Banjarmasin is the biggest city in South Kalimantan. The city population was 625,395 at the 2010 Census. Average temperature ranging from 24ºC to 32ºC.
The official birthday of the city is 24th of September in the year 1526, but its history are older than that date. From the time of the ancient kingdom of Nan Serunai, to the Buddhist kingdom of Tanjungpuri and the Hindu kingdom Negara Dipa and its succesor Negara Daha, the rivers of Southern Kalimantan were always been the favorite spot of the Malay people. That’s why Banjarmasin old name was “Bandar Masih”, meaning the port of the Malay in Dayak Bukit dialect. In the chaotic time of civil war between the rightful heir of Negara Daha, Pangeran Samudera, and his uncle, Pangeran Samudera was forced to flee for his life. At this time, Bandar Masih received him warmly, stopped paying taxes to his uncle and support Pangeran Samudera’s fight to get his throne back. When his uncle finally surrendered, Pangeran Samudera decided to make Bandar Masih his new capital, converted to Islam, and begun his rule over the new Islamic Kingdom of Banjar. His day of victory was then celebrated as Banjarmasin’s birthday. The name "Bandar Masih" slowly changed into "Banjarmasin" as the water tastes salty when in dry season (salty is "masin" in Banjarese language). The Kingdom flourished and back in its golden era, its power enveloped almost all of the area of what is now Indonesia’s part of Kalimantan. After the fierce Banjar War which produced a lot of highly-revered local heroes such as Pangeran Antasari, however, it was forced to surrender the colonial Dutch, following the total destruction of the palace ground and the capture of the last Banjarese Princess (Ratu Zaleha). Banjarmasin continued to be the capital of Dutch Borneo throughout the colonial era. Even after the forming of the Indonesian Government, Banjarmasin was the capital of Kalimantan province until it was divided into 4 Provinces (West, East, Central and South), then it became the capital of South Kalimantan. Few is left of its previous glory, but Banjarmasin silently kept her forgotten charm in unexpected places for the persistent travelers to find.
Banjarmasin’s airport is Syamsuddin Noor (BDJ), half an hour drive from the city. To go to the city, you can take a taxi (with fixed rate) or better yet, tell your hotel to pick you up. There are daily flights from many Indonesian cities including Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Balikpapan, Sampit and Pangkalan Bun. The airport is 26km from Banjarmasin. Or, if you walk about 2 minutes to the street outside of the airport, you should be able to share a mini-van which costs 10,000 Rupiah to go to kilometer 6 terminal.
From Balikpapan it's over 12 hours (more like 16 hours) 175,000Rp (Nov 2012) includes a meal. You can go from the bus station (KM-6) to the central market (Malaban) for 3,000Rp in a yellow taxi van.
Another alternative to get to Banjarmasin is by ship from various places in Indonesia to Banjarmasin’s main harbour, Trisakti. Be forewarned that the condition of passenger ship transportation in Indonesia is poor, albeit cheap, and you might want to consider that before spending the night (at least 1 night if you come from Java). You best bet is Express Ferry where it’s available, only 8 hours from Java, and 2 days + 2 nights of seatrip from Jakarta Tanjung Priuk Harbor Passenger Terminal. Plus, there are ferries from Semerang and Surabaya, both on Java. There's a ferry every 2 days between Surabaya and Banjarmasin.
The ferry between Surabaya and Banjarmasin is 21 hours. If you have a problem with cigarette smoke, this is not a good method of travel. Smoking is permitted in the sleeping area. There are no cabins. Solo females should be aware that they will receive a considerable amount of male attention, most of it unwanted. The food is not good.
Alternatively, if you are coming from the neighbouring provinces of East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, there are a lot of boat transportations through the rivers of Kalimantan. This could be an adventurous or boring ride depending on your taste. A range of boats are available, from slow moving boats to speedboats. It’s a great choice if you are extremely adaptable with the locals’ way of life.
Your best bet would be the metered taxi, insist the driver to use the meter if you have to. Alternatively, you can use “angkot” or “bamikro” or public shuttle microbuses, which interesting enough are also called “taxi” too by the locals. Also available is by "ojek" (motorcity taxi) and "becak" (Tricycle Rickshaw), that cost around USD 2.00 - 2.50 or Rp. 15,000 - 20,000 for inner city trips.
Banjarese, the name of South Kalimantan’s ethnicity, have a unique way of building their houses and other structures in harmony with nature. There are at least 12 types of traditional Banjarese houses, which have unfortunately lost their popularity in modern times. Still, you can see a few houses that were built with traditional techniques all over Banjarmasin if you really search for them. The palace ground was totally destroyed by the colonial Dutch, but you can still visit its remnants in Kampung Kraton, along Jalan Pangeran Samudera. There, you can see Masjid Sultan Suriansyah. Built during Pangeran Samudera’s rule, it is the first Mosque in South Kalimantan and contains the royal burial site.
