Much less developed than neighboring Bali, Lombok is also drier and without Bali's tropical beauty or cultural charm. This island can be reached by hydrofoil from Benoa, ferry from Padangbai and airplane from Denpasar, Surabaya or Singapore.

Mataram, the island's capital and home to its only airport, is noted for its beautiful weaving, rattan baskets and Hindu temples (most temples are in western Lombok). The Sasaks, an Islamic people, make up the majority of the population.

Buy local handicrafts at the market in Cakranegara (east of Mataram) or go directly to weaving villages such as Sukarara (15 mi/25 km south of Mataram). Handicrafts in general are a particularly good value on Lombok. The prices are almost always lower than what you will find on Bali. Fabrics are another great buy, but be prepared to haggle to get the lowest price.

Senggigi Beach is Lombok's main tourist retreat and a good base for those who want to explore the island. In the center of Lombok is Gunung Rinjani, a hot springs and an active volcano popular with mountain climbers; it's a demanding full-day climb to the top, requiring a guide. Bangko-Bangko (or Desert Beach) off southwest Lombok is a legendary surf spot.

For travelers who want to get away from it all, the Gili Islands, three tiny islands off Lombok's northwest coast, provide a great escape. There are no roads or cars, but fabulous coral reefs, deserted beaches, and plenty of peace and quiet.

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