Lombok has only recently started to get the attention it deserves. It’s basically a less touristy, affordable version of Bali — and it has so much to offer!
But I, as long as every other digital nomad, know that this isn’t enough to be able to thrive and work remotely from Lombok. Sadly, there also isn’t sufficient information about the island, and I want to change this!
So, I’ve dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s and by the end of this article, I will hopefully definitively answer: how is Lombok for digital nomads?
Lombok for Digital Nomads at a Glance
- A less touristy and crowded version of Bali.
- Offers a feeling of relaxed island life.
- Incredibly friendly population.
- .Unreliable electricity and WiFi.
- The DN infrastructure isn’t well developed.
An Introduction to Lombok
Lombok is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands, and it neighbors Bali on the west, Sumbawa on the east as well many smaller islands (Gili). The Indonesian island is also often compared to Bali, as both of them share a sense of tranquility and culture.
The capital, as well as largest and only city (or kota) is Mataram. Otherwise, Lombok is composed of four kabupaten (regencies): North, West, East, and Central Lombok.
Fun Fact: Lombok is very popular with Muslim tourists, and was even rated the best halal place to visit in a study by the Indonesian Tourism Ministry.
Connectivity in Lombok
The one thing that may hamper your ability to work remotely from Lombok, is the internet. Overall, Indonesia offers below-average internet speeds for both mobile and WiFi. Not to mention, because Lombok is an island, the connection points are few and far between, but let’s see what that means in certain terms.
WiFi in Lombok
As of July 2021, Indonesia saw average WiFi speeds of 25.58 Mbps (download) and 14.74 Mbps (upload), according to speedtest.net. However, according to some sources, these numbers may be as low as 5.5 and 0.9 Mbps.
That being said, to Lombok’s benefit, most cafes, restaurants, and accommodations in larger cities and tourist areas offer WiFi to their patrons. However, keep in mind that some might ask you to pay for it, or at least get a coffee before giving you the password.
Also, if you plan on traveling or staying in a more remote location, you’ll likely need to get your own internet.
4G and Mobile in Lombok
Overall, Indonesian mobile internet is in a word — sufficient. 4G download speeds stand at an average of 21.35 Mbps, while the upload is around 12.29 Mbps.
Indonesian Telecom and XL are two major providers, and if you need a stable internet connection I recommend getting a card from both of them. The reason behind this is that not all regions are covered equally by both providers.
One final note is that while the plans can be somewhat complicated to understand, they are worth it! They are quite diverse, offering packages from 260MB to 40GB, and you can even recharge your card at most local stores (warungs).
Visas and Documentation for Lombok
Per Indonesia’s policy, some country’s nationals are permitted to apply for a visa upon arrival, or get a visa waiver under certain circumstances. Otherwise, the following are visas you can apply for, no matter your nationality.
Note: If you want to visit Indonesia’s protected areas (Poso, Maluku, West Papua, Irian Jaya), you’ll have to apply for a special permit.
A tourist visa allows you to stay on the island for up to 60 days. However, whether you can, legally, work remotely from Lombok with this visa, is sort of a gray area. In reality, the country doesn’t have any specific digital nomad laws, but many of us work while on tourist visas (even though it isn’t specifically allowed).
Business / Social Visit Visa
You can apply for either of these visas if you want to stay in Lombok for a longer period. Having a sponsor is one of the requirements (an acquaintance or employer), who will need to provide a letter of invitation.
Although the process of getting a business visa, in particular, may be slightly more complex, it will allow you to stay on the right side of the law as a DN in Lombok.
At the moment of writing this article (September 2021), Indonesia has blocked entry to the country to most people — until further notice. Some are exempt from travel restrictions, as long as they haven’t stayed in India in the past two weeks. For more information, you can check out Indonesia’s official guide.
Where Digital Nomads Live & Work in Lombok
From the outside looking in, Lombok island looks like a DN paradise, but not every city or regency has the infrastructure needed to work remotely from Lombok. Also, as I’ve briefly mentioned, some areas are restricted to foreigners. To err on the side of caution, and enjoy your stay on the tropical island, I recommend staying in the following parts.
Mataram can sometimes make you forget that you’re located in a major vacation spot — but in a good way. While offering conventional touristy activities such as surfing, swimming, etc, it also allows you to get your work done.
There are plenty of markets, shops, and locals for you to meet, and the food variety is amazing. Also, there’s a decent number of internet cafes and other spots where you can get free WiFi.
Living in Mataram
Mataram, is a city that offers pretty affordable accommodations and low costs of living. The west coast features a lot of upscale housing complexes, but you can consider all areas of the city, depending on your preferences and price range.
As far as places to look go, Airbnb is an option, but the listings here seem to be more lux and thus — pricey. You could also book a hotel room on booking.com, as they tend to be well-equipped and cheap, starting as low as $11 for a three-star hotel.
Working from Mataram
If you want a fast (100 Mbps fiber) and a stable internet connection and amazing coffee, Acibara Coffee is the place to be. Moreover, for $2.50/day (or $45.50/month) you’ll have access to various freebies, such as showers, a gym, and various events.
Kuta is a great base for most nomads. It’s close to the most amazing beaches, possesses a rich cuisine, an incredibly warm community, and has some of the fastest WiFi speeds. It’s the perfect place for the lively, active DN who likes to stay away from overcrowded areas.
Living in Kuta
Overall, accommodations in Kuta are among the least expensive in Lombok, and most of Asia. There are plenty of listings on Airbnb, where you can rent an apartment for $22, and an entire villa for $55.
Working from Kutai
As an inexpensive coworking spot, I recommend checking out Kenza — the cafe, restaurant, yoga retreat hybrid. The lively beachfront resort offers decent WiFi speeds, and there are even accommodations attached.
How is Lombok for Digital Nomads — My Final Thoughts
Truth be told, Lombok may not be right for every digital nomad. However, it’s the perfect spot for the more adventurous, beach-loving type of DN. So, if you’re looking for an experience rather than complex DN infrastructure, I see no reason why you shouldn’t give Lombok a chance.