10 Things To Do In Banjarmasin, Indonesia: A City Of Rivers And Gems

things to do in banjarmasin indonesia
Andrea
Andrea
Updated

On the Indonesian side of Borneo, there is a city of a thousand rivers called Banjarmasin. Located on a delta of the Barito River, it is the largest city in the South Kalimantan region. Throughout history, rivers have shaped the city into the bustling commercial center that it is today. Its floating markets and bustling gem trade which have been around for years have formed an integral part of its cultural heritage.

Banjarmasin’s rivers have seen various tumultuous periods in the city’s history from the ancient kingdom of Nan Serunai to the Banjarmasin War and Japanese Occupation. Today, this city of more than 600,000 residents still retains parts of its ancient past despite a world caught up in constant urbanization. Its traditional houses, temples, and night markets still manage to coexist alongside major commercial developments that cater to tourists.

The city enjoys a tropical rainforest climate, with certain times of the year wetter and drier than usual. The best time to visit is during the dry season, which lasts from June to October. Rich in cultural heritage, Banjarmasin is a dynamic city of a thousand rivers and a million more things to discover.

Read on to find out about the best things to do in Banjarmasin, Indonesia.

1. Shop for exotic fruits at the Lok Baintan Floating Market

Lok Baintan Floating Market
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Midori used under CC BY 3.0

Banjarmasin’s floating markets (pasar terapung) make for an enchanting experience uniquely Southeast Asian. Dating back to the 1500s, these markets on rivers can also be seen in the neighboring countries Thailand and Vietnam. In Indonesia, the best ones to visit are Muara Kuin on the Kuin River and Lok Baintan on the Martapura River. Despite the country’s constant modernization, the government makes efforts to preserve this piece of Indonesian heritage.

Traversing the markets requires precision, dexterity, and a flair for haggling. From dawn to early morning, traders do their business on klotoks (river boats). They sell a variety of items from exotic fruits to local delicacies and (sometimes) clothing. As the sun rises, visitors can shop for exotic fruits like the spiky rambutan, lanzones, rambai, menteng, Malacca grape, and mangoes. There are also vendors who sell nasi bungkus which you can eat on the spot.

From central Banjarmasin, the floating market can be reached in less than an hour by cab. The klotoks can be rented on the port. There are also big klotoks in central Banjarmasin which can transport large groups of people to the river.

Lok Baintan Floating Market

Address: Desa Lok Baintan, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: 6 am to 8:30 am

Price: From 22.47 USD (300,000 IDR) for the mass transport klotok

Contact: +62 5116747679

2. Check out monkeys and birds at Pulau Kembang and Pulau Kaget

Pulau kembang by banjarbaru-zone
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jonrushdie used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Located near the floating market on the Barito River is a sanctuary for thousands of long-tailed macaques and birds. It is also the site of a sacred prayer place for the Chinese. According to the locals, the island became what it is today when a British ship was destroyed in the 1700s on the orders of the sultan. Debris from the ship washed up on the island and gradually succumbed to nature. Eventually, a group of monkeys inhabited the island and populated the area.

Visitors are advised to be careful with their belongings for the mischievous little residents can get a little too excited. It is also a tradition to bring small offerings along.

Another wildlife conservation area to visit is the Pulau Kaget which can be accessed by a boat ride along the Martapura River. Visitors can see proboscis monkeys swinging around and diving into the water. Sometimes eagles also fly overhead.

Pulau Kembang

Address: Pulau Kembang, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: Best to visit before sunrise at 4:30 am to 5 am

Price: From 14.97 USD (200,000 IDR) for a 10-20 minute boat ride from the city center

Pulau Kaget

Address: Pulau Kaget, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: All day

Price: Boat tour prices vary

3. Visit the majestic mosques

Masjid Raya Sabilal Muhtadin
Source: Wikipedia

Banjarmasin is a city of religious diversity. Although around 96% of the city is Muslim, the Christian, Hindu and Buddhist places of worship coexist with Banjarmasin’s many beautiful mosques.

Located in the Kuin Utara village, the Sultan Suriansyah Mosque (Masjid Sultan Suriansyah) is known as the oldest mosque in the South Kalimantan region at more than 300 years old. Named after Sultan Suriansyah, the first Banjarese king that converted to Islam, the mosque is an example of pre-Islamic Indonesian architecture with its long, tiled roof.

The Masjid Raya Sabilal Muhtadin, the second largest mosque in Indonesia, is another one worth visiting. This mosque was built in 1974 as a tribute to Sheikh Muhammad al-Banjary Arsyad, a major figure in the development of Islam in the region.

Masjid Sultan Suriansyah

Address: Kuin Utara, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: All day

Entrance fee: None

Masjid Raya Sabilal Muhtadin

Address: Jl. Jend Sudirman No.1, Antasan Besar, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: All day

Entrance fee: None

Contact: +62 5113353380

4. View the sunrise at the Muara Kuin Floating Market

Traditional Floating Market Kuin River
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Harri J used under CC BY 2.0

Located at the mouth of the river Kuin above the Barito River, Muara Kuin is another pasar terapung to experience in Bajarmasin. As with other floating markets, visitors can buy a variety of fresh fruits, handicrafts, souvenirs and more.

The bustle starts after morning prayers (Shubuh) until early morning, so it’s best to go before sunrise. Aside from that, you will also get to see the sunrise with a picturesque view. Traditional boats called jukung, which can be rented at the port, are used to traverse the market.

