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Gili islands vs Bali

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Several local tourist destinations in Indonesia have come under the spotlight in recent years, yet it seems like only a handful are comparable to the famous island of Bali, though the Gili islands in Lombok are among the scant few.

Of course one can argue that there are places that surpass Bali in terms of beautiful scenery, having better hotels, and those that have more unique tradition and culture to experience.

However, finding one that can challenge Bali on all fronts is a different matter. The list below demonstrates how Gili has risen to the challenge.


Beautiful beaches

As in most tropical tourist hubs, the beach obviously plays an important role because it is one of the main selling points. Bali is blessed with long lines of pristine beaches along its coast.

Although, the white sand beaches around Gili’s three islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno), rival any found in Bali.

Crowdedness and pushy vendors, a growing thorn in Bali’s side, doesn’t apply to the Gilis; where there is still enough space for everybody on the beach to pick a comfortable spot with minimal disturbance from vendors.


Available lodging

After decades of thriving from tourism, Bali is now filled with bed and breakfast services for all budgets. The Gilis though, can no slouches in this regard either.

There are a range of options to be found, especially in Gili Trawangan where many of the developments are taking place. If you are on a really tight budget, then the island also provides accommodation priced below Rp 150,000 (US$15.34) per night, with fans included.

Rooms with complete facilities are available in various establishments such as the Gili T and B Homestay, which offers rooms with air conditioners, breakfast, hot shower and complimentary Wi-Fi connection, starting from Rp 250,000 (low-season).

Luxurious resorts are available in the form of upscale beachfront hotels. Villa Ombak is the first high-class lodging business to open on the island.


Easy access

Most tourist destinations in Indonesia require two flights or a long drive to get to. Bali has an advantage over these places by serving international flights from numerous countries, giving foreign tourist direct access.

The Gili islands might not have an airport, but its close proximity to Lombok and Bali makes this a minor issue.

Lombok International Airport currently serves four international routes, and from there a traveler is only an hour’s drive away from Bangsal harbor, Sengigi beach, or Nare bay, from there it’s only a 60 minute boat trip to the Gili islands.

Flying to Bali then continuing by boat from Padang Bai, Serangan or Benoa Harbor would be the most convenient and time-saving method. A speedboat trip from Serangan or Benoa harbor will only take an hour to get to Gili Trawangan.

Public ferries and minivan transfers are also available from Bali and Lombok for cheaper modes of transportation to reach the Gili islands.


A place to party

While there are people who travel to the edge of the world to seek solitude and tranquility, Bali has over the years gained a reputation to cater to those kinds of tourists, but also for party animals.

Gili has a party scene of its own, specifically in Gili Trawangan. The main street on this island is comparable to the Kuta-Legian area in Bali, where the nightlife is lively and bars line up the street.

In Gili Trawangan, major bars take turns holding massive parties; one night you can find people flocking to the Irish bar, Tir Na Nog, and the next day they can be found enjoying reggae beats at Sama-Sama bar.

The Bon Fire bar located in the west of the island, opposite from the main street area, has a habit that lives up to its name: lighting up a bon fire at the beach every night, complete with fire dancers.


Culinary delights

Most of Indonesia’s award-winning restaurants are located in Bali. That alone is quite a challenge to match.

Despite the lack of any high profile chefs, the food scene in the Gili islands is not to be underestimated. Like most small islands, fresh seafood is its main specialty and one can enjoy a fresh catch every night in restaurants in the main street.

The pasar seni (art market) on the main street also turns into a food market during the night, making it a good spot to hunt for cheap food.

The signature dish from the main land of Lombok is a spicy whole chicken dish ayam taliwang. Do prepare a big jug if your taste buds aren’t used to red-hot spicyness.




Last changed: Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

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