Balikpapan is a city in East Kalimantan. It serves as headquarters for international oil companies, mining companies and related support industries operating in (and out of) eastern Kalimantan. The city is a relatively clean, small city, with clear blue skies but not much by way of nightlife. The population are a mix, with lots of Javanese due to transmigration, lots of people from Sulawesi, and of course, the locals. the people are quiet and polite, and the pace is slow and relaxed.
Most people arrive by air. Balikpapan's Sepinggan International Airport (IATA: BPN) has frequent flights from Jakarta, as well as commercial services from Surabaya, Banjarmasin, Tarakan, Yogyakarta and Makassar. There are also international flights from Singapore operated by SilkAir 6 times a week and from Kuala Lumpur operated by Air Asia 3 times a week. The airport is on the coast just outside of the city. Airport taxis operate from the terminal; there is a fixed fare depending on the destination. 45,000 IDR for zone 1 and 60,000 for zone 2 (Nov 2012)
Susi Air to local destinations across Kalimantan. +62 811 211 3080
Balikpapan can be accessed from Samarinda, Bontang And Banjarmasin by land through 2 bus terminal From Samarinda, Bontang by Terminal Batu Ampar, and From Banjarmasin from the other terminal in the Batu Ampar District.
Semayang's seaport that serves cruises from Makassar, Pare Pare, Tarakan, Surabaya, and other eastern parts of Indonesia. This port is one of the busiest ports in Indonesia and the main gateway to Borneo, serving cargo ships not only from Indonesia and South East Asia.
Some taxi companies operates in Balikpapan. It is advisable to call for their call center, tell your location and wait the call center arrange their unit to pick you up. It is uncommon to wait for empty taxis on the street because they usually stop and wait for orders from their call center.
List of taxi companies and their call center number:
Public transportation in Balikpapan consists of small minibus named angkutan kota or angkot for short. Locals often call angkot as taxi and metered taxi as taxi argo. There's no public bus inside the city. Minibuses serves public transport between points. Although there're dedicated routes, they often deroute due to passenger's request. They also sometimes don't serve the whole route.
The color of the minibuses determines their routes. Common routes are as follows:
White top/Orange bottom (Route 1): between Kampung Baru Ujung and Terminal Batu Ampar
White top/Light Green bottom (Route 2A): between Terminal Damai and Terminal Batu Ampar through Ring Road (possible deroute to Balikpapan Baru housing and or Damai III area)
White top/Gray bottom (Route 2B): between Balikpapan Baru and Jalan A Yani through Jalan AMD
White top/Light Blue bottom (Route 3): between Terminal Batu Ampar and Pelabuhan Semayang through Klandasan
White top/Yellow bottom (Route 5): between Kampung Baru Ujung and Terminal Damai through A. Yani
White top/Dark Blue bottom (Route 6): between Kampung Baru Ujung and Terminal Damai through Pelabuhan Semayang
White top/Green bottom (Route 7): between Terminal Damai and Gunung Tembak
White top/Light Yellow bottom (Route 9): between Terminal Batu Ampar and KM 24 to Samarinda
(BOS) Orangutan Sancuary and Eco lodge. Go see rescued orangutans and sun bears in their natural habitat. Just roaming around for the day or stay at the eco lodge for a few nights and experience the wildlife in the jungle. You can also do a 2 week or 4 week volunteering course, where you can help out with the animals. It is about a 1 hour journey by car from the city centre and if you stay the night or volunteer you will need out door equipment such as walking boots, spare clothes, insect repellent etc. edit
Crocodile Farm, (30 km from Balikpapan near the Manggar Beach). edit
Lots of sports and outdoors activities and of course Borneo culinary tour.
