From Balikpapan there are many buses. It takes 2 hours and it costs 21.000 rupiahs. Alternately a bus from the airport directly to Samarinda will cost 350.000 rupiahs. Otherwise might be worth it to charter a private car, some good haggling will get you there for 400.000 rupiahs, be prepared for a wavy ride, locals drink Tolak Angin or other herbal drinks to avoid car sickness.
From Tarakan prepare for a long ride. First take a morning speedboat to Tanjung Selor and then find a car right outside the jetty headed to Samarinda. There will be plenty of drivers there to help out. The cost is around 300,000 per head. The journey is long, about 15 hours, and the road is pretty terrible in spots. Make sure to take some motion sickness pills if you don't have an iron stomach.
There many things you can see around Samarinda
There are quite a number of things to do in Samarinda. One just has to be adventurous and open to meeting new people:
1) Freeletics Samarinda : A free-of-charge cross fit type exercise session that is organized thrice a week . Monday/Wednesday/Saturday. Usually a 4:30pm start at the Stadion Madya Sempaja. The group that turns up for this is quite decent in size (expect about 40-50 people). Music, Intense exercises and a chance to meet some fun loving locals. One can follow them on their facebook page
2) Samarinda Hiking/Climbing Club: This is club has been around for over 40 years in Samarinda. The group is quite diverse - age ranging from 10 years all the way to 75 years ( the guy who has been around with club since its existence). The club meets every Sunday 3pm onwards . The completion of the hike ( one can choose the level of difficulty - long and short) is followed by few icy cold Bintangs and music. No contact as such for this but one can ask around at the Freeletics Camp (mentioned above) , since a lot of participants from there attend the hike session.
3) XX1 Cinema In line with what releases in Jakarta. These cinemas have it all. Comfortable seats , Popcorn/Coke and what have you. Located at the Big Mall next to the Bridge and Samarinda Central Plaza. For further details, see here.
4) Swiss Bell Hotel and Spa: Very prominent building in Samarinda. Houses a well maintained outdoor swimming pool (20 meters), sauna, reflexology and well equipped gym
5) Places to Eat/Drink: Bon Cafe – Scrumptious Steak, a relaxed ambience , well priced and aesthetic colonial style architecture.
Muse - 4 storey entertainment Hub. Pool on the Ground floor, Club and Karaoke on the 2nd and 3rd. The 4th floor is rooftop bar that has a great in-house band on Fridays. The bar overlooks the river. An apt setting to have a few sunset beers or head to post dinner.
Ong Palace - Dimsums and More. Delicious Chinese Food. Located on the Top Floor of Samarinda Central Plaza
Delux - Lounge cum Resto. Huge Comfy Sofas. Live Acoustic Band. The perfect place for a business meeting as the music is not too loud. Very famous for its Ginger Chicken Soup
Majestic Reflexology - Located on the 3rd floor of Samarinda Central Plaza. IDR 110,00 for a 90 min foot reflexology and back massage session.
De Ja Vu – A crazy club with an extremely animated live band. Most locals head here around 12pmish. Be careful of fake alcohol though, it’s wise to stick to local beers.
by other food and traditional food in market or amplang in surianata next of islamic centre
There are many cheaper hotels in Samarinda
Splurge The Aston Hotel Samarinda is clean, luxurious for Samarinda and located annexed to a mall highly convenient.
Getting out Samarinda is, given the region, easy.
For buses to Balikpapan it is worth noting, that they leave only when sufficiently full and stop-and-go along the main road until that is achieved - one can thus save a complete trip to the bus terminal by hopping on; taxi/angkot drivers should be able to point out such buses along the way.
Buses to Berau do not seem to exist any longer, probably due to the terrible road conditions. They are replaced by shared taxis (not a tourist-only affair), which take 14-16hrs, though to 24hrs is not unknown in rainy conditions, 250-300kRp per person.
Regarding buses Samarinda to Berau. (September 2019). There are no direct buses Samarinda to Berau. There are no direct buses Sangatta to Berau. Shared taxis (Called TRAVEL in Indonesia)seems to be the option. There are shared taxis leaving from both Samarinda and Sangatta.
To get to the Lempake Bus Terminal from downtown Samarinda, get on the Red Angkot B. The cost is 10,000Rp. Depending on the traffic, this will take about 30 to 40 minutes.
Flight to Airport Temindung by KalStar or Susi Air
by private boath from samarinda to pare pare