Muara Kuin Foating Market

Address: Barito River, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: From dawn to 7 am

Price: Jukung rental prices vary

5. Learn about Banjarmasin's history at the Museum WASAKA

Museum WASAKA
Source: Wikipedia

This unique museum on stilts is a piece of history itself. Located on the banks of Martapura River, the museum is an 18th-century nobleman’s residence called Rumah Bubungan Tinggi (Rumah Ba-Bubungan Tinggi). The name “WASAKA” is an abbreviation of “Waja Sampai Ka Puting” which means “endless struggle until the last drop of blood”. This is known as the people’s motto during Banjarmasin’s turbulent period of invasion and colonization.

The museum houses around 400 relics mostly relating to Banjarmasin’s colonial history. Some of these include typewriters, guns, cameras, and an ancient bike which was used to deliver secret letters unbeknownst to Dutch colonizers.

Museum WASAKA

Address: Sungai Jingah Village, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: 7 am to 12 pm

Entrance fee: None

6. Bring home gemstones and batik

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Banjarmasin, a center for gem trade, is known for its high quality gemstones including rare diamonds and rubies. The city has a number of jewelry shops and gemstone stalls to choose from.

Located near Banjarmasin is Martapura’s Cahaya Bumi Selamat jewelry market. Martapura, around an hour away from Banjarmasin, is a city known for being Indonesia’s largest diamond producer.

There are also places in Banjarmasin that produce Indonesia’s iconic fabric, batik. One such place is the Batik Sasirangan with its large collection of colorful batik fabric and clothes. Visitors are also allowed to view the manufacturing process.

Batik Sasirangan

Address: Mandiri IV Blok B7 No. 28, Jl. Sultan Adam, Surgi Mufti, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: 8 am to 5 pm

Contact: +62 87816715595

Website: Batik Sasirangan

Cahaya Bumi Selamat Market

Address: Jl. Ahmad Yani, Cindai Alus, Martapura, Indonesia

Opening hours: 10 am to 5 pm

Getting there: There are various public transport vehicles going to Martapura, but traveling via car from Syamsudin Noor Airport is easier and takes less time

7. Have a culinary adventure

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

A trip to Banjarmasin isn’t complete without a gastro-tour. Stretching for around 300 meters (0.18 miles), this food center between the roads Sudirman and Hasanuddin has around 52 stalls that sell a variety of traditional Indonesian delicacies like yellow rice, soto Banjar, laksa, and lupis.

Other notable restaurants include Cendrawasih Sarahai, which sells mostly seafood, and the unassuming Said Abdullah which is known for their nasi kuning (saffron rice).

Food Strip At The City Center

Address: Road Sudirman and Hasanuddin, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: All day

Entrance fee: None

Cendrawasih Sarahai

Address: Jl Pangeran Samudera, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: 9 am to 10 pm

Said Abdullah

Address: Jl Ahmad Yani Km1, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: 10 am to 11:30 pm

8. Check out the colorful Soetji Nurani Temple

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

This Buddhist temple is truly a gem within the city. Built in 1898, the temple is filled with ancient Chinese aesthetics. Inside are incense coils that burn for days and red candles that vary in sizes. It’s hard to miss it from the outside - it stands out with its bright colors and iconic Chinese architecture.

Soetji Nurani Temple

Address: Jl Niaga Timur 45, Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Opening hours: All day

Entrance fee: None

9. Venture to the Meratus Mountains

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

This majestic mountain range runs in a north-south arc that divides South Kalimantan into two nearly equal parts. Seemingly out of this world, this ethereal place is blessed with misty surroundings, lush tropical rainforests, rivers, and waterfalls. Its highest peak is Mount Besar with 1,892 meters (1.17 miles).

The mountains are inhabited by the semi-nomadic Meratus Dayak people who can also provide homestays for visitors. They still observe many ancient customs and seek the services of the pembeliatn (shaman), adding to the air of mysticism that this place evokes.

The mountains are home to various flora and fauna including a number of endangered species. During the 1990s, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation reintroduced some 350 orangutans into the rainforests of Meratus and Sungai Wain. While deforestation continues to be a major threat to the ecosystem, we can only hope that the Dayak as well as endangered species like the orangutan will continue to survive.

There are many Banjarmasin tours that offer a trip to the mountains with a guide, often with a pick-up that can be arranged. It may be tempting to venture solo, but it is highly advisable to get a guide.

Meratus Mountain Trek

Address: Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Contact: +62 8125020781, +62 85813288808, [email protected], [email protected]

Website: Go Indonesia Tour

10. Go river rafting at Loksado

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Aside from mountain climbing, river rafting is another option for adventurers looking for thrills. Located at the foot of the Meratus Mountains, the Amandit River provides visitors with a scenic view while swimming or rafting using traditional bamboo or rubber rafts. Those who are new to river rafting don’t need to worry about rapids - locals guarantee that the waters are not that intense.

Many tours offer Amandit river rafting, often accompanied by a trek to the mountains and the Muara Hatip longhouse.

Bamboo Rafting Tour

Address: Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Contact: +62 87765307748

Website: Adventure Travel Indonesia

Explore the city of a thousand rivers

Solitaire (15524906679)
Source: Photo by user Budi Nusyirwan used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Rich in cultural heritage and natural wonders, Banjarmasin is a city as precious as its gemstones. Filled with exotic beauty, it deserves to be preserved and protected in a constantly urbanizing world.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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