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Gili Trawangan Nightlife Guide

Posted by on September 17, 2014

Throughout my travels, almost everyone I’ve asked says their favourite place in Indonesia, or even South East Asia, is the Gili Islands. All different types of traveller, all talking as though they alone stumbled upon this paradise.

Turquoise water and white sand beach on Gili Trawangan island, Lombok, Indonesia

Arriving at Gili Trawangan, there’s no jetty; the boat just pulls up on the sand.

Gili Trawangan (“Gili T” by the time you’ve been there a few hours) is the famed “party island” of the three Gilis – the others being tranquil little Gili Meno and laid-back Gili Air – and, though this isn’t the 70s anymore, is definitely up there with the world’s greatest backpacker paradises.

Dutch football supporters celebrating on Gili Trawangan beach at sunrise

After losing my bet on Costa Rica to win the World Cup, we consoled ourselves by partying with the Dutch.

I call this a “nightlife guide”, but that’s not to say the party on Gili T stops during the daylight hours. I was there during Ramadan and still managed to only crawl in at 10.30 the next morning.

Gili Trawangan sunrise, Indonesia

Swimming with the sunrise after an epic night out!

Look out for a “vodka joss” – a local speciality, illegal almost everywhere else in the world – made from a shot of vodka and a sachet of energy powder.

The Nightly Parties & Where to Catch Them

Some of the major bars on Gili T have a kind of oligopoly over the island’s late-night nightlife, with “the party” doing the rounds every week. Don’t miss out on the action. Unless you’re there for Ramadan, when things are a bit different, this’ll be your bible for the season:

  • Monday night – Blue Marlin
  • Tuesday night – Trawangan (Beach) Cottages
  • Wednesday night – Tir Na Nog (“the Irish”)
  • Thursday night – Sama Sama + Pool party at Gili Hostel + Quiz night at Trawangan Dive (Bar)
  • Friday night – Surf Bar + Rudy’s
  • Saturday night – Sama Sama
  • Sunday night – Evolution + Ladies’ night at the Irish
Pool party at Gili Hostel in Trawangan, Gili Islands, Indonesia

At the pool party with a couple o’ cold Bintangs

If in doubt just hit the strip, ask around or follow the flow.

Gili Hostel pool bar party in Trawangan, Gili Islands, Indonesia

Pool party at the Gili Hostel pool bar

Must-dos for a Night Out on Gili Trawangan

All of this is on pretty much every night (except the boat party, which is three days a week) and should not be missed while your on Gili T:

  • After sunset, start a night at the night market. There’s amazing food all over the island, but this is by far the cheapest and most authentically Indonesian.
  • Pre-gaming from 8 pm ’til midnight at Jiggy Jig’s - home to the “Jiggy Jig’s Drinking Challenge”, where if you can drink selection of signature cocktails and shots fastest than anyone else (the current record is at around 17 seconds) it’s free!
  • Bonfire on the beach at Horizontal (they say from 5 pm, but actually it’s whenever it gets dark)
  • Shisha at Horizontal or Pesona
  • Live music at Sama Sama almost every night
  • The pool bar at Gili Hostel (best on a Thursday – see above)
  • The Irish hosts silent discos, pretty much every night during Ramadan.
  • Walk around the island for sunset and drinks at my favourite spot, the Exile.
  • There’s even a full-moon party on Gili T.
  • Also, don’t forget the Drunken Monkeyz (DMZ) yacht party!
Horizontal beach bar in Gili Trawangan island, Lombok, Indonesia

Chillin’ at Horizontal with 2-4-1 happy hour banana coladas

Beach bonfire at Horizontal bar, Gili Islands, Lombok

The beach bonfire at Horizontal from sunset

Pesona Indian restaurant beach bar shisha lounge in Gili T, Indonesia

Pesona Indian restaurant: a great place to chill out with shisha on the beach

The Exile hostel beach bar in Gili T, Lombok, Indonesia

Putting my feet up with a cocktail at my favourite spot: the Exile

Gili Trawangan map of bars and nightlife in Gili T, the Gili Islands, Lombok, Indonesia

Another one of my beautifully crafted maps. Print and have it framed if you want.

Other Cool Shit to Do on Gili Trawangan

Here’s some stuff to do that doesn’t (necessarily) involve getting drunk:

  • Movies on the beach opposite Jessica Homestay and also Vila Ombak. You can check showings a day in advance. Expect the likes of Eat Pray Love and The Hangover 2. You also get a free can of Bintang, popcorn, or a toblerone or whatever.
  • Climb to the viewpoint and World War Two bunker.
  • Swim in the impeccably beautiful turquoise waters.
  • Snorkel. (The best spot, if not taking a boat or tour, is the corner of the island, anywhere beyond Coral Beach 2.)
  • Dive. (Gili T’s one of the best places to learn in the world. If interested, look up Enrique.)
  • Save yourself you trip to Meno or Air and walk around the island for some secluded beach spots and great sunsets.
  • There’s a turtle conservation centre.
  • Paddle-board.
  • Take a horse and cart, the only form of transport on the island.
Sunset over water at Gili Trawangan island in Indonesia

The best sunsets are from the south-west corner, where it sets over the water.

