There is a good road across the middle of the island, between Mataram and Labuhan Lombok. The Mataram–Praya–Kuta and Mataram–Sengiggi–Anyar routes are also pretty decent sealed roads, though they’re on the narrow side. Public transport is generally restricted to the main routes; away from these, you need to charter a bemo, cidomo (horse-drawn cart) or ojek (motorcycle taxi) – or walk. During the wet season, remote roads are often flooded or washed away, particularly around the foothills of Rinjani, and others become impassable because of fallen rocks and rubble.
The main terminal, Mandalika, is at Bertais, 6km southeast of central Mataram; other regional terminals are in Praya, Anyar and Pancor (near Selong). You may have to go via one or more of these terminals to get from one part of Lombok to another. For main routes, fares are fixed by the provincial government, and a list should be displayed at the terminals. The bus and bemo drivers will still try to overcharge and touts will hassle endlessly. Most public transport becomes scarce in the afternoon and normally ceases after dark, often earlier in more remote areas.
Chartering a bemo can be convenient and reasonably cheap – about 175,000Rp per bemo per day (including petrol), depending on distance and road conditions. Some bemos are restricted to certain routes or areas – the yellow bemos that shuttle around Mataram cannot be chartered for a trip to Lembar.
Lombok’s main tourist centres are linked by a shuttle bus service. There’s a two-person minimum for the bus to run. Currently, this service only links Mataram with Kuta, Senggigi, Bangsal and Tetebatu – so you can’t travel from Kuta to Bangsal without changing shuttle buses in Mataram, but you can normally connect on the same day. From Senggigi there are also shuttle boats to the Gili Islands. Perama (www.peramatour.com) is the most established operator, with the widest network.
Senggigi is by far the best place to organise car or motorcycle rental. Arrangements can be made in Mataram and other places, but rates are much higher. Hotels and travel agencies offer the most competitive rates; ‘official’ car-rental companies often have a wider range of vehicles but tend to be more expensive.
Jeep-style vehicles are best for Lombok’s roads. Suzuki Jimnys cost from 150,000Rp per day, and Toyota Kijangs cost about 225,000Rp, excluding petrol. Discounts are offered for longer periods. Hiring a car with a driver is a very sensible and popular option as you won’t be liable for any damage – expect to pay about 325,000Rp per day.
It’s important to have an International Driving Licence – your rental agency may not request it, but police checks have become far more common in recent years, and you can expect a fine if you don’t possess one.
Check your insurance arrangements carefully. Some small places do not offer any form of cover at all, and other agencies will only offer very basic cover – another good reason for hiring a car with a driver.