While Bali is a fashion, art and antique shopping hub, some of the best souvenirs available to visitors are on Lombok, which encompass a variety of handicrafts, including pottery, textiles and traditional Sasak items like painted masks.
A great deal more authentic knick-knacks are available on Lombok than can be found on Bali, and many of the items you can pick up are still made for everyday use by the inhabitants of the island.
Each of the small villages across Lombok specialises in a particular craft, so whether you are after piece of pottery or fabric, it is often best to go straight to the source to find the best quality – and the best deal.Many of these handicrafts are only available in local markets or on small stalls, so it is quite normal to haggle for a good price if you want a bargain.
Once the vendor has established a starting price, you can make a counter offer and repeat the process until you both agree on a price that you are happy with. It is important to remember that bartering is all part of the fun when shopping on Lombok, so shoppers should maintain a smile and sense of humour throughout the exchange.
If you are a self-confessed shopping addict with a nagging desire to spend some of the Rupiah burning a hole in your pocket, you should head to Mataram.
The capital of the island actually comprises several small towns that include Ampenan, Mataram, Cakranegara, Bertais and Sweta. The city is home to over a million people, so if you are in search of a supermarket or shopping mall then Mataram is your best bet.
Shoppers in need of a Western fix can throw down some cash at the Mataram Mall – a multi-story complex that is by no means the high-end shopping experience you might expect in some of Indonesia’s other cities, but nevertheless home to a supermarket, a number of clothes shops and a range of food stalls.
This is the city’s business district, and a nucleus for most of the shops, as well as a large fresh produce market. The small streets are usually packed with people browsing the stalls that line the road, and for people that have never visited a typical Asian market before it can be quite an experience. A stroll through Mataram’s backstreets will reveal a whole host of items for sale, from gold, pearls and jewellery to spare motorbike parts. If you don’t feel up to navigating the maze of backstreet stalls on your own, it is often possible to organise a guide to help you find your way around the crowded streets to all the best shopping stops. For the full Indonesian experience, some visitors head to Pasar Bertais, one of Mataram’s local markets. Located near the city’s bus terminal, the market is a crammed with fresh produce including fruits, vegetables and large baskets of spices whose smells permeate the entire area.
If it is handicrafts you are after, there is an abundance of shops to be found on the Jl Raya Senggigi road that heads north from the Ampanan district of the city.
If you enjoy seeing textile weavers in action, head to Rinjani Handwoven, where you can observe the weaving process before purchasing some of the famed fabric yourself. The Lombok Pottery Centre also offers a wide range of the island’s crafts at competitive prices, and the Lombok Handicraft Centre at Sayang Sayang boasts a vast array of items, including masks, textiles and pottery.
Visitors that truly want to immerse themselves in the island’s culture will gravitate towards the villages where these crafts actually originate from.
Most shops in Senggigi are positioned along the Jalan Raya Senggigi, and are open daily from 9am until 9pm. The area is home to a range of quaint boutiques where it is possible for shoppers to browse everything from designer clothing to exquisite pearls that have been grown right on Lombok. Many of the stalls you see in Senggigi stock stunning strings of authentic freshwater and saltwater pearls. Although they may not be the best quality you can find anywhere else, they still make an excellent souvenir to take home. Pasar Seni, Senggigi’s art market is located just south of the Sheraton Hotel, between the main road and Senggigi Bay. This market is a treasure trove for visitors who want to pick up handicrafts from around the island, in addition to reasonably priced clothing. If the range of handicrafts on offer at Pasar Seni doesn’t match your shopping desires, Bayan, situated adjascent to the Taman Restaurant, boasts a colossal selection of goods including oil paintings, lamps and homeware, all of which can be purchased cheaply.
The Gili Islands
It is rare that visitors head to the idyllic Gili Islands to indulge in some retail therapy, and very few goods are available to purchase on any of the islands. However, it is possible to pick up a few treasured souvenirs on Gili Air at the art shop in the harbour. The shop’s Sasak masks are particularly impressive. Lombok’s indigenous Sasak people comprise approximately 90 percent of Lombok’s population. If you are a fan of “beachy” jewellery, a range of coconut shell necklaces, bracelets and rings are available at Gili Air’s Coconut Handicraft boutique. The proprietor of the shop can also teach you a little about his craft if you stop to browse.
Pottery is one of the main crafts that Lombok is famous for; the island’s main pottery villages are Masbagik, Banyumulek and Penujak. Travellers can truly immerse themselves in island culture by taking a trip to one of these quaint locations, where they can browse the large collection of intricately decorated ceramics, all been crafted by hand. Most of the ceramics on offer are terracotta, adorned with stunning painted decorations. Shoppers that stop in at the Rismunika Astuti art shop can observe a demonstration of how the pottery is uniquely crafted, before browsing the boutique’s varied collection of vases, plates and other small souvenirs. Negotiating a good price for the wares you wish to purchase is welcome.
Textiles are another of the crafts for which Lombok has established a strong reputation. The two main weaving villages on the island are Sukarara and Pringgasela, and travellers that make the journey directly to these villages can expect to find fabrics of high quality for lower prices. The rainbow of items for sale includes sarongs and delicate songket weavings in classic Indonesian designs.
Another of Lombok’s local craft items that is quickly gaining popularity with tourists is limestone carving. Visitors in search of one of Lombok’s hand chiselled masterpieces should head towards the villages of Labuapi and Rungkang Jangkuk. Most of the pieces on offer are inspired by natural motifs, and can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Posted by Max Vee