- Museum Waja Sampai Ka Puting - this was an old and genuine Banjarese traditional house in "Bubungan Tinggi" style (one of the 12 styles and the most bona fide one) before it was transformed into a museum.
- Masjid Sultan Suriansyah - The oldest mosque in South Kalimantan, 300+ years old.
- Masjid Raya Sabilal Muhtadin - a giant modern mosque completed in 1981, the second largest in Indonesia.
Banjarmasin is abundant with wide and mighty rivers. The rivers have always been a part of Banjarese way of life. To this very day, every morning there are floating markets in which farmers and traders brought their goods to trade on boats. It has always been a farmers’ market and it’s interesting to see the genuine river-based way of life. The rivers are also the main venues for boat races and other festivities. The main attractions are the waterlogged suburbs traversed by canals; much of the city's commerce takes place on water.
- Floating markets - trading is from dawn until around 9AM. Get there early. Journey takes around 20 minutes by boat.
- Canal trips
- Pulau Kembang (lit. Flower Island) - visit the long-tailed macaques at the decrepit Chinese temple, 20 minutes by boat. You can buy nuts to feed them. The monkeys are quite aggressive if you have food and will try to steal it from you.
- Pulau Kaget (lit. Surprised Island) - see the proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), the mascot fauna of South Kalimantan. No guarantee you would have a good look at them, though, as they are really shy. The island takes a bit more time and money to get to.
In Sunday mornings, people from Banjarmasin have a tradition of walking, running, jogging, cycling or go with whatever you want toward the suburbs that is called "Pal Tujuh". There, they would go to the "Pasar Ahad" or "Sunday Market" which, obviously, opens only on Sundays. Enjoy local treats such as Ketupat Kandangan and Apam as your warm breakfast over there.
Semi-precious gems and stones. Rattan products.
- Pondok Oleh Oleh Bang Fajeri, Jalan S Parman 48 (samping Apotik Mitra) Banjarmasin (the location is on Jalan S Parman near traffic light or opposite/seberang Jorong Resto), ☎ +625116409299, . 09:00 a.m. - 09:00 p.m.. Selling some cibai Kalimantan Souvenirs and Traditional snacks such as Lampit Rattan Mats, Traditional clothes like Sasirangan, Amplang (Kalimantan traditional crackers) Lempok Durian, Dodol Kandangan, Mandau (Traditional Sword of Dayak tribe) Saluang Goreng (small fried river fish), Borneo Honey, and many more edit
- Lien Flower & Decoration, Golden Tulip Galaxy Hotel - Arcade Shop 2nd floor. Jl Ahmad Yani KM 2.5 - Banjarmasin (Opposite Duta Mall), . Monday - Sunday 8:00 - 20:00. "Lien Flower & Decoration - Banjarmasin Florist". Situated inside the Golden Tulip Galaxy Hotel. Banjarmasin's luxurious florist. You can buy local and imported fresh cut flowers and many other flower arrangements, bouquets and etc. edit
Banjarese love their foods and even though they are most of the times very excited about other kinds of foods, they adore their own local specialties more than others. The ones in restaurants, malls, or foodcourts are fine for beginners, but to find the real taste of Banjarese food, you have to go to hidden places in small streets because there you’d find the ones that are famous among the locals.Foods that are available throughout the year and are very popular with the locals:
- Soto Banjar - "Soto" is a type of Indonesian soup. Soto Banjar is a uniquely Banjarese variant of Soto, popular in other places throughout in Indonesia. Don't miss the chance to try the real and genuine taste in its place of origin! Soto in Banjar meant that it is served with lontong, while Soup is served with rice, for the same meal. Other interesting features of this soto variant are the use of cinnamon in cooking the soup and perkedel kentang [potato patties] in serving this dish.
- Apam - Although not specifically Banjarese, the Apam here has its own twist. Enjoy it sweet and warm, accompanied with tea.
- Bingka - A specialty of Banjarese, it came in many flavors. The pride of the Banjarese people, it's very sweet and creamy.
- Ketupat Kandangan - It's actually a specialty of Kandangan, but you can also find it in Banjarmasin. Known as a festive food, especially favored during Eid al Fitr. Here some diamond-shaped rice cakes called ketupat are served with thick coconut milk and sweet grilled fish.
- Klepon Buntut - Similar to Klepon, a palm sugar filled snacks coated with grated coconut found across Java, however this one has smoother texture and the flling is more liquidy.
However, in the month of Ramadhan, the Banjarese went all out with their traditional delicacies. Heaps of wadai (traditional cakes) and other treats mostly unavailable throughout the year will suddenly appears in Ramadhan. Though most travel guides won't suggest you to travel during the month of Ramadhan in Indonesia, it's an amazing experience to see the emergence of many "Pasar Wadai" (Cakes Market) all over the city, with treats such as:
- Amparan Tatak - banana pudding
- Bingka Barandam - Although named "bingka", tasted nothing like it. It's somekind of a cupcake soaked in sweet syrup.
