The Gilis feature regularly in "The next hot thing"-style travel articles you'll see in your Sunday newspaper and have (somewhat deservedly) a reputation for heavy partying. Not all that surprisingly, it's a little bit more complicated than that and it's a mistake to consider the three Gilis as being one and the same -- each has its own distinct vibe. Let's focus on Gili Trawangan as the most popular one and is well known for its party life.
|The hectic GTrawangan can be felt rite when you arrive at the Public Harbor|
This is the largest and most heavily developed of the three islands. Affectionately referred to as Gili T, Gili Trawangan has the largest number of guesthouses, hotels and resorts (more than 100) and enough bars and beach shacks to keep even the most dedicated party-goer well satisfied.
Gili Trawangan has the greatest supply of cheap(ish) rooms (which are mostly in the village near the main boat landing) of the three Gilis. This combined with the oversupply of bars and party atmosphere make it the most popular among budget travelers and those out for a good time -- your typical "sun, sand and sex" crowd.
Bear in mind that when we say cheap, in most cases you're still going to be looking at at least 200,000 rupiah a night -- 300,000 in high season -- for a cheap room in the village. Elsewhere, really very mediocre bungalows are going for 600,000 and up -- at least double what you'd pay elsewhere in Indonesia.
|Highly Recommended Accommodation in GT|
|Vila Ombak's cozy area|
The party scene has two main flavors -- the immediate area around the boat landing has plenty of beach bars and pubs (often charging Bali prices) and then the northern tip of the island has more secluded beach shacks and bars, which may appeal to those looking for a more laidback scene. Be careful with "fee and tax" especially in "luxury" restaurants, most will charge 21% tax and service, however it can be written in very small font at the bottom of the menu and be from 5 to 25% or more.
|Recommended Italian Resto|
|Vila Ombak's area|
|Our favorite is Scallywags|
Trawangan has a huge range of eating options from simple local warungs up to fairly grand places serving inventive modern cuisine. Many of these are attached to hotels or dive shops, and are not independent restaurants as such.
Budget places are thinner on the ground that they used to be, but still not hard to find. If you really want to watch the pennies, do as the locals do and eat in the local warungs inside the village, or at the night food market near the beachwalk south of the jetty. These serve the usual range of Indonesian staples: fried rice, fried noodles and bakso (meatball soup); on the night market, you will also find seafood (marked up for tourists' wallets, though), pancakes, snacks, desserts, and even beer. The push carts and few "warungs" on the main beachwalk are overpriced as much as twice compared to Bali or Indonesian cities (for example, selling sate ayam on the street for Rp 20,000 or nasi padang for Rp 22,000).
Barbecued fish is excellent here and every evening many of the better restaurants fire up the charcoal. The deal is that you chose your fish - red and white snapper and trevally are especially good - and it is grilled on the spot.
|Cheap sweets stuff at the nite market|
|Warung KIKI NOVI is highly recommended for some fresh BBQ seafood|
Despite protestations otherwise, drugs remain commonplace on the Gilis, especially on Gili T. Mushrooms are often signposted and the dealers proffering (mostly pot and cocaine) along the walk down to the pier area can get downright tiresome. Bear in mind that pot and coke are absolutely illegal in Indonesia, and while there is a common meme that the Gili T authorities turn a blind eye, we'd advise not risking it.
There are regular party nights on Gili Trawangan - the various bars take it in turn to host the late night gig (up to 4AM), to ensure that everyone gets together in one place rather than being spread around. The island is small and it is easy to find everything; just ask around for where the party is going to be on any given night.
Be very careful with locally produced spirits, especially arak. It can contain methanol and has caused many cases of serious injury and even death (as recent as new year 2012/13) among tourists and locals alike. If you suspect that what you've been served is not what you ordered, take it back. Sticking to western owned and managed bars will reduce the risk.
|Despite the touristy and crowded atmosphere it has,|
GTrawangan still offers quietness and peacefulness in some areas ^^