Set in the Island of Borneo, Balikpapan is the wealthiest city in Indonesia. It is surrounded by breathtaking beaches, relaxing natural reserves, and gemstone markets. This coastal city is one of the financial centers of Indonesia thanks to the oil industries that contribute trillions of dollars every year to its economy. Back in the 19th century, the economy of Balikpapan was not so great - it was once a village where people made a living by fishing. It was only later when they found one of the world’s most precious resources: oil. This attracted companies and investors from overseas, which transformed the financial future of this fishing village. Surrounded by sand and water, Balikpapan is the perfect tourist destination for those who love to explore relaxing beaches, breathe in the cool sea breeze, and learn about the mesmerizing Indonesian culture. Scroll down further to know about the top things to do in Balikpapan, Indonesia.
1. Relax on Lamaru Beach
Start off your Balikpapan adventure by exploring Lamaru Beach. This popular tourist spot is a great place to drink, eat, and take in Indonesian culture. It is only half an hour’s drive away from downtown and can be reached via rental car or taxi. Along the coastal road of Lamaru Beach, you will find local restaurants. Here, you can relish delicious food items like grilled fish, chicken rice, or soto banjar (Indonesian chicken noodle soup) accompanied by your favorite drink. If you live and breathe for adventure, then exciting water activities will give you the adrenaline rush you crave.
Address: Jln. Mulawarman, Balikpapan 76115, Indonesia
2. Explore Bangkirai Hill
If you’re planning to escape from the daily hustle and bustle of city lives, then Bangkirai Hill is a wonderful place to visit. This is a green tourist spot with facilities like jungle cottages, restaurants serving delicious cuisines, and a swimming pool to forget all your worries and just relax! Bangkirai Hill is situated in East Kalimantan, less than two hours’ drive away from Balikpapan. The Canopy Bridge is the center of attention here, as it is the eighth-largest bridge in the world and the second-largest in Asia.
Address: Karya Merdeka, Semboja, Kutai Kartanegara Regency, East Kalimantan 75271, Indonesia
Website: Bangkirai Attraction
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 4pm; Sat - Sun: 8:30am - 5pm
3. Swim and snorkel at Segajah Beach
Located at a distance of 250 km (155.3 mi) from Balikpapan City, Segajah Beach is the perfect place to capture some great moments of your trip. The crystal clear waters and superb sceneries will make your Instagram photos look super cool. If it is your dream to swim and snorkel on an island with little to no crowd, then this is the perfect spot to make your dreams come true. It is accessible by boat from Bontang and only appears at low tide.
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4. Enjoy the thrilling rides at Caribbean Island Water Park
If you’re looking forward to some action on your trip to Balikpapan, then Caribbean Island Water Park is the right place to make your adventure goals come true. This adventure park is located near Ring Road II and can be reached with the help of public transport and rental cabs. Opened in the year 2007, this is a one-stop-shop for entertainment and adventure, with a variety of water slides and adventure rides available.
Caribbean Island Water Park
Address: Jl. Kol. Syarifuddin Yoes (Ringroad II), Balikpapan Regency, Balikpapan
Website: Caribbean Island Water Park
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm; Sat - Sun: 8am - 6pm
5. Take amazing Instagram photos at Bukit Alpha
Surrounded by green meadows, small huts, and many trees, Bukit Alpha is a peaceful tourist destination in Balikpapan. The green and serene environment will allow you to relax, take nice photos for Instagram, and enjoy the view. Pro tip: when planning to visit, bring snacks and water with you, as there are no shops available near Bukit Alpha.
Address: Jln. Mulawarman, Balikpapan 76115, Indonesia
6. Sip your drink and get mesmerized by the stunning view at Kemala Beach
Kemala Beach is a clean and less-crowded beach covered with white sand. It is located in the center of Balikpapan City. This beach is the perfect place to spend quality time with your family and make lasting memories. Nearby, you can find local eateries serving delicious Indonesian as well as international food accompanied by refreshing drinks. The stunning sunset view, cold beers available at the cafes, and wooden benches to relax on makes this beach a must-visit destination.
Address: East Kalimantan, Balikpapan, Indonesia
Opening hours: 8am - 11pm (daily)
7. Watch the gigantic reptiles at Barnacles Crocodile Farm
Barnacles Crocodile Farm is a great place to see crocodiles swimming and feeding. Apart from these animals, there are also two enormous and sweet elephants in the park. You can take great photos with them and even enjoy riding them. The place is safe to visit for people of all ages, with a lot of amenities available like parking spaces, tasty food counters, and restrooms. You will need to purchase an entry ticket for the park, as well as pay additional fees for elephant rides and feeding chickens to the crocodiles. Overall, coming here will be a fun and exciting experience for you.
Barnacles Crocodile Farm
Address: Jl. Mulawarman No.64, Teritip, Kec. Balikpapan Tim., Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur 76118, Indonesia
8. Taste delicious Indonesian food at Ruko Bandar
Ruko Bandar is a foodie paradise in Balikpapan. This is where you can relish tasty and delicious Indonesian foods accompanied by a stunning sea view and glimpses of local Indonesian culture. This area is surrounded by the city’s top-rated cafes, all serving the best drinks and desserts, as well as restaurants offering amazing dining experiences. Popular establishments here include Taman Bekapai, De Cafe Resto, and Ocean’s Resto. This is the perfect place to have dinner, hang out with friends, and go on dates.
Address: Jl. Jenderal Sudirman, Ruko Bandar, Balikpapan, Indonesia
9. Meet the icon animal of Balikpapan at Sun Bear Education and Conservation Center
Your trip to Balikpapan is incomplete if you haven’t met the city’s mascot at Sun Bear Education and Conservation Center, also known as Kawasan Wisata Pendidikan Lingkungan Hidup, or simply KMPLH. This is located at a distance of 23 km (14.29 mi) from the center of Balikpapan City, easily reachable with the help of a car. Here you’ll learn about sun bears - the icon animal of Balikpapan - and understand why it is important to conserve them. The best time to visit this place is from 9 am to 3 pm, as this is when they come out to feed. This is a must-visit place to see the world’s smallest bears - and they’re well taken care of under the supervision of a passionate and responsible team.
Sun Bear Education and Conservation Center
Address: Jl. Soekarno-Hatta Km. 23, No. 185 RT. 42, Karang Joang, Kec. Balikpapan Utara, Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur 76127, Indonesia
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)
10. Take a boat ride and explore Mangrove Center Graha Indah
Mangrove Center Graha Indah is a well-managed forest area maintained by the local community. The center is situated near Batu Ampar Village in the west region of Balikpapan. The forest area is vast and you will need to rent a boat to explore it. In your boat ride, you will be awestruck by the Bekantan (long-nosed monkeys) climbing and jumping around. The best time to see them is around 7 am or after 3 pm. Bapak Agus Bei is the founder of the forest and a great personality from whom you can learn about mangroves, forest management, and the Bekantan.
Mangrove Center Graha Indah
Address: Batu Ampar, Balikpapan Utara, Balikpapan City, East Kalimantan 76127, Indonesia
Opening hours: 6am - 6pm (daily)
All in all, visiting Balikpapan is an incredible experience, and with our list, it will be easier for you to dive into the adventure. Explore the forests and hills, swim on the tranquil beaches, and immerse yourself in the city’s incredible culture.
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