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.
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 happens thrice a week . Monday/Wednesday/Saturday. Usually at 4:30pm start at 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 group 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.
4) Swiss Bell Hotel and Spa Very prominent building in Samarinda. Houses a great outdoor swimming pool (20 meteres), Sauna and Reflexology and well equipped gym
5) Places to Eat : Bon Cafe - Great Steak, Great Ambience , Well priced. Very nice 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 inhouse band on Fridays. The bar overlooks the river. Great place 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. Great 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 - Restaurant but honeslty more of a crazy club with a great live band. Most locals head here around 12pmish. Be careful of Fake Alcohol though. Its wise to stick to local beers.
by other food and traditional food in market or amplang in surianata next of islamick 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.
Flight to Airport Temindung by KalStar or Susi Air
by private boath from samarinda to pare pare