Lombok is an island in the West Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia. It is part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the Alas Strait between it and Sumbawa to the east.
Located just east of Bali, Lombok in many ways lives up to or exceeds the promotional term, "an unspoiled Bali". With beautiful beaches, enchanting waterfalls, the large, looming volcano of Mount Rinjani combined with relatively few tourists, Lombok is indeed the paradisiacal tropical island that many people still mistakenly imagine Bali to be now.
Lombok and Bali are separated by the Lombok Strait. It is also part of the bio-geographical boundary between the fauna of Indo-Malaysia and the distinctly different fauna of Australasia. The boundary is known as the Wallacean Line, after Alfred Russell Wallace who first remarked upon the striking difference between animals of Indo-Malaysia and those of Australasia and how abrupt the boundary was between the two biomes.
Calling Lombok paradise does not mean it is all things for all people. With a few exceptions, the natural landscape and the traditional way of life have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Virtually all small to medium size businesses are run by local families. Many of these businesses sell a wide variety of merchandise, where villagers can find food, hardware, and toys all in a single small store. While it is possible to find five-star hotels run by global corporations this is the exception not the rule. The ubiquitous global fast food franchises are restricted to two outlets in the precincts of Mataram Mall in the main City of Lombok and are well sign-posted.
In the Indigenous language of the Sasak people of Lombok the word "lombok" luum-book which literally translates into Bahasa Indonesian as as lurus ("straight ahead").
A common misunderstanding is that the name of the island Lombok is derived from the Bahasa Indonesian meaning of lombok which is chilli or (cabe in Bahasa Indonesian) as is thought by many visitors and some Indonesians from other parts of the archipelago.
History of tourism
The dominant Sasak culture in Lombok and the very restrained and quiet nature of its people may help explain why Lombok is less popular in terms of shopping, cuisine, and nightlife than Bali. Lombok is however becoming increasingly popular with tourists and honeymooners who want to relax in an inexpensive, tropical, un-crowded atmosphere, with many natural treasures and majestic scenery. Nothing happens quickly in Lombok and visitors who are stressed from their daily lives find Lombok a delightful place to unwind.
The anticipated tourism boom has been halted on several occasions. In 2000, mobs of the ethnic Sasak people, ostensibly provoked by fundamentalist Muslim agitators, diverted from a trip to Maluku, looted and burned churches as well as homes and businesses owned by Hindus and ethnic Chinese. These actions were actively resisted by many of the Sasak people and brought on a swift response from the authorities to protect the tourism precincts of the island. The bombing of nightclubs in Bali in 2002 and the further explosions in 2005 further exacerbated the fears held by foreign tourists. For many years the embassies of several countries have issued stern travel advisory warnings against travel to Indonesia. The ensuing years have remained very peaceful in Lombok. In the years 2010-2011 tourists appear to have regained some confidence that travel to the island is safe. The fears and apprehension amongst many international tourists concerning travel to Lombok appear to be entirely unsupported. Aside from minor and very isolated incidents of petty theft and the normal dangers of travelling on the roads in Indonesia the island remains a quiet, peaceful and safe destination for visitors. Lombok is a relaxing place, the warm tropical sun can normally slowly melt a sense of urgency and a hurried pace off most visitors
A new international airport the Bandar Udara Internasional Lombok and associated infrastructure has been built and came into service on 1 October 2011.
Lombok has a rich and enduring indigenous culture that has withstood the pressures of modernity remarkably well. The strong remnant culture and history of the Sasak people is one of the many unique attractions of the island. The island has of a total population of 3,166,685 (as of 2010 Census), 85% are indigenous Sasak people whose origins are thought to have arisen from Java in the first millennium BC. Other residents include an estimated 10–15% Balinese, with the small remainder being Tionghoa-peranakan, Javanese, Sumbawanese and Arab Indonesians. The Sasak people are culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike the Hindu Balinese, the majority practice local Muslim faith and traditions.
