How to Travel to Lombok and Gili on a Budget

Many people asked me how much money I spent when I went to Lombok and Gili a month ago and everytime I said that it was cheap, they always be like ‘4 million?’ ‘five?’ ‘ten?’. But no, we went lower than that. We were there for five days four nights, and only spend less than IDR 3 million, included everything – i meant EVERY THING. What?? How??!

Taking pictures before going! featuring Samia

First hack, buy return flight tickets at once. In my case, I was the last one to buy the tickets (less than one day before departure) while my friends have bought their tickets from several days ago through Traveloka. They got the return flight tickets for IDR 1.300k, but for me when I checked, it was freaking IDR 900k for one way! I almost got heart attack to think that I will spend 2 millions only for tickets. But I was sotoy-ly tried to check whether buying return tickets would change the price, and it did! So weird that the same plane, same flight, same ticket – but different method of buying resulted to a very different price. At the end I got the same price with them which was IDR 1.300k in total. It also should be noted that I bought mine at the very last minute.

Second hack, go with some friends. The more the better, especially if the number is even. In my case, it was four – Tree, Janine, Emma, and I. Why? It can reduce the price so much, because you’ll share most of the budget spending like hotel/guesthouse, and transportation. In our case, we went to Koeta Lombok directly after we arrived at the International Airport, but Koeta was more than 30mins away, it was quite late at night & there was no public transportation going to that area, so we took a taxi to our guesthouse. And this is an important note: Take a taxi with Argo or meters, if you have to take the taxi without meters, do bargain to almost half the price they offer! Sometimes, when they see that tourists who know nothing come, especially if they are foreigners they’d ask way higher price. At that time we didn’t get the taxi with meters but we were lucky that our friend knew a real Lombok person so she told us how much the price of taxi would be. At first the taxi driver asked for more than IDR 100k, but because the price supposed to be IDR 70k (like my friend said) so we bargained to that price, but we failed HAHA. At the end we paid for IDR 80k, but it was not expensive at all because we shared it with the four of us, so each one only pays for IDR 20k. Can you imagine to pay that amount by yourself? It’s possible but it’s better to use the money for something else.

Another proof of ‘the more the better’, was about our guesthouse. In Koeta Lombok, we booked two rooms in a homestay  because we thought the rooms & beds would be small, turned out that one room was more than enough for the four of us. Fyi, we also initially didn’t want to sleep separately – so we canceled the other room and sleep in one room instead. That’s also the same case with our guesthouse in Gili, we just share one big room with 2 big beds and DONE. Cheap cheap. For a night, each one of us didn’t even pay for IDR 50k, it was less than that.

The view from our guesthouse at Koeta Bali

Moving on to the third hack, which is to backpack, instead of with suitcases. To be honest, yesterday’s trip was my very first trip with backpacks only, and it was with my friends’ influence. A new experience and I think there are two sides of bringing backpack; con: heavy because you have to keep on carrying that; pros: easy to mobile and reduce more spending.

Do you notice our backpacks?

I will admit that it was kinda annoying and heavy to bring my backpack instead of suitcase, but I think it is the easiest and the cheapest method of traveling. Why?

  1. Gili itself is not a place that is suitcase-friendly, because the roads were quite bumpy, many holes, and thus very muddy after the rain. For me, it was enough that only my feet and sandals got mud – no need the same thing for my suitcase.
  2. When you want to cross the sea from Lombok to Gili Trawangan, you have to take a boat, and oh my you have to literally jump in and out the boat. Not to mention that the boat (the public one that’s cheap) was so crowded, so I personally can’t imagine how would you jump from the watery-wavy seashore to the high edge of the boat by yourself plus bringing suitcases with you.
  3. As I mentioned earlier that the roads were bumpy, it indeed was hard to bring your suitcase, especially if it is more than one. I saw people were struggling pulling & pushing their suitcase everywhere, so as alternative they took a horse carriage / cidomo / delman instead, in which will cost more than just casual walk. Usually, from what I saw was that mostly Indonesians were the one with suitcases and ride the cidomo, while international tourists were with their backpacks and just walk to their guesthouse.
Just walk and walk everywhere

The next hack is that to choose a good place to stay! This is an extremely important thing as it will decide most of your spending in your vacation. But what I meant by ‘good’ is not about the luxury, or the price only, but about the worthiness – whether the facilities it offers match or exceed the rent price. Even though it is very cheap but it is far far away from everything, it isnt worthy. For me, during our stay in Lombok & Gili for five days, we managed to move in and out to three places; Koeta Lombok, Gili, Praya and we always got the best deal. But one thing to note, places we chose to stay were always really humble, cute but not fancy because we thought that we will be out everyday and thus our room will only be used for sleeping from midnight to 9am so why bother getting a luxurious one? So moving on, I have two tips about homestay. One: find a place that also offer trips/ rent other things & include the breakfast as well; Two: book it through at least a day before because this website offers places with cheaper price, at least that was what we did. Let me tell you about our experience:

  • First day, we arrived and went directly to Koeta Lombok which turned out to be the opposite direction of Bangsal Harbour (harbour to cross Gili-Lombok), but it was okay because our guesthouse was so cute like a little shack and big enough to have all of us in one room because the beds were two massive beds. The name of our guesthouse was Full Moon.