Where to Stay in Gili Trawangan?

Gili T’s the kind of place where you can usually just rock up and find a place, though prices do go up in the high season. When you land, go inland a couple of blocks and you’ll save a fortune.

One place we can vouch for is Three Little Birds homestay. It seems to be run by a Norwegian girl and three Lombok Rastas, one of whom cooks the best eggs and pancakes I’ve ever had. It’s somehow clean to Western standards, really laid-back and only 150,000 (£7.50) a night for the room, in the high-season. They’ll let you fill up your bottles from their drinking water for a small charge and give you candles when the power goes out, which it will. From the boat, turn right down the strip, take left at Cafe Gili and it’s just down the second right, after the mosque. Look out for these signs:

Three Little Birds homestay entrance gate in Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia

The entrance to Three Little Birds homestay

Three Little Birds homestay sign in Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia

Our “home away from home” in Gili T

Methanol Poisoning: A Word of Warning

Just remember, this isn’t Bali; it’s Lombok, where the locals are mostly Muslim. Also, with Indonesia being the world’s most populous predominantly Muslim country, taxes on wine and spirits have been driven up, prompting many bars and shops to cut their alcohol with methanol, leading to the deaths of many tourists. This is a plain example of how foreigners are treated in Indonesia.

Rudy’s bar, for one, has been caught red-handed on several occasions and yet shows no signs of stopping, despite several deaths directly attributed to them. As you can imagine, in my “line of work”, I take this kind of thing very seriously and ask you to join me in boycotting Rudy’s and any other bar implicated.

Sorry to put a downer on things. You’ll have a blast!

Sunrise boat from Gili Islands to Lombok, Indonesia

Saying goodbye to the Gili Islands. Leaving on the sunrise boat…

48 Responses to Gili Trawangan Nightlife Guide

  1. Jim

    Methanol poisoning,thats bad,at least when you get back to the UK you aint going to freeze up.

  2. Graham

    As I am in Indonesia now I could end up there if I get fed up of culture etc. Was going to give you the run down on booze of central Asia but can’t find you on messenger or have an e mail for you, could you let me know one or the other pls. Hope oz isn’t too sober for you. Cheers Graham

    • Roy Duffield

      Lol. I need to hit Indonesia again as I didn’t have time to go the places I was most interested in, namely Sulawesi, Papua, Maluku and Flores. Let me know how you find them if you go! You planning on going to Papua New Guinea?

      P.S. Just sent you my gmail via Facebook, or you can plonk them straight on the Drinking Traveller page. Whatever you like. Cheers for that!

      P.P.S. Australians seem to like a drink, so I’m in good hands.

  3. Jan

    Hey mate, great report! I’m tempted to spent some time there in 2016. But how about clubs, i.e. are there places where they play music to dance to or are there “just” bars without dancefloors? Thanks for clarifying :)

    Take care! Jan

    • Roy Duffield

      Hey Jan, thanks for reading. Pretty much all the bars have dance-floors and kind of turn into clubs, especially the silent disco at the Irish bar. You won’t struggle to find somewhere to dance on Gili T. ;-)

  4. Michiel

    Hi Roy,

    Great website. Two questions for Gili T; we will be in Indonesia during Ramadan and I’ve read on TripAdvisor that all bars on Gili T will be closed around 11 PM during Ramadan. Is it still worth going during Ramadan? And secondly; is it correct that they don’t put methanol in beer, so you’re safe if you skip cocktails and wines and stick to beers?

    Thanks and cheers from Amsterdam

    • Roy Duffield

      Hey Michiel, there is always stuff going on during Ramadan, such as the silent discos, etc. Last year I managed to stay out drinking in the bars until 10.30 am the next morning, so, unless they’ve suddenly changed things, you should be fine.

      Bottled beer is fine as it’s sealed.

      Have a blast!

  5. Sharni

    I’ve been researching Gili T for the past two days and this has given me the best info. Decision made, definitely heading to Gili T while visiting Bali in Sep 2015 :) Thanks! Great blog!! All the way from Aus.

  6. Hugo

    Great report! I’ve been living on the island for about 4 months and I can say you pretty much got it all! Forgot to mention the chilled out pre-party place Lava bar and Gili Backpackers where a lot of people start their evening, but keep up the good work!

