Lombok is traditional. Tourism has not enveloped the culture here like Bali – so here are some cultural tips to ensure your stay is fun and safe.
- Bikinis away from the beach. Don’t do it! Bikinis are for the beach. If you are walking around Kuta or Gerupuk – take a sarong or a towel to cover yourself whilst you are away from the beach. Likewise if you are on a scooter – don’t be cruising around in a bikini. You will get treated differently by locals. If you’re on a scooter we recommend you cover your shoulders – especially if you are travelling away from the tourist hubs like Kuta and Gerupuk.
- Extending your left hand in a hand shake – The left hand in Islamic tradition is seen as unclean. Always use your right hand.
- Arguing with locals. 99% of the arguments come out of mis-understandings. Be patient and make sure when you are dealing with any local that you never make promises you cannot keep or don’t intend to keep. Always write down any deals you make with them so that you have a record – especially when dealing with large sums of money i.e arranging transport from Gerupuk to Gili Islands.
- Drugs like mushrooms and marijuana are illegal in Indonesia. Possession will most certainly land you in jail and if you have enough on you that you are classed as a distributor – it’s the death sentence.
Alcohol is legal – but there is a low tolerance for drunk and disorderly behaviour here. The police won’t deal with you. The locals will.
- Bargaining down the poor. You’ll see people selling bracelets, shirts and sarongs along most of the beaches. Treat them with respect and pay fair. As a tip for a sarong you should pay 70,000 RPH (US$5), each bracelet 5,000-10,000 (US$0.5-$1) and for a shirt 100,000 (US$7). Every 10,000 that you wipe of the price is one meal for the whole family. Dead serious.
- Not tipping. Tip 10% as a minimum at all places which don’t have an automatic service charge. They will remember – and the next time you go in you will be treated like a king or queen.