If you are running out of places to visit for a short weekend getaway, fret not! Introducing Balikpapan, a seaport city on the east coast of the island of Borneo, in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan. Just a quick flight away, you will be landing at Sepinggan International Airport to start your adventure in the second-largest city in East Kalimantan, after the capital Samarinda. To get you started, we have specially made a list of some of the top attractions in Balikpapan!
1. Pasar Klandasan (Klandasan Market)
Klandasan Market is one of the traditional local markets in Balikpapan. Located in Jalan Sudirman, you can find all sorts of local produce ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables to newly caught fishes, crabs and lobsters. The place opens from early morning to late afternoon. Many of the sellers only speak the local language Bahasa Indonesia so it will be good to bring along a local if you want to make some serious purchase!
2. Kebun Sayur Market
Although it sounds like a place that sells vegetables, this market is where you will find shops that sell gemstone such as diamonds, jade, gold, and others! The gemstone prices here are significantly cheaper when compared to other cities in Indonesia as they are of close proximity to main production factories. The shops here also provide the service of washing and polishing jewellery, gold or silver. Other than the main gemstone stops, you can also find pockets of souvenirs and gifts shops from Dayak Tribes here. I am sure ladies will adore this market!
3. Malls, Malls & Malls
Plaza Balikpapan is the most popular shopping mall in Balikpapan. Located at the centre of the city, this place is like the MBK of Bangkok for the city and is a must visit for tourists. Alternatively you can also check out the newer malls like E-Walk or Balikpapan Super Block. Shop to your hearts desires with with department store like Matahari, catch a movie, play pool table or simply chill out at cafes or the bookstore.
4. Balikpapan Beaches
If shopping is not your kind of scene, Balikpapan have beautiful beaches too. You can lay your beach mat and enjoy a fresh coconut or grilled corn along every beach in Balikpapan. Manggar and Lamaru beach are located in the south east. while Kemala and Melawai Beach is located on the south-west closer to downtown. Kemala also known as Pantai Kemala Polda is the easiest beach to reach as it is located at Jalan Sudirman within the city limits. Locals love to flock to this beach to watch the sunset over the Straits of Makassar.
5. Wain River Protected Forest
If you are more of a nature lover, you are in for a treat. Explore the 10,000 hectares forest to the north of Balikpapan, habitat of orang utans, honey bears and proboscis monkeys. When you travel upriver on river boats you may see these unique animals roaming in the wild along the embankments. This is a safe haven for the numerous flora and fauna found within the vicinity. The forest is reachable via the Soekarno-Hatta road at km. 15, in the subdistrict of Karang Joang. As there are no public transport to the area you will have to get there by rented car.
6. Wana Wisata Forest
Wanawisata Forest is a large 15 hectares park with various types of endangered species of Kalimantan trees. Its interesting layout makes Wanawisata an interesting destination for families, particularly during weekends. This tourism park is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm and charges an entrance fee of only Rp.1.000 per person. Located in Soekarno Hatta street, Km 10, Karang Joang (Balikpapan-Samarinda trans road), it is about 15 minutes drive from Balikpapan city center by car. You could also take public transportation no. 8 from Batu Ampar bus station in Balikpapan to this area. Be well prepared, there are no food, drinks or convenient stalls located in the forest vicinity.
7. Crocodile Barnacle
Located at Jalan Mulawarman No. 66, Barnacle Village, this crocodile park occupies 6 acres of land and houses approximately 3,000 of these fearsome reptiles. You get to feed a crocodile personal with a chicken for Rp. 10,000! Other than crocodiles, you also get to see other exotic animals such as elephants, monkeys, turtles, and raccoons. The crocodile satay served at the ranch restaurant is a must try!
8. Fly Kite, Cycle Or Futsal!
For the active folks, you can play soccer, flying kites, jogging, softball and enjoy a wide variety of sports at Merdeka Field. There are dedicated bicycle lanes around the field and futsal arenas where the locals like to play, watch and hangout in the evenings. It is a cosy family and community scene that we seldom see in Singapore due to our busy work schedule. Make a date to soak in the community spirit!
9. Balikpapan Oil Refinery
Balikpapan is known as the Oil City of Indonesia. You definitely will not want to miss an exclusive visit to see pulse of this city which are the oil refineries and huge silos. The area is located on Jalan Minyak towards Balikpapan Bay, it covers some 2.5 square kilometers and is protected by a strong fence. Access is closed to the public, but people can see these magnificent structures from the road, near the deep sea harbour. Photographs are strictly prohibited.
10. Food, Glorious Food!
How can we not talk about Balikpapan cuisine! If you are a crab lover, Balikpapan will be your paradise. The city is well-known for their crabs dishes such as Oyster Sauce, Sweet & Sour Crabs etc. You can choose to dine like a royalty at the upmarket area in Bandar Balikpapan where you get to take in the beautiful pier view (perfect for group dining or romantic candle light dinners) as you dine or hangout with the locals for meals at Melawai Beach area.
Balikpapan is fast opening up as a popular holiday destination in South East Asia. Be a first mover and visit the city with before it gets overly touristy! Remember to share with us your experience in the comments section below. Have fun!
You may also like to check out my posts on other exciting travel destinations here.