Some have described Islam as being first brought to Lombok by traders arriving from Sumbawa in the 17th century who then established a following in eastern Lombok. Other accounts describe the first influences arriving in the first half of the 16th century. The palm leaf manuscript Babad Lombok contains the history of Lombok and describes how Sunan Prapen was sent by his father, The Susuhunan Ratu of Giri, on a military expedition to Lombok and Sumbawa in order to convert the population and propagate the new religion. However the new religion took on a highly syncretistic character, frequently mixing animist and Hindu-Buddhist beliefs and practices with Islam. This remained so until a more orthodox Sunni characterised version of Islam slowly began to become popular in the beginning of the 20th century. The Indonesian government agamaization programs (acquiring of a religion) in Lombok during 1967 and 1968 led to a period of some considerable confusion in religious allegiances and practices. These agamaization programs later led to the emergence of more conformity in religious practices in Lombok.
A notable non-orthodox Islamic group found only on Lombok are the Wektu Telu ("Three Prayers"), who as the name suggests pray only 3 times daily, instead of the 5 times stipulated in the Quran. Many of the Waktu Telu beliefs are entwined with animism. Waktu Telu has influences not only of Islam, but also Hinduism and pantheistic beliefs. There are also remnants of Boda (people without a religion) who maintain Pagan Sasak beliefs.
Before the arrival of Islam Lombok experienced a long period of Hindu and Buddhist influence that reached the island through Java. To this day a minority Balinese Hindu culture remains strong in Lombok.
The Hindu minority religion is still practised in Lombok alongside the majority Muslim religion. Hinduism is followed by the many ethnic Balinese who have travelled across the Lombok Strait from Bali as well as some people of indigenous Sasak origin.
All the main Hindu religious ceremonies are celebrated in Lombok and there are many villages throughout Lombok that have a Hindu majority population. According to local legends two of the oldest villages on the island, Bayan and Sembalun, were founded by a prince of Majapahit.
The Nagarakertagama, the 14th century palm leaf poem that was found on Lombok, places the island as one of the vassals of the Majapahit empire. This manuscript contained detailed descriptions of the Majapahit Kingdom and also affirmed the importance of Hindu-Buddhism in the Majapahit empire by describing temple, palaces and several ceremonial observances.
Lombok experienced a period of Balinese occupation until the Dutch colonial government reinstated the Sasak rulers in the early 1890s following a direct appeal from the deposed Sasak rulers to the Dutch colonialists asking them to assist in driving out the Balinese occupiers. After a protracted, costly and destructive military campaign the Dutch eventually overwhelmed the Balinese with a bloody battle fought around Ampernan and Mataram. The Dutch took the Nagarakretagama manuscript as part of the valuable Lombok treasure taken as war-booty from the destroyed palace of Mataram-Cakranagara in Lombok in 1894. Following the defeat of the Balinese occupiers the people of Lombok remained under Dutch colonial control of the Netherlands East Indies until the Japanese occupied Lombok in the 1940s.
There is also a small Arab community in Lombok whose history dates back to early settlement by traders from Yemen. The small community is still evident mainly in Ampenan, the old port of Mataram and retain many of their own traditions.
A UNHCR refugee centre was established some years ago in Lombok. Recently people of Iraqi origin have arrived in Lombok under the provisions of this UNHCR program. Many of the displaced have remained in a state of limbo in Lombok whilst trying to seek immigration to nearby Australia or elsewhere. Some of these refugees have intermarried with Lombok residents, this adding adding their own subtle cultural influence to Lombok.
There are also a small number of people predominantly of European, Australian and New Zealand origins who are resident or semi-permanent residents of Lombok. Some are retirees, others have business activities in Lombok or nearby or they are employed in the mining industries of Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB'). Most are living in the coastal areas of West Lombok.
Lombok has individual settlers and small communities of Indonesian people from other areas including Bali,Jawa, Sumbawa, and Timor as well as other areas of Indonesia but the prevailing and dominant culture remains that of the Sasak people.
Many influences of animist belief still prevail within the Sasak community. Traditional magic is widely practised to ward off evil and illness, to seek good fortune or to assist with the resolution of disputations and personal antipathy. There are a range of outcomes sought from local Dukun (traditional healer and magician) ranging from love spells to death. Thieves will often have magic used upon them so that their bodies will become 'hot' leading to a confession, a frequent trespasser may become disoriented and become 'lost' or a boy may fall under a girls spell of desire and fall in love with her. Magic may be practised by an individual alone but normally a person experienced in such things is sought out to render a service. Normally money or gifts are made to this person in return for their services and the most powerful practitioners are treated with considerable respect.
