Bima is situated on the Eastern side of Sumbawa and is actually more frequented by travellers than the capital Sumbawa Besar. The reason behind this is that Bima is much better located for those wanting to head to Lakey near Dompu for the surf or for those daring to venture on the islands of Komodo and Rinca. During the dry season, (April – November) Bima and the rest of the Sumbawan landscape transforms from a lush green jungle island to a very hot, arid and dusty place.
Most people arrive in Bima by air as Merpati have four flights a week flying from Denpassar and Mataram in Lombok. The airport is around a 30-minute taxi ride from the city and you will pass by some typical forms of transportation that Sumbawans generally use. The most common form here is the horse and cart. To see an abundance of horses and carts transporting people and goods around town will almost make you believe you have walked into a Charles Dickens novel. Bima is a busy place in comparison to the rest of Sumbawa as there is a busy seaport harbouring ships of many sizes and shapes. It is a good idea if you have the time, to pay the port a visit. You will surely meet some colourful characters that will undoubtedly ask you a few questions in their best English. The seaport of Bima transports a lot of produce to Java and you can expect to come across water buffalo, cows and goats all waiting to board the ships. It really is a colourful place awash with activity.
There is also a covered traditional market in Bima where you can find anything from handcrafted Kris' (daggers) to the more modern day mobile phones. The market has many stalls and you will find yourself walking down narrow aisles past colourful fabric and scented spices. Everything is for sale and it is a good way to practise your bargaining skills. Another place of interest just on the outskirts of Bima is a tiny village called Ntobu. Here you will find the local women weaving some fantastic fabrics on very traditional weaving machines. The fabrics of course can be bought but be sure to agree a price before finalising the deal. To reach this village you can take a horse and cart, as it is only 3-4 kilometres outside of Bima.
Accommodation in Bima is standard. You won't find any fancy hotels with swimming pools offering five star services but you will find pleasant enough places to rest for two to three days. A few Hotels that you can try are:
This hotel is well located on a busy street but it can give you peace and quiet with the rooms tucked away to the back. It has five floors and some rooms will offer you air conditioning and even hot showers. You may see a few western camera crews while you stay here, as it seems to be chosen place for documentary filmmakers heading to Komodo.Hotel La'mbitu. Jalan Sumbawa 4 Tel: 42222.
Hotel Lila Graha Jalan Lombok 6 Tel: 42740
This hotel has lots of rooms and they have just recently been built. Most rooms will offer hot and cold showers. The hotel is a cheaper option yet the facilities can be basic. It is well located with numerous restaurants in the surrounding area.
Most people use Bima as a transit for their onward journey. It is an ideal place to organise transport East or even West. Most hotels will be happy to accommodate your needs, just ask at the reception. If you are heading to Komodo then you need to make your way to the Eastern most town of Sumbawa: Sape. This is where the ferries depart heading to Labuhan Bajo in Flores. The Ferries are infrequent however it is said that they depart once a day. The crossing to Flores can take anything upto 12 hours so ready yourself for one long trip. The ferry will not stop at Komodo nor Rinca but it is easy for you to arrange transport to Komodo and Rinca directly form Labuhan Bajo.