We also have the Koeta Beach right outside of our door, we could just open the door and smell the beach already. It really felt like our own private beach because literally, there were no one else but us there. It was so hot, but our hearts were warmer ❤

Can you see how beautiful it is?

Another good thing about this place was that because they have trustworthy car rental, we avoided getting scam from another non-meter taxi. We used the car & driver from the guesthouse and he took us to Mataram City for way cheaper price – even we got to stop at the family industry of Lombok traditional cloth  because the driver offered us. He also gave us cheap price because we were the guests in the homestay as well.

  • Second day, we arrived at Gili Trawangan, Lombok and went to the homestay that we have booked through It was located behind the main street of Gili Trawangan, so it was really quiet, and has Indonesian feeling instead of touristy feeling. The name of our place was Green Ball, and they also have free breakfast there. Just like the previous homestay, we also stayed there in one room only. It was so cheap because we paid only for IDR 500.000 for three days two nights if I’m not mistaken The breakfast was awesome, they served western breakfast (so don’t expect nasi goreng) with tea, coffee or fresh juice. Fyi the banana juice was amaaaazeballs! 

Other than that the staffs were so nice and turns out that they also arranged snorkeling trip, so we paid for IDR 120.000 to snorkel in three locations from 10am to 4pm. So cheap right? And it’s included the boat, going around Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, Gili Air by boat and also included lunch at Gili Meno. The homestay also rent bicycle there with cheap price (daily or for some hours only), but we rent four bicycles for three hours and paid for IDR 100.000 only. But the staffs were so nice, too nice even because after those 3 hours, Janine & Tree got to use the bicycle for free. This homestay really made our Gili trip even better!

Janine, Tree & wonderful staffs of Green Ball
  • Our last day at Gili, we packed things up because Emma and I had to leave Gili on Sunday afternoon while Janine & Tree stayed for one more night. A day before we left, we booked a hotel room at Praya, the city with the international airport. We did that because our flight would be on Monday at 6 am, so we decided the nearer the better. The place we stayed this time was Grand Royal BIL Hotel. It is located really really close from the airport only 5 minutes away thus we didn’t need to wake up that early. It was so cheap compared to the other hotels nearby, only IDR 300.000-ish for two people a night. The best thing about the hotel? They have free shuttle to the airport anytime you need (for us it was 4.45am), and they also provided us breakfast although it was super early in the morning. They had rice porridge, chicken soup, toasts, tea, coffee, and water.

The last hack would be, travel like a local.  From our experience, what we did was to use public boat to cross from Lombok to Gili so it only cost us IDR 15.000, instead of private boat or speedboat which would be hundred thousands rupiah. Other than that, if you plan to snorkel, just use the public boat instead of private boat. Of course it would be cheap because you will go with at least 20 more people, but for us it was okay as they always wait for us until we finished. Or even a more cheaper, when Tree and Janine stayed for one more night, they also just rent the snorkel and that was it. They only paid for the snorkel they rent, and they can snorkel nearby by themselves.

Snorkeling trip with public boat

Next thing was to rent a bicycle instead of taking horse carriage/ delman/cidomo if you want to go around. In the island, they have no cars or motorbike or whatsoever that’s why it was really clean and free from pollution. So if you plan to explore Gili Trawangan, it would be cheaper and nicer if you go around the island with your own bike in more or less three hours. I recommend it though because you can see the other side of the island that you haven’t seen yet, especially if you are not sure whether you’ll visit Gili again, or not. Bicycle would be better because you basically can travel anywhere for a day than horse carriage that will only take you to one place to another for almost the same price. And if you use bicycle, you can stop anywhere you want to just take picture, have some snacks, or even swim somewhere.

To walk or to bike – the best two option for exploring Gili Trawangan

One last thing, maybe it would be good to bring a local, like I was being the only local out of these three. I think it kinda helped if you need to bargain something because they will give the local price instead of the foreign tourist price or bule price.

I guess that was it, my own experience in traveling to Lombok and spent less than IDR 3 million for five days four nights. It was a really enjoyable time I spent with these three powerpuff girls. And it was cheap, which makes it even more fantastic. I hope what I wrote helps somehow in your Lombok/Gili planning or any vacation planning.


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