If you know Bali, you should also know Lombok, an island that many refer to as “unspoiled Bali”. It has everything that Bali boasts about: pristine beaches, majestic waterfalls, and world-famous dive sites-but without the swarming tourists. Getting around Lombok may be very scenic since this island, which many consider to be Bali’s twin island, boasts of its unblemished beauty and several natural attractions such as the looming Mount Rinjani volcano. Lombok is a tiny island but still presents its share of thorny areas. Below are some tips for you when moving around this tropical Southeast Asian destination.
After you arrive at the Lombok Airport, you can take either the airport taxi or a metered taxi. Airport taxis have fixed rates depending on where you wish to go. For instance, from the airport to Bandara costs Rp 20,000, to Lembar is Rp 115,000, to far-away Bola Bola is Rp 270,000. You can’t miss the airport taxi counter as you exit from the arrival area. Fixed rate coupons are paid in Indonesian Rupiah, which is about 8600 to a US dollar. If you are not sure where to go, some taxi drivers will be happy to help you look for a place to stay without additional charge.
Meanwhile, metered taxis are more practical and economical as you move around the city. You cannot get one at the airport, though, since they are not allowed to pick up passengers. They may only drop them off and then immediately leave airport premises. There are two taxi companies that normally radio-dispatch their taxis to hotels or elsewhere. They are BlueBird (Tel. 370-627000) and Express Taksi (Tel. 370-635968). You may request your hotel to call them for a ride. Initial flag-down costs about Rp 4,250 and a few hundred rupiah for every 100 meters after two kilometers. Some hotels arrange private car services as well, but this is often much more expensive since hotels typically ask for commission.
A more common form of transport is the bemo, a minivan that can carry a number of passengers. Fare is very cheap at about Rp 4,500-5,500 from Ampenan to Senggigi. You may hire a bemo as your own chartered van if you want to go with only your friends or companions. Make sure, though, to clearly agree on a charge since you might end up paying more than necessary. For western tourists, it would help if you ask a local passenger how much they would pay for regular or chartered fare, and always bring loose change so you can pay exact fare since bemo drivers have this habit of not changing large bills. Drivers may also charge you extra if you are carrying large bags (from too much shopping, perhaps) that occupy too much space.
If you wish to move around Lombok in style and as most locals do, hire a motorbike for only about Rp 50,000 a day. Remember a couple of things, however: you should always wear a helmet, most roads have potholes and are unpaved, local drivers do not normally follow traffic rules, driving from dusk to nighttime is dangerous, and traffic is chaotic. Two more options when getting around Lombok on land are the ojek (a motorbike taxi) and didemo (horse-pulled cart). These two are very common and cheap. Meanwhile getting around Lombok by boat involves the perahus (traditional outrigger fishing boats). Finally, when getting around Lombok, you could try renting a bicycle for a safer and more scenic ride.
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