This article was originally on GET.com at: Lombok Travel Guide: A Beach Paradise For Nature Lovers
Lombok has increasingly become a popular travel destination for Singaporeans in recent years, even though Bali has always been THE travel destination for beach holidays. There's no reason for Singaporeans to miss out an equally, if not better, neighbour for a quieter but similarly fantastic weekend getaway.
Offering many stretches of quiet beaches to explore, lush forests, rice field views and home to Indonesia's second-highest volcano, Lombok has so much to offer and is often seen as the next Bali-to-be. If you are looking for your next beach getaway, read GET.com's Lombok Travel Guide to help you plan your next holiday in Lombok!
Top Things To See In Lombok
SilkAir and Garuda Airlines are some of the airlines flying from Singapore to Lombok, although the latter does not offer any direct flights.
Since Lombok is less commercialised than Bali, you can expect most of the island to be less tourist-oriented as most confine themselves to the tourist district of Sengigi.
However, this does not mean that you shouldn't explore! The best way to see the island is perhaps to hire a driver or to rent your own motorbike.
And one of the top things to do is to explore the various stretches of beautiful beaches!
Explore Lombok's Numerous Beaches
The funny thing is that when I was staying in Sengigi, I didn't really come across any beaches that blew my mind.
Sengigi beach was kind of...alright. In the area there were many luxurious resorts with infinity pools but after checking online, I realised that most of the superb white-sand beaches were situated on the southern part of the island!
A couple of quiet and pristine beaches to explore include - Mawun beach, Selong Belanak Beach and Tanjung Aan. Be warned though, as these parts of the island are not well-developed for tourism, you might find a lack of restaurants or bars, if you are expecting any.
I'd advise you to pack your own mats, picnic basket and water and ravel in the blue waters and soft, white sand! Oh and if you're up for some surfing, these beaches might be what you are looking for.
Hunt For Waterfalls
If you love nature, Lombok offers some lush forests for a few short hours of trekking and hunting for waterfalls!
There are a few natural waterfalls around the islands to look out for, but most require you to do some trekking in order to enjoy the wonderful view and cold water from these aqueous wonders.
One of these is the Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep Waterfall. The area is about a 2.5 hour drive from Sengigi. When starting your trek, be ready to get your feet wet though, as you'd need to get across water twice (better to wear shoes). Both waterfalls are within a 20-minute walk from each other.
Another waterfall to explore is Benang Stokel. However, only come here if you have a guide as one of the main problems in this area is that while the park is free, there are some people who are trying to get tourists to pay them "fees" just to enter the park.
The area is also fairly deserted with no stalls around, so it could become dangerous if you refuse to pay. The great thing about going with a bike is that you go through most of the local villages and get to see them at work in the rice fields.
Top Things To Do In Lombok
Visit The Gili Islands
The Gili Islands are well known for their white beaches and turquoise waters and a good thing is that they are super accessible from Lombok!
Getting to these islands is very easy - you can take a public ferry or go to the harbour where there are lots of operators offering private speed boat rides. You can reach Gili in less than one hour.
There are three Gili islands, so take your pick according to your fancy! Gili Trawangan seems to be more popular, catering to party goers with loads of accommodations, restaurants and bars.
Gili Meno is known to cater to honeymooners as it's more secluded and appreciated for its quieter atmosphere.
Gili Air provides a bit of both and is popular because of its proximity to Lombok. Be warned though, that the beach can get pretty busy with lots of boats coming in and out and people doing water sports.
Other than lazing on the beach, you may even consider staying a day or two. Other activities to do on Gili include snorkeling, stand-up paddling, going on party boats and you can even get on a "glass-bottomed boat" to have a look at the marine life without getting wet!
One of the things that surprised me on Gili is that there's a number of horse-driven carts that can be hired for tourists. Locally, they are known as Cidomo. It might be fun to take a ride for a short distance if that suits your fancy.
Challenge Yourself At Mount Rinjani
Mount Rinjani is an active volcano in Indonesia standing at 3,726 metres, it is the second highest volcano in Indonesia.
There are various types of trekking packages offered by tour operators, ranging from 6 days to a minimum of 2 days.
Be warned though, the trek will not be easy but you will be greatly rewarded with the wonderful views.
Most companies will offer an overnight camp at the crater rim and you can also expect to have a fantastic view of the deep blue Danau Segara Anak volcanic lake.
Rent A Bike To Explore The Island
If you've got a bike license, I highly recommend renting a motorbike to explore the islands. We had a nice ride along the roads which gives you a nice view of the Gili Islands and the opportunity to chance upon some roadside stalls that sell the cheapest and most delicious food!
Exploring with a bike also gives you the liberty to stop wherever you want. For instance, we came upon a deserted beach and simply decided to stop there for some chilling-out time.
We shared the entire stretch of beach with less than 10 people all afternoon!
What To Eat In Lombok
Similar to other Indonesian islands, Lombok has a variety of Indonesian food to choose from. Some of the best places to eat are roadside stalls.
On my trip, I never came across any "bad" food; almost every order turned out wonderful, no matter how cheap or expensive the dish was.
Some food to try include nasi campur (a local way of our "economic rice"), nasi goreng, BBQ seafood and satay.
Often found on the menu and prepared in different renditions across restaurants is a unique chicken dish from Lombok called ayam taliwang.
Most eateries use a small chicken to cook this dish, often cutting it open and cleaning the insides before grilling.
While you might think that it's just grilled chicken, the kick is in the sambal that's smothered over the top of the chicken. It's often served with a side of kang kong and eggplant with rice. You really need to try this!
The best way to experience authentic Indonesian food is of course, to eat in a local restaurant. You will find a number of these "warungs" in Sengigi, although many seem to have given way to more touristic restaurants. Eating at warungs is usually cheaper as they are operated mostly as a small family business.
If you are looking for a romantic spot and somewhere a little more upscale, I chanced upon a rooftop restaurant in Svarga Resorts.
Absolutely wonderful to bring your partner to admire the sunset by the swimming pool before having a nice meal. They serve modern Indonesian cuisine, and offer quite a variety on their menu.
Where To Shop In Lombok
As mentioned earlier, Lombok is more laid back compared to its more popular cousin Bali, so a shopping culture isn't really well established here.
There is just a old mall called Mataram Mall which you can probably drop by if you are around the area, but I wouldn't really recommend making a trip there.
There is, however, a great supermarket if you need some snacks and drinks to bring back to your hotel.
Last I read, there's a new mall that has opened in the last quarter of 2015 that looks somewhat more promising for shopaholics - Lombok Epicentrum Mall.
There's a supermarket for your grocery/drink needs, a Starbucks cafe and a J.CO donuts. As it is pretty new, many shops are still closed.
However, if you are staying at Gili T, there's a night market that you can visit there that sells cheap food, especially great for seafood lovers!
Money-Saving Tips For Your Trip To Lombok
The good news is that Lombok is very cheap so if you spend most of your time chilling at the beach and eating out in local restaurants or food stalls you won't even get close to blowing your budget.
You can save money on accommodation by booking your hotel or resort on Agoda.com to get the best hotel rates in Lombok.
Since your main expense will most likely be the plane ticket, make sure to use a travel credit cards to rake up some miles, points or cashback that you can later use to pay for part (or all) of your next holiday!
Lynette Tan is a contributing writer at GET.com, a lifestyle and personal finance website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.