Top 9 Things To Do In Balikpapan, Indonesia

things to do in balikpapan
| 8 min read

From the site of an oil well drill to the center of business and industry, Balikpapan is a beloved seaport city in Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia. With multiple attractions to visit, good food to eat, nature to admire, and meet new people from many cultures, Balikpapan is the place to be on the island of Kalimantan. Discover some popular destinations that also offer fantastic outdoor activities, such as Pantai Melawai and Mangrove Margo Mulyo. How about taking a tour of the city and visiting places such as Balikpapan Islamic Centre and Pasar Inpres Kebun Sayur? For those who plan on a holiday, here are the top things to do in Balikpapan, Indonesia.

1. Watch the sun go down by the street at Pantai Melawai

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

Pantai Melawai is a beach that you must visit when visiting Balikpapan. It is located on the streets of Jl. Pelabuhan Semayang. You can either be walking or driving, you get to witness fetching views of the sea from the streets. Although it is more of a shore than a sandy beach, Pantai Melawai offers a lively vibe and exposes you to the bustling Balikpapan. With buildings on one side and a vast sea on the other, catch the mesmerizing sunset on the eastern part of Kalimantan. After the sun sets, you can hang around a little longer and experience the Balikpapan culinary delights by the sea while enjoying the illumination afforded by the lights from streets, buildings, and boats.

Pantai Melawai

Address: Jl. Pelabuhan Semayang, Prapatan, Balikpapan Kota, Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur 76111.

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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2. Witness the natural stones at Pantai Banua Patra

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kumarcnaik used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Moving along to another beach, Pantai Banua Patra, you can find an abundance of sands and natural stones here. Nicknamed Batu-Batu or stones in English, the place is perfect for people who enjoy solitude, or at least less crowd. Unfortunately, you can’t swim at Pantai Banua Patra because of the large rocks, but you can still enjoy the beautiful sunset. Find some inspiration, read, feel the sands in your toes, or just sit on one of the large stones while the waves perpetually crash on the shore.

Pantai Banua Patra

Address: Perapatan, Balikpapan Kota, Prapatan, Balikpapan, Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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3. Visit the great mosque Balikpapan Islamic Center

2018-06-13 Balikpapan Islamic Center
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user consigliere ivan used under CC0

Indonesian Muslims pray five times a day in their houses, offices, or mosques. When visiting Balikpapan, be sure to visit Balikpapan Islamic Center to see and admire the mosque Masjid Madinatul Iman. Inspired by Masjid Nabawi in Madinah, the mosque exhibits giant umbrellas and towers just like the one built by Prophet Muhammad.

Balikpapan Islamic Center

Address: Gunung Bahagia, Balikpapan Selatan, Gn. Bahagia, Kecamatan Balikpapan Selatan, Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur 76114.

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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4. Take a tour of Margomulyo Mangrove

Walking bridge through mangrove forest
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ankur Panchbudhe used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Mangrove Margomulyo is located behind SMA 8 Balikpapan, a high school in Balikpapan, about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) from the city center. Take a tour of the area, starting with the entrance, a rustic but safe wooden bridge, and then continuing towards the mangrove. There is no entrance fee, but you may have to make a donation for the care for the forest. A conservation area, it also functions as a city park, environment education place, and research site. Aside from various mangroves and plants, you can also find animals such as birds, crabs, and the famous probosci’s monkey.

Mangrove Margo Mulyo

Address: Jl. AMD Gg. 4 No.RT 42, Margo Mulyo, Kec. Balikpapan Bar., Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur 76131

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

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5. Swim and slide at Caribbean Island Water Park

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by CaribbeanIsland Waterpark on Tuesday, July 7, 2020

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the real Caribbean Islands, but it is surely a proper waterpark that anyone can enjoy. Swim in a pool and slide down the Twin Tower, there are also other water attractions such as a Bucket Drop where a large amount of water descends into the pool—making a big splash. Alone or with family, have a wet and wonderful time at Caribbean Island Water Park.