  7. Rosemary

    Excellent overview. The details really helped me with the planning of my holiday next year. One question for you? How far is The Yoga Place from Exile Beach. I have read that some classes are held on this beach &
    looking for some quality accommodation close by.

    Appreciate your help!
    Cheers

    • Roy Duffield

      Didn’t go to the Yoga Place but looks like it’s more in town. Will be a 15, 20 minute walk. There are definitely closer places to stay, but it’s a nice walk. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.

  8. Dante

    Awesome post. Heading to Gili Island next year. Very helpful info.

  9. Mayuri

    Really helpful post Roy. We have been contesting between Bali+Gilli vs. Koh Phangan+Samui for Christmas to NYE. We definitely want to avoid the commercial clubbing scene but at the same time have enough options to party at the beach. Do you have a favorite on this comparison by any chance?

    • Roy

      Hi Mayuri, thanks for reading. Bali and Gili would be ideal for that time period. Thailand is the more intense, but there will be plenty going on on Gili T. Koh Phangan and Samui are a popular Xmas and New Year’s choice because their rainy season is pretty much always long gone by then. (It would be rainy season in Bali so I would focus mainly on the Gilis, which, despite being close by, are a much safer bet for some reason.) Depends what you want. I’m sure you’ll go with your heart. ;-)

  10. the special

    hello,
    and thx for the helpful report Im going there on January and Im alone so I want to ask u about girls there if u know what I mean haha….. is it easy to pick up and dance ? thx

    • Roy

      Sorry Special, I’m a booze man first and foremost.

      Thanks for reading though and here’s to wishing you the best of luck and a happy life.

  11. Izyani

    Hiya!

    Nice green fur you have there. That is such a great information bro since my partner is a booze man too! But we have a bad experienced in Bali whereby the beer is pretty light. Do they sell any 8% of alcohol? If no , am thinking to bring some for our next trip to gili. Oh ya.. is it allowed to bring our own beer in the island?

    • Roy

      I didn’t see any strong beer, but nobody checks bags if that’s what you mean… ;-)

  12. Helen

    Hi, great post!
    I’ll be traveling to Gili during Ramadan, as it spans all of June this year. Is there still partying during Ramandan? Is it Worth it?

    • Roy

      Hi Helen, I was there for Ramadan too and it certainly didn’t stop me or any of the other visitors from partying, though apparently it’s even more epic at other times of the year. Actually it was kind of perfect. Basically the party doesn’t stop, it just moves from its usual schedule to a different one.

      Enjoy!

  13. GiliGirl

    Hey Roy.
    I’m going to Gili T in a couple of months, and your post about methanol kinda gave me the chills. I’m allergic to wheat, so i can’t drink beer, and normaly go for cocktails or wine, but can i be safe doing that or?
    Looking forward to hear from you..

    • Roy

      Hey, thanks for reading and I hope this finds you in time. I really wouldn’t let it scare you or put a damper on your experience. These are a handful of cases and the most extreme ones at that. I’m no doctor but I imagine to drink enough to kill you, you have to get very, very drunk…which I did and I’m still here to tell the tale. I’d recommend varying the places you drink, avoiding those already named and shamed, and being wary of anywhere that seems just that little bit too cheap. If it’s a smaller place, you could even try asking the owner directly, and hopefully you’ll find places you can trust.

      Happy travelling!

  14. Denise

    Great website! You’re a booze man, I’m a booze woman – do you have any idea about the price of wine both in bars or shops and whether or not, if there is a local wine, is it drinkable???

    • Roy

      Hi Denise, I can’t say I’ve ever heard of Indonesian wine, even after travelling the country, but they do have some delicious rice wines, like brem which I wrote about in my Bali post. But you’ll definitely be able to get a good glass of wine on Gili T and I’m guessing it’s not going to break the bank.

  15. Faith Jones

    Hello Roy

    We are going to the Gilis during the first two weeks of May which appears to be off season. Do you know whether there is still going to a lively nightlife/bar/party scene on Gilli T?

    Many thanks Faith

  16. Rebecca

    Its my big three-oh next year and I am planning a trip to Bali and Gili Twarwangen. Your article was super helpful and exactly what I was after with regards to the nightlife. I had heard about the alcohol issue but had never really thought much about it…..your article prompted me to read further into it – now I really worried after reading all the horror stories and just how common it is :-O….. Do you know how we find out which places are reputable or is there no way of knowing?! eeeekkkk

    • Roy

      Hi Rebecca, glad I could be of some value. ;-) Actually, I’ve just answered a similar question from “GiliGirl”, just above. Since it sounds like you’ve already trawled the net for the horror stories, I would put together a quick list of any establishments that popped up, even once, to avoid. I think I named and shamed one or two in this post too, right? This will also give you an idea of the type of place to avoid (the bigger, more impersonal places, that prey on the teenage booze-cruise crowd). May also be worth checking if these places are still around (because, if not, it probably means they’ve changed there name). Any questions, let me know.

