Getting to the Gili Islands is hard. Well, there may be an easy way, but I did not find it. While I have come to believe the Lonely Planet and it’s brethen are a bit of a scourge on the traveller, the minimal info on how to get somewhere is at least helpful.
This is how I went: Fly Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur. Spend the night in Kuala Lumpur. Fly to Bali. Take a taxi to the harbor. Realize that you’re at the wrong harbor and take another taxi (1.5 hours) to another harbor. Take a 5 hour ferry to Lombok. Arrive 11pm. There are no hotels at the port. Hire a private van (for way too much money) to take me to San Giggi. Wake up a hotel owner in the middle of the night to get a room. Wake up and meet the same drivers (at slightly better rates this time) to take me to the port to the Gili Islands. Pay 8000 IDR (About $1!) to take the ferry to Trawang. Arrive 11am or so. Elapsed travel time about 48 hours.
All along deflect (sometimes not so successfully) people trying to “help” me get a good deal, offering me a “special rate” etc… You start to wonder if it’s worth it.
Then you get here and you realize it is. Gili Trawangan has about 800 inhabitants and I walked clear around it in about 3 hours this afternoon. There are no motor vehicles anywhere on the island and the pace is truly laid back. If you really need to be taken somewhere you get on a horse drawn cart. There are kids around which were nowhere in Phangan although I didn’t notice it at the time. The room I am staying on, a beautiful little bungalow with a clear view of the ocean about 25 meters away is $25 a night. The most expensive place I have seen on the whole Island is about $40 per night and truly gorgeous. There is very little intrusive selling here, at least by standards of the region. Add a yoga class and this place would be perfect. 🙂