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Lombok is an island in the Malay Archipelago, in the Lesser Sunda Islands group, part of the state of Indonesia. It is washed from the south by the Indian Ocean, from the north by the Bali Sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located at a distance of 35 kilometers from the island of Bali and is separated from it by the Lombok Strait. The capital of the island is the city of Mataram. The population of the island is more than 3 million people, the area is 4,725 km2 (the area of Bali for comparison is 5,632 km2, which is slightly larger than Lombok). The island has an almost regular oval shape measuring 80 by 70 kilometers. On the island is the third highest peak in Indonesia – Rinjani volcano (Rinjani) with a height of 3726 meters.
Lombok can certainly be called a younger brother Bali Islands. Until recently, Bali was the main transshipment point from which tourists got to Lombok, often just as an excursion for a few days, while most of the rest was spent in Bali.
In October 2011, an international airport was opened on the island, and now it is possible to get directly to Lombok, bypassing Bali. The first direct flights have already been made there from Russia, and if this direction is in demand, the airlines promise to make flights regular. For travelers exploring Asia on their own, it is also possible to get to Lombok from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and possibly in the near future the route network will be expanded. Read more about this in the section "How to get to Lombok".
The tourist infrastructure on the island is quite developed, but much inferior to Bali. In a sense, this is a plus: the rest here will be more exotic, wild, cozy and secluded. There are even expressions: "Lombok is Bali before tourists came there" or "unspoiled Bali".
There are really a lot fewer tourists here than there are on the "big brother Bali". The rest is much quieter and calmer, and on the nearby small islands you can find yourself completely alone as the owner of your island or beach in a cozy bungalow on the shore. Until now, there are villages on the island where ethnic groups live who do not speak not only English, but even Indonesian.
Near the island of Lombok there are Gili Islands – three small islets, where they go for an even more peaceful and serene holiday.
Another interesting feature of Lombok: between the islands of Bali and Lombok runs the southern tip of the Wallace Line, significantly dividing the natural world on the two islands. At the same time, the Asian animal world is inherent in Bali, while the Australian one is already present in Lombok. The Australian wildlife includes birds of paradise and bird species such as the orange-rimmed thrush, which live in Lombok and are absolutely not found in Bali. While in the Asian group in Bali you can meet monkeys and tigers (of course, tigers in Bali have long been exterminated, but they used to be there).
If you have a choice of where to go, to Bali or Lombok, just think about what is more important and interesting to you: the silence, tranquility and privacy of Lombok, or the fussiness, noisiness and festivities of Bali. Although it's fair to say that in Bali there are very quiet and peaceful places where there are almost no tourists. Well, it's best to spend time on both islands, especially since it won't be difficult to get from one to the other.
Religion on Lombok Island
Unlike the island of Bali, where Hinduism and Buddhism are the main religions, Islam is the main religion in Lombok (as in the rest of Indonesia, although mostly in a milder form). There are a small number of Christians – both Protestants and Catholics. In some areas, the native cult of sasak boda has been preserved, combining an animistic basis with elements of Hinduism.
In the northern part of the island, a milder Islam is widespread, the so—called "vektu telu Islam" (literally, three-fold Islam), which interprets Orthodox religious canons quite freely, considering, in particular, it is sufficient to pray not five times a day, but three. Anyway, Islam is still the main religion on the island, and its peculiarities and traditions should be taken into account and due respect should be shown to them. Read about the traditional rules of behavior in the section about security in Indonesia. Do not forget about the time of the month of Ramadan.
Weather, seasons, climate in Bali
The climate on the island of Lombok is tropical, equatorial, hot all year round. The tourist season in Lombok lasts all year round. The peak of the tourist season falls on the period from May to August.
Despite the proximity to Bali, the rainy season varies on the islands, and in Lombok it lasts from October to April, and not from December to March, as in Bali. Humidity in Lombok is slightly less, rains rarely go more than one hour.
Current weather on Lombok Island (in the city of Mataram) and forecast for the near future:
Alcoholic beverages. Despite the fact that Lombok is a Muslim island, alcoholic beverages are freely sold here at reasonable prices.
Shopping. It is possible to bargain on Lombok, but bargaining is not widespread on the same scale as in Bali. Often there are fixed prices, and cheaper than Balinese.
Exchange rate. The exchange rate is slightly lower than in Bali, so it makes sense to find a favorable rate and exchange money in Bali (just not at the airport).