At first, 6 days seem a little too long for a trip to a small island like Gili Trawangan. Turnout it was actually just nice :) I will be sharing the experiences in this entry so if it is your first time to this island, read on because there will be some travelling tips etc.
Gili Trawangan has changed quite a bit since the first time I came in 2012 for work. The most obvious one would be the prices and how commercialise it’s starting to be, but still as beautiful especially the smurf blue sea. I booked a room somewhere northeast of the island called Indigenous Bungalow. A beautiful clean place and I was pretty much pampered by the friendly and helpful staff. What I dint know was the distance from the harbour/happening-places to my hotel room!! In case you’re curious, it’s a 30 minutes walk. Fret not if you’re the kind that would literally pack your home into your luggage bag because they have horse cart services. Well, more like ponies. I’m not too sure about the pricing but if I’m not mistaken it’s 30,000 Rupiah, fixed price. No cars and motorbikes in Gili Tranwangan so if you’re an animal lover and you don’t want to see beautiful ponies pulling you around, rent a bicycle. I would highly suggest you renting a bike if your hotel located somewhere inconvenient and they usually go by day-rent (24 hours) which is 50,000 Rupiah per bike. Even if your hotel is in the ‘hot-spot’, just rent a bike anyway. The island isn’t that big, it would take about an hour or 2 to go around (including stopping once in a while to catch a breath and snapping photos for instagram).
Food and drinks should probably be the last thing to be worried about because restaurants & bars are pretty much everywhere. The problem would be choosing the restaurant. On average, a meal ranges between 30,000 – 60,000 Rupiah. Be warned that food portions will not put a smile on your face if you’re a big eater like myself so don’t bother asking “would you like to share something with me?”. Go for pizzas if you want to fill that poor empty tummy of yours. As for drinks, fruit juices are priced around 12,000 – 20,000 Rupiah depending on restaurants. Pfft! why would someone drink fruit juice when they can have beer?! hehehehe just kidding. Typically a small bottle of beer cost 25,000 Rupiah and big bottles go for 35,000 Rupiah. Gili Tranwangan is a really hot place so beer sounds good anytime of the day.
This is definitely a haven for divers. There’re lots of diving spots around, not only in Gili Trawangan but also the neighbouring islands, Gili Meno and Gili Air. I can’t remember all the spots but I know there’s a shark point, turtle point, and other points that I will never get to experience because I don’t like sea creatures. I prefer the saver route, drop the tanks, heavy belts and just watch the underwater world from the surface. Yes, I am talking about snorkeling. In terms of fishes, you won’t get to experience cute colourful fins flapping your face because there’s really not many of them. On a brighter note, you get to see beautiful (yet creepy) colourful corals!! Wild turtles can also be seen around if you are lucky. I went on a public snorkeling package where they will take you to 3 snorkeling locations around the 3 Gilis. I paid 100,000/pax for that package. You can also opt for a private boat, snorkeling anywhere you want within 4 hours. I would recommend this ONLY if you have a large group because it cost about 700,000 Rupiah and above. Anyway if both diving and snorkeling still not your thing, bring your surf board instead. The waves are big! I would say they are about 8ft-10ft high. Anything higher than that then I suggest you start praying, it’s probably tsunami. Kidding! again…
IMPORTANT: DON’T GET CHEATED
Despite the wonderful experiences I got from Gili Trawangan, there’s something that really upset me in this holiday trip. On the first day when I arrived at the airport, I went straight to the taxi counter to get a ticket. I told that guy I wanted to go to Sengigi (this was where I took the boat to Gili Trawangan the first time I came to Lombok in 2012). He told me I should be going to Bangsal instead because that’s where the harbour is, which I agreed. 250,000 Rupiah for the 2 hour journey to Bangsal, not a bad deal I would say.
When I got to Bangsal, I went in to buy my boat ticket to Gili Trawangan. It’s 15,000 Rupiah/person. The counter guy then asked me if I wanted to buy another ticket for return. I told him I will buy the ticket from Gili Trawangan instead. He then told me that there will be no ticket counter over at Gili Trawangan for me to buy to return to Bangsal. He then proceeded to offer me a package, a return ticket and taxi to the airport. My flight back to Kuala Lumpur was 12.15pm and he said he can get me to the airport by 11am. 400,000 Rupiah for that package. I knew he was trying to cheat me but for some reason, I did not want to take the risk of missing my flight. I agreed to that stupid deal.
As I was walking to the boat, a man insist on helping me to load my luggage in to the boat, which he later came back and asked me for a 50,000 tip!!! more than 3 times the price of my ticket!!! It was very forceful and I had no choice but to give. Another man even tried to grab some notes from my hand. Not cool..
On the day of my return, as soon as I reached Bangsal, a porter offered to take my luggage again, and this time I refused. I then proceeded to ask for my taxi that was supposed to take me to the airport. I was told my taxi is waiting for me at the “terminal” and I needed to take a horse-cart there because it’s quite a distance. This was not included in that package!!! I had to pay 30,000 Rupiah for that horse ride which is only 2 minutes away!!! “quite a distance” my a**. When I got to the so called terminal, my taxi wasn’t there. I waited for 20 minutes and my taxi was nowhere to be seen. The man in charge then told me to pay him additional 50,000 Rupiah and he’ll get me another taxi right away. I refused and told him I finished all my money. Ignoring my refusal, he proceeded with bringing me a taxi and asked for that 50,000 Rph. Again, I told him I don’t have that money. He then requested something that shocked me. ONE t-shirt of mine. Luckily I have one that is badly torn to be given to that idiot.
I am truly disappointed by what Lombok is starting to become. The people running the boat business are just getting really greedy. However the people in Gilis are just amazing! Friendly and trustable.
TRAVELLING TIME AND TIPS
Flight from Kuala Lumpur – Lombok (2 hours 50 minutes)
Taxi journey from Lombok airport to Bangsal (1:30 – 2 hours)
Boat from Bangsal to Gili Trawangan (40 minutes)
1. Get a namecard from your taxi driver so that you can use his service back to the airport.
2. Dont let any porter carry your bags to the boat if you are not planning to spend 50,000Rph on tips.
3. YES, they have ticket counter in Gili Trawangan Harbour to return to Bangsal for 15,000Rph only!
4. Cycle around your hotel, there could be a convenient store around the corner. (I found out there was one behind my hotel only after 4 days)
5. They have ATMs there on the island. Some restaurants accept credit cards.
6. Bring a headtorch or torchlight. There are no street lights so it’s almost impossible to see when cycling/walking at night at certain areas.
Well that’s all I could think for now, if you have any inquiries, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading! I hope this is useful for you!