Within Balikpapan (And Its Neighboring Towns)
There are a few options of moving around the city, depending on your budget and the level of comfort you need. From the cheapest one, such as mikrolet to the most comfortable one, car rental. Apart from mikrolets and car rentals, there are "ojeks" and taxis. There are also bus services to nearby towns.
Traffic jam within the city is still "tolerable". Mostly it occurs along Jalan Sudirman in the morning and in the late afternoon, when residents commute between their home and their offices.
Exploring the city on foot may not be a popular option because of the weather condition, however, should it become your decision, wherever you walk in Balikpapan, you should pay extra attention to local drivers and motorbikers. It is seldom to see drivers giving way to pedestrians and people can cross the roads anywhere they like.
Mikrolet is a small minivan, normally seen in many colours, such as blue, green or "broken white", which fits 12 passengers (see below for its routes, which are based on numbers and colours). Normally mikrolets don't have air conditioning, and they have a side passenger door opening. Picture on the left is showing mikrolet number 5. Mikrolet's number is usually seen on its roof and rear windscreen.
When taking a mikrolet, do remember this minivan might not be suitable for passengers with big bag or equipment. If you take a mikrolet from any terminal, often the driver waits until all seats are occupied or nearly full.
With an extensive network through out the city, this becomes a favourite option for locals. Today, it is still uncommon to see tourists travelling by mikrolet, which is also known as "angkot", just like how they call in Bandung, Indonesia. The locals often nickname these mikrolets as "taxi", while they refer the "real taxi" as "taxi argo" (/âr-ghô/ - meaning: the "meter" used in metered taxi).
Passengers can flag down and get off anywhere on the street. To get off you have to tell the driver by saying "stop". Then you pay the fare, which is Rp. 3,000 per person (for travelling within the city). Expect to pay more if you travel more than 10 kilometers or 6 miles. For instance, going to "Wain River Protected Forest", which is about 15 kilometers/9.3 miles, it costs about Rp. 10,000. Most of the drivers only speak Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language), but you might find other passengers who understand basic English. Picture on the right is showing mikrolet number 3.
If you want to get off at a specific place, you have to tell the driver the name of the place before hopping on his minivan. If you know that the mikrolet doesn't go nearby your destination, you can ask the driver if it would be possible to drop you off there, though he might ask for an extra cost, which needs to be clarified before getting on.
However, if you are in doubt, ask local people around you for the right direction and they are in general helpful and friendly.
There are three mikrolet terminals in Balikpapan: “Damai” terminal, which is located in the eastern side of Balikpapan (on Jalan Sudirman), “Batu Ampar" terminal (picture on the left), which is located in the northen side of city (on Jalan Pattimura) and “Kampung Baru” terminal, which is located in the western side of Balikpapan (on Jalan Monginsidi).
Mikrolets usually start moving out early in the morning (around 5am) and they head back home at around 10pm. There are many “ojek” or unlicensed motorcycle/motorbike taxi around these terminals (see below for ojek).
|Mikrolet Number||Color||Route (To/From)|
|1||Orange||RSS Damai III, Batu Ampar Terminal, Karang Anyar, Kampung Baru Terminal|
|2||Light Green||Batu Ampar Terminal, Muara Rapak, Karang Jati, Gunung Sari, Jl. Mayjen Sutoyo, Jl. Panjaitan, Jl. Sungai Ampal, Balikpapan Baru, RSS Damai III|
|3||Light Blue||Batu Ampar Terminal, Rapak, Gunung Sari, Klandasan, Harbor|
|4||Dark Brown||Batu Ampar Terminal, Rapak, Kampung Baru Terminal|
|5||Yellow||Kampung Baru Terminal, Kebun Sayur, Karang Anyar, Rapak, Gunung Sari, Pasar Bar, Damai Terminal|
|6||Dark Blue||Kampung Baru Terminal, Karang Anyar, Pelabuhan Semayang, Klandasan, Damai Terminal|
|7||Dark Green||Damai Terminal, Sepinggan, Batakan, Manggar, Gunung Tembak|
|8||Light Yellow||Batu Ampar Terminal, Km. 24 (Karang Joang)|
|9||Dark Brown||Batu Ampar Terminal, Rapak, Kampung Baru Terminal|
Ojek (/o-jack/) is actually an unlicensed motorcycle/motorbike taxi and is popular because it brings its passenger faster to his/her destination and to places where mikrolets don't go. It can be recognized by self-made signboards that say “Pangkalan Ojek” and they can also be easily be found in the three mikrolet terminals (“Damai”, “Batu Ampar”, or “Kampung Baru”) or almost everywhere on streets.
Ojek drivers often 'signal' everybody who is standing on curbs by either honking or saying “ojek”? Most of them speak Bahasa Indonesia only, though a few might be able to speak limited English.
The fare is negotiable. Just tell your destination and once the fare or "ongkos" (/onk-cos/) is agreed he will take you there. As a reference, a 200-meter/yard distance costs about Rp. 5,000. Fare is usually paid at destination.
Taxi is a more comfortable option if you want to avoid the tropical heat and getting to your destination faster. The "taxi argo" (how the locals nicknamed it) usually apply a Rp. 20,000 minimum charge. The flag-down fare starts at Rp. 6,000.
Taxi can be stopped almost anywhere in town or ordered by phone. Below is a list of taxi companies Balikpapan:
Kalung Mas Taxi
Telephone: +62 542 732222
Telephone: +62 542 56782947
Mawar Taxi Kalimantan
Telephone: +62 542 874545, +62 852 46523266
Telephone: +62 542 424 277
Telephone: +62 542 878787
There are also car rentals, with or without a driver. A car rental with a driver is highly recommended, unless you are familiar with the traffic conditions in Balikpapan. Rental rate varies from about Rp. 350,000 to more than a million rupiah. One day rental of a small-5-seater Daihatsu Xenia or Toyota Avanza with a driver usually costs around Rp. 400,000, excluding petrol/gas and other additional costs like parking fees. Some companies might charge their cars based on hourly rental, with a minimum rental of four hours at a cost of Rp. 50,000 per hour.
The "One day rental" definition might be different from one company to another. One may give you 24 hours, while the other only allows you 12 hours of usage. Advanced reservation is also highly recommended.
Below is a list of car rental companies in Balikpapan:
Location: Jl. MT. Haryono 88
Telephone: +62 819 230424 (Mr. Anton), +62 542 7206538
Location: Jl. MT. Haryono 35 Ring Road
Telephone: +62 813 47181880 (Mrs. Ratri Yulianti)
PT. Citranusa Mulawarman
Location Jl. Soekarno-Hatta Km. 2.5
Telephone: +62 816 200800 (Mr. Doni Putra), +62 542 440333
Location: Jl. A. Yani 22/28
Telephone: +62 542 7022575
Yogja Rent Car
Location: Sepinggan Balikpapan
Telephone: +62 542 7130470, +62 812 5812896
Budi Mulia Rent Car
Location: Jl. Marsma Iswahyudi No. 24
Telephone: +62 811 537966, +62 542 711 4996
Buses are commonly chosen by locals for medium distance destinations, such as Samarinda, Sangatta, Bontang, or even a long distance city like Banjarmasin (in south Kalimantan). These buses normally depart from “Batu Ampar” Terminal.
As a reference, the fare of air-conditioned 40 seater bus on Balikpapan-Samarinda route is about Rp. 25,000 per person or Rp. 19,500 per person by non air-conditioned buses.