Bangsal is a tiny little port in northwestern Lombok, about 1 km away from the town of Pemenang. It's strictly a transfer point on the way to and from the Gili Islands, and few people hang around here any longer than necessary.
By shuttle bus
If arriving in Lombok from Bali by ferry and you haven't booked an end-to-end travel package then getting from Lembar to Bangsal can sometimes be problematic. You can take a shuttle bus service to Bangsal from Lembar, Mataram or Senggigi with Perama Shuttle Bus, Jl Raya Senggigi, ☎ +62 370 693007 +62 370 693 008 (fax: +62 370 693009), . Perama Tours and Travel, Pejanggik Str. No. 66, Mataram, ☎ +62 370 635928 (fax: +62 370 653936), . Perama have offices across Indonesia including Bali and Lombok providing land sea and air connections.
By public boat
The only reason to come to Bangsal is to travel to and from the Gilis, and that means you have to deal with the Koperasi Angkutan Laut (Sea Transport Co-operative), which monopolises transport to the islands. Try to get to Bangsal by 10AM or earlier as boats go in the morning. The public boat office in Bangsal may close at 4:30PM, make sure you have checked the departure times back to Bangsal from the Gillis. Public boats operated by the Koperasi run in the afternoons however the late afternoon services are operated by the Koperasi Shuttle boat at a slightly higher tariff. See the individual Gili articles for detailed information on this.
The way to sidestep this hassle is to book an organized tour with someone like Perama that will take you directly to the Gilis for around Rp 100,000 per person, bypassing Bangsal entirely. Another alternative is to Go to Teluk Nare 4-5 km south of Bangsal and charter a speedboat to your island. Many chose to pre-arrange their transfers with a hotel or dive operator. Such transfers normally depart from the much less frenetic Teluk Nare.
If you are traveling from Bali, take any of the fast boats which will drop you off at Gilis directly. It should cost you about RP375,000 to RP600,000 (price as of Sept 2011).
Hotels, dive operators and fast boat operators can also arrange speedboat pickups, using the alternative ports of Teluk Nara and Teluk Kode. All Bali-Gili-Lombok ferry services (see Gili Islands) also terminate at one of these two.
By charter boat
At Senggigi and Mangsit beaches you will find many private perahu or traditional outrigger boat operators. Many tour guides will offer services or to assist in arranging a trip for you. These can be one way, two way or a day trip to the Gillis. Be careful to negotiate the price and details to common agreement before boarding or determining a final price. Do not automatically expect the boat to have adequate or possibly any safety equipment at all. Ensure you check such equipment for yourself prior to agreeing to the charter. Some traditional perahu boat operators cannot swim so do not expect them to be able to save you should difficulties arise. Also ensure that the price includes fuel and where you will be travelling and for how long a time. Ensure you will return to shore well before dusk. Do not expect the boat operator to be able to communicate fluently with you in English or even Bahasa Indonesian. Often the guide accompanies and some of them offer a good service and an enhanced experience due to their local knowledge. Look on the beaches yourself, enquire at your hotel or at a travel or tour agency in Senggigi or Mangsit.
Metered taxis are not usually readily found in Bangsal, but the touts hanging around can rustle up a Toyota Kijang or similar vehicle that will seat four or more people with luggage and cost around Rp 150,000 to anywhere in Senggigi or further south to Mataram.
Taxis are a more viable option on the way in to Bangsal from places such as Senggigi or Ampenan. A metered taxi will cost approximately Rp 70,000 from Senggigi. A taxi may be an excellent option if sharing the trip with some other travellers and it could be as cheap as a bemo but far quicker and more convenient.
Bemos do not call at Bangsal itself, but they do stop in nearby Pemenang, from where you can walk or ride a cidomo (horse cart) to Bangsal Harbour. Note that if coming from Senggigi, you will either have to go back to Mataram, then catch a bemo to Pemenang (around Rp 15,000/person total), or charter the entire vehicle, in which case you will be asked the price similar to taxi, or more.
By horse cart
Horse-pulled carts, known as Cidomo, are very common in the Bangsal and Pemenang area. They are a good method of transportation for short distances. The final section of the Pemenang to Bangsal access road is normally closed to vehicles and the final distance will need to be completed on foot or by using one of the local cidomo. Make sure to agree the price before the journey — Rp 10,000 is the maximum price to pay for a short cidomo journey anywhere in Lombok.
Cidomo horse carts hang around Bangsal, waiting to ferry visitors to and from the parking area nearby to the main road in Pemenang or further to the centre of Pemenang if you wish.
To rent a motorbike or car when returning to the mainland from the Gilli Islands it would be advisable to make enquiries in Senggigi further along the coast to the south as there are plenty of rental providers there. The first one available coming from the north is at Mangsit beach on the main road opposite Qunci poolside villas. Alternatively enquire at your hotel.
There is not really a lot to see here. The markets in Pemenang are nearby but really the attraction of Bangsal is pretty much limited to that of a transit point between the mainland and the nearby three Gilli Islands.
Depart for Giili Islands or arrive on the mainland to travel on to other destinations in Lombok such as Tanjung, Senaru, Mount Rinjani, Senggigi and Kuta in the south of the island. If you want to charter a boat to look around the area or travel the coastline then it would best be done from other less strenuous locations.
Eat and Drink
There is a small kiosk and some scruffy warungs around the ferry dock, but no other facilities.
There are no tourist oriented accommodation facilities at Bangsal or nearby Pemenang. The Tanjung area is only a short distance away and has several upmarket resort and villa rental options. The Senggigi area to the south has an abundance of alternatives. Senaru on the slopes of Mount Rinjani has accommodation oriented toward visits to the National Park there or for visitors embarking on Rinjani ascents. The nearby Gilli Islands have a wide range of accommodation and are the obvious choice in the immediate Bangsal area.
Mobile phone towers ensure you're never likely to be out of touch. Telekomsel's Simpati SIM card has a reasonably good signal in the Bangsal area. XL Comm SIM cards also provide coverage in the area. Coverage can be unreliable and inconsistent at times and in some areas.
You will most likely want to leave Bangsal immediately.