Planning for where to stop during long-term travel is a bit like trying to hold onto a melting ice cube: it’s uncomfortable, slippery, and changes fast. Our first stop in Asia, and the first on our entire trip, was also one of the least planned and most overwhelming. We knew Bali was in the itinerary for our around the world trip before we even knew it was going to be an around the world trip, but what we could not know was that two weeks before we were scheduled to fly out, Mt. Agung started rumbling and changed our plans. So we scrambled for an alternative, yelled at a bunch of poor airline workers, and flew to Jakarta instead.
After a few days of exploring ancient Buddhist and Hindu sites on Indonesia’s most populated island, we were desperate to chill and stumbled upon the perfect place for it. We did not happen to Lombok so much as Lombok happened to us. What I mean is, we were not expecting to fall so in love with this lesser visited neighbor of tourist-filled Bali. But fall in love we did, and in love we remain long after we’ve left it.
Below is a complete Lombok Itinerary for 10 days
Day 1 Land at Lombok International Airport and head South
This is the easiest and most common way to get into the country. The distance from Lombok International airport to Kuta Beach is about a half hour, though it can take longer depending on weather, road conditions, and traffic. Taxis are waiting at the airport exit whenever flights land and can make the quick trip down to Kuta. Prices are always negotiable and some taxis have meters.
Days 2-4, Kuta, Lombok: Day 2 Explore Kuta Beach and Town
Exploring the beaches in and around Kuta on the Southern tip of Lombok is a must for any visit. The easiest way to do this is by scooter, however, there are drivers available for rent if you are not comfortable on a scooter.
Start off the first day exploring the cute surfer town, grab a surprisingly good coffee from one of the many shops and make your way to Kuta Beach. Stop by one of the many stores and haggle down for any item that catches your eye on the way. A good day can be spent on this beach, sipping from fresh coconuts and enjoying what we found to be a mostly empty setting. It is not nearly as beautiful as the other ones, and like all of the beaches we saw in Lombok, has a problem with trash, but it was quite peaceful. For a bit of wildlife viewing, head to the Eastern end and watch the monkeys come down for sunset.
After you’ve had your fill of the sun, head back to one of the bordering beach restaurants for decent food and cold beers or, if you leave with enough time, up the mountain to watch the sunset from the Ashtari Lounge. *Note the food at Ashtari is mediocre at best, it’s the gorgeous views that make the restaurant memorable. It’s probably best to eat food elsewhere and come here for a beverage instead.
Day 3 See Surrounding beaches
Spend at least one full day (more if you have time) exploring the best beaches in Lombok. We chose to hire a driver for the day at the equivalent of about $35 USD/day, but there are cheap scooters for rent if you’re comfortable riding them (about $1-5 USD/day). Many of the guesthouses have them on site for rent.
We did a full rundown of this day in our Kuta itinerary, see it for more information on this. End the day with sunset at Sunset Point.
Where to Stay in Kuta, Lombok
Shu Villa: Perfect for it you want more privacy and a more luxurious setting. Shu Villa is a perfect fit. Sit by the pool and enjoy the daily breakfast with your private villa. ($50 USD/night)
Yuli’s Guesthouse: A cheaper alternative, Yuli’s is the place to go if you’re looking to make some friends or a more family-friendly spot during your time in Kuta. A super relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, the actual rooms are much less luxurious but serve every purpose you could need.
Days 4-6, Rinjani, Lombok: Day 4 Make You Way North To Mt. Rinjani
This is a situation where you may have to hire a driver as this is legitimately on the complete opposite side of the island. This was about a 4 hour drive, which did include a bit of time to stop in the Indonesian jungle to see monkeys. *Note these monkeys scared the crap out of us. They are used to humans and expect food, one of the big ones was walking towards us baring its teeth until our driver stepped between us, yelled at the scary monkey, and then looked very disappointed with our inability to handle this normally fun situation. Whoops.
After a quick break, head over to Sendang Gile and Tiu Kelep waterfalls. These both can be done in a few hours and are truly breathtaking–we prefer Tiu Kelep. Hire one of the guides that hang at the entrance if you want or simply go exploring. It’s easy enough to get there alone, though takes a bit of navigating. After this, get some food at your hotel and rest as the next few days ahead are truly life changing.
Days 5-6 Trekking Mt. Rinjani
We went over the fears and experience in full detail on our beginner’s guide to trekking Mt. Rinjani, but there is even more to say about this. This experience, while challenging, will push you to your limits in all of the right ways. Whether it is for 2 days 1 night or 3 days and 2 nights, this is a cannot miss while in Lombok and will be one of your favorite memories from any trip.
Where to Stay in Rinjani, Lombok
Rinjani Lodge: Ok, this is definitely a splurge (rooms range from $71-135 a night depending on room type) but either before, or after a grueling trek, this is exactly what you need. Spend some time in the infinity pool, have a cold drink–filtered ice here too–and get some much needed relaxation.
Day 7-9 Sengiggi, Indonesia: Day 7 Getting to Sengiggi
This is another situation where you’ll need a driver, but be grateful after the trek to sit and relax. This is about a 2:30 hour drive. Sengiggi is the most populated area in Lombok, and it easily has the most American features compared to the rest of the island–there is even a KFC here which cracked us up considerably. However, after doing the Rinjani trek, you will need a day of rest, so get to your room, get some sleep and be ready to go the next day.
Day 8-9 Exploring the Gili’s
We unfortunately ran out of money on this part of our trip and sadly didn’t make it to these, but the Gili’s may be the biggest reason most people visit Lombok. Head to Gili Trawangan (Gili T) if you’re looking to party and dance the night away. Gili Meno is the most romantic of the three, with white sand beaches and small little bars lining the coast. Lastly, Gili Air is a chill mix of the two, with a more local feel. All three of these are accessible by the Sengiggi port–don’t forget to haggle people!–and can be a great way to get off the mainland for a few days.
Where to Stay in Sengiggi, Lombok
Mama Bella’s Retreat: An incredibly relaxing setting with a beautiful pool, Mama Bella’s is the perfect mix of cost friendliness ($30 per night) and luxury. We ended up staying here for 2 days longer than originally planned because they were so accommodating and the pool was so perfect.
Day 10 Leave Lombok
Either through the airport or on a boat to one of the many other islands in Indonesia. If finishing in Sengiggi and heading to Bali, the boat is your best option. Otherwise, it is a little over an hour drive to get back to the airport.
Some Extra Tips to get the most out of Your Lombok Itinerary
-We got around by hired driver because regardless of how much time we spend traveling, you couldn’t get us on a rented scooter anywhere in the world, but especially not one where the driving was this bloody crazy. Drivers broke our budget but we felt comfortable and safe, however, scooters can be rented for the equivalent of $1USD a day in many parts and remain the best way to get around in the dirt and potholed roads connecting the islands Southern beaches.
-Trash is a huge problem in Indonesia. Don’t bring items that will need to be disposed of while you are there and avoid buying anything disposable if you can help it.
-We flew into Lombok from Yogyakarta and flew out from Bali. To get to Bali we took a fast boat from Lombok which included a shuttle to the Bali airport.