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I’m originally from Germany and currently live in Bali. I work as a blogger and freelance writer and travel full-time as a digital nomad. I tend to travel slowly and work at the same time or carve out several months where I focus on traveling for content creation and pause most of my other projects.
What was your overall impression of this destination? Would you recommend this location to other nomads?
Kuta, Lombok is still a relatively small town but the area is quickly becoming more popular among tourists and digital nomads. The nearby beaches and landscapes are stunningly beautiful and still a lot more untouched compared to Bali for example.
Kuta is definitely not as developed yet and you will have issues with ridesharing apps like gojek or grab for example. However, I would recommend this town to digital nomads who are looking for a quiet workstation with plenty of things to see and do in the area.
What was the cost of living? How much did you spend on accommodation, food, transport, and entertainment?
The cost of living in Indonesia is low and you’ll get a lot in return.
You can find a nice place to stay for around US $500 per month in Kuta Lombok, which will include cleaning, WiFi, bills, and most likely a pool.
Food can cost you as little as US $4 per day if you eat at a local restaurant. Grocery shopping is usually more expensive.
For around US $50 you can rent a scooter for a month and with another US $20 you’ll be able to pay for fuel for the same time period.
Attractions like beaches, lookout points or road trips are free in the area but you should add a further US $100 for a month of surfing lessons.
Add another US $100 to $150 if you want to go out for drinks or nicer restaurants once or twice a week. Alcohol prices can, unfortunately, add up in Indonesia, although they’re usually still more affordable than in most parts of Europe or the US.
Don’t forget to add between US $30 and US $100 per month for your visa., depending on what type you get.
What can you share about the culture here? Are there any cultural norms visitors should be aware of?
Bali is a Hindu island with a unique culture that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. However, the neighboring island of Lombok is Muslim and so the local culture is very different since this area experiences far less mass tourism. Make sure to be dressed appropriately when visiting official buildings and do not walk down the street in a bikini as it can be seen as disrespectful. It’s fine to wear one at the beach of course.
The local people are friendly and open to tourists and there are no safety concerns. Lombok used to be considered unsafe for travelers but the island has completely changed in the last 15 years. Now, it’s just as accessible as Bali and more and more digital nomads decide to escape the higher prices and busy traffic of the Island of the Gods and come to Lombok instead.
What languages are primarily spoken?
The local language is Bahasa Indonesia, which is a very simple and easy-to-learn language. Most locals who are involved in tourism (drivers, vendors, surf instructors, waiters etc) speak a decent level of English. It may be more difficult to communicate in more remote parts of Lombok but Kuta is relatively modern.
What was your experience finding, booking, and staying in accommodation?
It’s good to pre-book accommodation but technically it isn’t necessary. You can find guesthouses or villas on arrival or even book a long-term stay at a hotel. Unless there is an event, the accommodations in town are rarely sold out and there is a decent selection available.
Villas are generally not too expensive in the area around Lombok but their location is often remote and difficult to access so a guesthouse is the better choice if you value a central location and being able to walk to places around town. Guesthouses are the cheapest accommodation and provide a room with AC, a private bathroom, and a shared kitchen and pool. This is a great way to meet fellow digital nomads and socialize.
What working spaces are available to digital nomads? Are there co-working spaces or cafes where it is feasible to work?
The selection of workspaces in Kuta is limited and there are really only a handful of cafes in town that are suitable for working. More and more are appearing though and it won’t be long before coworking spaces will populate this town as well.
What was the food like? Is it easy to find great restaurants? Are groceries readily available?
Kuta has a large supermarket and local markets take place every morning where fresh produce is sold at the side of the road. You can find most groceries here or you can make the drive to the main city Mataram, which isn’t too far and has an even bigger selection. Kuta has a great selection of restaurants with international options as well as Indonesian food. Eat Mexican, Italian, Middle Eastern or Thai while you’re in Lombok.
What visas or permits are required to enter the country, how long can you stay, and what other legal issues might be relevant to nomads here?
Indonesia doesn’t have the best visa conditions for digital nomads but with a few tips, it can be feasible to work online here.
Visitors can either get a visa on arrival which is valid for 30 days and can be extended another 30. After that, they need to leave the country on a visa run. Alternatively, the business or social visa is an option where you can stay in Indonesia for 6 months and then a further 6 if renewed. However, nomads are unable to leave the country during this time or the visa resets and they need to reapply. In addition to this, the business visa is relatively expensive at around US $100 per month. Neither visa allows you to work locally in Indonesia and all business needs to be conducted strictly online.
What’s the connectivity like? Is Wifi access readily available in accommodations and public places? What kind of internet speed did you get? Was mobile internet readily available? What was the cost of a SIM card and the process to get one?
Mobile data is very affordable in Indonesia and you can get as much as 80 GB for less than US $20 per month. You can purchase a sim card in most convenience stores or cell phone shops around town. Telkomsel is a recommended provider and with their app you can recharge your data easily using your credit card. WiFi is generally okay in Kuta although extremely high speeds can be hard to come by. If you need to upload large files regularly this might not be the best destination.
What is there to do for fun here?
There are plenty of things to do and see in Kuta Lombok, most of which are stunning white-sand beaches, sunset viewpoints, or traditional villages.
Surfing is the biggest attraction for many visitors and there are dozens of breaks in and around town suitable for all experience levels. Some include having to take a boat out to the reef to surf far away from the shore, which is an incredible experience.
There is also the Mandalika racetrack which was recently constructed to host world-class motorcycle and car races. Definitely watch one if you happen to be in town.
Make sure to visit the bat cave, where you can see pythons and millions of bats who make this extensive cave system just outside of Kuta their home. In the evenings, enjoy Kuta’s laid-back nightlife with its surfer bars and small but wild party nights.
What is the social scene like? Is it easy to meet and connect with locals and/or ex-pats?
Since Kuta is so small, the expat community is tightly knit and everyone knows each other. Some people may only stay for a few weeks but many others call Kuta their permanent home and have owned property here for many years. If you go out to bars and try surfing it won’t be long before you get to know the community here and become a part of it.
What’s the weather like?
This part of Indonesia has a rainy and dry season. The best time to visit is between May and September when the weather is hot and sunny with little chance of rain. The underwater visibility is also ideal during this time so you can enjoy snorkeling and diving. During the rainy season, the landscape is a lot more green and lush, making it a great time to visit for photography. However, it will rain once a day, although you can still enjoy plenty of sunshine. Temperatures stay at a constant of around 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year with high humidity.
What else should people know about the destination? Can you share any interesting stories or fun facts?*
A lot of people confuse Kuta, Lombok with the beach town Kuta in Bali. This spot is notorious for wild nightclubs and a very touristy atmosphere that caters primarily to Australians on spring break. Kuta in Bali doesn’t have the best reputation but Kuta, Lombok couldn’t be more different. The town is quaint and peaceful and although parties do exist, they’re nowhere near as crazy as they are in Bali.
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