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- Flexible itineraries including a week in Bali or Lombok and a two-week island-hopping itinerary covering Bali, Lombok, and the Gili Islands
- Strategic advice for surfers, spiritual and wellness travelers, culture mavens, and more
- Must-see highlights and unique experiences: Rent a scooter and cruise past stunning rice terraces, breathe in the smell of incense and witness the Balinese Hindu rituals at Lempuyang Temple, or marvel at the cliff-top temple of Uluwatu. Crack open a fresh coconut, order authentic mie goreng from a food stand, and swap stories with local Sasak people over a thick cup of coffee. Dance until dawn at a beachfront bar or escape the crowds and find solitude on a black sand beach
- Outdoor adventures: Trek through rainforests to the summit of Mount Rinjani and watch the sunrise peek over the caldera rim. Swim with manta rays and sea turtles, scuba dive among shipwrecks and coral reefs, or surf the legendary waves
- How to experience Bali and Lombok like an insider, support local and sustainable businesses, avoid over-tourism, and respectfully engage with the culture
- Expert insight from Chantae Reden, a writer with deep ties to both islands, on where to eat, how to get around, and where to stay, from guest cottages and beach bungalows to luxurious resorts
- Full-color photos and detailed maps throughout
- Reliable background information on the landscape, climate, wildlife, and history, as well as common customs and etiquette
- Handy tools including Balinese, Sasak, and Indonesian phrasebooks, packing suggestions, and travel tips for families with kids, seniors, travelers with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ travelers
DISCOVER Bali & Lombok
10 TOP EXPERIENCES
Planning Your Trip
IF YOU HAVE...
Island-Hopping around Bali, Lombok, and the Gili Islands
SURFIN’ SAFARI: THE BEST SURF SPOTS
SEE THE SEAS
The Best of Bali
HIKING AND ADVENTURE
The Best of Lombok
The islands of Bali and Lombok are all about balance. Wherever you find one extreme, you’re sure to find its counterpart close by. You’ll find peace and energy, pop culture and tradition, modern luxury resorts and ancient temples, crowds and solitude, fresh coconut water and Bintang beer, barren beaches and rice terraces, volcanic peaks and a deep ocean.
Yet amid these contrasts, there is stability.
Bali has maintained its unique nickname, “The Island of the Gods,” because of its connection to Hinduism in everyday life. Nearly every shop, car, and home is adorned with canang sari, an offering to appease the demons and please the gods. Chiming bells from local ceremonies set the tone for daily life and the sweet smell of incense lingers in the air. These rituals that stem from ancient traditions can still be seen even in Bali’s most modern and glamorous towns, where the beer is cheap and parties are never-ending.
Venture to Bali’s coastline for sandy beaches, sunsets, relaxation, surfing, and scuba diving. Inland, you’ll discover miles of trails, emerald rice paddies, flowing rivers, and spiritual sanctuaries. There are temples, art museums, handicraft shops, welcoming guesthouses, and spas in-between.
Once you cross the ocean to Lombok, the scenery changes again. The intimidating peak of Gunung Rinjani can be seen from the laid back, sandy shores of Lombok’s tiny Gili Islands, where you can find your perfect balance of activity and relaxation. Surrounding the waterfall-dense forests of Gunung Rinjani are uncrowded beaches with world-class waves, stretches of desert, and sleepy villages.
The Sasak people of Lombok embrace creativity and celebration, and they welcome you to do the same. You can try handweaving a multicolored sarong on a complex wooden loom, collecting worms (for luck, of course) at the Bau Nyale Festival, and swapping stories over a thick cup of coffee.
There is truly an experience for everyone in Bali and Lombok, where no two trips are alike.
10 TOP EXPERIENCES
1 Visiting one of Bali’s most sacred temples at the dramatic cliff of Uluwatu.
2 Experiencing life like a local on Nusa Penida, an island where tiny villages and dramatic vistas are found around almost every turn.
3 Shopping in Ubud, where the markets and boutiques offer a colorful mix of traditional handicrafts and trendy souvenirs.
4 Learning how ancient cultivation techniques join the spiritual world to the natural one at the stunning Jatiluwih Rice Terraces.
5 Trekking to the crater rim of Indonesia’s second highest volcano, Gunung Rinjani, to watch the sun rise over the caldera.