While tropical, hot and humid, Lombok is drier than neighbouring Bali, which makes it a particularly attractive option during the Oct-Apr rainy season (it rains on Lombok too, but rarely for more than an hour or two). The peak of the tourist season, though, is May-August.
The main local language is Bahasa Sasak, the language of the indigenous Sasak people of Lombok. Bahasa Sasak is normally spoken throughout Lombok and has dialectal variations across the island. Bahasa Indonesia is also spoken or at least understood by many local people and will normally be used in government offices, larger shops and businesses. In the more remote and undeveloped areas of Lombok however, Bahasa Indonesia is not frequently used and often cannot be understood by the local people, especially the elderly and those who have missed out on formal schooling.
English is reasonably common in the resort areas and occasionally some other European languages are spoken by people involved in the tourism sector.
International flights are currently limited to direct services from Singapore (SIN) 3 times per week, Perth (PER)4 times per week and daily from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) in Malaysia directly and a different airline with a technical stop in Surabaya in East Java and limited seasonal charter services by Nordwind Airlines to Novosibirsk-Tolmachevo in Russia.
Domestic flights operating to and from Lombok are often delayed and occasionally cancelled without notice. Allow generous time in transit between flights most especially those with international connections.
Visa and departure tax
Visitors arriving in Lombok from a point of origin outside Indonesia and clearing customs and immigration at Lombok's international airport may require the purchase of a visa on arrival (VOA). As of January 2010, the only type of visa on arrival available is US$35.00 for 30 days. This may be extended later at the local immigration office for a further once only period of up to 30 days. (The previous 7 day visa on arrival is no longer available). Exact change in US dollars is recommended, although a selection of other major currencies including Rupiah are accepted, and any change will usually be given in Rupiah. See the main Indonesia article for details. VOA facilities are available for incoming International passengers arriving at the Lombok international terminal. Arriving passengers are passed through VOA (visa on arrival) issuance if applicable, then subsequently processed through immigration clearance channels for VOA, Non VOA (if the visa has been obtained prior to the time of departure), Visa waiver (for eligible nationalities) and a separate channel for Indonesian passport holders. Baggage retrieval is followed by customs and quarantine examinations including baggage X-ray checkpoints.
For information of other types of visas including the Visa waiver program please see the main Indonesia article for details.
Indonesian airports normally levy departure taxes upon departing passengers. If you are departing for Lombok from another Indonesian airport you may have to pay a departure tax at that airport. When flying out of Lombok, you are subject to the airports departure tax which can be paid in cash Indonesian Rupiah only, so save some Rupiah currency for the trip out. The airport departure tax is Rp 25,000 for domestic departures and Rp 100,000 for international departures.
For domestic flights, it may assist to work with a reputable travel agent to ensure accurate information regarding which airlines are flying to which locations and the price. Different airlines frequently both their schedule and their routes depending upon consumer demand and aircraft availability. Do not depend on information from the airlines either by telephone or provided on the internet by tourism information and internet booking sites as it is frequently out of date.
From the airport
By airport bus
The DAMRI public bus provides scheduled services from Bandara Internasional Lombok to either Mataram or Senggigi. The buses serving the route have a capacity of up to 40 passengers, depending upon the bus used. The fare from/to Mataram’s Mandalika Bus Terminal is Rp 25,000 and from/to Senggigi it is Rp 35,000. A transfer at Mandalika Bus Terminal may possibly be required on some services.
Although there may be some daily variations the schedules are providing services from Senggigi, departing from near the Art Market, and proceeding to the airport at intervals of 1.5 hours. The first bus leaves at 03:30 and the last service departs from Senggigi at 20:00.
Allow a generous margin for delays if using the service toward the airport to ensure that you arrive at the airport in sufficient time to check-in for your departing flight.
Services departing from Mandalika bus terminal on the eastern outskirts of Mataram leave every hour, the first service to the airport departs at 04:00 and the last one departs at 19:00. The bus terminal is provided with an air-conditioned waiting room for the DAMRI passengers arriving from or departing to the airport.
Bluebird taxis are normally readily available in Senggigi and in Mataram to fulfill any requirements for travel onward to other destinations.
