Vagabonding Field Report: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

A popular backpackers stop off, Gili Trawangan (Gili T) is part of a very small chain of islands just off of Lombok and near Bali. Many people come here to learn to dive because it’s prices are competetive and the island has a reputation for parties. It’s also unique in that there are no motor vehicles or dogs allowed and the only form of transportation on the island apart from your own two feet is either a bicycle or a horse drawn carriage.


Cost per day:

Prices are higher in Indonesia compared to cheaper countries like Thailand or Vietnam. A large Bintang beer will cost you about 40,000 rs which equals about $4. A cheap meal at a local food stall can run about 20,000 to 30,000 rs and any western style food or foreign dishes will be closer to 60,000 to 100,000 rs. The money saver will be your accommodation. A single night will still be quite high but booking a homestay for an entire month will only cost you between 1,500,000 to 3,000,000 rs. Don’t let the high numbers scare you, that’s only about $150-$300. These accommodations are very simple and wouldn’t be suitable for families but finding a place for more than one month can get you something with more for the same price if you’re willing to get into a six month contract or more. If you’re a certified diver the fun dives on the island are only $35 and an Open Water course will only set you back $395.

The strangest thing:

Because the island is so remote there isn’t a lot of genetic diversity for the cats that roam the island. Mostly inbred, these cats have kinky tails and look a bit deformed and desperate. A cat clinic on the island is doing their best to neuter the males. Chickens roam freely and sometimes live in baskets set into a tree with low branches. On my way to town in the morning I often pass under a tree with chickens sitting in the branches above me.

A typical day:

I’m doing my divemaster certification here on Gili T so my day is typically spent at the dive shop or under the water at one of the many dive sites around the Gilis. On a day off on land it’s nice to rent a bicycle and ride around the island. A single road loops the island along the beach. Without stopping it’s easy to ride around in only 20 minutes and joggers tell me they can run it in 45 minutes. Lots of beachside bars have bean bags set up in the sand so you can stop anywhere along the way and enjoy a cocktail or fruit juice in the sun. Snorkeling is very popular and trips around all three islands depart daily with glass bottom boats. If you like a quiet evening then dinner at a fancy beach side resort with fresh caught BBQ fish can be relaxing or for the budget conscious the local night market is filled with cheaper options all grilled in front of you complete with rice and veggies on the side.  A few nights a week a party is held at rotating locations complete with DJ and copious amount of alcohol.

What I like:

The island is so small that it’s easy to run into someone you know. There’s a tight community here and most everyone is welcoming and friendly. I’ve been to birthday parties of people I’ve met that afternoon. The attitude is inclusive and community driven for those that choose to stick around.


For someone staying here for over a month now I’ve really struggled with the health care available on and nearby Gili T. There are numerous clinics on the island complete with people telling you they are doctors. On closer inspection they are just trained in pharmaceuticals (but not qualified pharmacists) and don’t really know what they’re doing. If I was just staying for a week then this wouldn’t be a big deal but since being here I’ve needed to see a real doctor for an ear problem and the closest one is in Lombok or Bali which is costly and time consuming to get to. A small problem here can grow to a large problem if you don’t have a chance to leave the island for a doctor visit.


Where next:

For now it looks like I’ll be staying on Gili T until mid June to complete my program with a visa run to Singapore at the end of May. After that I’ll be booking a flight to Vancouver, Canada to find some work and replenish our finances. Follow along at Unknown Home!

Posted by | Comments (1)  | May 6, 2015
Category: Asia, General, Vagabonding Field Reports

One Response to “Vagabonding Field Report: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia”

  1. Jon Says:

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