6 Scuba diving among shipwrecks and coral reefs, diving with manta rays, mola-molas, sea turtles, and reef sharks.
7 Escaping the crowds and finding a patch of soft sand all to yourself at one of Lombok’s southern beaches like Selong Belanak, Tanjung Aan, Mawun, or Mawi.
8 Feeling the pulse of nightlife in Kuta and Seminyak, Bali’s trendiest towns, where beach clubs turn effortlessly into nightclubs.
9 Relaxing on Gili Trawangan, the liveliest of a trio of little islands off Lombok, a beach escape from urban civilization with sea turtles, coral reefs, and technicolor fish galore.
10 Surfing some of Bali and Lombok’s spectacular waves, no matter your ability level.
Planning Your Trip
Where to Go
KUTA, SEMINYAK, AND THE SOUTHERN BEACHES
Bali’s international tourism scene first started in Kuta, and it reigns as the most-visited region today. The strip of umbrella-covered beaches hosts an array of nightclubs, art performance venues, boutiques, kitschy souvenir shops, and hotels ranging from budget to ultra-luxury. Each beach along this stretch of ocean has its own personality. Venture to Kuta for a bit of free-spirited debauchery, Canggu for a bohemian art scene, and Seminyak for boutique shops and innovative restaurants. Many of the world’s best surfers caught their first wave in this region, where there’s no shortage of beginner surf spots.
THE BUKIT PENINSULA
The Bukit Peninsula is awash with cultural sights, beaches, and near-perfect waves. More than 200 feet above the water, the Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple guards the region against malevolent spirits. Traditional kecak dancers gather at Uluwatu Temple to tell stories of ancient Hindu legends using elaborate costumes and movement. At sea level, the iconic waves called Uluwatu, Dreamland, and Padang Padang break along the Bukit Peninsula, where professional surf competitions take place throughout the year. Days are spent on the sand or in the water, while sunsets are enjoyed from a cliffside vista. Though the Bukit Peninsula has quickly become a hotspot for tourists, it holds tightly to its mysticism and charm.
DENPASAR AND SANUR
Denpasar, the island’s capital, is a sprawling concrete metropolis where flowers and incense offerings are placed in the middle of major intersections and ceremonial attire intermixes with business suits. The Bajra Sandhi Monument punctuates the city, along with its surrounding grass lawns, where locals go to play sports or jog after work. On Denpasar’s eastern end is the beach town of Sanur, a mellow area where you can stroll along the shoreline, stopping for fresh food or a seaside massage.
THE NUSA ISLANDS
Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, and Nusa Ceningan offer many of the same benefits of Bali’s southern mainland without the crowds. Nusa Lembongan is a playground for cycling, beachside relaxing, kayaking, stand-up paddling, snorkeling, and surfing (there are waves for every ability). With plenty of scuba diving schools to choose from, students can earn their open water certification or enroll in a specialized course. Some of Indonesia’s best scuba diving can be found off the coastline of Nusa Penida, where you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of a rare mola-mola fish or witness manta rays glide by. In Nusa Ceningan, travelers will find beautiful vistas, snorkeling bays, and charming villages that have yet to be touched by mass tourism.
Surrounded by rice terraces that use ancient cultivation techniques, Ubud is an alluring place where travelers can focus on the mind, body, and spirit. Days are spent walking on the trails that weave along rice fields, getting a massage at a spa, practicing yoga at a hidden retreat, and watching rambunctious monkeys swing and play in a sacred forest. Those who want to delve deep into Balinese culture can visit a spiritual healer, browse through Balinese art museums, tour temples, and witness Hindu ceremonies that take place throughout the city.
Karangasem is where travelers can find tranquility even in the regency’s most popular villages. Off the black sand beach of Tulamben, divers can explore the accessible and intriguing U.S.A.T. Liberty shipwreck. In the waters of Amed, a small town in the shadow of Gunung Agung, travelers can learn how to freedive, go muck diving, and snorkel around the shallow reefs. For an inside look at Balinese Hinduism, visit the incredible Pura Lempuyang, a temple that has a gate that looks out into the heavens. Pura Besakih, on the slopes of Gunung Agung, is thought to be the most holy of all.
The volcanic mountains of Bali are not to be missed by travelers with a penchant for exploration. Trek to the summit of Gunung Batur to watch the sunrise. Then, soothe aching muscles in the healing waters of a nearby hot spring. There are plenty of cycling paths to explore in this region, as well. The cool climate at higher elevations offers respite from the tropical heat.
