Lombok’s capital, Mataram, offers royal palaces and playgrounds, temples, markets and parklands. While many visitors use it simply as a transit point, the city has enough provincial and cultural charms to reward those who linger.
Explore Lombok’s rich history and culture at the Museum Negeri. The museum houses thousands of fascinating items such as masks, fabrics and traditional weapons.
Browse the stores and stalls of Mataram Mall, four floors of clothing boutiques, electronics stores and food outlets. For a more old-school Asian feel, wander through the markets and small independent stores at Cakranegara. Here, you’ll find pearl shops, gold stores and retailers selling sporting goods, fabrics and handicrafts.
Spend an hour or two at the Mayura Water Palace, built in 1744 as the administrative centre of Balinese royal court. Relax by the large artificial lake and lotus pool. Then walk over to the floating pavilion that was once a law court and meeting place.
Just across the road is Pura Meru, the largest temple in Lombok. Soak up the lavish decor of this elaborate Hindu place of worship. The temple complex, dedicated to the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, contains three courtyards and more than 30 shrines.
Check out the former royal playground at Narmada Park in Lembuak. This garden is about 6 miles (10 kilometers) east of Mataram and contains a Hindu temple, swimming pool, small lakes and attractive lawns. Stop by the “Fountain of Youth”, so named because its spring waters from Mount Ringani were believed to confer a long life on those who drank from it.
Situated on the western side of Lombok Island, Mataram is approximately 24 miles (39 kilometers) from Lombok International Airport. To get around the city take the regular shuttle bus, hail a taxi or hire a car or motorcycle. Other modes of transport include small minibuses called “bemos” and horse-drawn carts called “cidomos”.