There is no cars and motorbikes on the Gili Islands so to get around you got to take a horse drawn carriage known as a cidomo by the locals. Not the most comfortable way to get around on the island but it`s ok and also not expensive to take. It`s not a meter taxi so you just ask for the price to your destination before getting on.
You can take a public boat from Bangsal to the Gili Islands. The tickets is quiet cheap and the boat ride is ok and nothing fancy so justifying the cost of the tickets. When coming back from Gili we were hassled by people all wanting to offer us transport even though we told them repeatedly we awaiting someone to fetch us. When the driver picked us after paying for the parking one of the guys with the horse and carriage demanded we paying his fare because this is not a pickup point. I got really irritated by it cause the drive paid for to come inside there and he still demanding free money for transportation that he didn`t even provide. The trip from Bangsal to Gili Trawangan takes about 30mins or so.
One of the joys of a stay on the Gili Islands is the absence of any motorised vehicles. Cars and motorcycles are prohibited for private use on the island and apart from one small pick-up truck (for essential island maintenance) we were blissfully free of exhaust fumes and backfiring engines for our three week stay on the islands. Getting around the islands on foot is easy and hassle free due to its small size and flat topography. However you can hire a bicycle if you want to take a leisurely cycle around the island or more even the more traditional Cidomo! A cidomo is a horse drawn cart which has been used as the traditional mode of transport in Indonesia for years. On the island you will inevitably be approached to hire a cidomo to take you on a ‘tour’ of the island or to take you to your accommodation on arrival. There is no actual necessity to hire a cidomo as the island is small and most of the accommodation is located centrally, however it may be an enjoyable novelty while on the island or may be useful if your luggage is quite heavy or if you have some disability which limits your mobility. If you do hire a cidomo make sure you agree a price with the driver beforehand.
Swimming between the islands is a definite no-no as outlined in the warnings and dangers tips so the only way to reach the other islands is to use the twice daily inter island ferries which circle between the islands. These useful services give visitors a chance to explore the other islands as day trips without having stay overnight although to fully enjoy and appreciate each island you should try to stay at least one night on each.
There is a morning and evening service which leaves Gili Air at 8.30am stopping at Gili Meno at 8.45am, Gili Trawangan at 9.30, and again at Gili Meno at 9.45 before returning to Gili Air by 10.00. The evening service leaves Air at 3.00pm, Meno at 3.15pm, Trawangan at 3.30pm and Meno again at 4.15pm before returning to Air by 4.30pm. These times are approximate at best but times are posted at the jetties on each of the island where you can also buy tickets. Boats back to the Lombok mainland can also be arranged at the jetties where times are posted and tickets are sold.
There are cheaper ways to reach the Gilis from Bali but these are obviously slower. The most popular way for budget travellers to reach the Gilis was with the Perama company which left from Padang Bai in East Bali taking 5 hours direct to the Gili Islands. Prices are typically €25.
If you really want to save money and get a true taste of local life, you can do what we did and take the public ferry from Padang Bai to Lombok and transfer separately to the Gilis. The ferry is slow (count on between 8 and 12 hours or more) but it is full of friendly locals, is cheap as chips and is much smoother than the fast boats (obviously!!!)
It may sound like a hassle but if you book through one of the many tour companies in Bali turns out to be a straightforward, cheap if long affair. If you book through a tour agency all your bus transfers are included as well as the transfer boat from Lombok to the Gilis. Not the most comfortable way to reach the Gilis but definitely the most memorable! We paid about €12 each for return trabsfers to the Gilis which included 4 bus transfers (Kuta to and from Padang Bai and Lembar to and from Bangsal), 2 Gili Boat Transfers and return Ferry Ride....bargain!!! The ferry ticket alone costs about €3 and you can make your own way to Padang Bai using public transport but you won’t save much money and it will make the journey even more drawn out.
BTW, the more people you can gather in a group the cheaper the price of the transfer package will be so ask around at the budget guesthouses.
Obviously the same companies offer return routes from the Gilis and Lombok to Bali and their times are outlined below.
Blue Water Safaris - Departs Gili Trawangan at 11.00 and arrives at Serangan (South Bali) at 13.30
Departs Gili Trawangan at 15.00 and arrives at Serangan at 17.30 via Padang Bai (East Bali) at 16.30
Gili Cat - Departs Gili Trawangan at 9.00 and arrives at Padang Bai at 10.30 via Teluk Kode (Lombok)
Departs Gili Trawangan at 14.00 (High Season only) and arrives at Padang Bai at 15.30 via Teluk Kode (Lombok)
Check www.gili-fastboat.com for more operators
There are a variety of choices for travellers wishing to get between Bali and the Gili Islands/Lombok by fast boat. The fast boats generally take between 2 – 2.5 hours from Bali to the Gilis but the journey can be a bumpy, stomach churning experience. You have various options depending on your location on the island of Bali, the most popular of which are outlined below...note that rates usually include pick-up and drop off to accommodation in Southern Bali.
Blue Water Safaris - Departs Serangan (South Bali) at 8.00 and arrives at Gili Trawangan at
Departs Serangan (South Bali) at 10.00 and arrives at Gili Trawangan at
12.30 via Padang Bai (East Bali)
Departs Padang Bai (East Bali) at 11.15 and arrives at Gili Trawangan at
Rates are typically around €110 return or around €90 return when booked online.