Caribbean Island Water Park

Address: Perumahan Balikpapan Regency Kol. Syarifuddin Yoes II ( Ring Road II, Jalan Ruhui Rahayu, Sepinggan, Kecamatan Balikpapan Selatan, Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur 76115.

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm; Sat - Sun: 8am - 6pm.

Price: Rp50.000 (around 3.3 USD) and Rp75.000 (around 5 USD) on weekends and holidays

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6. Shop local in Pasar Inpres Kebun Sayur

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

Step into the famous market of Pasar Inpres Kebun Sayur in Balikpapan. One of the largest markets ever in Indonesia, you can find common market items such as meats, veggies, and fruit. But the main takeaway is Kalimantan- (Borneo) related items to take home. Locally made souvenirs include jewelry such as rings, bracelets, and necklaces. You can even buy the traditional weapon of the Dayak tribe called mandau or Parang Ilarang. Dayak is one of the native groups in Kalimantan, you can also buy their traditional clothes and headwear in the market. Indulge in culinary delights such as amplang, a famous fish cracker found in Pasar Inpres Kebun Sayur. Try out Waroeng Banjar Bahari that sells Pisang gapit or roasted bananas and Rumah Makan Haur Gading that sells a fish dish named pepes patin. Have a gala time here

Pasar Inpres Kebun Sayur

Address: Pasar Inpres Kebunsayur, Jl. Letjen Suprapto, Marga Sari, Kec. Balikpapan Bar., Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur 76132

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

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7. Check out Bondy Bakery & Restaurant

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Kepiting telor asin

Posted by Bondy Seafood Resto Balikpapan on Monday, January 4, 2016

After indulging in local cuisine, you can head over to Bondy Bakery & Restaurant for some bakery items. Those who love seafood can come to Bondy Bakery & Restaurant. The staff will let you pick the fish, squid, crab, clams, or shrimp if you want to. After that, you will choose how you like your seafood cooked, whether steamed, roasted or fried. You can also choose from a range of other food items such as satay and western-style lamb chop. The bakery outlet is adjacent to the restaurant and offers cakes and breads.

Bondy Bakery & Restaurant

Address: Jalan Jenderal Ahmad Yani RT. 01 No. 1, Klandasan Ilir, Balikpapan Kota, Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur 76113

Opening hours: 10:30am - 10pm (daily)

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8. Peek into the colonial past at Dahor Heritage Balikpapan

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by DAHOR Heritage Balikpapan on Monday, January 11, 2021

Indonesia, including Balikpapan, was colonized by the Dutch. Learn more about the colonial times at Dahor Heritage Balikpapan and discover the city’s history. Check out the old houses that are present to this day. From the Rumah Panggungs (traditional stage house) that belonged to oil workers in the colonial past, today only nine houses left that are used as a library and a mini-museum.

Dahor Heritage Balikpapan

Address: Jl. Dahor No.1, Baru Ilir, Kec. Balikpapan Bar., Kota Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur 76123

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)

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9. Take a walk in the green hills of Bukit Alpha

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

Behind a garbage dump, lies the green hills of Bukit Alpha. Yes, you read it right, you can find Bukit Alpha or Alpha Hill, 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the city center, behind a place full of trash. There is no entrance sign, just find an area of greenery with a pathway that is usually crowded with people. You can walk through the hill or take some photographs in the area; Bukit Alpha is a pleasant place to visit.

Bukit Alpha

Address: Manggar, East Balikpapan, Balikpapan City, East Kalimantan 76116

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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Visit Balikpapan for its unusual attractions

Balikpapan has many places to visit and things to do. A mangrove forest, a hill filled with greenery, one of the largest markets in Indonesia, a place with some colonial past, and beaches with a sunset that can end the day— the city has it all. Pick two or three destinations if you are staying in Balikpapan. If it’s a longer stay, why not try it all? When gazing upon the sea from Balikpapan, you can see a reflection, a reflection of the city that you have or will discover.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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A freelance journalist and writer currently based in Bali, Indonesia with a keen interest on timeless pieces and globally relevant issues. Writing everything and doing odd jobs is my means of living.

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