The road weaving across Bali’s northern end is lined with quiet villages, rice terraces, and waterfalls. The scuba diving, snorkeling, and boating are vastly underrated in this region, where visitors will be hard-pressed to find a crowd outside of Lovina—even in the high season.
The western peninsula of Bali includes Pulau Menjangan, an island surrounded by a thriving coral reef. Above the water, stroll along the trails of West Bali National Park and search the treetops for tropical birds. Pura Tanah Lot, a temple built on a large rock cast out in the ocean, commemorates the gods of the sea. This region is also home to the neighborhoods of Balian and Medewi, where surfers can paddle out to the local waves. Quiet and underrated, Jembrana and Tabanan are perfect for those who love to venture off the well-trod tourist path.
THE GILI ISLANDS
The Gili Islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air may not look like much on a map, but these tiny islands offer a sanctuary where landlocked worries won’t follow. Discover all-night parties, a plethora of dive schools, little boutiques, and a thriving night market on Gili Trawangan. Gili Meno is outlined with sugar sand beaches and couples’ retreats, and is the top choice for a romantic getaway. Meanwhile, Gili Air offers many of the activities of Gili Trawangan without the hedonism; it remains very relaxed. Best of all, these three islands are plopped right in the middle of some of Indonesia’s most spectacular coral reefs.
MATARAM AND WEST LOMBOK
On the coastline of West Lombok is Senggigi, a sleepy beach town where you can relax in an upscale resort without the hefty price tag or battling crowds. Mataram, Lombok’s capital, may not be as beach-blessed as the rest of the island, but it is still worth a visit for its many festivals, museums, impressive mosques, and cultural activities. Little islands colloquially called the “Secret Gilis” offshore of the southwestern peninsula offer some of the best snorkeling and beach lounging in all of the islands. Experienced surfers venture to the dangerously remote tip of the Tanjung Desert in hopes of getting barreled by one of the world’s best left-hand waves.
Ten years ago, Kuta, Lombok, was a haven for surfers in search of unridden waves. Today, surf schools have sprung up in this bohemian beach town, and local fishermen have taken up a lucrative side gig of shuttling surfers out to waves on their fishing boats. On Kuta’s main road, tourists can sample a variety of different foods, shop for locally made textiles, and dance the night away in a handful of barefoot bars. Outside of Kuta, tourists can beach-hop all along the coastline from one hidden enclave to the next; there are plenty of uncrowded waves still to be found.
MOUNT RINJANI AND NORTHERN LOMBOK
Lombok’s most impressive feature is undoubtedly Gunung Rinjani (Mount Rinjani), Indonesia’s second-highest volcano. A look at the turquoise waters of Danau Segara Anak, the lake inside of Gunung Rinjani’s caldera, is reserved for those who make the trek up to its crater rim. Multiday treks in the reserve take hikers through a variety of different landscapes, ranging from dense rainforest to wide grasslands. Around the small towns of Senaru and Sembalun Valley, travelers can trek to waterfalls and snack on fresh produce grown throughout the region. In the tiny town of Tetebatu, rice terraces, plantations, and a sense of stillness await.
When to Go
Bali and Lombok are warm and worth visiting all year round, with an average temperature that ranges from 26-28°C (79-82°F) no matter when you visit, though there are two distinct seasons.
The dry season takes place from May to October, when temperatures hover around 31-33°C (88-91°F) in the day and 22-23°C (71-73°F) at night. July and August are the driest months, with just 40 mm (1.5 inches) of rainfall on average. These are also Bali and Lombok’s busiest months, considered to be the high season, with spiked accommodation prices. The period from the end of September to early October also sees an increase in tourists, as Australian families head over for the school holidays. Visit during May, June, or early September to beat the crowds and enjoy good weather.
Bali and Lombok’s wet season runs from November to April, with an uptick in crowds between mid-December and mid-January. The wet season is more humid than the dry season, often with overcast skies. Temperatures range from 29-31°C (84-87°F) during the day and 22-23°C (71-73°F) at night. Storms tend to be brief and heavy, affecting little in terms of sightseeing, though many major treks, like the one to Gunung Rinjani, are canceled. The rainiest months are from December to March, all with more than 230 mm (9 inches) of average monthly rainfall.