At the airport the DAMRI bus counter may be found toward the far end of the terminal forecourt. Turn right as you leave the terminal central forecourt.
The DAMRI counter is a freestanding structure near the main terminal roadway and is normally staffed by uniformed DAMRI employees. The DAMRI staff will assist you with departure times and boarding the appropriate vehicle. If not wearing a readily identifiable DAMRI uniform then the person is not a DAMRI employee.
Airport taksi are provided for arriving passengers at Lombok's airport.
Airport Taksi, provided by the Airport Taxi Koperasi previously serving Selaparang Airport are provided, plus a limited number of Bluebird metered taxi, and Express metered taxi.
Passengers arriving at the airport by air and wishing to depart from the airport by taxi are required to purchase an airport taxi surcharge coupon. Pay the surcharge, take the coupon provided and proceed to the taxi rank. Journeys are charged by time and distance travelled using a standard taxi meter.
Some taxi drivers may well be happy to drive you around and help you to find somewhere to stay when you first arrive, sometimes they may discreetly gain a small commission from the hotel you choose.
Please do not be mislead by taxi touts. Use only official taxis and ignore any advice or encouragement to use informal operators. The official taxis are clearly identifiable and marked with either Airport Taksi, Bluebird taxi, or Express taxi markings and rooftop signs. (Disagree) On Lombok, the touts often offer considerably lower fares than the metered taxis. For example, travelling from the airport to the Gili Island ferry terminals costs 250,000R, but the touts at the airport were offering trips for as low as 150,000R. The same is true going the other way
Lombok has two companies providing radio despatched taxi services, both use meters (taksi berargo).
BlueBird (Lombok Taksi)  and Express Taksi can only drop off at the Selaparang Airport terminals in Lombok and cannot pickup passengers inside the airport grounds. This situation is apparently going to change when the new airport opens, please see the detail on Airport taxis above.
A metered taxi from the Bandara Internasional Lombok location to Senggigi cost will be approximately Rp 125,000-155,000, to the city of Mataram/Ampenan maybe around Rp 75,000-100,000. It is understood that the Airport Taksi will commence using meters for journeys from the new airport. Journey time from the principal tourism precinct of Senggigi is 70-120 min depending upon traffic with a normal travel time of around 70 minutes.
Some of the larger hotels offer pick up transfers to and from the airport. You will need to book ahead for this. Private operators often offer transport services at the airport and any such transactions should be approached with caution to ensure that their fees and vehicle are appropriate. It should also be understood that many of the private transport operators are very likely to discreetly seek a commission from the hotel they take you to. These payments are sometimes sought even if you have already made a prior booking at the destination hotel. Often these operators offer a sincere and valuable service and work hard using their local knowledge to assist in finding their guest suitable accommodation to their needs. Some however are just touts and opportunists, accordingly discretion and common sense should be used in becoming involved with one of these guides or private transport operators.
No parking fee should be payable on exit from the Lombok Airport unless you have booked a private transfer and a waiting time has been accrued. Charges are displayed on an information board at the booth.
The passenger is responsible for paying the airport parking fee if their taxi is entering the airport. Provide and extra Rp 4,000 to the driver to get them out of the airport after dropping you at the terminal.
Private vehicle access
Private vehicles including cars, shuttle buses, buses and motorbikes may access the airport's public parking area and terminal drop off zones by entering through the main terminal gate.
A timed parking fee is payable at the exit gate. This fee is payable by all vehicles entering the airport including taxi, cars and motorbikes, a time stamped ticket is provided at the entrance gate booth.
If you're going to the Gili Islands, there are many speedboat services directly from Bali; see Gilli islands article for details. A range of connecting services continue on towards mainland Lombok. Searching on the Internet can give you the latest information on which companies are providing service to Lombok.
If you rent a motorbike on Bali for a few weeks or months, and the motorbike owner/shop permits you to travel outside of Bali with their vehicle (consult them if unclear, and ask to state this permission in your rental agreement if they're ok), it may worth taking it to Lombok on the slow ferry and drive around there. The price for transporting the motorbike plus one of two people is Rp 105,000. You must have your passport, valid International Driving License, plus the vehicle registration (STNK) card. To avoid any problems have the owners' number handy, and advise them in advance of when, where and for how many days you plan to leave Bali.