Gili Cat - Departs Padang Bai (East Bali) at 11.30 and arrives at Gili Trawangan at
13.00 via Teluk Kode (Lombok)
Departs Padang Bai (East Bali) at 16.30 (High Season only) and arrives at
Gili Trawangan at 18.00 via Teluk Kode (Lombok)
Rates are typically around €100 return
These are the most popular fast boats but there are also other operators running to the Gilis. Check www.gili-fastboat.com for more operators
Cidomos are horse drawn carriages. On the Gili Islands, the carriages are brightly painted and the horse well kept. There is little need to use a cidomo on Gili Air and Gili Meno as they are easily walkable, but if you want help with your luggage in arrival, cidomos are available for hire.
The cheapest way to get to Lombok is by ferry from Padangbai. The public ferries leave regularly and take between 4 and 5 hours. They dock at Lembar in east Lombok. From there you can catch a bemo to Senggigi or a bus to Mataram. The ferries are quite slow - there are fast boats from Bali to the Gili Islands and flights from Denpasar to Mataram, but for those on a budget or for those who want to try something a little different, the ferry can be fun, particularly on a fine day when there are great views both leaving Bali and approaching Lombok.
Just came back from a 4 night trip to Lombok - stayed at the Holiday Inn - about 10 mins north of Senggigi.
Just wanted to tell you (and theo) that the Lombok Taksi is the best way (for your budget) to get around the island. "Lombok Taksi" is part of the famous Blue Bird Group of taxis all over Indonesia - they always go by meter - almost all drivers (at least in Lombok) speak english and can be hired for the whole day for Rp. 350,000. The meter runs until 350,000 and then that is the maximum (for 10 hours I think) or you can "book" for say 9 am to 6 pm. The hotel staff can arrange it for you.
Even when you come out of the airport, don't go to the "pre-paid" taxi counter - some cheap airport taxis have pre-arranged with the airport staff to take you to your hotel.
For example, I pre-paid Rp 70,000 to my hotel - whereas the fare by Blue bird taxi (Lombok taksi) was around Rp 40,000. It might be more convenient to hail one from the pre-paid counter though...bcause you might have to step out to look for a blue bird taxi.
Hotel rates are twice (or more) as expensive in USD as opposed to local Rupiah rates. Unless you know someone in Indonesia who can make the booking for you (like talk in Bahasa Indonesia etc), it is difficult - a travel agent MIGHT help...
Didnt too too much exploring - except going to Senggigi.
Lombok is very well connected and has an extensive network of roads. There are public buses, the Bemos (minibuses) and also the authentic Cidomos or pony carts. But maybe the best way to see the island is renting a motorcycle.
Self drive in Lombok is cheap and easy. We hired a Suzuki Katana for Rp 150,000 per day only (excl. petrol of course), and drove it ourselves for nine days.
However, you have to keep a few points in mind:
1. You should have an international or Indonesian driving license.
2. Insurance is virtually non-existent. If by chance they say the car is insured, it means just that: the car. Not yourself, nor the cars or lives of others.
3. Secondary roads may be on the map, but not passable without four wheel drive.
So drive carefully, never be in a hurry, and always look out for erratic motor cycles.
We hired our car from "Bintang Berlian" in Mataram. They are at Jalan Catur Warga 12C, which was close to our hotel, Lombok Garden. Actually there are several car rentals on Jalan Catur Warga, and they cooperate if the car you want is not available. We preferred a small Suzuki jeep for the two of us, and the owner of Bintang Berlian, Ir Anton, phoned around to get it for us.
Blue Bird Taxi is the 5* taxi group in Indonesia. (according to me) It is the most available type of public transport in Lombok.
The starting fare is Rp 3.850 and then every fare stage thereafter would add Rp 220. If you book a taxi, the minimum payment is Rp 7.500 and the cancellation fee is Rp 3.000
The passenger is responsible for all parking and toll charges incurred. The fare is expected to be rounded up (never rounded down) to the nearest Rp 500 or Rp 1.000. Luggages attracts no extra charge.
A ride from Central Senggigi to Selaparang Airport in Mataram would cost around Rp 30.000 and 1hr airport parking of Rp 2.000.
The cheapest way of getting to Lombok
from Bali is by big vehicle carrying passenger ferries
which leave Padang Bai on Bali’s east coast hourly and
dock at Lembar, a kind of Sydney harbor without the buildings
in Lombok’s south west.
The trip takes 3 to 4 hours.
The cost is $3, and the 3 hours to Bangsal by local buses,
changing in Mataram and Senggigi, will cost about the same.
However a much less complicated way is to
use one of the big Indonesian transport companies like
Perama or Nominasi.
No direct shore to shore ferry but Perama Travel,
can pick you up at the hotel in Bali,
take you there via their very slow ferry to Lombok
and then bus and ferry to the islands for $15 inclusive.
Prices subject to change
Perama Travel - south end of Jln Legian near Bemo corner.
From Padang Bai go to Sengiggi ( Lomok )
then from Senggigi to the Gillis
I have just come back from Gili Air to Legian (August 2006).
We flew with Lion Air going (about US$40) to Mataram then a US$6 taxi ride to Senggigi and a US$30 (chartered as 3 people travelling) boat ride taking 2 hrs direct to Gili Air. (7 hrs door to door due to check-in time, transfer times and a lunch stop in Senggigi)
Travelling back we used Perama which involved a 20min ferry ride to Bangsal, a 500m walk to the bus station, a 1.5hr bus journey to Senggigi and then a 4hour boat crossing to Padang Bai. This cost US$25 per person. (8hrs door to door as we had breakfast and lunch on the boat and very little waiting for transfers and caught a cab from Padang Bai back to our Hotel).
The 4hr boat trip was not too bad with a hearty breakfast and lunch served.
We bought our flight ticket 2 days before we left in a travel agent in Legian.
Perama have several offices in Bali and can include a transfer from Padang Bai although this is fairly slow.