Apart from localities, there are 3 KFCs, 2 Pizza Huts, and a Dunkin Donuts. If local taste doesn't suits you, go to Duta Mall and you'll dicover National as well as International renowned outlets.
One should try the Banjarese tea, which is somewhat different with the teas found elsewhere in Indonesia. It is a strongly Muslim area, so don't expect to find alcohol outside large hotels. if you are have interest to find tropical fruit theres one new agrotourism area at banjarmasin its named Mek farm. there you can find and try some original tropical fruit its might be hard to find at other place. like durian, avocado, keledang, some kind of kalimantan local manggo and ther a restaurant too. the restaurant serve ony indonesian traditional food it's easy to find the farm its only about 5 kilometer from the airport and we can use taxi, car rent or local tranporation service like what they call angkot and becak
- Choco Bakery, Mitra Plaza (Samping Bank Mandiri), Jalan Pangeran Antasari No.1, Banjarmasin (it is located in the corner Mitra Plaza, opposite the Swiss Bell Hotel. It is near the ferry/boat terminal, near the Jembatan ANtasari (bridge).), ☎ +625117411116. 10 a.m.- 9 p.m.. Selling western style bakery products (bread, cakes, choux, etc), and also selling cold drinks (Coke, mineral water, soyamilk, bottled tea, UHT fruits juice, chocolate, etc). Also sells dried snacks (potato chips, wafers, candies), ice creams, and traditional snacks (peanuts, mugbean, Indonesian cookies, fried Indonesian snacks). USD 1 - USD 4. edit
- Traveller's Cafe, Jl S Parman Near Traffict light (Opposite Jorong resto or in front of Pondok Oleh oleh Bang Fajeri). 5 - 11 p.m.. Traveller's Cafe is nice place to drink and hang out for travelers. The owner has very good passion in traveling. This cafe is also a nice place for Couch Surfing members all over the world. They serve soft drink and various of juice, meals are fried noodle, french fries, and many more. edit
- Depot Medan, Jl Veteran no 124 D (in The Front of The Catholic Church). 08.00-22.00. This place serve Chinesse Food with Various numbers of Drinks with cheap price.. 1-3 USD. edit
- Hotel Perdana Jl Brigjen Katamso 8. 100,000Rp for a single room (Nov 12) Fan, Cold Water shower, TV, WIFI, tea and cake twice a day (Breakfast, afternoon tea). More expensive rooms have hot water and AC.
- Swiss Belhotel. Rates from $67.
- Hotel SAS
- Hotel Istana Barito
- Hotel Banjarmasin International. . Fully entertainment in your city.
- Hotel Arum
- Hotel Victoria
- Hotel Roditha, Rates from $35. Fully Aircond, Free Breakfast, Slippers and Cable TV.
- Hotel CitraRaya, Rates from USD10. Full Aircond, Free Breakfast for 2 persons
- Diamond Homestay, Jl. Simpang Hasanuddin, ☎ +629263131. feels like at your own home. They have clean rooms but outside bathroom. Free internet USD 5. edit
- Borneo Homestay, Simpang Hasanudin I no.33, ☎ +6281251828311. A nice and clean homestay with free Wi-Fi located close to the river and numerous food stalls along the riverfront. Owner Joe yas is also an excellent ,english speaking, tour guide who provides boat tours in and around the city as well as multiple day trekking trough the Meratus mountains. 75.000 rupiah per night. edit
- Hotel Perdana, Jalan Pasar Baru Banjarmasin. 40,000 Rupiah for a single room. 70,000 Rupiah for a room for up to 4 people. edit
- Golden Tulip Galaxy (Golden Tulip Galaxy), JL.AHMAD YANI KM.2.5 NO. 138 70234 BANJARMASIN, . A 4-star hotel located right in the heart of Banjarmasin. edit
- Banjar Homestay, jalan A.Yani, KM 2, no. 8, RT17 (From the big mall (Duta Mall) on Jalan A.Yani, head towards the centre of town, on the left will be Rumah Sakit Ulin (local hospital) and a big yellow sign for GT radial- the turn is directly opposite that across the road. OR just go in to the warung Warteg pal2, before GT Radial (ran by Murni, wife of Andri).), ☎ Andri: 082390544449 Murni:082255519090. checkin: 24hrs open; checkout: easy. This is a true homestay. Andri is a lovely friendly man, willing to show you around if you pay for petrol for the motorcycle. There is tea and coffee for the taking, free wifi and lots of local info. Definitely worth a stay. Small rooms, but worth it for the laid back chats. Stay awhile and you'll leave as family. 25,000 rupiah. edit
Banjarese people speak the Banjarese language which has considerable similarities to Malay and Bahasa Indonesia. Some distinct words are:
- begawi [work]
- ulun [I/me, polite form]
- piyan [you, polite form]
- gonol/ganal [big]
- halus [small]
- bungol [stupid]