Flores and Sumbawa
Ferries run from Labuhan Lombok on the east coast to Poto Tano on Sumbawa. Since arranging your own transport on both sides can be fiddly and expensive, it's cheaper to arrange this through any travel agent, many of whom offer fares across Sumbawa and onward to Flores. Perama Tour  is the largest operator, with offices in Senggigi and various points around Bali.
Some companies also offer direct cruises via Komodo/Rinca to Flores. The trip takes around 4 days, much of it across open water, costs around US$100, and the companies usually use boats with no navigation or safety equipment other than some lifejackets (i.e. possibly no radio, flares or life rafts).
Exercise some caution if booking package tours. Apart from the journey itself being tortuously slow, hotels and agents will happily sell you tickets without even checking whether the ferries are running (they are sometimes suspended for days at a time for bad weather, especially if one has sunk recently), and the bus companies will happily drive you to the ferry terminal knowing that there are no ferries departing for the next 20+ hr. At this point, your travel company may suggest either a very expensive private boat or a suddenly very expensive ride back to the nearest town to get a hotel.
They also often have a surprise extra charge - levied after you've paid for the original ticket and the original ticket seller is long gone - for baggage over 10 kg, with the actual amount being random within the same company depending on who is demanding it (Rp 125,000 is not unknown). This information is printed on the bus ticket you receive when you hand in the original sales receipt, so there's no way to know about it prior to purchase.
On the north western coast of Lombok the newly established Medana Bay Marina has twenty five mooring buoys in more than 5m of water for 35 ft-45 ft vessels and anchorage space for another twenty vessels. The marina facilities were newly established in 2009 and hosted over 90 yachts during the Sail Indonesia event in September 2009 and 2010.
See the Tanjung article for further details on the Marina facilities at Medana.
The mooring basin is centred on 08°21.833’S and 116°07.750’E with an approach transit point almost due north at 08°20.432’S and 116°07.685’E. A Sea Chart is available on the Marina's website .
Medana Bay has previously been utilised as an official stop-over on the itinerary of Sail Indonesia . In late July 2010 participants of Sail Indonesia – Sail Banda 2010 set sail from Darwin Sailing Club in northern Australia. After congregating in Labuhan Bajo on the western tip of Flores in early September 2010 they moved on to Medana Bay on the north-western coast of Lombok prior to moving on to Bali and Kalimantan. Participants revisited the island of Lombok again in 2011 as part of the 2011 Sail Indonesia event.
Moorings and informal anchorages are available in some bays along the coastline of Lombok. Please ensure all proper formalities concerning Customs, Immigration and transit approvals have been issued when entering Indonesian waters including those surrounding Lombok. If tying up at anything appearing to be a public mooring buoy please ensure you have prior permission to do so and that the arrangements are being made with a properly authorised person.
Bemos (converted passenger-carrying minivans) are the main means of short and medium distance transport on Lombok. They can be hailed down on all larger streets and will happily take you even short hops down the road. Fares are inexpensive. An approximate fare (mid 2009) from Ampenan to Senggigi is Rp 4,500-5,500/person. Sometimes tourists get charged extra and drivers of empty bemos may try to get you to charter them for a higher price, often more than an equivalent taxi ride over the same distance. If you are chartering be careful that the price and expectations are clear, if unresolved just seek a different Bemo.
Prices for set distances vary at times and if the price of fuel has risen or it is in short supply causing roadside price fluctuations then the Bemo prices will often follow. Try and watch what local customers are paying for a similar distance to your own and if really in doubt just include Rp 1,000-2,000 extra. It is prudent to have enough small notes to be able to pay the correct fare without needing change.
If you are carrying large bags of shopping or other items more than a day pack or small hand items then expect to pay a little more. For a large amount of shopping or a really large single item such as a bicycle, luggage or similar maybe double the charge for a single person or a bit more if the driver is missing out on business from other people because you have taken a lot of space in the vehicle or if the driver needs to assist with the loading and unloading.
Senggigi to Mataram will require a change at the Pasar Ampenan from the more utilitarian Suzuki Carry 'box back' style of bemo popular used in the rural areas across to a yellow and red Suzuki bemo of the enclosed van body style that runs about in the city areas, unless of course you have chartered the vehicle to your required destination.
