Indonesia is a stunning destination with many amazing places, Bali, being by far, its most famous island. A romantic destination and a developed urban area, Bali offers visitors natural beauty and lavish holidays immersed in a spiritual, relaxed vibe. Often, however, Bali tends to get overcrowded with tourism, and its traffic transforms it in a hectic city.
Less developed than Bali, Lombok is a touristic island, but its infrastructure development is not as well-coordinated. There are hotels, restaurants, and bars in its most visited areas, but Lombok doesn’t offer the same comfortable conditions, especially for tourists who are not particularly looking for adventurous activities and the local vibe.
If these differences don’t help you decide, continue reading and find out more about the weather, transportations, attractions, culture, and costs of Bali and Lombok.
Bali vs Lombok: When to visit
Lombok and Bali have the same monsoonal climate, and on both islands, the rainy season runs from October through to April. So, from April to October is the best time to visit Bali and Lombok. During the dry season, there is much sun, little rain, and low humidity.
If you can only travel during the rainy season, consider choosing Bali over Lombok, since it has a great number of indoor activities you can enjoy during the rainy moments. Lombok, on the other hand, is mostly a beach destination, with lots of outdoor activities.
Bali vs Lombok: Transportation
If you choose to travel to Bali, you can fly directly to Ngurah Rai International Airport, in Depensar. Once you arrived, getting around the island is easy. Whether you choose to use a motorbike, a private car, or taxis, you will easily find your way around.
In case Lombok is your destination, you will have a slightly complex route that will take you to Denpasar, from where you can take the 30-minute flight to Lombok International Airport, near Praya town.
If time permits, you can opt for a picturesque fast or slow boat ride to Lombok. Once there, though the island doesn’t seem so well connected, it won’t be too difficult to travel around.
So, traveling to Lombok means spending more money and transit time, and these are things to consider when choosing your destination.
Bali vs Lombok: Accommodations
Whether you are looking for resorts, hotels, hostels, or Airbnb accommodation, you can find everything on both islands. Bali, however, is famous for its gorgeous villas. When it comes to prices, there aren’t too many differences between the two, hostels, homestays, and 5-star hotels being slightly cheaper in Bali, while luxury accommodations are more expensive.
Bali, however, offers many more choices, especially when it comes to hostels and budget accommodation. In Lombok, for instance, hostels are only available in Kuta.
Bali vs Lombok: Things to Do
If you are planning your Indonesian escape to wander around, admire the natural beauty, and relax, both Islands have something to offer you. With imposing mountains and superb volcanoes, scenic beaches, never-ending rice terraces, and lush jungles, Bali won’t disappoint nature lovers. At the same time, the second-highest volcano in Indonesia, spectacular mountainous and volcanic landscapes, as well as refreshing waterfalls, jungles, and white sand beaches are waiting for adventurers on Lombok.
Cultural explorers will have to decide between visiting Bali, which is majority Hindu and a great destination for visiting mesmerizing temples, or Lombok, which is mostly Muslim, offering a different, but also interesting, experience.
Bali’s waves are famous among surfers from all over the world, so if you want to enjoy and hit the waves in a popular siring mecca, this is a perfect destination. And, as mentioned, thanks to its many exciting indoor activities, Bali is a great choice for those traveling during the rainy season.
Also, the island welcomes spiritual travelers with spectacular ancient temples overlooking the beach or located beside beautiful rice fields.
Lombok’s beaches are less famous than Bali’s, but they do welcome you with clear turquoise water and soft, white sand and many consider them way better than Bali’s for surfing. The island, however, is known for its countryside scenery and popular among trekkers who adventure themselves into conquering Indonesia’s highest peak, Mount Rinjani.
And, if you like diving, both islands will satisfy you, but in Bali, near the most popular beaches, you have poor water visibility, so you will have to go to specifics diving areas. The chances for you to spot turtles or rays in most areas and close to the shore are higher in Lombok.
Bali vs Lombok: Food and Nightlife
As you can imagine, being a more popular and developed island, Bali offers more options when it comes to food. With a better restaurant scene, this island is a great destination for foodies and travelers with special diets or food allergies. But Lombok also has decent options when it comes to both Indonesian and Western cuisines.
The same can be said about entertainment. If you want a taste of the Indonesian nightlife, Bali is the best choice. Seminyak, Kuta, and Canggu are the best places to party in Bali, where you can find both relaxed lounges by the beach and bustling clubs. At the same time, Lombok offers more surfer-style bars, where you can enjoy a laid-back and chilled vibe, but the nightlife options are definitely limited on this island.
Bali vs Lombok: Costs
The islands are very similar when it comes to costs for food and accommodation. The cost of food depends on where you eat. In the local places, you can pay from $ 3, but if you want to go to a restaurant to indulge in Western dishes, your meal can cost you around $ 28 per person.
The difference, however, is in transport, and Lombok is more expensive. For a motorbike rental in Bali, you pay $ 1 per day, while in Lombok $ 5. Also, private cars cost $47 for 3 hours in Lombok, while in Bali, you get the car for the full day for the same price.
So, Bali or Lombok?
With two destinations that share beautiful similarities and interesting differences, choosing is difficult.
Bali is a better choice when you consider the number of things to do, the wider variety of food options, livelier nightlife, as well as your flight and accommodation options. There are plenty of direct flights from major cities to Depensar, and the variety of accommodations welcomes more types of travelers, from honeymooners to families with kids.
But some prefer off-the-beaten-path adventures and choose Lombok, for its untouched nature and the opportunity to completely disconnect from the daily routine.
So, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Whether you choose Bali or Lombok, it depends on your personal preferences, but both islands promise an unforgettable encounter with beautiful nature, an amazing cultural experience, and great moments of relaxation.
He is an expert travel advisor and enthusiast. He has traveled extensively in the USA, Central American, South America and Europe. He has visited every Sandals Resort and is one of a select few Diamond Elite members of the Sandals Chairman’s Royal Club.
Dan graduated from Johnson & Wales University with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Later he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus on people and culture.