GILI TRAWANGAN TRAVEL GUIDE

Gili Trawangan is not just an island, but an experience.  Steps by the beach, you’ll find neon lights and a wealth of bars, discos and restaurants studded along its busy swath of sand.  If you are in for some hedonistic pursuits, then consider this thriving party island, but be prepared to empty your wallet as prices are ridiculously high here compared to Bali and Senggigi.

When Bali rose to fame back in the 80’s, it had a domino effect on neighboring islands such as the Gili Islands composed of Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan.  Each island has their own character and appeal but Gili Trawangan, the largest of them all, attracts more tourists  because of its busy nightlife, snorkeling/diving and scenic sunset.

Here’s a travel guide to help you plan your trip to Gili Trawangan.

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HOW TO GET TO GILI TRAWANGAN 

 

BALI TO GILI TRAWANGAN ISLAND

 

ROUTE 1

Fast boat/Speedboat from Bali to Gili Trawangan

 

From Padang Bai in Bali, speedboats depart daily to Gili Trawangan.  One way trip usually costs IDR 700,000 (PHP 2,471/USD 54) for adults and IDR 490,000 (PHP 1,730/USD 38) for children while prepare IDR 1,200,000 (PHP 4,237/USD 92) for adults and IDR 850,000 (PHP 3,002/ USD 65) for kids for roundtrip fare.  Below is the schedule of the trips of speedboats from Bali to Gili Trawangan and back.

 

FASTBOAT/SPEEDBOAT SCHEDULE FROM BALI (PADANG BAI) TO GILI TRAWANGAN

 

GILI CAT SPEEDBOAT TRIP SCHEDULE

 

ROUTE: 1ST TRIP (GILI CAT I)EMBARKATIONDEPARTUREARRIVAL
Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan08:45 AM09:15 AM10:45 AM
Gili Trawangan to Padang Bai10:50 AM11:20 AM01:00 PM
ROUTE: 2nd TRIP (GILI CAT II)  
Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan08:45 AM09:15 AM11:45 AM
Gili Trawangan to Padang Bai11:30 AM12:00 PM01:30 AM
ROUTE: 3rd TRIP (SEASONAL) 
Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan01:30 PM02:00 PM03:30 PM
Gili Trawangan to Padang Bai03:35 PM04:25 PM05:45 PM

 

WARNING:  Be prepared when riding the speedboat between Gili Trawangan and Bali due to monstrous waves. Bring a fan as it can get pretty hot while onboard. There is no air-con inside the speedboat, and the smell of the gasoline can cause dizziness, agitation and vomiting! Bring a plastic bag in case you throw up and menthol oil to help ease dizziness.  I suggest riding in the middle or in the back seat of the speedboat to ensure you can get some fresh air.

 BALI TO LOMBOK TO GILI TRAWANGAN

 

ROUTE 2

Bali to Lombok by Plane then Speedboat to Gili Trawangan

 

From Bali Airport (Denpasar International Airport), you can fly to Lombok International Airport near Praya City.  Travel time is approximately 25 minutes.

Bangsal Port
Bangsal Port – Where to buy tickets for fastboat/speedboat to Gili Islands

 

From Lombok Airport, hire a car or taxi to Bangsal Port in northwest Lombok where public boats and speedboats depart from 7:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  If you wish to charter a private speedboat, head to Teluk Kodek port.

 

ROUTE 3

Bali to Lombok by Ferry then Public Boat or Speedboat to Gili Trawangan

 

When I first visited Lombok last year with my Singaporean friend Jeremy Goh, we took this route to Gili Air.  Not exactly the cheapest route because we had to hire a car to take us to the port in Bali since we missed the bus.  Car hire to the port from Kuta Beach is IDR 500,000 (PHP 1,766.76/USD 38.27).  Travel time is about 1 hour from Kuta and Legian in Denpasar.  So if you are alone, I suggest just book for end-to-end tours with a travel agency, it is way cheaper!  Rates start at IDR 250,000 (PHP 883 / USD 20).  Travel agencies abound on Legian and Kuta Beach area and other major tourist hubs in Bali.

 

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Slow ferry from Bali to Lombok Port

 

Public (slow) ferries leave every hour from Padang Bai (also Padang Bay) in east Bali.  They operate 24 hours a day.  Ferry fare to Lembar on Lombok is IDR 40,000 (PHP 141.34/USD 3.06) and travel time is about 4-5 hours.  There are porters that can help you carry your luggage for IDR 10,000 (PHP 35.34/USD 0.77) per luggage.  I was carrying a lot of bags that time and found them really helpful.

