If Ubud in Bali is famous as a destination on land and highland, Gili is home to white sand and blue sea. In fact, Gili is not visited much by Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian people (Bali alone is a vast destination with countless attractions, if you only explore Bali, you might spend a whole year year is also not enough), and Gili is not belong to Bali, it is a part of Lombok (Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province). So, is Gili islands worth it, how to go to Gili islands, what to do in Gili islands and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Gili islands Bali for the first-time? Let’s check out our Gili islands travel blog (Gili islands blog) with the fullest Gili islands guide (Gili islands travel guide) from how to get to Gili islands, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat and things to do in Gili islands to find out the answer!
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But because the distance is not very far Bali. Usually, travelers when coming to Bali cannot help but visit the 3 most beautiful Gili islands. And when it comes to Bali, people always default to including Gili islands in it :D.
How should I say it, compared to the sea in Bali island, the sea in Gili is blue, the waves are not as big as in the main island, everything is not too bustling, noisy or hustle and bustle and crowded like on the main island.
If Bali is like a multi-tiered paradise, Gili is like the top floor to me. Gili is not an island, it is a group of 3 islands: Gili Air, Gili Nemo, Gili Trawangan and each island has its own beauty, features and good things.
Gili islands guide: How to get to Gili islands?
There are 2 ways to get to Gili.
Getting from Bali or from Lombok. Most of visitors going from Bali, unless they have time to explore Lombok island and come to Lombok first, then only go from Lombok.
And in this article I will not mention the way to go from Lombok. From Bali there are many piers to buy tickets to Gili. Usually, depending on the boat services with different routes to different piers in Gili islands.
In general, just go to google search for fares and then ask the hotel or driver, they will guide and buy tickets for you.
My experience is to ask a few ones, bargain and then buy a good one. During my trip, I went from Nusa Lembongan island, took a slow boat, it turned around to Sanur beach in Bali to pick up some passengers and then go to Gili Trawangan, it took about 3~4 hours in total, cost 450,000 IDR/person. On the internet, it asked 850,000 IDR/adult.
I asked my driver to buy a ticket for me. I found it cheaper than usual, but the quality of the boat was still the same.
Gili islands travel blog: Getting around the islands of Gili
All 3 Gili islands have their own characteristics: There are no motorbikes or cars, so the environment is extremely clean and fresh. Means of transportation on the island are only: 2 “legs”, bicycle and horse.
Sounds very appealing right? One of my best experiences here is cycling around Gili Trawangan island early in the morning watching the sunrise. Absolutely love it ^^
Note to exchange money, buy things in Gili islands
Most items or goods in Gili are more expensive than the common, so it’s better to have a slightly richer budget if you plan to stay here for several days and exchange money on the mainland, the rates will be better.
Gili islands blog: Where to stay in Gili? Gili Trawangan, Gili Air or Gili Nemo
This is a question that almost everyone will ask. Because it’s not simply choosing which hotel to stay, but which island to stay in – each Gili island has its own character.
I will list out the features of each island here so you can choose the one that’s right for you:
Gili Trawangan (Gili T) (Agoda.com or Booking.com): The largest of the three Gili islands. Gili T is suitable for young people who like excitement, crowded, fun, and parties. Of the three islands, Gili T is the most populous island, with the cheapest food, hotels and guesthouses.
Gili Nemo (Agoda.com or Booking.com): Located between 2 other Gili islands, is the most deserted, quietest of the 3 islands. If you like quiet, peaceful. If you want to enjoy the peaceful nature, Gili Nemo is the first choice. And usually, the quieter the place, the more expensive it will be.
Gili Air (Agoda.com or Booking.com): A combination of both islands. Still peaceful and quiet, but still a little bit vibrant and bustling. But really, I still feel bored =)))). As for the hotel, you should go to booking.com to find it because each person has a criterion, so I do not recommend. I will drop the booking link below, just search the island name and find it.
I only suggest that if I have time, I will stay in Gili T for 4~5 days, Gili Nemo and Gili air for 2 days/each. I stayed in Gili T for 3 days and Gili Air for 1 night.
The hotel I stayed:
Gili T: M’adison Gilli: Its location is about 5 minutes walk from the sea, clean and polite bungalow style room, with swimming pool but the price is relatively cheap, the breakfast is also delicious. The host is friendly and kind, in general, I like everything, there is nothing to criticize here, if I come back I will still stay here. Unless you have a lot of money, choose to stay in a better hotel or resort.
