Bangsal is a tiny little port in northwestern Lombok, about 1 km away from the town of Pemenang. It's strictly a transfer point on the way to and from the Gili Islands, and few people hang around here any longer than necessary.
By shuttle busEdit
If arriving in Lombok from Bali by ferry and you haven't booked an end-to-end travel package then getting from Lembar to Bangsal can sometimes be problematic. You can take a shuttle bus service to Bangsal from Lembar, Mataram or Senggigi with Perama Shuttle Bus, Jl Raya Senggigi, ☏ , , , fax: .
Arfatourindo Shuttle Car, Jl Gajah Mada BTN Griya Permata Blok H No. 2 Mataram, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
By public boatEdit
The only reason to come to Bangsal is to travel to and from the Gilis, and that means you have to deal with the Koperasi Angkutan Laut (Sea Transport Co-operative), which monopolises transport to the islands. Try to get to Bangsal by 10:00 or earlier as boats go in the morning. The public boat office in Bangsal may close at 16:00, make sure you have checked the departure times back to Bangsal from the Gillis. Public boats operated by the Koperasi run in the afternoons however the late afternoon services are operated by the Koperasi Shuttle boat at a slightly higher tariff. See the individual Gili articles for detailed information on this.
Avoid interactions with touts and helpers
Many of the interactions between the local touts and people arriving at Bangsal to travel to the 3 Gili islands have highly unsatisfactory endings. They will try to mislead visitors into buying boat tickets from them, coerce them into buying overpriced mosquito repellent or chartering boats and will actively seek to deceive and mislead people regarding the services available at Bangsal. Some may concentrate on developing friendships involving attending parties, cultural events or invitations to their home. They can become intimidating when they are unsuccessful or their advances are rebuffed. Only a very small minority of them have anything other than malevolent deception in mind. Any arrangement or even paying them attention may lead to vigorous and coercive demands to assist them with imaginary expenses. Avoid any such engagement, do not buy anything from them and do not enter into any arrangements that may later lead to a claim of obligation promise or commitment
Only purchase tickets from the official counter.
The ticket sales point is in the main building on the foreshore, it is to your left as you arrive at the beach by road. Enter through the portico on the nearest side of the building and you will find a ticket counter, deal only with the ticket selling staff behind the counter. Prices are printed on the tickets, do not allow yourself to be confused by various extraordinary stories from any individuals lurking there or that have followed you in from outside.
- Departing to Gili Islands from Bangsal. In theory, it's very easy. Upon arrival at Bangsal beach buy a ticket for the Public boat; Rp 8,000 to Gili Air, Rp 9,000 to Gili Meno and Rp 10,000 to Gili Trawangan. These prices are per person/per trip. Buy your ticket and then wait until the maximum 20 people needed to fill up a boat show up. More may board and overload the boat. Early in the morning, this rarely takes over an hour. You will be told by the ticket sellers when it's time to go. Normally that information is broadcast over the Public Address system. Tickets are numbered and colour-coded. If you arrive at Bangsal later in the day you may be in for a longer wait. If you aren't in the mood to sit around, you can charter an entire boat to Trawangan or the other two islands. This may present a reasonable alternative if you can share the cost with a few fellow travellers and the practice is quite common. The official Koperasi Charter boat price from Bangsal to Gili Trawangan is Rp 185,000. Negotiated private charters may be higher or lower than this figure depending upon both availability and your own negotiating skills. Don't talk to too many people as they may possibly all then seek a commission from the boat operator, hence driving the price up. Try to just pick one person to negotiate with, preferably the actual operator rather than a tout or helper and then negotiate slowly, calmly and with great patience.
- Official prices and Koperasi operations. Details of the official Koperasi boat service prices and services are detailed in the three articles covering Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.