WARNING: Once you enter Padang Bai Port in Bali, make sure to get your tickets back at the first gate after the guard checks it.  One of the guards there took my ticket and I was barred from riding the ferry because I no longer have the ticket.  I told them what happened but they did not listen. The guard disappeared from his post.  It seems like a scam at Padang Bai Port. I ended up paying another IDR 40,000 (PHP141.34/USD 3.06) to ride the ferry to Lombok Port.

 

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Bangsal Port – Ticket booth for Slowboats to Gili Trawangan

 

Slowboat to Gili Islands
Slowboats to Gili Trawangan

 

At Lombok Port, you can take a cab or hire a taxi to take you to Bangsal Port where public boats and speedboats to Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno) depart.  First trip is 7:00 AM and last trip is at 4:30 PM.  Fare of public boat to Gili Trawangan is IDR 15,000 for locals (PHP 53 / USD 1.14 )and IDR 20,000 (PHP 70 / USD 2) for foreigners plus IDR 2,500 (PHP 9 / USD 0.19 ) for terminal fee.  If you wish to charter a public boat, just talk to a boat operator at Bangsal Port.  Alternatively, you can ride a fastboat/speedboat for IDR 85,000 per person (PHP 300 / USD 85 )or IDR 350,000 (PHP 1,233  / USD 27)  for roundtrip fare.  Take note that boast here leave only once they are full.

If you want to hire a private speed boat to Gili Trawangan, head to Teluk Kodek. Typical rate is IDR 350,000 to IDR 500,000 (PHP 1,233 – PHP 1,761 /USD 27-38) per boat.

 

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Inside the Slowboat to Gili Trawangan

 

ALSO READ:  BALI TRAVEL GUIDE

 

 Alternatively, if you are only planning a day tour to Gili Trawangan from Lombok and you know how to drive a motorbike, hire one at some guesthouses and hostels in Lombok.  We paid IDR 170,000 (PHP 611.03/USD 12.97) per day for motorbike rental, gasoline not included (you need to refill the tank when you return it).  You can leave the motorbike at the parking areas near Bangsal Port for a minimal fee.  They are open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM only.

 

 THINGS TO DO ON GILI TRAWANGAN 

 

DIVING


Despite being largely known as a partly island, Gili Trawangan has more up its sleeve.  In recent years, diving has become a thriving business on the island because of its impressive underwater world.  Dive shops fringe the east coast of Gili Trawangan and you can book for dive trips around the Gili Islands.

 

SNORKELING

 

 

For snorkelling, head to the northern end of the beach near Lutwala Dive Shop and Trawangan Wall on the east coast.  Corals are in sorry state, but you can still encounter a variety of colorful fishes even in shallow reefs.  If you are lucky enough a turtle might join you while swimming!  Several travel agencies offer snorkeling trips daily, and you can rent snorkeling gears almost everywhere!

 

ISLAND HOPPING

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If you are traveling in groups, best to just hire a boat for island hopping which starts at IDR 225,000 (PHP 793/USD 19), good for 10 persons.   Otherwise, if you are on a budget or you are alone, you can book for island hopping trips with travel agents or catch the island hopping boat that transports tourists to the two other Gili Islands (Gili Meno and Gili Air).

 

SCHEDULE OF PUBLIC BOATS FOR ISLAND HOPPING ON GILI ISLANDS

 

ROUTEDEPARTUREPRICE
Gili Trawangan to Gili Meno09:30 AM and 04:00 PMIDR 18,800 ( PHP 66 /USD 1.43)
Gili Meno to Gili Trawangan08:00 AM and 03:20 PMIDR 18,800 ( PHP 66 /USD 1.43)
Gili Trawangan to Gili Air09:30 AM and 04:00 PM    IDR 22,900  (PHP 81/USD 1.74)
Gili Air to Gili Trawangan08:30 AM and 03:00 PMIDR 25,000 (PHP 88 /USD 1.89)

 

WATERSPORTS

 

You will never really run out of things to do on Gili Island, aside from diving and snorkeling, you can also try parasailing IDR 66,000-IDR 85,000 (PHP 177 – PHP 229/USD 50-65), Wakeboarding for IDR 65,00 (PHP 176/ USD 4) and surfing, surfboard rentals start at IDR 50,000 (PHP 176 /USD 4) per day.  Paddle boarding is a recent addition to the watersports you can try while on a holiday at Gili Trawangan, just look or ask around for SUP Rentals.

