Bali or Lombok | Which island to choose for your trip to Indonesia?

Bali or Lombok | Which island to choose for your trip to Indonesia?

Bali or Lombok? Isn’t it the same thing?

Bali or Lombok? In the end, isn’t it a bit the same? Indeed, Bali and Lombok are two islands located side by side in Indonesia. When you don’t know much about the country, you can wonder if these two islands will not ultimately look a lot alike. I’ll stop you right away, and you’ll quickly realize it if you visit both: there are many differences between these two islands. So how do you choose?

Bali is certainly the most famous Indonesian island for travelers. It is nicknamed “the island of the Gods”, and it is often mentioned that its charm has something bewitching about it. Bali is also one of the smallest Indonesian islands but yet one of the most populated. It has approximately 3.8 million inhabitants. There are small towns where life is good, such as Ubud, located in the center of the island, but also very pretty beaches and superb landscapes of rice fields.

Lombok, which means “chilli“, is an island located west of Bali. It is made up of 3.2 million inhabitants and consists of a very volcanic region, to the north of the island with the Rinjani volcano and a very fertile region to the south, where rice, cotton or coffee again. This island, once not very open to tourism, is now starting to make people talk about it. We discover landscapes of volcanoes, lush vegetation and dream beaches with crystal clear water.

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So, what are the similarities between these two islands?

  • Bali or Lombok: common points

If these two islands are very different on certain points, let’s start by discovering the similarities they have.

  • Markets: even if they are better known in Bali (Kuta, Denpasar, Ubud market…), the island of Lombok also has many traditional markets such as Mandalika.
  • Accommodation and Transportation: Bali has a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury villas to budget hostels, and the island is well-connected with an international airport and public transportation. Lombok has fewer accommodation options but still has a range of hotels and guesthouses, and is accessible through its international airport and ferry services.
  • The population: if we often mention the kindness of the Balinese, that of the inhabitants of the neighboring island of Lombok also exists. However, the island of Bali is now more touristy. You will therefore find more authenticity in your encounters with the local population of Lombok.
  • Religion: If the island of Lombok is Muslim, like 80% of Indonesia, Bali is Hindu. However, religious life occupies an important place in the daily life of the inhabitants of these two islands. You can therefore discover a multitude of ceremonies and visit many places of worship (temples, mosques) on each of these islands. Buildings that often contribute to the charm of this destination.
  • Fauna and flora: Indonesia is known for its lush vegetation, jungles and important coral reefs. Thus, the islands of Bali and Lombok will be two excellent ways to discover the local flora and fauna during hikes or diving and snorkeling trips: seabed, jungle animals, butterflies and other monitor lizards will necessarily be part of the trip to these two islands.

Read also: Bali Local Ecosystems

Bali or Lombok for the landscapes?

Wondering which is the best Indonesian island when it comes to scenery? Unfortunately, the balance could not be tipped one way or the other. It will mainly depend on your desires and interests.

In Bali, you will of course find landscapes of rice fields such as those of Jatiluwih, classified by UNESCO, those of Tegalalang or even Sidemen. Moreover, it will often be said that the island of Bali is greener than its neighbor Lombok.

Do you rather dream of volcanic landscapes?

So, in Bali, you can survey the south of the Batukaru volcano, the second highest peak on the island, with its 2276 m (7467 ft) altitude. This walk will take you to discover traditional villages but also beautiful views of other rice fields. On the other hand, you can discover Mount Batur which rises to 1700 m (5577 ft) above sea level, wonderful at sunrise.

Volcanic lakes also await you with the Tamblingan and Buyan lake hike which will take you through traditional lands, where local life is in full swing, far from mass tourism.

So Bali or Lombok for landscapes? Finally, in Lombok too, walking enthusiasts will be delighted. The most athletic can opt for the ascent of Mount Rinjani which culminates at 3726 m (12224 ft) altitude. This volcano has a spiritual character for the inhabitants of the island. Indeed, the Sasaks regularly make pilgrimages there and deposit offerings at the top.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a shorter hike, you can opt for the hill of Pergasingan. However, the island of Lombok is also full of waterfalls to discover like that of Mangku Sakti. Finally, you can also walk along the beaches in Lombok. This, in particular to discover the famous rock of Batu Payung, from the beach of Tanjung Aan.

Bali or Lombok: which island has the most beautiful beaches?

When you go to Indonesia, are you mainly looking for an island to relax on a beach? Are you hesitating between Bali or Lombok? No worries ! These two islands will allow you to enjoy white sand beaches and warm and transparent water. In Bali as in Lombok, you can spend hours exploring the seabed. Whether snorkeling or diving.

For example, in Lombok, you can preferably turn to the beaches in the south of the island, which are wilder. In addition, those of the Gili Islands, with postcard landscapes, will allow you to admire fish of a thousand colors.

Read also: 2 Weeks Itinerary in Bali | What to do and visit in Bali for 14 Days | Best Itinerary

While in Bali, you will rather enjoy the beaches around Amed for snorkelling. But you can also discover huge sandy beaches for relaxation, such as those of Jimbaran Beach and Pandawa.

Finally, these two islands are dream spots for surfers. They will find many beaches to indulge their passion. For example, in Bali, Seminyak Beach is ideal for beginners. On the other hand, that of Padang Padang, famous since the film Eat, Pray, Love, will appeal to all practitioners.

To conclude, it must be said that the Gili Islands are truly the pearls of Lombok and it is difficult to compete with them. Travelers often think that the most beautiful beaches are therefore rather on the Lombok side.

Read also: Itinerary in Bali, Lombok and Gilis in 3 Weeks Stay

The change of scenery: in Bali or Lombok?

For sure: Bali has a special atmosphere. It has been known to bring yoga and meditation enthusiasts together for decades. This is why Bali stands out as THE ideal destination for a stay under the sign of well-being.

However, during the high tourist season (June to September), the island is particularly crowded. This sometimes undermines its charm and authenticity. Is it an island where you will be disoriented? However, the answer is yes. The population, the culture… Everything in Bali will make you travel far from your customs and your daily life. In addition, there are more authentic regions in Bali and the island is attracting more and more expats for its magnetic atmosphere.

Lombok, meanwhile…

Lombok, meanwhile, is not yet well known to tourists. Thus, while some places are popular with travellers, many regions of the island are still authentic. Visiting Lombok will often be an opportunity to discover a new culture. This, in particular through the traditional Sasak villages, where time sometimes seems to have stopped.

For all these reasons, Lombok is sometimes described as “Bali as it was decades ago”. So it’s up to you to make up your own mind.

So, between Bali or Lombok, you have now made your choice. Nevertheless, these two Indonesian islands are complementary. Both can be visited easily during a two or three week stay in Indonesia. The ideal will therefore be to discover Bali and Lombok during your trip. This will allow you to form your own opinion on this question.

Ultimately, choosing between Bali and Lombok depends on your travel preferences. If you’re looking for a lively and tourist-friendly experience, Bali is the way to go. If you’re seeking a more secluded and peaceful retreat, Lombok is the perfect choice. Regardless of your decision, both islands offer a wealth of natural beauty and cultural experiences that will leave you with unforgettable memories of your trip to Indonesia.

Photo credit: Njaj / Pixabay

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