp and drive yourself and your friend.
- Rent a bicycle for ±50KRp and be sporty.
- Walking is only an option for (very) short distances, unless you are a very sporty person and used to the heat.
I have stayed in different places in Lombok.
I could choose big hotels which don’t fit in my budget. They are nice though, with large swimming pools and close to the beach. I used homestays which were booked via AirBnB and booking.com. It’s an easy straightforward way of booking and you will find most of them on google maps. Alternativeæy you book only the first place from home and talk with the other travellers about nice and cosy hostels. Since I was here in rainy season, there were many rooms vacant. In high season you will probably not be able to do so. Homestays have different levels, most are very nice with good rooms and beds, western toilet and proper shower.
Main roads are good to very good.
It actually is amazing to find this quality of road on the island. But, as soon as you leave the main road you may find every quality that you may think of, varying from dirt road to roads with bigger and smaller holes. Don’t drive too fast through villages, you may encounter unexpected ‘homemade’ bumps. Traffic on all roads is terrible. Expect to be overtaken by somebody who is overtaken by somebody who is overtaken by ……. etc. Lines on roads have no meaning, they are crossed by anybody who wants to be faster than the other person. There is quiet some honking done by the fast drivers. With my rented bicycle a transported myself many kilometers on the beautiful island.
To be able to stay on Lombok (actually Indonesia) you need a visa.
The one you can get on arrival is only valid for 1 month. You can also first visit an embassy abroad and get one there. In that way I bought a visa for 60 days and had two extensions of 1 month each. Extending a visa is not really difficult, nevertheless I had it done by an agent for 700kRp each. Google about visa extension, there are lots of articles you can find, even how to do yourself, which cost only 350kRp.
Lombok is called the island of a thousand mosques.
And that is correct as far as I can see. No, I didn’t count them, but I cycled many kilometers on this place and I have seen so many mosques, it’s unbelievable. Some mosques are standing less than 100m apart. The first homestay I lived in was right opposite a mosque. Big mistake, but they told me it’s not that bad and you get used to it. Forget it, you don’t get used to 5 times a day very loud, believe me, really very loud, calling for prayer. And, as I experienced, you can sometimes hear prayer calling from 4-5 different mosque at the same time. I did not get used to that in those 4 month. What also struck me was the state the mosques are in. All beautifully built and painted, in the middle of poor slumlike huts that the people live in. Why this inequality?
Shopping can be done in different levels.
There are hundreds of small shops that sell you whatever you want. If you want imported goods you have to visit the supermarkets that are also in abundance in the villages. Small shops sell cheap stuff, supermarkets take their price for the imported goods. If you want cheese or yoghurt, count on paying double or more. Do visit Epicentrum and Mataram Mall in Mataram. It’s another style and mostly for the people that have better income.
All around Lombok you will find beaches.
But by far the best beaches are in the south. From Kuta you can visit some of them when you rent a scooter. They are pure white dusty sand, they all have small warung where you can buy some food and drinks and all are very good for surfing. Most beaches are suitable for snorkeling. You may find many small fish and a lot of (unfortunately mostly dead) coral. Best for snorkeling are the Gili’s, the small islands that you can visit. You can also book a boat for a x-island tour. They know where to go and may have equipment for rent to you. If you want to bring your diving/free diving to another level you can book courses many places and get your license.
You should visit the Gili’s anyway, not only for snorkeling. You will enjoy the quietness as motorized traffic is forbidden on all of them. Horse carriages will bring you anywhere or you can rent a bicycle.
Here you’ll also find a chapter of the Hash House Harriers.
HHH is a group of people that meet 3 times a week for Walking/Hiking/Running. You will find a contact to the group by searching on Facebook. As they have various start points for their activities you may try to get a ride from one of the participaters.
For connecting to the Internet you can buy an Indonesian sim-card.
Prices are very reasonable. For 20Gb-30Gb you will pay between 100kRp-200kRp. The quality of the connection is varying. Speed is good enough to watch a movie if you can accept the occasional lag.
Do not drink water directly from the tap.
Not even the local people will do so. With that said, neither me nor my friends had any problems with water from taking a shower, where it’s inevitable that you get a little tap water inside. At many places (hostels and homestays) you can fill up your bottle for free. Drinking coffee or tea from boiled tap water doesn’t cause any problem.
In my 4 month I only had a minor diarree event, a friend, staying one month, had a weeklong minor bacterial infection that was cured by medicines. Don’t hesitate to visit a doctor or a clinic, it’s not worth waiting. They are easily found, just ask the local people. A simple treatment may cure you easily.
The cause of these 2 minor disease cases was food. I was in doubt already by the semi-dirty hands of the guy preparing my coconut, the infection probably had to do with hygiene. You cannot always avoid it, just be prepared for the serious stuff by taking the vaccines that your health organisation suggests you to take.
Mosquito is annoying.
Not more than annoying, there are not so many, never heard of malaria in those 4 month. Another story is noseeums. If you are sensitive for these bastards, take care. For me it meant closing the door and window after sundown and living inside with ventilator or dressing with long sleeves and trousers when outside. They are way more annoying than mosquitos.
To learn about what’s happening on Lombok join the FB-group ‘Loving Lombok’. In that group you’ll find a wealth of information and you may ask questions and get fast replies. For example, if you need a driver to the airport or a guide for a day tour or to visit the Elephant Parc, just write a post in that group and you’ll get your offer.
Prices and Money
The currency in Indonesia is IDR, Indonesian Rupee.
The value for European visitors is easiest calculated like:
100.000IDR = 100kRp = 6€
You can easily be a millionaire when you get money from the ATM: 3.000.000IDR equals 190€
Food prices can be as low as 15kRp=1€ for a small meal in a warung along the road.
In many restaurants in the villages you will be able to have a good meal plus a large Bintang (beer) for 100-150kRp=6-9€. (kRp stands for thousand Rupee)
All together Lombok is a beautiful island and absolutely worth a visit if you want to escape the more touristic experience of Bali.
By using Google, Instagram, Pinterest etc you will find loads of info about what to do and experience.
Have fun, I did ;)
The money I spent:
|Item||% of total||Per Item||Per day|
Explanation of the table:
- Transport is taxi, GoJek etc No flights included.
- Food includes all the food I had, inclusive restaurants, the beer I drank and the ±20% tip. Alcohol is relatively expensive. Large beer is 40kRp, wine I never bought, simply too expensive.
- Data is my internet connection that I had by using an Indonesian sim-card
- Shopping. Before I went here I new I would buy clothes as I didn’t have too many. Now I do haha, In the Epicenter, in the shop Matahari, you can buy fairly cheap.
- Div means mostly that I forgot what I used the money for :)
- Excursion is trips we made with driver and or guide
- Rent is all the expenses I had for renting room. You can do cheaper, I always had my own room with shower and toilet. Dormitory are cheaper
- Visa is the price I paid for my 2 extensions. Base visa was 2 mmonth, extension per month.