The wet season is a great time to visit if you want to see the islands’ major sights without having to worry about elbowing your way through the crowds that inevitably gather during the dry season. Sadly, the beaches of Bali and Lombok are more polluted during the rainy season, as trash washes inland from the rivers to the shoreline; do not expect beaches like Kuta or Seminyak in Bali to be pristine. A current wrapping along Bali’s eastern coastline pulls rubbish along the shoreline as well.
Know Before You Go
Most tourists arrive by air into Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) in Denpasar, Bali. Typical flight times, including layovers, are:
• U.S. (Los Angeles): 20-25 hours
• U.K. (London): 17-20 hours
• Australia (Sydney): 6.5 hours
• South Africa (Johannesburg): 15-22 hours
It is also possible to arrive by ferry into Gilimanuk, Bali, from Java. Boats also arrive into Padangbai and Sanur, Bali, from Lombok.
International and domestic flights arrive in Praya, Lombok, at the Zainuddin Abdul Madjid International Airport, colloquially called Lombok International Airport (LOP). Ferries also connect Bali to Lombok in Lembar, Bangsal, and the northern Gili Islands.
BOAT AND FERRY
Boats and ferries connect Bali and Lombok as well as their outer islands. You can find routes connecting Sanur, Padangbai, and Serangan on Bali to the northern Gili Islands, Bangsal, Senggigi, and Lembar on Lombok. The Nusa Islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan can be stopped at midway between Bali and Lombok. Public ferries and private fast boats are available for most routes.
BUS AND BEMO
Buses and bemos (minivans) connect some of Bali and Lombok’s main towns but are largely unreliable. Expect to pay about 10,000 Rp per 10-minute ride on either bus or bemo. Shared tourist shuttles are much more efficient and often have room for luggage. The most efficient shuttle service is offered by Perama (peramatour.com) and Kura-Kura (kura2bus.com [URL inactive]).
The most convenient way to get around Bali and Lombok is with a private driver or rental car. There are many private drivers in Bali who happily double as tour guides, suggesting itineraries and offering insider advice as they transport you from one place to the next. They can be found promoting their services in any major tourist area or arranged through your accommodation. To see the islands with your own set of wheels, arrange your rental in Denpasar or Mataram. If driving on your own, you’ll need a valid international driver’s license.
Motorbikes are the most common form of transportation among locals, and one of the only forms of transportation in some of Bali and Lombok’s rural areas. Motorbikes can typically be rented from accommodations and rental stands in areas that are frequented by tourists. Because of chaotic and potentially unsafe road conditions, it is best to have previous motorbike driving experience before driving a motorbike in Bali and Lombok. Travel insurance that is valid for motorbike accidents is essential as well. Hopping on the back of a motorbike taxi, locally called an ojek, is also affordable and an easy way to move between short distances.
Metered taxis are commonly available in the major tourist areas of Bali and Lombok. Rideshare apps are becoming more popular, but it can be a challenge to get an app driver to commit to picking up in areas where there is a strong taxi presence—conflicts between taxi drivers and rideshare app drivers occur regularly.
Passports and Visas
For travelers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, the U.K., and South Africa, no visa is needed for stays of 30 days or fewer. For visits longer than 30 days, purchase a visa-on-arrival ($35 USD), which grants you your first 30 days and can be extended for another 30 days while you are inside the country. Both the date of arrival and your date of departure count as full days toward your stay.
Your passport must be valid for six months from the date you intend to leave Indonesia. Your passport also must have two blank passport pages. Some airlines require you to show proof of onward travel before letting you board the aircraft, though this is inconsistently enforced. If you are unsure of your departure details, it’s best to arrive early at the airport and prepare to book a flexible or refundable flight out of Indonesia.
Some areas on Bali and Lombok are at higher risk than others for disease exposure. Consult a travel doctor to find out if you need any vaccinations or boosters before you travel. The following is a list of recommended vaccines, many of which you may have received in childhood.
• Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
• Hepatitis A
• Hepatitis B
• Japanese Encephalitis (if you’re staying in Indonesia for more than one month or participating in many rural outdoor activities)
• Rabies (if you’re staying where you could be at risk for animal bites in Bali)
- On Sale
- Jun 23, 2020
- Page Count
- 520 pages
- Moon Travel