You can play soccer, flying kites, jogging, softball and other sports at Merdeka field (Merdeka means Independent). There are dedicated bicycle lanes around Merdeka field. Futsal (small soccer) is one of the favorite sports, you can find futsal arena in every 5-10 km in the city. There are some membership sport clubs such as Gelora Patra (belongs to Pertamina), Pasir Ridge Int'l (belongs to Chevron), and Palm Court. These clubs have swimming pool, tennis indoor/outdoor, squash, bowling alley, pool table, basket ball and gym facilities. For those who like golf, there are two Golf fields in Balikpapan : Pertamina Golf club in Sepinggan, and Karang Joang Balikpapan Resort Golf. If you like run and drink, there are men, ladies, mixed/family running club (Balikpapan Hash house) that scheduled every week. These clubs called themselves as 'Indonesian Drinking Clubs With A Running Problem'
See one of the nice local markets, and local tour operators arrange river safaris on the Mahakam River and Orangutan tours.
Balikpapan have nice beaches. You can enjoy the fresh coconut, grilled corn in every beach in Balikpapan. Manggar and Lamaru beach are located south east just little bit outside the city. On the south-west of downtown, you can enjoy cup of coffee while seeing the sunset view from Kemala Beach or Melawai, located further off Klandasan.
Balikpapan have fishing, diving and photography clubs. Look for them online if you interested to join.
Most of people who live in Balikpapan are originally migrated from other places. There is no native tribe from Balikpapan. As culinary wise, especially sea food are affected by Makassar or Celebes style. The popular food are Soto Banjar (tumeric chicken soup with egg), Crab with special sauce, grilled fish and fresh vegetables, Cotto Makassar (peanut soup with beef/innards part of the beef). Sate, soup kaki kambing (lamb). Only few restaurant that serve pork and it's mention on their menu.
Plaza Balikpapan. This is the most popular shopping mall in Balikpapan. Located at the centre of the city and it is a must visit for visitors.edit
E-Walk or Balikpapan Super Block the newest mall with department store, cinema, pool table, cafe, restaurant and bookstore.
Kebun Sayur Traditional Market Center. A lot stones, gems, jewelry, diamonds with various type and price. Borneo is acknowledged as the rich island not just by oil or coal, but also with the beautiful gems.edit
There are a number of star rated hotels poised on the hills and at the beach that are perfectly adequate.
Bahana Surya / Blue Sky Hotel one of the better places in town. With a nice swimming pool (external entry 30.000 IDR per person)
Hotel Bahtera from 400.000 IDR
Dusit Hotel/ Le Grandeur
Gran Senyiur Hotel The first 5 five stars hotel in town, owned by local people. phone : +62 542 820211
Le Grandeur Balikpapan, Jl. Jend. Sudirman, ☎ (62-542) 420 155, . 185 rooms and suites, the hotel sits in its own extensive gardens, adjoining a beautiful sandy beach, and overlooking the Makassar Straits. It is Kalimantan's only beachfront hotel.Best rates on official website start at IDR 619,835. edit
Hotel Haai, Sepinggan by pass, ☎ 0542766309. the only "back to nature" hotel in Balikpapan, cottage/bungalow style rooms with private garages, room rate from 280.000 IDR, 3 mins from airport (10 mins to city).edit
Hotel Murni a cheap option
Hotel Nuansa Indah
Town House Bukit Damai Indah, 0542-8879 650
Aiqo Hotel, Jl. Apt Pranoto No.9, ☎ (62-542) 750288, 750336, 750267, . the hotel located within 5 minutes walk to Balikpapan Plaza, 15 minutes drive from the Sepinggan airport, start at IDR 228.000,-, clean and comfyedit
Bukit Bangkirai, ☎ 62-542-736066. Bukit Bangkirai is located 58 km north-west of Balikpapan.The main attraction here is the Canopy Bridge which is very famous in East Borneo. It was originally built for biological study of the ecosystem in the canopy of the tropical rain forest. However, it is popular for public to sight-seeing the beauty of tropical rain forest from 30 m / 90 ft above the ground. It's also a very nice place to enjoy the nature or to camp and watch the starsedit
Airport If you are stuck at the airport the Blue Sky Transit lounge is 75,000 (Nov 2012) for the day. It has AC, WIFI, food, drink and clean toilets (and a no smoking section). There is also massages at an additional fee.