Gili Air: Villa Karang Hotel and Spa (Agoda.com or Booking.com): One night at a luxury beachfront resort, but I could not enjoy it for long because I left early morning the next day, haha. The price is not cheap but worth staying because the location is right in the center and beautiful, the service is good.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- PinkCoco Gili Air (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Pondok Santi Estate (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Desa Dunia Beda Beach Resort (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Aston Sunset Beach Resort (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Pearl of Trawangan (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Gili Eco Villas (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
Gili islands guide: What and where to eat?
Different from the rest of Bali, the food in Gili – especially in Gili T is really diverse and… tasty. But mainly Indonesian folk food and Western food, Asian cuisine is a bit less. I will recommend you some good restaurants here to try:
Warung Dewi: Located near the pier, next to a market. It looks so dusty, I think it’s not delicious, but it’s delicious to eat, and cheap as well. If you look on the map, you will see that it is highly rated.
Trawangan night market: Oh, just google it and come and you’ll see how it’s worth eating. Local food, long queue, good quality, price is not too expensive.
Some other shops you can refer to: Jali Kitchen – Pituq – Night Market – Classico Italiano.
Gili islands guide: Where to go, what to do in Gili islands & things to do in Gili islands
I will list here some places to visit/experiences you should try in Gili Island.
Diving to see sea turtles
On Gili T island there is a beach called Turtle point. I find this beach to be extremely beautiful for free diving and snorkeling because right next to the shore, there are many diverse corals and fishes.
In addition, near the shore, you will sometimes encounter sea turtles looking for food. The chance of meeting depends on your lucky, but it’s not difficult.
The experience of following, swimming with turtles to find food is so much fun, I swam for along time but never get bored.
There is an island tour to buy at a pretty cheap price to explore all 3 Gili islands in 1 day. Usually the tour will start at Gili T from 9am ~ 10am, depart for Gili Nemo first to dive at the spot where there are statues under the sea like this.
I don’t remember all the spots but most of them will be diving to see the sea, coral, fish (a lot). There is also a diving spot to see turtles, but often you will have to hunt.
The common point at these dive sites is that the water is VERY DEEP and sometimes the waves are HUGE, so it is recommended to prepare a life jacket carefully and have good swimming skills, especially not to go alone.
This is also something I find a bit surprising in Bali, it seems that people are used to waves like this so it’s normal. That’s why they let guests down to swim freely without any worries :))
Usually, the diving sites near any island will eventually go to that island to rest, but there is not enough time to go around and explore the island, so if possible, spend more time exploring the island. In addition, on Gili Nemo island, there is a natural sea turtle conservation area that I really like but I didn’t have time to go :(.
Regarding the price of this tour, when buying, remember to bargain, you can get down to 150,000 IDR (even 100,000 if you are a good negotiator) for 1 person, but going like this is pairing with a very crowded group of strange visitors, so if you go in a large group, book private boat for comfort. It’s spacious and you like to be anywhere for a long time, and you can go anywhere. Private boat price 1,000,000 IDR. I booked it at 1,200,000 IDR. Note that the tour does not include lunch, the boat drivers will take you to a restaurant that the price is also quite hard :))
Take pictures of swings at the sea
Just go along the coast and you will see, but mainly in the near Padawan resort. You should come here in the afternoon to watch the sunset. And you often have to send your bike outside and sit at a bar, can order their beer combo to sit and play comfortably.
Gili also has a few surf beaches but it’s probably only for professionals, not beginners.
Mainly remaining activities on Gili T is to join parties, bars and pubs on the island or chill-out on the white sand beach and blue sea like paradise. That’s enough to stay on the island for a whole month without getting bored.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Gili Islands you can refer to
- Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air Private Snorkeling Day Tour from Lombok
- Gili Island Snorkeling Experience by Gili Hai
- Gili Islands Private Tour from Lombok
- Lombok Gili Islands Private Day Tour
- Gili Trawangan Private Day Tour in Lombok
- Fast Boat Ticket between Nusa Islands and Gili Islands by Golden Queen
- Fast Boat Ticket between Bali (Padang Bai Port), Gili Islands and Lombok by Ostina
- Fast Boat Ticket between Bali (Padang Bai Port), Gili Islands and Lombok
- Fast Boat Ticket between Padang Bai Port and Gili Islands by Golden Queen
- Fast Boat Ticket between Bali (Padang Bai Port), Gili Islands and Lombok by Eka Jaya
- Private Sightseeing Custom Tour for Ubud & Surroundings
- Bali Private Car Charter
- 3G/4G Prepaid SIM Card (DPS Airport Pick Up) for Bali
- 4G Portable WiFi for Bali
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Are you looking for more Bali travel guide and top things to do in Bali: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Bali itinerary 8 days — How to spend 8 days in Bali (8 days 7 nights in Bali) pefectly? And more here.