The three main cities in Lombok – Ampenan, Mataram and Cakranegara – have expanded over the years and now merge together to create what is, for Lombok, an urban sprawl of shops, administrative centres and residential areas.

A visit to the cities makes an interesting day trip, exploring the numerous shops selling everything imaginable from everyday items to gold and pearls, and to the Lombok Epicentrum Mall – Lombok’s main shopping mall.

There are many pearl shops in Ampenan and the nearby village of Sekarbela that sell unset pearls and pearl jewellery at attractive prices. These are genuine pearls – some cheap quality from China and more expensive ones farmed in Lombok and Sumbawa. If you bargain the price, you can usually get a good deal.

There are gold shops in both Ampenan and Cakra. The gold sold in Lombok, as with most Asian cities, is 24 karat gold and is sold by the gram at current market price.

For cheap and interesting food choices, explore the many restaurants, warung (local cafés) and food stalls in the cities. Especially in the late afternoon, stalls set up along the main streets selling fresh fish and seafood grilled over hot coals and coated with spicy sauce, satay skewers with spicy peanut sauce, and many other kinds of local street food.

Or just wander around the streets to soak up the atmosphere and discover fascinating insights into Lombok life!

Ampenan was the original port in Lombok during Dutch colonial times and some of the old architecture is still visible around the town, particularly toward the beach to the west, where the remnants of the port are slipping into the sea.

The streets become a market at night, filled with warung and kaki lima (food carts) for cheap, tasty food and local flavour.

Pasar Kebun Roek, just near the traffic lights in Ampenan (near the intersection to Senggigi), is the site of the local markets. Every day traders set up stalls selling fresh produce from around the island, local snacks and products, live chickens and fresh fish in the afternoon when the fishing boats come in. A stroll through the markets is a pungent and enlightening experience!

Mataram, about 3 km to the east of Ampenan, is the administrative centre for Lombok and Sumbawa (NTB Province), with government offices, banks, mosques, schools and colleges, bookstores, the main post office, and Mataram University downtown.

In Mataram, the Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) Museum houses historical and cultural artefacts from Lombok and Sumbawa. It’s an interesting place to visit and occasionally hosts special exhibits. Displays include exhibits on geology, history and culture. Address: Jl Panji Tilar, Taman Sari. The Museaum is open from 8am to 3pm and there is a small admission fee.

Cakranegara (usually abbreviated to “Cakra”) is Lombok’s main shopping area. It is also home to many Chinese and Balinese, who make up over 50 percent of the city’s population. The streets of the city make an interesting walk with gold shops, sporting goods, clothing and fabric stores selling imported silks, laces and cottons, to name a few.

There is a local market at the main intersection in Cakra; turn right at the traffic lights and look for the entrance to the market on the left. Inside is a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from woven baskets to fresh flowers and local food.

The next large town east of Cakra is Sweta. The Bertais Bus Terminal is located here for connections to the east of the island and beyond. Near the bus terminal there is a huge local market every day with all kinds of goods on sale, from foodstuffs to clothing, exotic birds, handicrafts and more.


Lombok Epicentrum Mall on Jl Sriwijaya (see cities map) is Lombok’s most modern shopping centre with four floors of retail outlets. The large, clean and air-conditioned complex houses a Hypermart Supermarket and a Matahari Department Store, as well as a Cinema XXI Movie Theatre.

On the second floor, you’ll find a wonderland for young people and families, with Funtopia and Time Zone entertainment arcades, Play and Learn, Toys City toy shop, and children’s shops.

International brands include UNIQLO, KKV, Adidas, Birkenstock, Puma, Billabong, and more.

There is a well-stocked Ace Hardware store, an Informa furniture store, a Mr DIY discount store, a Sociolla cosmetics outlet and several pharmacies. Other retailers sell a wide variety of fashion including brand name stores, shoes, electronics, sporting goods, and much more.

Food outlets include Burger King, KFC, J. Co, Starbucks, Kimukatsu, Pepper Lunch, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut, as well as many local eateries.

“Epicentrum” as it is known, makes a fun day out if you want some retail therapy and to pick up a bargain. It is also great for families, with entertainment and kids’ activities and a good movie theatre, as well as the fast-food options that they might be missing on holiday.

Nearby Temples and Places of Interest

It’s possible to combine a trip to the cities with a visit to some of the historic sites in the area.

Pura Meru on Jl Selaparang, Cakranegara, was built in 1720 by Balinese Prince Anak Agung Made Karang and is the largest temple on Lombok. Its three meru are for the Hindu trinity – Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

This is an important temple for the Balinese here and its annual Pujawali festival, held over five days during the full moon in September or October, is the biggest Balinese Hindu event on Lombok.

The outer courtyard hall has large drums used to announce ceremonies and festivals. In the central courtyard are two buildings with raised offering platforms. The interior enclosure has 33 shrines as well as the three multi-tiered meru.

Entry is Rp 20,000 per person, which includes the loan of a temple sash.

Pura Mayura, just across the street from Pura Meru, was built in 1744 as the court temple of the last Balinese kings in Lombok. An open hall or bale kambang (floating pavilion) stands in the middle of a large artificial lake here and an interesting temple is sheltered under huge old trees at the rear of the lake.

The gardens and the adjoining Pura Jagatnatha temple complex are a peaceful place to escape the bustle of the city and well worth exploring. Do use a guide to get the most out of your visit and understand the interesting history of the park.

Taman Mayura is open every day, from 8am to 8pm; entry is Rp 20,000 per person. The gardens are popular on weekends so the best time to visit is during the weekdays.

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