Metered taxis are common in Mataram, Cakranegara and Ampenan and readily operate to the Bangsal, Sira and Medana area and along the west coast tourism strip including Senggigi as well as to Lembar.
Both the more prolific Bluebird Taksi and also the white coloured Express Taksi have a radio despatch system and both companies cars are equipped with meters (argo) which should be used by their drivers at all times. Taxis may be hailed down on the roadside with the exception of the dark blue Airport Taksi, the use of which is limited to arriving airport passengers only. Taxis can be booked in advance either by calling them yourself or by booking through your hotel.
BlueBird Taksi are light blue in colour and they use late model Toyota Limo (Vios) sedans. Express Taksi cars are late model Hyundai sedans and are painted all over white.
Flag fall is approximately Rp 4,250 and the meter ticks up a few hundred rupiah for every 100 m past 2 km. Bluebird Taksi has a minimum charge of Rp 15,000. As a rough guide figure on Rp 10,000 for hops around town and around Rp 60,000-65,000 from Senggigi to Mataram/Cakranegara. Now you could book taxi in advance via firstname.lastname@example.org to make your journey comfortable.
Renting a car is also an option and there are several places in Senggigi, Mangsit and Mataram to rent from. Expect to pay Rp 150,000-175,000 (low end mid-late 1980-90s Suzuki mini jeep-Jimmy (2x4) 4 seats, Rp 250,000-Rp 300,000 for a Toyota Azanza/Daihastsu Xenia (2x4) 6-8 seats, Rp 300,000- Rp 450,000 for a Toyota Kijang or later model Kijang-Innova (2x4) 7-8 seats. Age and condition of car will effect price as will high rental demand in the peak tourism period around the June-August and local holidays.
Petrol (gasoline) (benzine) is currently set at a fixed price of Rp 7,600/litre from official outlets. Petrol is available both through official Pertamina  outlets and also in roadside stalls where a 1 litre bottle will sell for Rp 8,500-9,500. The price at the roadside vendors varies upon both the time of day and the remoteness of the location.
Diesel fuel (Solar) is normally only available at Pertamina outlets throughout Lombok.
Driving yourself around Lombok is not for the uninitiated. The chances of having an accident are probably much higher than when driving in your home country. Street signs are infrequent and ambiguous in the more remote areas of the island. If you are not familiar with the road system you may spend more time looking for an attraction than actually spending time enjoying it.
Great care must be exercised at all times when driving a car anywhere in Lombok as the roads are sometimes in very bad repair and large potholes and other road damage can cause serious accidents and injury. The greater majority of drivers in Lombok have either no knowledge or no regard for common road rules. Road users are normally seriously undisciplined and engage in highly dangerous and erratic behaviour on the road.
If renting a car or motor bike always check thoroughly for previous damage and ensure that you discuss and document any such damage to the vehicle, with the renter, prior to taking delivery. Also check the working order of the brakes and tyre condition (including tyre inflation) prior to accepting the vehicle. It is best to try driving the car on the road before finalising the agreement, especially if renting an older model Suzuki Jimmy, Kijang (Toyota) car. Ensure the current STNK – (Surat Tanda Nomor Kendaraan) (Certificate of car registration) is with the vehicle and that it is a current and original copy.
Car with driver
A good alternative to renting a car is to rent a car with a local driver. The price range is normally IDR350,000-700,000/day and will vary upward with the destinations required. IDR350,000 will normally only cover a very basic trip with a limited distance. This type of service is normally offered as an all inclusive package of rental car, driver and fuel. The driver can take you effortlessly to all the local attractions, plus some places that are never shown in the guide books. A suitable driver will take responsibility for whatever happens during the trip and will be happy to accommodate your travelling schedule. If you want to take a 2-3 day trip around the island, the driver will accompany you, eat low priced meals, and find low price places to stay at night. Normally the renter is responsible for the drivers meals and the costs of accommodation if an overnight stay is required at a location distant from their home.
It is sometimes worthwhile enquiring at the hotel where you are staying as some of them offer their own car and driver at a very good price. Often though they may just add to the cost of the rental and driver fees with high service fees or commission payments to themselves.
