For what I saw during the day spent at Mataram, the capital of Lombok, doesn’t show any reason to stop here (except for the chance to stay at the lovely Oka and Son Guesthouse).
Usually what stand up in a city are the markets, the old part and some temples… here there’s not properly a center, with the city spreading along wide and busy avenues, that run more or less parallel to each others orientated east to west, with some quiet small streets in between, creating a grid, that make the orientation in Mataram easy.
Maybe the most interesting area is nearby the sea, around Taman Ampenan Sakaraja with some small buildings, a kind of shop houses that are a clear influence of the Chinese traders… but still far from be a charming or an appealing place.
Walking further west, following the calling for the sea, we face a poor area of the city, nearby Pantai Ampenan, a king of slum where the friendly smiles and the “hallo” that come from everywhere cannot hide the depressive appearance of the place, where the fishing is still an important activity while the kids play in the waves that bring the plastic that accumulates at the shore.
Nearby, the Pasar Kekon Roek, located in a gloomy and characterless building has a similar atmosphere, with the vendors suffering from a grey lethargy. But early morning the market is vibrating with activity with the usual movements of people and the porters. The line of horse carts (locally called cidomo) are an unexpected image in the urban landscape, bit still very popular for short distances.
The Pasar Tradisional Cakraneagara, one of the biggest market in Mataram, is far from be attractive without many interesting things for a visitor to see or buy… even the fruits and vegetable area shows oppressive, being better just buy outside along the Jalan Banjaran Sari.
But not all is bad in Mataram… in fact, walking along the small streets we can see many influence of the Balinese arquitectura, in temples and houses, that are the result of the Balinese kingdom, that extended it’s presence to the west part of Lombok, before the Dutch invasion. As a result there’s a small group of Hindu community in a island where the population is 87% Muslim.
Where to sleep in Mataram:
The best area to find a quiet and affordable place to sleep is around Cakranegara (pronouce chakranegára), between the Cakranegara market and the Mataram Mall.
The hotel Viktor, with his three houses located at the same street (Jalan Abumanyu) is a very popular option, with nice and clean rooms. The breakfast is very poor, bread with chocolate, boiled egg and coffee.
The price for a room with fan, and bathroom inside (cold shower), cost 120.000 Rp (no chance to bargain). A room with ac is 170.000 Rp. The breakfast is included and water, tea and coffee are free and available all day.
The staff is ok, but will not help you in nothing about moving around or how to go to your next destination, pushing you always to “shuttle buses”, “tour packs” or a taxi!!!
The wi-fi hasn’t a good connection.
But walking around this area there are more options, and one place that has character and look to me very cozy is located nearby: Oka and Son Guesthouse (not to mistake with the next door called Oka homestay). Very nice place with the room facing a garden, build in Balinese style, and run by a super friendly couple. The rooms start in 150.000 Rp, and have a good wi-fi connection… and here is guaranteed that you have all the information you need about how to move around by public transportation, and no tout will show up trying to push you to expensive options. A place with a good vibe and a happy dog 🙂
Oka and Son Guesthouse
Address: Jalan Rapatmaja, Cilinaya, Cakranegara, Mataram
Where to eat in Mataram:
Nearby Pasar Cakraneagara, along Jalan Tumpang Sari there are several options of local food, as also some street-food. The food area inside the Pasar Cakraneagara is far from being attractive.
At the Pasar Kekon Roek you can also get some snacks and sweets.
On the small streets between Jalan Selaparang and Jalan Tumpang Sari there are also small eateries very basic and very cheap. At the Jalan Banjaran Sari there is a good place to look for masakan padang food.
How to move around in Mataram:
Along Jalan Selaparang and Jalan Tumpang Sari you can find many bemos during the day, easy to identify by the yellow color, as many of them run from the Mandalika Bus terminal to Pasar Kekon Roek.
There must be a fix price for a ride, as everyone give the exact amount of money to the driver, but for foreigners you must negotiate the price before get inside the bemo. A ride inside Mataram shouldn’t cost more than 5.000 Rp.
ATMs and Money exchange in Mataram:
There are a few moneychangers in the city, but all far away from the Cakraneagara area, some of them with appealing rates, but to reach there you need a bemo.
So if you are at a walking distance from the Pasar Cakraneagara, the best option is to go to one of the goldsmiths (took emas) shops on the crossroad of Jalan Sutra Hasanudin with Jalan Selaparang. More or less they all have the same rate, but at my visit I could get a bit more for my euros at Toko Emas Melati.