Known as Gili Trawangan, or the much-easier-to-pronounce Gili T, this heavenly little island is a shining jewel of Southeast Asia. Gili T is the largest of the three Gili Islands, but it has a permanent population of around only 800 people. Backpackers first stumbled onto this place in the 90s, and it’s still holding onto its natural charm. With direct ferries from Bali, this is one place you won’t want to miss. Here’s my ultimate Gili Trawangan travel guide!
What to Expect in Gili Trawangan
Language: Pretty much everyone in the Gili Islands speaks some level of English. The native language is Indonesian, which has a unique dialect in both Bali and the Gili Islands.
Currency: The local cash is the Indonesian Rupiah, which is commonly abbreviated to Rp. 1 USD is currently 13,168 Rp. Since the math is a bit tricky, I recommend keeping a note on your phone with some handy math. For example, 100,000 Rp.=$7.60; 250,000 Rp.=$19.00; 500,000 Rp.=$38.00. Having a few conversion rates memorized will make dealing with money way easier.
Credit Cards: Cash is king here, and it’s best to bring it over from Bali. You’ll find an ATM at Hotel Villa Ombak on Gili T and a few others on the island. Note that ATMs are not all 24hrs and withdraw amounts can be low.
Climate: The weather here is as close to perfect as you’ll find anywhere. The average day is around eighty degrees, with the rainy season running from November to April (although it gets much less rain than Bali).
High Season: There are two peak seasons: July to August and December to January. These are the best times to go, but they’ll also be the busiest.
Getting Around in Gili Trawangan
Horse-Pulled Carts: Known as Cidomo, these are actually the island’s only means of public transport. Having no cars on an island is a blessing and a curse. You won’t deal with the traffic or the pollution of Bali, but it does mean that if your hotel is outside of walking distance and you have a lot of luggage there’s no other way to get around.
Bicycle or Walk: Gili T is less than six square miles in total, making it easy to rent a bicycle or walk to anywhere you want to go.
Ferry or Fast Boats to Other Islands: There are several ways to get to the Gili islands from Bali. You can take the fast boat from Padang Bai or Amed; hop on the ferry from Padang Bai to Lombok then Lombok to the Gilis, or go for a private sailing charter.
Private Treehouse Villas
I’m always a sucker for a treehouse! Located right on Gili Trawangan Beach, the Gili Treehouses offer one and two bedroom options in a striking environment.
Price Range: $$
This four-star spot is stunning. It has just ten luxury villas that range from one to six bedrooms, and it can be a good pick for groups of all sizes.
Location: Gili Trawangan
Price Range: $$
The popular Scallywags Gili Trawangan Resort has some nice standard double rooms along with some luxe rooms with private plunge pools.
Location: Gili Trawangan
Price Range: $
Helpful Tip: This was one of the toughest places for me to find accommodation as a solo traveler. It was pricey, and there were very few options. If you’re not too fussed with having a plan, I think the best strategy is to show up and walk around to find a good cash deal at a place that has available rooms. Keep in mind that during high season, however, hotels can be completely sold out. I moved three times in less than a week because everywhere was at full capacity!
Start your day here for the perfect tropical smoothie bowls. You’ll find some heartier veggie and vegan options for every meal too.
Trawangan Dives Bar & Restaurant
After a day of diving, their little restaurant offers international dishes, local favorites and an awesome list of cocktails!
This place is great for breakfast with freshly made pastries and fresh squeezed juices.
Pearl Beach Lounge
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this place is the perfect stop right on the beach. They even have an ice cream shop!
Thai food in Indonesia? Why not? Opposite Warung Sempurna, this place is a good pick with fresh food, vegetarian options, and delivery.
For ultra fresh seafood, this is the place to be. Located right next to the Gili Air Hostel by the harbor, the night market is open daily from 4 to 10 p.m.
Lay Out on the Beach
Once you’ve explored the sea, lie out under the sun, and forget about the world. There are nice beaches all over the island, and they are very close to each other. It is easy to stroll down the beach until you find the perfect spot.
Shop on the Island
Plan some time to browse Casa Vintage Beach and the street stalls along the eastern coast. Keep in mind, though, that many souvenirs are cheaper in Bali, so look for only real one-of-kind items here.
Dive, Swim, Snorkel, Surf
It’s all about the water here! With perfect beaches and crystal clear water, Gili T is the ultimate spot to make like a fish. Be sure to get to Turtle Point during high tide. Check out Trawangan Dive Centre for some incredible dives!
Of the Gili Islands, Gili T is the best place to party. On Monday, check out the Blue Marlin rave, then on Wednesday, go to the Tir na Nog Irish bar Shipwrecked Bar party. Rudy’s Bar is the place to be on Friday, while you find something pretty much every night of the week at the Sama Sama bar.
Explore the Hidden Grottos
Hike through the green cliffs and canyons in Bangli, and then keep walking through the river to find the hidden grottos. They’re hard to spot, but there is a sign for the canyon and a waterfall, so keep your eyes peeled.
Rent a Bike
The best way to explore and take in the natural beauty of the island is by bicycle. Ride around the island, and be sure to check out the swings in the water from the different resorts.
This cave waterfall is only five minutes from the grottos. Be sure to check it out while you’re in the area.