Lombok is one of the most beautiful islands in Indonesia. It is known for its gorgeous beaches and strong affinity for the arts. Recently, Lombok had been the chosen port for cruise ships exploring the Southeast Asian region. Although not as popular as the other Indonesian island of Bali, Lombok is gifted with incredible beauty.
Part of its charm is its undeveloped nature, coupled with a very relaxed and low key environment. Most of the travelers that make their way to Lombok are adventure-seeking souls who absolutely love being outdoors. These type of explorers are drawn to the island's varied landscapes and activities such as surfing, hiking, snorkeling and diving. One of the highlights for many adventurous visitors coming to the Lombok region is trekking Mt. Rinjani.
Domestic tourists prefer vacationing in Lombok than in Bali for a couple of valid reasons. But the main reason is perhaps the big difference in the overall travel costs. In Lombok, accommodation, food and sightseeing tours are much cheaper. Another great thing about Lombok is that a large part of it is not mass tourism-oriented. Large gated complexes and noisy bars have not taken over the beach scene. If you want to truly experience rustic Lombok, consider a homestay in farmhouses, mountainside villages or simple homes on the beachside.
Staying with a family provides several advantages such as learning the authentic way of island living especially for the Sasak people. Your hosts may also offer to take you fishing, farming, hunting and even show you how to cook local dishes. And speaking of dishes, Lombok is known for its red and green chilies and spicy cuisine. This is quite understandable for an island that literally means chili in the Bahasa Indonesia language. Grab the opportunity to taste local dishes and accompany it with the fiery condiment called sambal.
The beaches of Lombok are quite stunning and they do not get as crowded as Bali's. If you long for seclusion, venture to the southwest section of the island. Lombok also has some sandy stretches that can muster up huge waves. This is why the island receives a large number of surfers every year. Some of the most popular places to tackle the surfing breaks include the tiny Gili Nanggu Island and Bangko-Bangko (Desert Point).
To get a taste of Lombok's passion for the arts, organize some village visits either on your own or with a tour company. By doing so, you will get a nice opportunity to see how locals expertly dye fabrics using the traditional technique called ikat. There are also a number of artisans who can masterfully make and decorate pots. You can also drop by the Sayang Sayang art market, and shop for excellent locally made crafts and products like pearl-decorated wooden boxes and baskets made of strong rattan.
The best way to get around Lombok is to drive your own vehicle as public transport on the island is unreliable and not extensive. You have the option to hire a car and a driver but you can also opt for a motorcycle, provided that you have enough experience driving one. The roads on the island are in fairly good condition, so it's easy to drive around the coast, countryside and even the highlands. One of the most scenic areas you will want to drive through is the coastal road between Senggigi and Pemenang. Stretching 21 kilometers, this road highlights incredible views beaches and inlets.
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