Gili Islands on the Cheap

You want to visit Indonesia’s stunning Gili Islands but have heard they’re expensive? You’ve heard right, the Gili Islands are expensive.

But they don’t have to be…

Here are my tips for visiting the Gili Islands on a budget. Below you will also find my recommendation for budget accommodation on Gili Trawangan and a list of FREE things to do in the Gilis.

Gili Meno

Take the public ferry and go explore one of the quieter islands

1. Instead of taking a boat tour to three islands with snorkelling, take the public ferry.

Cost of public ferry: 50,000rp per person.
Cost of boat tour: Anything up to $100 per person (1.3m rp).

2. Instead of going to one of the beach-front barbecues, eat at the night market.

Price for a meal at the market: 400,000rp for two persons including 2 jumbo prawns, one large squid, one whole fish served with rice and green veg and 2 large Bintang.

For those really on a budget there is also a buffet in the market where you can choose from any of the curries and spring rolls on offer and fill up your plate.

For more information about where to eat in the Gili Islands click here.

3. Instead of ordering beer with your meal, order water. You can buy a few beers from one of the mini markets and enjoy it on your terrace before you go for dinner. Also, if you order a large water with your meal you can take the rest of the bottle with you to your accommodation so you don’t have to buy more later.

Gili Islands on the cheap

Snorkelling is great fun on Gili Islands

4. Instead of scuba diving go snorkelling. There is a lot to see in the Gili Islands’ crystal clear waters and there are many vibrant fish right near the beach.

Obviously there’s a big difference between scuba and snorkelling but approx. $100 per session is a lot of money for those on a budget.

Top Tip: Some dive centres will also take you on their boat to go snorkelling in deeper waters when they have a dive group for a fee of 100,000rp or less depending on the season.

5. When it’s time to go for drinks look for bars with special offers such as happy hours and two-for-one as well as lunch time meal deals.

Bar Why Not offers a free fruit juice with every lunch order.

Remember that drinks with alcohol are much more expensive than drinks without. Instead of ordering a cocktail, order a fresh fruit juice, which is healthier too.

6. Finally, when ordering food and drink check the menu carefully for tax and service charges; you can be stung for up to 21% more than the advertised prices.

Where to stay in the Gili Islands on a budget

While the beach-front bungalows look gorgeous they are very pricey for those on a budget. You’ll pay 400,000rp if you are lucky.

You don’t need a swimming pool on such a small island when you are never more than a five minute walk from the sea.

Hot water is a luxury on the Gili Islands and it doesn’t come cheap so you might as well get used to the idea of cold showers already.

Find the small tidy homestays set back away from the main road. The touts in the port will happily show you the way.

Gili Harbour

Meet Robbie. Ask him for budget accommodation.

My Pick for budget accommodation on Gili Trawangan: Pondok Gili Gecko

You can stay in one of the basic but clean double rooms at Pondok Gili Gecko for up to 200,000rp per night including breakfast, wifi, private bathroom and fan.

Find a tout called Robbie who normally hangs out near the port waiting for the new arrivals from Bali. If you are staying for a few nights don’t be afraid to barter, you might manage a little discount depending on the time of year and demand.

Gili Islands

Take a walk around the entire island

Free activities on the Gili Islands

  • Watch the sunset
  • Take a walk around the whole island
  • Watch the sunrise
  • Visit the sea turtles sanctuary on Gili Trawangan
  • Go snorkelling
  • Listen to a live music without going into the bar
  • Watch a fire show on the beach

What about you? Have you been to the Gili Islands? Have you got any more tips for budget backpackers? Or any free activities that I might have missed?

Filed Under: asiafeaturedIndonesiaNusa Tenggara


About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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