Big smoke Sumbawa style

The capital of Sumbawa, Bima is a squat, largely east-west running city. It morphs into neighbouring Raba to the east and south, and abuts Bima Bay to the west. This narrow body of water delivers to Bima a particularly protected harbour, which saw the city thrive as an active seaport back in the day. Today, while the port remains active, serving both the occasional Pelni passenger ship and freighter, we’d hazard a guess that the airport, some 10 kilometres to the south, sees far more traffic day to day.

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Sumbawa is so big, we’ve split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Sumbawa as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don’t know where to start? Read an overview of Sumbawa’s different areas.

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Set towards the eastern region of Sumbawa, Bima is home to one of the three ethnic groups you’re most likely to encounter in Sumbawa: Orang Bima (Bima people) and they speak, you guessed it, Bahasa Bima. In the past the city boomed as a trading port and sultanate, having strong trading relations with Sulawesi. These days it’s the administrative centre for the island and is the first port of call for the trickle of tourists flying in. The travellers come mainly to hit the waves at Lakey Peak, which lies a few hours to the southwest, or to head east to Komodo and Flores. Bima is not a tourist centre in its own right.

Bima’s top shelf attraction. : Arief.
Bima’s top shelf attraction. Photo: Arief

Like many moderately sized Indonesian cities, Bima doesn’t reveal many of its (few) charms at first glance. As far as tourist attractions go, there is the Sultan’s old palace (now a dusty museum), the Sultan’s grave (conveniently situated on a small hill overlooking town), and a few markets. None of these are going to knock your socks off. The town centres around a public park, which come Sunday sees football games, kids with balloons and senior citizens cooling their heels. It is a pleasant enough town to walk around and, as with all of Sumbawa, expect a lot of interest as a foreigner, from shy smiles to boisterous “Hello misters!” from groups of ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 700 words.)

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