 

SEE THE TURTLE SANCTUARY

 

Turtle

There is a turtle hatchery on the main beach (near Trawangan Dive shop) where turtles are released into the sea annually. No entrance fee but donations are accepted.

 

BIKING

 Gili Trawangan Biking

 

Since motorised vehicle are prohibited on the island, the best way to tour Gili Trawangan is by bike.  There is a wealth of bike rental shops on the island, but most hotels/resorts also offer bike rental.  You can bike the island in about 1-2 hours.  However be ready to push your bike on some sandy roads on the west coast!  Our group biked to the sunset watching area with swings on the east coast, and I must say, it is worth a try!

 

 

SWING AND SEE THE SUNSET

 

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Gili Trawangan’s sunset is epic! Undoubtedly one of the best spots on Lombok for sunset-watching!  Rush to the east coast either by bike or cidomo (horse cat), nab a spot at one of the beach-front bars and order some drinks while you watch in reverie as the sky turns into a blend of orange, pink and purplish-blue!  The swings at Gili Trawangan which was originally started by Ombak Sunset is pretty popular.  You can queue to have your photo taken here.  Otherwise, just chill by the beach while the sun or go horse-bike riding by the beach for IDR 50,000 (PHP 176 /USD 4).

 

 

FEAST ON SEAFOOD

 

seafood

You’ll find every cuisine imaginable in Gili Trawangan but never miss the grilled seafood!  Scout the menu at open-air restaurants fronting the beach, during our brief stay here we tried the popular Scallywags.

 

SHOPPING

 
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If you missed shopping in Bali, you can do it in Gili Trawangan where souvenir shops never stop expanding along with stylish boutiques.  You can find an assortment of apparels, batiks, bags, hand-crafted items, masks and woodcarvings.

 

 

NIGHTLIFE

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What lures tourists to Gili Trawangan is its interesting mix of nightlife and dramatic beach scenery.  Here, you’ll find hipster bars, cafes and restaurants standing shoulder to shoulder.  Be careful when buying drinks, only buy at trusted bars, hotels and restaurants as your booze can get spiked.  For the uninitiated, drink spiking is when alcohol or drugs are added to your drink without you knowing it.  Avoid drinking alone, make sure you have a trusted friend with you so you can watch  each other.

 

WARNING: Drugs is illegal in Indonesia and the punishment is death penalty. 

 

 

 

WHERE TO EAT IN GILI TRAWANGAN

 

When it comes to food, you are spoilt for choice while in Gili Trawangan. Below are the places we have tried but you will never really run out of a place to dine here!  Just roam around and you will surely find one that suits your taste and budget!

 

GILI TRAWANGAN NIGHT MARKET

 

There is a night market that opens every 6:00 PM near the port where you can try inexpensive, delicious local dishes such as nasi campur, nasi goreng, satay, warteg and more!  A must-try when in Gili Trawangan!

SCALLYWAGS ORGANIC SEAFOOD BAR AND GRILL

 

As you might have surmised, best to try their grilled seafood!  The open-air restaurant is just fronting the beach on the east coast, walking distance from the pier.

 

SIDEWALK CAFÉ AT VILLA OMBAK

 

Just beside the pier is Sidewalk Café owned by Villa Ombak which offers buffet dinner with a live band performance.   Honestly, I find nothing special with their menu, but if you want some fresh air and good music while dining, it is worth a shot!

 

WHERE TO STAY IN GILI TRAWANGAN

 

Most hotels and resorts on Gili Trawangan is strung out along the east coast.  Rooms and amenities can get increasingly posh as you head to the west coast where stylish resorts and hip hotels hide.  But for backpackers and the budget-conscious, don’t fret as there are a couple of locally-owned homestays sprinkled around the island.  Room rates starts at IDR 150,000 (PHP 530/USD 12).  If you are traveling to Gili Trawangan during the peak season (July to August and January to December), make sure you book a hotel ahead of time.

 

⊗ LUXURY ⊗

 

villa ombak

 

VILLA OMBAK HOTEL

Gili Trawangan, Lombok

This is where we stayed at during our recent trip

CHECK ROOM RATES HERE

 

GOOD HEART RESORT

The longest running locally-owned resort on Gili Trawangan.