- Bangsal Cowboys. Life is made harder by the touts hanging around the port who will seriously hassle you to buy boat tickets to the Gilis from them. They use various ruses including claiming that your ticket is no longer valid, that tickets have sold out, or are unavailable. They also work hard on people arriving in the afternoon trying to install a state of fear that there are no services running when in fact there are both Public boats and later supplementary Shuttle boats running. Do not believe them and do not give in to them as they are normally just trying to play a game of deception. Above all, do not let them lead you to any alternative 'ticket offices' or informal arrangements. They will claim it is real office. Many travelers had been tricked to go to a small shack on the right on the way to the Jetty. Instead just head further toward the water and turn left at the end of the approach road where you will see a large sign, the ferry terminal and the real ticket office. The ticket desk is inside, in the north eastern corner of that building. It is normally manned by polite and friendly girls. There are also toilets in there for those who may require them. The "cowboys" will be hanging around and about, avoid small talks with them. Also watch out for new 'friends' who will talk about mosquito borne illnesses as part of casual conversation. They may try to guide you toward nearby shops where mosquito repellent and coils are marked up excessively or sell to you directly at absurdly marked up prices. Don't waste your time haggling over the prices as there are fairly priced alternatives at the shops on the islands.
The way to sidestep this hassle is to book an organized tour with someone like Perama that will take you directly to the Gilis for around Rp 100,000 per person, bypassing Bangsal entirely. Another alternative is to Go to Teluk Nare 4-5 km south of Bangsal and charter a speedboat to your island. Many chose to pre-arrange their transfers with a hotel or dive operator. Such transfers normally depart from the much less frenetic Teluk Nare.
If you are travelling from Bali, you might consider the Fastboats, they will drop you off at the Gilis islands. It may cost Rp 375,000-600,000 per person 1-way. See the Gili Islands articles or the Padangbai, Bali articles for information on those services. However overall the air services linking Bali to Lombok offer safer and more comfortable all season alternatives to the sea crossing.
Hotels, dive operators and fast boat operators can also arrange speedboat pickups, using the alternative ports of Teluk Nara and Teluk Kode. All Bali-Gili-Lombok ferry services (see Gili Islands) also terminate at one of these two.
By charter boatEdit
At Senggigi and Mangsit beaches you will find many private perahu or traditional outrigger boat operators. Many tour guides will offer services or to assist in arranging a trip for you. These can be one way, two way or a day trip to the Gillis. Be careful to negotiate the price and details to common agreement before boarding or determining a final price. Do not automatically expect the boat to have adequate or possibly any safety equipment at all. Ensure you check such equipment for yourself prior to agreeing to the charter. Some traditional perahu boat operators cannot swim so do not expect them to be able to save you should difficulties arise. Also ensure that the price includes fuel and where you will be travelling and for how long a time. Ensure you will return to shore well before dusk. Do not expect the boat operator to be able to communicate fluently with you in English or even Bahasa Indonesian. Often the guide accompanies and some of them offer a good service and an enhanced experience due to their local knowledge. Look on the beaches yourself, enquire at your hotel or at a travel or tour agency in Senggigi or Mangsit.
Metered taxis are not usually readily found in Bangsal, but the touts hanging around can rustle up a Toyota Kijang or similar vehicle that will seat four or more people with luggage and cost around Rp 150,000 to anywhere in Senggigi or further south to Mataram.
Taxis are a more viable option on the way in to Bangsal from places such as Senggigi or Ampenan. A metered taxi will cost approximately Rp 70,000 from Senggigi. A taxi may be an excellent option if sharing the trip with some other travellers and it could be as cheap as a bemo but far quicker and more convenient.
- Bluebird (Lombok Taksi), ☏ . or Express taxis can be pre-booked at a hotel or hailed on the street. To make your travel go conveniently, you need to reserve taxi before your arrival. You could reserve via firstname.lastname@example.org If arriving at Bangsal by boat it maybe possibly to find a taxi in the car park area closer to Pemenang. If you are carrying a phone It may be worth trying to telephone the taxi company and request a taxi to collect you from Bangsal when you arrive there.
- Airport Taksi and other metered taxis are available for travel from the airport, enquire at the airport upon arrival.
