Gili Trawangan Travel Guide

Gili Trawangan is historically a backpackers mecca and party paradise. But it’s come a long way, and now all types can explore the beautiful beaches of this stunning island.

    

Location

A small Island about 15 minutes of the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. It is the main island of a group of three, the other two being Gili Meno and Gili Air.

Gili Trawangan

Despite having beautiful, tranquil, peaceful beaches, Gili Trawangan is for the most part, a party island. For the tiny island that it is, it is packed full of international tourists.

However, Gili T, as it’s otherwise known, has developed into much more over the recent years. The east side of the island (where the boat drops you off) is the most developed, with loads of restaurants, bars, accommodation and diving schools and it is here that most of the party goers reside. The west side is relatively quiet with luxury resorts and not much else, but great for a family holiday or a romantic getaway. The north and south ends are a little closer to the action without being right in the thick of it, and the south end in particular has some nice accommodation options here.

The island is tiny. You can walk around the entire island in about 2hrs, or ride your bike around it. There is no motored transport on the island, only walk, bicycle or cidomo (think donkey and cart).

We tried to ride bikes around the island which was amazing until there was no longer road but sand. And then we pushed our bikes around the island. Great work out, or it would have been if we didn’t stop at the beach every 20 mins and have a cocktail and a snack! The beach is perfect for snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding.

So you can come here and party, dive, laze on the beach, snorkel, explore the island, swim or ride bikes. But I think the best thing about Gili Trawangan these days, is you can make it what you want. There are enough accommodation and activity options spread in different locations on the island that the choice is yours.

The Ugly Truth

  • The main strip on the island can party well into the early hrs of the morning. If that’s not what you are there for, don’t stay in this area, as it will feel like your sleeping in the middle of a club.
  • The island is tiny, and unless you want to spend a week diving or partying, you will probably be happy staying here for 2 – 5 days.
  • Drugs are readily available and Indonesia has very strict drug laws and you should avoid drugs without exception. Although police presence is minimal, police raids and arrests have occured on the Gili Islands.
  • If you decide to go for a drink, please note there has been incidences of drink spiking and methanol present in drinks. Be careful and stick to pre-packaged bottles of brands you know.
  • There is no hospital, but a small clinic, on the island. If you need to get to a hospital your nearest is on mainland Lombok.

The Silver Lining

  • It may be a tiny island but its got a whole lot of beauty. Some of the most beautiful beaches I have seen. And it’s fun being able to ride around the entire island in a few hours.
  • Gili T might be a ‘party island’Β but you can easily occupy your time with other activities. Gili T has much more to offer.
  • If you’re here to party Gili T knows how to throw a good one.

What’s Nearby?

On Gili Trawangan beaches there are bars, restaurants, diving schools, snorkelling and other water sports. Enough to do to keep you busy, or simply just lay on one of it’s beautiful beaches and relax.

You can also get a boat to Gili Meno and Gili Air for the day. And mainland Lombok is not far away if you wish to spend some of your time here.

  • Gili Air and Gili Meno can be reached by boat and takes about 15 minutes between each.
  • Senggigi Lombok is about a 15 minute speedboat ride away
  • Bali is approx. 1.5 – 2 hrs away by speedboat, or you can catch a plane from Lombok International Airport (but you will need to take a 15 minute speedboat to Lombok, then approx. 1. 5 hrs drive to the Airport).

A Day At Gili Trawangan

Morning:Β Hire a bicycle and start your journey around the island. Stop off at the Gili Trawangan beaches and restaurants as you go.

Afternoon:Β Try out paddle boarding and snorkelling, or just relax on the beach. Then head to the north end and have a beer in one of the bungalows on the beach.

Evening:Β Walk to Karma Kayak to take in the sunset. Walk back to the main strip for dinner or a drink.

Things To Do

It really depends what you come to Gili T to do, but there is a range of activities. If you want to dive, snorkel, swim or party then you will be in heaven. But much of the appeal is relaxing and exploring the island.

Best For…

  • Water sports (Diving, snorkelling, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, free diving)
  • Partying (mostly backpacker crowds and there are different venues for different nights of the week)
  • Relaxing
  • Beaches
  • Island hopping between the Gili Islands

Mandy and Chris Tips

You should also consider your location on Gili Trawangan when choosing accommodation. In the middle on the east side are the majority of restaurants, bars and accommodation options. Here is where most of the party's occur. The west side is the quieter side, with predominantly resorts only. The south end has some great accommodation options for families and couples. The north end is quite laid back and great for sunsets.