Travelling at night in the rural areas is ill advised and most local people are very wary of doing it.
It must be understood that the greater majority of drivers in Lombok have either no knowledge or no regard for common road rules. Road users are normally seriously undisciplined and engage in highly dangerous and erratic behaviour on the road and will frequently cross onto, or travel on the wrong side of the road without warning. Overtaking manoeuvres and turns are also often executed in a highly dangerous manner.
Always thoroughly check the motorbike you are renting for any previous damage. Check especially for correct brake function and tyre condition (including tyre inflation). It is normally best to try the motorbike before finalising the agreement. Ensure the current STNK – (Surat Tanda Nomor Kendaraan) (Certificate of Registration) is current and the original copy and is with the motorbike. Care should be exercised to always lock a motorbike and to secure your possessions.
An ojek is a motorbike taxi service. Prices are negotiable but a rule of thumb is Rp 5,000 if the destination is nearby, Rp 10,000 for a few kilometres, Rp 20,000 for a longer trip like a run from Senggigi to Ampenan to pick up an airline ticket or go to the market and Rp 35,000-Rp 40,000 for a full day. If considerable distances are involved the hirer should offer to buy some fuel. Traditionally an ojek rider will wait for the hirer to complete their business at their destination/s and take them back home again. If you are out for the day you should consider providing modest food and refreshments. Make sure you have your own helmet or that one is supplied. If you forget to do this you may find that a local policeman needs to reminds you of this and payment of a 'fine' to him may be required to continue on your way.
By horse cart
Horse-pulled carts, known as cidomo, are very common on Lombok. They are a good method of transportation for short distances e.g, from your hotel to a restaurant. Make sure to agree on the price before the journey - Rp 10,000 is the maximum price to pay for a short journey. In the Gilis there are no cars, so horse carts or a bicycle are the best way to get around.
Traditional fishing boats known as perahu ply the waters around Lombok, and are instantly recognizable due to their outriggers, two lengths of extra large bamboo sealed at either end and attached by timber outrigger bars on both sides creating a configuration similar to a catamaran and affording greater stability in heavy swells. They can also be chartered, either directly from owners (in which case some knowledge of Bahasa Indonesian or Bahasa Sasak will come in handy) or via any travel agent, who will of course take an often generous commission. English speaking guides on the beaches will be eager to assist with this if you wish. You will most likely be expected to pay for this service if the negotiation is successful either by 'hiring' the guide or by a commission paid to him by the boat operator.
Fishing charters and speedboat trips can be arranged in Lombok and professional operators will be able to supply suitable services including on-board safety equipment.
Traffic is relatively light throughout the island so travel by bicycle is quite possible and provides a very different cultural experience to other means of transport. You may wish to bring your own touring bike, as most local bikes are of a very basic quality. There is one biking tour operator (Lombok Biking) that has decent bikes and guides. Bicycles of reasonable quality may be purchased in Indonesia and may offer an alternative to the costs and complexities of shipping your own bike in from overseas. The Polygon  brand bicycle is manufactured in Indonesia and is of export quality. Lightweight alloy and carbon fibre frames are available. Stocks of more expensive models may not be readily available in Lombok without ordering ahead and resale at a reasonable price may be difficult. Bicycle sales outlets are situated in Cakranegara with several shops on Jalan Jl. Umarmaya near the rear of the Cakranegara markets and at the Tiara Department Store in Mataram Mall.
Great care must be exercised at all times when riding a bike anywhere in Lombok as the roads are sometimes in very bad repair and large potholes, loose sand, gravel and other road damage can cause serious accidents and injury. The greater majority of drivers in Lombok have either no knowledge or no regard for common road rules, are normally seriously undisciplined and engage in highly dangerous and erratic road behaviour.
Riding a bicycle after dusk should be avoided throughout Lombok due to the hazardous road conditions.
Lombok has a bicycle tour operator situated in Senggigi. See the Senggigi article for further information.
Please refer to the "By car" and "By motorbike" sections above for further information on riding conditions.
The word lombok means "chili pepper" (cabe) in Bahasa Indonesia and although the local cuisine is quite spicy, it might not always be as hot as the island's name suggests. The local word describing chilli is sebie in Bahasa Sasak, and the name of the island of Lombok is actually derived from the word lomboq, meaning straight in the local Sasak language and not from any connection at all with the local chili as many people believe.
