Mataram is the capital of Lombok. The town actually
consists of four different towns Ampenan, Mataram, Cakranegara (Cakra)
and Sweta. Ampenan has most of city sights, including Negeri Nusa
Tenggara Barat museum, which gives a good overview of the culture
of Lombok. Cakra is the best place for eating, sleeping and shopping.
It also has the Water Palace, which is worth a visit and the largest
temple of Lombok, Meru Purse. Mataram is the administrative centre
and Sweta the transport connection of the whole island.
As a center of government administration, Mataram
has many large, impressive public buildings and substantial houses.
The city also has transportation and shopping facilities. The main
square is used for art exhibitions, theater, dance, and wayang kulit
(puppet theater) performances. In other parts of Mataram, there
are a variety of old-style markets and neighborhoods featuring traditional
craftwork like basketware and gold- and silver-threaded sarongs,
or wraparound garments.
Ampenan port was once Lombok's main port, but it
now relies mostly on fishing vessels. Cakranegara has significant
Balinese and Chinese populations; the Chinese have been brought
by the Dutch to provide cheap labor.
Although officially 3 separate towns, Ampenan, Mataram and Cakranegara
actually run together, so it's difficult to tell where one stop
and the next starts. There are banks, travel agents, mall, interesting
shops, traditional markets and few things to see, but the town is
not a major attraction.
The main commercial centre of Lombok, has a thriving Chinese and
Balinese Community. Most of the shops and restaurants are run and
owned by Chinese.
Once was the main port of Lombok. Old buildings with mix population
of Chinese, Arabs, and Melayu. You can find many local restaurants
with great Chinese and Sasak foods.