  17. Calvin

    Hey Roy,

    nice blog! Me and my cousin are going to Bali in August and definitely want to spend a night at Gili T. and taking the chance to go on a boat party. Do you have any recommendations which boat party we should choose? And as I read, the party won’t stop after the boat trip, we want to stay the night on Gili T. What would be the best place for two European guys to get to know some nice girls?

    Thanks. Cheers!

    • Roy

      Hey Calvin, thanks for reading! I’d definitely recommend more than one night on the island(s) as the boat journey there and back is the only downside. It’s notoriously rough and deserves some recovery time, especially if you’re going to do the boat party too. Trust me, you won’t regret extra time here! ;-)

      As for the boat parties, there was the “Drunken Monkeyz (DMZ) yacht party” three times a week and another one which I forget. Most people seemed to book them at “Gili Backpackers” (look it up; yellow and black logo) and you won’t struggle to meet people there!

      ¡Buen viaje!

  18. Kate Kate

    Hey Roy. So I’m in on gili t now and it’s Ramadan. I need the low down on what exactly you did for partying during this time :) kate

    • Roy

      Hey Kate! How’s it going out there? The silent discos at The Irish are a sure bet. Actually all the above was written during Ramadan so should hold good, and if anything’s changed, just swing by one of the above mentioned hostels and they’ll know the score. If all else fails, just cruise the strip, which I’m guessing you already have done. ;-)

  19. Azza

    G’day Roy,

    I’ve heard of full moon parties on Gili T but can’t find any information as to the dates and times they are on…

    Do you know how often they are or how to find out what dates they are?

    Is Gili T busy in late October? And is it more party like being there on a Friday/Saturday night?

    Cheers

  20. Ruth

    Hi Roy,

    Thanks for sharing all the important stuff. I’m going to Gili T in August. I’m looking to stay somewhere closer to the beach, nightlife and easy access to other interesting places. Do you have any suggestion on where I should book my stay? Appreciate your help :)

  21. Angus

    awesome line up thanks mate

  22. Roofa

    Hi, just wanted to ask if there is a safe way to get access to some “wacky tobacky” on Gili island?

  23. jony

    Hi buddy, your report is so interesting for me. I’m going to have my honeymoon in Bali. Where should I go other than the popular places like Seminyak and Kuta and Ubud? Please contact me and advise.

    F.b Janjon Nassif

  24. W. Adell Washington

    Great read, thanks for the info!

    Adelo

  25. Mount Rinjani Trek

    Great post!

  26. Barbora

    Hello Mr!
    Awesome post :)

    I am headed to Bali on my own and would definitely like to experience the Gili spirit for at least one night. As I do plan to enjoy it to the max, is it a common practice of not booking a place at all and just staying / partying / enjoying the island until the morning and thn heading back to Bali (=without staying at a hotel / …) ?

    Thank you for your help and all the best,
    Barbora

    • Roy

      Hi Barbara, thanks for reading!

      Not really… The Gilis are famous for the stomach-turning boat ride over, which is more than justified once you get there but is probably half the reason no-one wants to leave. I think even the hardiest of drinking travellers would struggle to pull off the plan you proposed. ;-) Don’t worry though, accommodation is so cheap and easy to come by as soon as you get off the boat that you can just secure a bed, so that whatever happens at least you have somewhere to lay down.

      I’d recommend more than one night there, but I’m not one to deter people. If you want to do it, you can do it! :-)

  27. A.J.

    Greetings from Dubai!!

    Thank you so much for this wonderful and valuable post. I am travelling to Gili T in mid august. Any specific place/club you would like to suggest where single girls from all over are easy to dance and hang out?

  28. Akshay

    Hi,

    amazing post! 2 friends and i plan to visit Gili T for a couple of days in August. Tuesday – Thursday. (Wednesday would be spent for the boat party). Because of a tight schedule we won’t be able to try out everything you mentioned above. What do you recommend we do on the tuesday we get there? we plan to stay at the Gili Castle hostel :)

    Cheers man!

  29. Buttercup

    Hi. Boring question.
    Getting from mainland Bali to Gili T – is it best to leave catching a boat till I’m there, or should I pre book / pay? Seems pretty pretty pricey online…
    Which is the cheapest option?
    I’m talking fast boats btw.
    Cheers

    • Roy

      What’s up, Buttercup?

      Definitely always recommend waiting ’til you get there, either to Bali in general or preferably to Padangbai, where the boats go from.

      Cheers!

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