26 Comments

  • Alexandra says:

    Hey,
    I’ve found your blog through my information about bali. We’re going to Bali in two weeks and I’m searching for the last spots.
    We start in Legain, then go to Ubud and then we would like to go to Gili T and then have the last two days near the airport, maybe Jimbaran or Sanur.
    Do you have a recommodation for hotels in Jimbaran, Sanur and Gili T?

    Best regards, Alexandra

    • Hi Alex,
      Sounds like you have a great trip planned! Jimbaran has some beautiful accommodation, including InterContinental, Le Meridien, Four seasons, Ayan and RIMBA to name a few. We haven’t actually stayed in Sanur before, and for Gili T we stayed at Manta Dive which we were happy with at the time. Hope this helps, have a great time in Bali πŸ™‚

  • Ankur says:

    Wonderful write up and amazing pictures.
    Best sunset of my life was on Gili Trawangan. No doubt i returned to Gili T after Rinjani trek, though not initially planned.

  • Tom says:

    Hey, Great Post!

    I’m heading to Bali this December and have booked a couple days in Gili T, I have heard some nightmare stories about the ferries from Bali and was just wondering if you know about the best way to get to Gili T from Bali?

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Tom πŸ™‚
      We took a speed boat to Gili T from Bali, and our experience was fine. Having said that, we have also heard some horror stories. I think it very much depends on the weather and swell on the day and also choosing a reputable company. We went with blue water express.
      The other way to get there is to fly to Lombok and get a taxi to the harbour and get a short ferry to Gili T. The flight is 30 minutes but the drive is probably another 2 hrs to the harbour and then 15 minute ferry. This option would be good if you were planning to spend some time on Lombok.
      So it’s hard for us to give you a definite answer, as both ways have their pro’s and con’s. If the weather and swell look good, and you go with a great company, I’d perhaps lean to the boat option. If not, I’d go the plane route.

  • mona lathia says:

    hi guys. i m planning my trip to bali but dont know what places to visit.planning for 6 nights.plz help me plan mt itenary

    • Hi Mona,
      For 6 nights in Bali, you could stay in one place if you want to relax, or stay in two places if you want to see two different sides to Bali (Bali has many!).
      If it’s your first time to Bali I would go to Ubud and one other place, such as Seminyak or Jimbaran. But it really depends on what you want to do, what you’re interests are etc.
      Let us know what you want to spend your time doing, and we would love to give you some more personalised recommendations πŸ™‚

  • Julia says:

    Hi Mandy and Chris,

    My fiance and I are planning to visit Bali in early January for a week but are keen to visit the Gili’s as well, how much time would you think we need on top of a week for visiting Bali to be able to extend our stay and visit the Gili’s too? We have read your one week itinerary and were thinking of visiting Ubud and one of the beach areas but I’d welcome your recommendations for which area has the best beaches – we’re not too fussed about the party scene.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Julia,
      On top of your week in Bali, I’d say probably at least 3 days. You will lose half a day each way in travel. The Gili Islands are small, but it really depends on how long you want to stay. If you want to see Lombok too, I’d add another 2-4 days on top of this.

      A nice base for beach areas on Bali would be Jimbaran. From here you have Jimbaran Bay, then you can take short trips to reach some beautiful beaches such as Pandawa beach, Bingin Beach, Balangan Beach, Padang Padang or visit a beach club like Finns Beach Club.

      Hope this helps, let us know if you have any other questions and have a great time in Bali πŸ™‚

  • Julia says:

    Hi Chris and Mandy!

    We are looking to go to Bali in early January for a week, and wondered whether we could fit in Bali and the Gili’s in on week? Could we do Ubud for a few days and then head over to the Gili’s as it looks like the beaches on the Gili’s may be better than on Bali itself? Or do you think we should stop in Bali and extend our trip a little longer – we won’t have much extra time as this is a stop on route to Malaysia?

    Would welcome your advice! Thanks, Julia

    • Hi Julia, If the Gili’s is the most important to you, then you could just do Ubud and Gili. The beaches on Gili are beautiful, but there are still some beautiful beaches in Bali too. My worry with only spending one week between Gili and Ubud, is that it’s adding travel and there are so many places to see in Bali itself. The trip might be a little rushed. Ubud is about 2 hrs drive from the airport in Bali and then Gili T will take half a day in travel each way. It really does depend on how much you want to see the Gili islands. If you only have a week, I’d probably stick to Bali, but if your heart is set on Gili, then you could do it, it just might not be that relaxing. It’s so hard πŸ™‚
      Either way, I’m sure you will have a great trip!