CHECK ROOM RATES HERE

 

 

⊗ MID-RANGE ⊗


OMBAK SUNSET HOTEL

Original location of the Datu Swing at Sunset.

CHECK ROOM RATES HERE

 

⊗ BUDGET ⊗

 

coral beach 2

 CORAL BEACH II GUESTHOUSE

CHECK ROOM RATES HERE

 

GILI BINTANG BUNGALOW

CHECK ROOM RATES HERE

 

 

GILI TRAWANGAN SAMPLE ITINERARY

 

Here’s our sample itinerary for Gili Trawangan which includes island hopping/snorkeling trip to Gili Air and Gili Meno from our recent trip.

 

DAY 1ACTIVITYDESTINATION
06:00 AM – 06:30 AMMorning callHotel in Lombok
07:00 AM – 08:30 AMCheck outHotel in Lombok
08:45 AM – 09:45 AMTo Sasak Sade Traditional Village
09:45 AM – 11:45 AMArrival at Sasak Sade Traditional VillageTanjung Aan, Mandalika
11:45 AM – 12:45 AMTo RM Ayam Taliwanag
12:45 PM – 14:00 PMLunchRM Ayam Taliwanag
02:00 PM – 03:00 PMTeluk Kodek
03:00 PM – 03:30 PMTo Gili Trawangan By SpeedBoat
03:30 PM – 05:00 PMCheck in and RestHotel in Gili Trawangan
05:00 PM – 06:30 PMWatch Sunset
06:45 PM –  08:00 PMDinner

 

 

DAY 2ACTIVITYDESTINATION
05:30 AM – 06:00 AMWake up callingResort in Gili Trawangan
06:30 AM – 07:30 AMBreakfast
08:00 AM – 12:00 PMSnorkeling around Gili IslandsGlass Bottom Boat/ Gili Meno
12:00 PM – 02:30 PMLunch and Free TimeGili Air
02:30 PM – 03:00 PMBack to ResortGlass Bottom Boat
03:00 PM – 07:00 PMRest/Free Time/Explore Gili TBike/Walk
07:00 PMDinner

 

Day 3ACTIVITYDESTINATION
04:00 AM – 04:30 AMWake up CallResort in Gili Trawangan
05:00 AM – 05:30 AMCheck out 
05:30 AM – 08:00 AMTo Bali by Speedboat 

 

 

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT GILI TRAWANGAN?

 

Rainy Season – November to April

Peak Season – July to August and January to December

 

ALSO READ:  TOP THINGS TO DO IN YOGYAKARTA

 

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GILI TRAWANGAN TRAVEL TIPS

 

Just like the rest of the Gili Islands, majority of the local residents here are Muslim. Respect local culture. Dress appropriately when away from the beach or resort.  Avoid being topless and wearing bikinis when roaming around the streets of Gili Trawangan.  Nude sand-bathing is also frowned upon.

There is no spring water in Gili Trawangan but some resorts have groundwater which is somewhat salty.

There are no motorbikes or cars at Gili Trawangan.  You can get around the island by bike or hire a cidomo, a horse-drawn carriage to transport you and your luggage.  Fare is IDR 20,000 to IDR 50,000 (PHP 71 to PHP 176/ USD 1.5 TO USD 4) depending on the distance.

There are a handful of ATMs on the island, but I still suggest you stack up cash (Indonesian rupiah) before heading to Gili Trawangan.  Some resorts, shops and restaurant accept credit card payments.

Alcohol is pretty expensive in Gili Trawangan, can set you back IDR 200,000 per bottle.  But it is cheaper when you buy at 24/7 marts.

Be careful when buying drinks, only buy at trusted bars, hotels and restaurants as your booze can get spiked.  For the uninitiated, drink spiking is when alcohol or drugs are added to your drink without you knowing it.  Avoid drinking alone, make sure you have a trusted friend with you so you can watch over each other.

 

WARNING: I will reiterate, Drugs is illegal in Indonesia and the punishment is death penalty.  You might be offered drugs like mushroom while drinking at bars in Gili Trawangan.  But no matter what others tell you that you can get away with it because there is no police on the island, do not be tempted. Undercover police occasionally roam Gili Trawangan Island.

 

ALSO READ: BANDUNG TRAVEL GUIDE 

 

 


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Special thanks to Tourism Indonesia for making our trip to Gili Trawangan possible.

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24264_351910964162_336201504162_3580676_6142279_nAbout the Blogger : Gael is a Filipina travel blogger. Her work has appeared in local and international publications.

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