Balikpapan is known for its kindly locals, luscious nature and pretty beaches that even views of sprawling oil rigs and tankers cannot spoil. Tourists are flocking to this corner of Indonesia, drawn to the picture-perfect setting and enjoying the luxury that mining and petroleum resources can build. Balikpapan may not exactly be Southeast Asia’s Dubai – yet; but it’s heading in that direction.
Considering Balikpapan sees a tanker-load of warm and sunny days, any visit should start with the beaches. Hit the shores of Lamaru Beach,Melwai Beach and Kemala Beach for a cool dip and plenty of shell-strewn sands, and swap the sprawling concrete for sprawling greenery at Bakapai Garden. Got some coinage left over? Shop up a storm at Pasar Klandasan and Pasar Kebun Sayur – they don’t call it ‘black gold’ for nothing…
Balikpapan’s Top 10
10. Dapur Bunda Laze on the sands of this pretty beach while soaking up the rays.
5. Agro Tourism Garden With over 100 hectares of green, this is the place for a concrete-free respite.
9. Wana Wisata These gardens are an ideal break from the city buzz, with plenty of flowery photo ops.
4. Kebun Sayur Traditional Market Grab some local handicrafts and gemmed-up bling at this iconic market.
8. Mahakam River Take a slow, scenic cruise and breathe in that fresh Balikpapan air.
3. BOS Orangutan Sanctuary and Eco Lodge Head north to learn about the much-needed conservation efforts.
7. Teritip Crocodile Farm If you’re game, they also have crocodile meat satay on the menu!
2. Bukit Bangkirai The lush forest around this hill can be accessed by one of the coolest (and scariest) canopy bridges in the world.
6. Plaza Balikpapan Craving a commercial fix? With everything from Dunkin’ Donuts to Ralph Lauren, this is your place.
1. Manggar Beach The best beach in the city boasts pretty sands and even prettier people.
- Japanese Canon Relic – Remains of the old Japanese fort during the Japanese occupation in Balikpapan.
- Museum Tanjung Pura – This museum on the Indonesian Army Military mainly displays World War II weaponry.
- Australian Monument – Dedicated to the Australian soldiers who were killed in this area during the World War II.
- Maritime Museum of Townsville – Highlights a fine diorama of the amphibious Balikpapan's assault.
- Japanese Soldier Monument – Built in honour of the Japanese soldiers during World War II, it is also a small Japanese burial ground.
Balikpapan Art & Culture
- Balikpapan Art Festival – Held in the month of August and showcases theatre, dance, poetry, monologue, short films and graphic exhibitions.
- Daha Art Gallery – Interior pieces at their finest. This art gallery is home to a wide array of home interior art pieces.
- Art Gallery Balikpapan – Find some hand-painted, eye-candy umbrellas by the Dayaks.
- Kalimantan Art Gallery – It where you can find antique local beads of East Boneo.
- Hi-X – Boasts a startling range of stunning modern art of Balikpanan's local.
- Melawai Beach – Enjoy the beach and shop from vendors that sell various type of local cuisine.
- Pasar Kebun Sayur – Literally means “vegetable gardens” and hailed as the gem centre in Balikpapan, this is a place where you can score many home decor and souvenir items.
- Central Supermarket – Go shopping for a wide variety of Western food and drinks.
- Plandar Kebun Sayur – The ideal stop to shop for local souvenir items.
- Plasar Klansadan – This is the perfect place to grab your sarong at an affordable price.
Gay & Lesbian Balikpapan
- Ozone Bar – Known for its beautiful ambiance. This place should not be missed by party lovers.
- Sid’s Bar – Experience a bar by the sea, also known as the Borneo Sports Fishing Club.
- Petrosea Bar – Famous nightlife destination of the locals, it offers great music.
- Club Borneo at Dusit Hotel – Take advantage of the buy-one-get-one-free promo on all drinks while enjoying live music.
- Ocean Resto and Bar - If you are trying to find entertainment and good food in Balikpapan, this is the place for you. Offers great seafood and Asian cuisine.
- Bangkirai Canopy Bridge – Take a step on the bridge and watch the rainforest under your feet.
- River Tour – Take pleasure in beautiful stretches of tropical rainforest while enjoying a river cruise.
- Manggar Segarsari Beach – Relax and enjoy the peaceful and calm waves, white sand and clear waters of this beach in Balikpapan.
- Crocodile Teritip Breeding – Home to a large crocodile species, where you can catch thrilling shows or even feed the crocodiles.
- Bakapai Garden – A place where locals unwind and relax.
- Trek along the Wanawisata Garden and witness exotic plants in their natural habitat.
- Take your buddy and go running or jogging at the Running Track in Manggar Balikpapan.
- Go diving at Derawan Island, the third best diving site in the world recommended by The Guardian UK.
- Watch the Persiba Balikpapan in the Indonesia Super League at Persiba Stadium.
- Play golf amid stunning scenery at the Lapangan Golf Lamin.
The Borneo International Kite Festival welcomes kite flyers from 40 countries to Balikpapan in February. Is anyone else wondering how they never seem to get tangled up there?
July’s Balikpapan Fair celebrates and promotes the city’s history and spirit through folk-style concerts, food, handicraft markets and vibrant parades.
The Balikpapan Arts Festival in August is the biggest event on Balikpapan’s calendar. It often has a ‘green’ theme, so expect plenty of enviro-friendly artwork.
When To Go
- The weather is warm all year round, with an average temperature of 26°C (79°F). February/March is the hottest period, while the coolest month is July.
- Want a dry getaway? Avoid travelling in December and June.
- Humidity soars in April through to June, so expect muggy days and even muggier nights.
- Angkutan Kotas (mini buses) are a popular transport option. While they do have designated routes, drivers are often happy to divert and drop you at your desired destination.
- Taxis are a good (and cheap) way to explore, but book in advance.
- You’ll see a lot of motorbikes trawling the city streets, and you can hire your own if you feel up to tackling the shoddy streets and nightmarish traffic.
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