  • manny says:

    Hi guys. I’m planning a trip next year in Late March with my wife. My plan is to do Bali for a few days then off to Lombok for a few days. I have this vision in my head of our stay in Lombok. A nice spacious room overlooking the ocean which would be a few steps away, quiet and just an overall nice hotel to recharge and enjoy the sunset. Thing is, the pictures of hotels I’m seeing, don’t seem to match up with my vision. I was hoping you would have some direction for Lombok accommodations right on the water perhaps?

    • Hi Manny,
      Here are a couple of places to stay that fit your description: The Lombok Lodge on Lombok mainland, Mahamaya on Gili Meno, The Chandi Boutique resort, Living Asia, Quinci Villas and Jeeva Klui resort. Hope this helps and have a great time in Bali & Lombok πŸ™‚

  • Amy Holden says:

    Hey guys!
    My boyfriend and I have booked a trip to bali in May 13-21 (8 days). Its both of our first times there and have heard so many amazing things were finding it hard to cram into 8 days. We’re defintley thinking Ubud for 2 nights and were also looking into Gili T for a more relaxing stay rather than party.

    Would it be too excessive to do 4 nights in Seminyak, 2 Nights in Ubud and 2 nights in Gili T?

    Anything you could recommend to us would be awesome!

    Thanks

    • Hi Amy,
      I think it would be a bit rushed to do that, as it takes about half a day to get to Gili and half a day to get back. It’s possible, but wouldn’t be as relaxing as you might have wanted. I also wouldn’t have Gili as your last stop as then you might be delayed trying to get back to the airport. If you’re happy to be a little rushed and visit all 3 places, keep it the same, otherwise maybe think of cutting one of the places? Hope this helps, no matter wha you decide I’m sure you’ll have a great trip πŸ™‚

  • Amy Holden says:

    Thanks for the feedback Mandy and Chris.

    I was really looking forward to
    Gili T, however yes we want a relaxing holiday not rushed. Would you recommend Ubud and Seminyak? And do day trips from Seminyak to Uluwatu or Jimbaran?

    We were hoping for some kayaking, snorkelling. Is there anywhere on the mainland you can recommend?

    Thanks guys!

  • Mani says:

    Hi Mandy and Chris

    I’m planning my Honeymoon in Bali and we have about 10 nights. We were thinking to spend 5 nights in Bali (Saminyak), 2 in Lombok and 2 in Gili T – is there anywhere else you suggest that would be more suitable for a honeymoon? We want a mixture of luxury and activities!

    Thank you

    Manisha

    • Hi Mani, your plans sound great, maybe put the extra night onto Gili T or Lombok so you’re not rushed. Otherwise, you could interchange Seminyak with Jimbaran or Uluwatu but they are a little more quiet, and any of those will work πŸ™‚
      Let us know if you have any other questions and have a great time in Bali!

  • Andy says:

    Hey guys, Off to Bali this summer with the lady. Looking for relaxation and culture. Was thinking 4 nights Ubud, 4 nights Gili island (unsure which one yet), 3 nights Lombok and 3 nights Saminyak to finish off. Would you change anything?

  • Chetna says:

    Hi Guys,

    I am planning a trip to Bali for 3 weeks in October, any advice on planning trip. Current thoughts Ubud 6-7 days, Nua Dusa, Seminyak, Gili and Jemboran

    • Hi Chetna,

      all places sound great! Only thing is that I think you could visit Nusa Dua from either Seminyak or Jimbaran, if you wanted to stay in one less place. And with Gili you can also visit Lombok main land if that interests you too. Whist in Jimabran I’d suggest exploring the beaches of the Bukit peninsula as they are beautiful. Pandawa beach can also be reached from Jimbaran or Nusa Dua easily too.

      Have a great time in Bali and let us know if you have any other questions πŸ™‚

  • Hayley says:

    Hi there,
    Me and a friend have 12 days in bali, would you recommend staying on the main land? I would quite like to see Gili but know you would lose a day there and back!
    Thanks,
    Hayley

    • Hi Hayley, 12 days is a nice amount of time to explore Bali. It’s a tough choice. It does take about half a day to get to the Gili Islands whether you fly or take a boat. The Gili Islands are in Lombok, and Lombok’s also worth some time exploring, but it’s much more remote than Bali. The Gili’s would be great, but would also be nice to have time to explore Lombok. So if it’s your first time to Bali, 12 days might not be enough to do Bali well, as well as the Gili’s and Lombok. You can skip Lombok if you like, but then you would still be left with about a week for Bali, which is not that long. I would personally spend the 12 days exploring a couple of different areas in Bali. Each move will have some travel time within Bali too. That way, you can see more of Bali and have a more relaxing time. Having said that, it’s definitely doable to visit the Gili’s, so it really is a personal choice πŸ˜‰ Let me know if you have any other questions, you’ll have a great trip no matter what you decide πŸ™‚

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