Photo: Buffalo racing outside Sumbawa Besar.

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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Introduction

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The second biggest city in Sumbawa, Sumbawa Besar (often confusingly just referred to as Sumbawa) sits towards the west of the island, more or less below Moyo Island and the western extent of Saleh Bay. It’s home to Sumbawa’s second airport, with flight connections to Lombok and Bali.



While Besar can mean “big” in Indonesian, in the case of Sumbawa it is also used as an acronym for Bersih (clean), Elok (Beautiful), Sehat (Healthy), Aman (Safe) and Rapi (tidy) — this kind of thing is a popular trend in Indonesia, but in this case it is catchy and also true.

Street art and friendly people. Photo taken in or around Sumbawa Besar, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Street art and friendly people. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Sumbawa Besar is a bit of a sprawling city. If you arrive in the evening from anywhere to the east, your bus will have you skirting the city on the western bypass road (which passes right in front of the terminal bus station to the west of town), from where you can look across and see the city lights.

Despite its size, the central area is both easily walkable and very friendly. The airport is located just a 15-minute walk from downtown. There are at least two clusters of hotels — one in town, the other near the airport — and these should satisfy most budgets. There are also, for those who don’t feel a pressing need to stay downtown, a couple of out of town options, where you can kick back on the beach.

A clean and almost cute town. Photo taken in or around Sumbawa Besar, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

A clean and almost cute town. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Food wise, the city has a very solid range of simple Indonesian joints to choose from. There are also a couple of real coffee shops, more taliwang chicken than you could ever eat and even a Chinese restaurant with cold beer.

As with most of the urban centres in Sumbawa, in-town sights and activities (aside from eating) are fairly limited. There is (another) Sultan’s Palace and a newer current residence but these are really the only “in town” attractions. The city does have plenty of street art — something we saw little of in other centres on Sumbawa. For everything else to do, you’ll need your own transport (car, bemo, ojek or hired scooter) and, in many cases, a guide. Still, with some passable hotels and plenty of eating, for those intent on exploring, Sumbawa Besar can form a suitable base to explore the surrounds.

So what kind of red chillies are you after? Photo taken in or around Sumbawa Besar, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

So what kind of red chillies are you after? Photo: Stuart McDonald

The city is the administrative capital of Sumbewa Regency — the largest in Sumbewa — and which includes, save what belongs to West Sumbawa, all of the west of the island, including most of the islands in Saleh Bay, those north of Poto Tano and Moyo Island.




Orientation
Sumbawa Besar is dominated by northwest-southeast running Sultan Muhammad Kaharuddin III Airport, which sits towards the northern reaches of town. North-south running Jalan Garuda runs in from the bus station, past the post office and immigration office, then by the airport terminal and then a little to the south splits three ways as it hits downtown proper. A spur, Jalan Mangga, runs to the east, and Jalan Sumbawa-Bima (name changing to Jalan Yos Sudarso while in town) and Jalan Hasanuddin both run south. The latter two are each one-way. Further south, they both intersect first with Jalan Kamboja, then Jalan Merdeka and finally Jalan Raya Bukit Permai.

Unusual street frontage. Photo taken in or around Sumbawa Besar, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Unusual street frontage. Photo: Stuart McDonald

It is in this southern extreme that you’ll find the Sultan’s Palace (on Jalan Raya Bukit Permai), the massive Pasar Seketeng (intersection of Merdeka and Jalan Yos Sudarso) and a gaggle of places to eat, but you’re a solid 45-minute walk from the northern end of town once you are down here.

Accommodation is scattered all over the joint, but you’ll find two clusters, one near the airport and one a little down Jalan Hasanuddin. Jl Hasanuddin also has plenty of eating.

The bus station is a few kilometres to the west of town on the road to Poto Tano. There is a large police station by the northern end of Jalan Hasanuddin.

If you need a guide, we highly recommend Hilman Bazuni; T: (0852) 0532 7416; dompastanata@gmail.com.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Sumbawa Besar.
 Read up on where to eat on Sumbawa Besar.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Sumbawa Besar.
 Read up on how to get to Sumbawa Besar.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Sumbawa Besar? Please read this.





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