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.
HOW TO GET TO GILI TRAWANGAN
BALI TO GILI TRAWANGAN ISLAND
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)||EMBARKATION||DEPARTURE||ARRIVAL|
|Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan||08:45 AM||09:15 AM||10:45 AM|
|Gili Trawangan to Padang Bai||10:50 AM||11:20 AM||01:00 PM|
|ROUTE: 2nd TRIP (GILI CAT II)|
|Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan||08:45 AM||09:15 AM||11:45 AM|
|Gili Trawangan to Padang Bai||11:30 AM||12:00 PM||01:30 AM|
|ROUTE: 3rd TRIP (SEASONAL)|
|Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan||01:30 PM||02:00 PM||03:30 PM|
|Gili Trawangan to Padang Bai||03:35 PM||04:25 PM||05:45 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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
|Gili Trawangan to Gili Meno||09:30 AM and 04:00 PM||IDR 18,800 ( PHP 66 /USD 1.43)|
|Gili Meno to Gili Trawangan||08:00 AM and 03:20 PM||IDR 18,800 ( PHP 66 /USD 1.43)|
|Gili Trawangan to Gili Air||09:30 AM and 04:00 PM||IDR 22,900 (PHP 81/USD 1.74)|
|Gili Air to Gili Trawangan||08:30 AM and 03:00 PM||IDR 25,000 (PHP 88 /USD 1.89)|
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 HOTEL
Gili Trawangan, Lombok
This is where we stayed at during our recent trip
GOOD HEART RESORT
The longest running locally-owned resort on Gili Trawangan.
⊗ MID-RANGE ⊗
OMBAK SUNSET HOTEL
Original location of the Datu Swing at Sunset.
⊗ BUDGET ⊗
CORAL BEACH II GUESTHOUSE
GILI BINTANG BUNGALOW
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.
|06:00 AM – 06:30 AM||Morning call||Hotel in Lombok|
|07:00 AM – 08:30 AM||Check out||Hotel in Lombok|
|08:45 AM – 09:45 AM||To Sasak Sade Traditional Village|
|09:45 AM – 11:45 AM||Arrival at Sasak Sade Traditional Village||Tanjung Aan, Mandalika|
|11:45 AM – 12:45 AM||To RM Ayam Taliwanag|
|12:45 PM – 14:00 PM||Lunch||RM Ayam Taliwanag|
|02:00 PM – 03:00 PM||Teluk Kodek|
|03:00 PM – 03:30 PM||To Gili Trawangan By SpeedBoat|
|03:30 PM – 05:00 PM||Check in and Rest||Hotel in Gili Trawangan|
|05:00 PM – 06:30 PM||Watch Sunset|
|06:45 PM – 08:00 PM||Dinner|
|05:30 AM – 06:00 AM||Wake up calling||Resort in Gili Trawangan|
|06:30 AM – 07:30 AM||Breakfast|
|08:00 AM – 12:00 PM||Snorkeling around Gili Islands||Glass Bottom Boat/ Gili Meno|
|12:00 PM – 02:30 PM||Lunch and Free Time||Gili Air|
|02:30 PM – 03:00 PM||Back to Resort||Glass Bottom Boat|
|03:00 PM – 07:00 PM||Rest/Free Time/Explore Gili T||Bike/Walk|
|04:00 AM – 04:30 AM||Wake up Call||Resort in Gili Trawangan|
|05:00 AM – 05:30 AM||Check out|
|05:30 AM – 08:00 AM||To 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
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
Special thanks to Tourism Indonesia for making our trip to Gili Trawangan possible.
To know more about Indonesia visit www.indonesia.travel
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