Balikpapan, located on the eastern shores of Kalimantan, Borneo island, Indonesia, has been visited by many foreigners for business purposes, especially those who work in the oil and gas industry. If you happen to be one of them, there are things that you can do during your visit even if you are just transiting. Not many people know about the beauty of Balikpapan because it is often portrayed as an industrial city rather than a tourist destination. However, there are hidden spots in Balikpapan worth exploring. From beautiful beaches to sun bears, Balikpapan has a lot more to offer than just petroleum.
Delicious seafood at affordable prices!
Being the coastal city, any area in Balikpapan is just a few steps away from the bay whereby there are many restaurants and food courts. If you are in the mood for local seafood, you can consider dining at Ocean’s or Dandito, which serve the best local crab dishes. The bay area is the perfect spot for you to take a break from your business or work. There are great options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even late night supper. In general, the food and beverages are cheap. However, you may also find some fancy restaurants that will charge a premium rate for better ambience.
Lamaru beach and breathtaking views of the sunset
The city is not just about oil sites. Balikpapan also offers tropical beaches that you can visit. Although the tourism scene of Balikpapan is still under development, there are well-constructed roads leading to the beaches.
One of the famous beaches of Balikpapan is Lamaru beach. It is relatively new compared to other beaches. This has both pros and cons. The downside is that there are no fancy facilities such as restaurants or hotels nearby. You may only find food stalls and shops that sell souvenirs such as beach apparels. On the bright side, the beach is not so crowded, so you can really have a quality time with nature here. At this beautiful beach, you will find seashells and other marine lives such as small crabs digging their holes into the sand. Swimming and watching the sunset are two activities that you do not want to miss!
To get to Lamaru beach area, you need to pay an entry fee of 10,000 IDR per person (or approximately 1 USD). Parking fee is included. It takes 30 minutes from downtown to Lamaru area by car with additional 15 minutes from the main road to the shore. You may rent a car or hire a driver. Since each area may provide different rates for different types of cars and services, you should contact your hotel concierge for further information.
Find Balikpapan's mascot, the rare Sun Bear, in the conservation
If you have at least six hours of spare time during the day in Balikpapan, you can visit the Sun Bear Education & Conservation Center, which is located 23 kilometers from downtown. Better known as Kawasan Wisata Peduli Lingkungan Hidup (KWPLH) or “Environmental Tourism Area”, this conservation houses five endangered sun bears in an area that resembles their natural habitat. Due to rapid deforestation, sun bears are facing extinction around the world. Here, you can walk around the conservation area and see the sun bears from a fenced bridge. Visit the conservation at 3 p.m local time during feeding time. That is when the bears will be near to the fence for viewing.
Admission and parking is free. If you want to help the foundation and Sun Bears, you can make a donation in the donation jar onsite or meet the committee at their office nearby. The travelling time from the city center may take up to two hours of road trip either by car, motorcycle, or bus.
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Enjoy the beauty of downtown Balikpapan
During your next trip, don’t miss these hidden spots of Balikpapan! Even if you don’t have much spare time or you only have a few hours for transit, you still can enjoy the beauty of Balikpapan from downtown. Find your way to the balcony of your hotel, restaurant, or even a shopping mall, and enjoy the beauty of the sun setting at the harbor area in Klandasan. The ships will start to turn on their lights and create a breathtaking view that you will remember for the rest of your life.
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