You can also take the DAMRI public bus (air conditioned) from the airport to Senggigi and then use a metered taxi to complete the trip to Bangsal. Please note that the taxi may not go past the control gate and are required to stop at the car park to set down or pick up passengers. If they do go to the beach they may receive demands for payment of imagined fees and charges by the local travel touts and hustlers active at the beach. If anyone is manning the roadway control point near the carpark and not wearing an official DISHUB (Department of transportation) uniform then they are an impostor and likely only there to make demands for unauthorised entry payments, don't pay them. The official entry price for tourism vehicles is Rp 1,000 and a ticket will be provided. The Rp 5,000 car parking fee is payable to the official car park attendant only.
Bemos do not call at Bangsal itself, but they do stop in nearby Pemenang, from where you can walk or ride a cidomo (horse cart) to Bangsal Harbour.
By horse cartEdit
Horse-pulled carts, known as Cidomo, are very common in the Bangsal and Pemenang area. They are a good method of transportation for short distances. The final section of the Pemenang to Bangsal access road is normally closed to vehicles and the final distance will need to be completed on foot or by using one of the local cidomo. Make sure to agree the price before the journey — Rp 10,000 is the maximum price to pay for a short cidomo journey anywhere in Lombok.
Cidomo horse carts hang around Bangsal, waiting to ferry visitors to and from the parking area nearby to the main road in Pemenang or further to the centre of Pemenang if you wish.
To rent a motorbike or car when returning to the mainland from the Gilli Islands it would be advisable to make enquiries in Senggigi further along the coast to the south as there are plenty of rental providers there. The first one available coming from the north is at Mangsit beach on the main road opposite Qunci poolside villas. Alternatively enquire at your hotel.
There is not really a lot to see here. The markets in Pemenang are nearby but really the attraction of Bangsal is pretty much limited to that of a transit point between the mainland and the nearby three Gilli Islands.
Depart for Giili Islands or arrive on the mainland to travel on to other destinations in Lombok such as Tanjung, Senaru, Mount Rinjani, Senggigi and Kuta in the south of the island. If you want to charter a boat to look around the area or travel the coastline then it would best be done from other less strenuous locations.
Eat and drinkEdit
There is a small kiosk and some scruffy warungs around the ferry dock, but no other facilities of significance.
- 1 Bunga Bunga Cafe. This is generally where the shuttle buses and taxis leave from. You can have breakfast here too.
Tourist oriented accommodation facilities at Bangsal and nearby Pemenang are limited. The Tanjung area is only a short distance away and has several upmarket resort and villa rental options. The Senggigi area to the south has an abundance of alternatives. Senaru on the slopes of Mount Rinjani has accommodation oriented toward visits to the National Park there or for visitors embarking on Rinjani ascents. The nearby Gilli Islands have a wide range of accommodation and are the obvious choice in the immediate Bangsal area.
- Arnel Hotel and Restaurant, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. A Dutch-Indonesian couple opened this basic but comfortable hotel in 2012 to provide a small and unpretentious overnight accommodation place for travellers on their way through to the nearby Gili islands, but arriving there too late for a crossing over to one of the small nearby islands, or as a convenient place to stay shoreside whilst exploring the nearby region on the main island of Lombok. Motorcycle rental and parking is available, days tours and bookings can be arranged.
Mobile phone towers ensure you're never likely to be out of touch. Telekomsel's Simpati SIM card has a reasonably good signal in the Bangsal area. XL Axiata SIM cards also provide coverage in the area. Coverage can be unreliable and inconsistent at times and in some areas.
You will most likely want to leave Bangsal immediately. If you are arriving here from one of the three Gili islands, travelling to somewhere on mainland Lombok, then you could get the early morning local ferry to here Rp20,000. Then walk about 800m inland to Bunga Bunga Cafe on the right hand side of the road. This is where the shuttle buses and cars pick up from. Here you can buy tickets or bargain for a seat in a taxi car. You can have breakfast here too. Note that anyone with a ticket already will be expected to walk here or pay for a ride on a horse and cart. If you get a car for yourself, the driver might pick up extra passengers on the way. As a contingency plan, negotiate with the driver that if he picks up anyone else then you pay less. Agree what that lower amount is.