A Backpacker’s Guide to the Gili Islands

The Gili Islands, located in the Lombok area of Indonesia, were originally discovered by backpackers. Before these islands became an important tourist area, they were off the beaten path and enjoyed by visitors who simply wanted to enjoy the nature and the culture of the area. Although tourists have found the Gili Islands, they remain somewhat isolated, and the lack of motorized vehicles (except for boats) means that this part of Indonesia is still a backpacker’s paradise, as long as you know where to look.

Stay At the La Boheme Hostel

Hostels are great places for backpackers since they are inexpensive, yet safe places to stay. You won’t find any fancy resort rooms filled with amenities at the La Boheme on Gili Trawangan. Instead, you’ll pay a small amount (usually the Indonesian equivalent of between $10 and 20 American dollars) for a bed. Since you won’t have a room, this gives you the opportunity to strike up conversations and really get to know your fellow travelers. Nothing says backpacking on a budget like staying in a hostel and making some new friends. However, the La Boheme does offer a few services. The people who run it will organize snorkeling trips and other things that allow you to see more of the islands. They also offer free pancakes 24-hours a day.

Spend Time on All Three Islands

The three Gili Islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno – all have a different atmosphere. The first, Gili Trawangan, is the largest and most populated of them all. If you’re backpacking, you want to try to avoid the northern part of it. This is where all of the large hotels and resorts are located. It’s much more tourist driven, not to mention crowded.

If you’re on a budget, then this part of the island is not for you. Instead, stick to the south. This is where you’ll find the hostels and a much quieter atmosphere. Gili Air is the smallest of the three. The main activities here include snorkeling and reef diving. The island is so small that you can walk around its perimeter in less than two hours.

If you’re looking for inexpensive things to do, then spend some time on Gili Air. It doesn’t cost anything to walk around and see the sights. Then, there’s Gili Meno. This is the medium sized island, complete with beach cabanas and surfing. Parts of this island have become tourist centers, and the cost of the hotels and resorts on it attest to that. Since you’re backpacking and on a budget, you don’t want to stay on Gili Meno. However, you should set aside the time to visit. You won’t regret it.

Go Shopping on Gili Trawangan – Just Avoid the Tourist Traps

Some of the shops in the northern section of Gili Trawangan are designed with tourists in mind. You’ll find the ubiquitous logo t-shirts and things with the name of the island emblazoned on them. Avoid those shops if you want really unique mementos of your trip.

It may take some time, and you’ll have to choose your stores wisely, but you can come away with some very inexpensive and unusual hand carved souvenirs and other things to help you remember your trip. Just remember only to buy what will fit in your luggage or backpack.

Eat At the Night Market on Gili Trawangan

If you’re looking for inexpensive authentic food, then look no further than the Night Market. Despite its name, the Night Market is open during the day and is filled with different food vendors. You’ll find everything from salads and desserts to freshly caught seafood and other dishes. There are so many vendors that you can eat here daily and not frequent the same one twice.

Take your time to find what you’d like to eat and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Much of the food is cooked right there on the spot, so if you want to make a substitution, speak up. However, you’re really better off eating the food as is in order to get the full experience.

Do Yoga on the Beach and Check Out the Cinema

Another fun thing to do with backpacking in the Gili Islands is yoga on the beach. You’ll find this offered on most of the three islands, with the classes taking place outdoors. There are few things as peaceful as stretching into poses while staring at the ocean. Once you’re done with your daily yoga practice, it’s time to relax on the beach while watching a movie. Villa Ombak, on Gila Trawangan, offers a different pair of movies every evening. The seats consist of classic bean bag chairs, and there’s a nearby bar serving up beverages. You’ll actually be on the beach, with the ocean as a backdrop, watching an inexpensive movie. Now that’s a unique experience that you may only have in the Gili Islands.


Author Bio: This guest post is a work of Paul Lee promoting Bali Ferry. If you’re looking for affordable options on how to get to Gili Islands from Bali, do check out BaliFerry.com today.