Probably the best known local dish is ayam taliwang, although nobody seems to be able to agree on the exact recipe: most interpretations involve chicken coated with a rich red sauce flavored with galangal, turmeric and tomato, which can be either mild or searingly hot. Pelecing is a spicy sauce used in many dishes made with chilli, shrimp paste, and tomato. A local shrimp paste called lengkare is used on the island of Lombok. Sares is made from chilli, coconut juice and banana palm pith and is sometimes mixed with meat. Non meat dishes include kelor (hot soup with vegetables), serebuk (vegetables mixed with coconut), and timun urap (cucumber with coconut, onion and garlic).
Generally the least expensive and most popular item on the menu is nasi campur or mixed rice. This dish is a complete meal served on a single plate, usually consisting of rice and vegetable ingredients often incorporating either tofu (tahu), tempeh (tempe), chicken (ayam), beef (sapi), fish (ikan), peanuts (kacang), together with a wide variation of cooked vegetables. As the name suggests, the meal can be a mixture of many different items, at times some may be a little difficult to accurately identify and the style and ingredients will vary from place to place. A dab of spicy red paste called sambal (basically stone ground red chilli peppers) is placed somewhere near the side of the plate. Sambal is the universal condiment served on Lombok and is extremely hot to the palate of most tourists, so use with care.
The price of food varies dramatically depending on the location on Lombok. The restaurants in the popular tourist destinations of Senggigi and the Gili Islands command the highest prices but also offer the largest variety of international foods including banana pancakes, pizza, beef steak and other travellers favorites. In most other areas of the island numerous small restaurants, called warung, cater primarily to the local population. The savvy traveller will discover these small restaurants serve a variety of delicious local food at a very low price.
Alcoholic drinks are generally available throughout the island including all tourist destinations. However, since Lombok is predominantly Muslim, some areas (notably Praya) prohibit the service of alcohol at bars and restaurants. Local supermarkets offer a variety of local as well as international beers. Note that alcohol is heavily taxed in all of Indonesia: a small bottle may be the most expensive item you can order when served a full meal in a "local" eatery.
The island's most touristic township, Senggigi, has numerous bars and clubs with the usual international favourites including the ubiquitous Indonesian seksi dancers often found in nightclubs. A favourite local drink, is tuak, a red or white fermented palm wine with 2-5% alc. volume. Please see the Stay safe section for caution on methyl alcohol adulteration.
In Approx June 2015 a law was passed restricting the sale of Alcohol. This law was extended for Bali in the last few days prior to implementation. It is no longer easy to purchase alcohol in Lombok, and 'take away' alcohol is very difficult to find. Many small shops still have a few bottles of Bintang remaining at the time of writing this, but soon that will also be gone.
Most of Lombok's better-quality accommodation can be found within the Senggigi strip to the north of the airport. The Gili Islands have become increasingly popular with the younger crowd and now offer a full range of accommodations. Kuta is popular with surfers and eco-travelers seeking the more serene, traditional village environment. The area around Sira and Medana on the north western coast near Tanjung has 4 resort style hotels. The main city of Mataram, on the other hand, has very little tourist oriented accommodation with a couple of larger full service hotels on offer. There a many smaller and lower priced hotels situated in the Cakranegara/Sweta area and others throughout the city.
Detailed information about accommodations in each of these respective areas can be found by following the destination links listed at the top of this page.
Be aware that if your hotel room is near a mosque your sleep may be interrupted by calls to worship for morning prayers.
One accommodation option which is becoming more popular, emulating what has has happened on its sister island of Bali, is renting a private villa complete with staff. However not every place sold as a "villa" actually fits the bill. Prices vary widely: some operators claim to go as low as US$30/ night, but realistically you will be looking at upwards of US$200/night for anything with a decent location and a private pool. At the top of the price range rents can easily go to US$1,000/night or higher. Villas can be found in Senggigi, at Sire beach near Tanjung and, increasingly, the Gili Islands; see those articles for more detail.
Although Lombok is a safe and stable place, these tips may help you along the way:
Embassies and consulates