Lombok is a small island in the Sunda archipelago, a short plane or boat ride away from Denpasar, Bali. It’s a place filled with history and culture, a place where big adventures play out in lush, natural surroundings. It’s also a place for great off-the-beaten-path retail therapy, with authentic stores that let you make connections with the locals, and understand the land and culture these goods come from.
The predominant culture in Lombok is Sasak, a Muslim culture which is distinct from the Hindu culture in Bali. The treasures of Lombok are the traditional Sasak crafts, perfected over generations, and bearing signature bright colours and complicated patterns. Hand-woven baskets, earthy pottery and floaty sarongs are among the handmade gems to be found. Lombok takes these crafts so seriously that there are entire villages dedicated to select artistic skills; we’ll tell you all about three villages, each specialising in a traditional Sasak craft. Below are our tips on getting the most out of shopping in Lombok.
Beleka Wicker Village
Beleka is the oldest and biggest wicker handicraft and souvenir centre in Lombok. Using rattan and a wild grass known in the local language as ketak, the villagers weave a beautiful range of products from bags and baskets to placemats and hats. Beleka’s best known products are the cupu, a bowl-shaped craft and the gandek, a sturdy bag. The village is 50 minutes inland from Kuta, which makes it a great place for a morning adventure before an afternoon on the beach. Strolling around, it’s not uncommon to see weavers sitting and weaving their trademark crafts in their homes. A number of stores in the village offer a range of products for sale, or you can offer to purchase directly from the makers themselves.
Address: Beleka, Praya Timur, Central Lombok Regency, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Best time to visit: 8am – 10am
Penujak Pottery Village
Penujak is the oldest pottery hub of Lombok, easily accessible from Kuta by car or scooter in under 30 minutes. 70% of the town’s citizens are potters, and their pottery holds philosophical importance for them; each member of the village receives a special ceramic kettle when they are born, and this piece of pottery stays with them and is used in important ceremonies until their death. Penujak is made up of 7 smaller, separate villages which each participate in a different part of the pottery process; you can stroll from town to town to see everything from making clay to decorating the final pots. If you buy some precious pottery, remember not to put it in your checked baggage and to ask the store to wrap it protectively. Alternatively, some vendors will offer to ship your goods within a couple of days.
Address: Jl. Raya Mandalika, Penujak, Adong, Kabupaten Lombok Tengah, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83572, Indonesia
Opening hours: Stores are usually open from 10am.
Sukarara Textile Village
Postcard perfect, Sukarara is a traditional village with thatched roof homes nestled amongst rich jungle, and it’s filled with the island’s most skilled textile weavers. Their intricate, colourful designs are unique to Lombok’s Sasak population. The village offers a free tour where you will see weaving demonstrated, get an opportunity to try out the loom yourself, be dressed in traditional clothing for a photograph, and have time in the showroom to purchase any fabrics that catch your eye. Sukarara is about 15 minutes from the Lombok airport, which makes it a lovely place to stop off on your way home to pick up a meaningful souvenir.
Address: Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83561, Sukarara, Kec. Jonggat, Kabupaten Lombok Tengah, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83561, Indonesia
Opening hours: Best to arrive between 10am and 6pm
Tips for Shopping in Lombok
Tourism is an industry which has helped sustain Lombok through financial difficulties. Participating in the local economy not only benefits you, but the people of Lombok. It’s important when shopping for their beautiful handmade crafts to maintain a sense of cultural sensitivity. Here’s how :
- Be respectful when bargaining. There is a major difference in income between most locals on Lombok and the tourist population who visit. A couple of dollars for you could be a day’s wage for a local, so be respectful and don’t push bargaining into miserly territory.
- EFTPOS machines are everywhere on Lombok. To avoid small transaction fees, locate your bank’s ATMs (often possible through your online banking app).
- Round up instead of demanding change. It is considered polite to round up a price to a convenient amount rather than asking for change. Some vendors will simply not have enough notes to provide you with, so offer an amount you have on hand. Tips will be well received.
- Check the quality. The Sasak people are genteel and take pride in what they sell, but receipts are rare. So make sure you’re happy with your purchase, because a refund or replacement could be difficult to organise.
- Shop around. Some stalls will carry the same wares. It’s worth checking that anything you have your heart set on isn’t being sold elsewhere in a pattern, size or shape you prefer.
Where to Stay in Lombok
After a long day of shopping, you’ll want to come back somewhere for a good meal, a good bed and a good time. Have a look at our accommodation, KU Villas. We specialise in the intersection of wellness and comfort; think wholesome local food, plush beds, and an all-natural spa on site. For singles, couples, and families alike, we make sure you have everything you need for a holiday which is both adventurous and relaxing.