Balikpapan is a seaport city located in the eastern side of Kalimantan (Borneo) Island, Indonesia, which is primarily known for its oil extraction, as well as timber and mining industries. Do not get it wrong, this safe, clean, quiet and rather unexplored city has a lot to offer to travelers.
Less than 2.5 hours* away from: Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Singapore
* approximate direct flying time on a jet plane
Balikpapan has a very short modern history. It was a tiny fishing village when oil was drilled for the very first time on 10 February 1897. The petroleum industry has since flourished and boosted Balikpapan’s economy. During the Second World War, the city was occupied by the Japanese and was then heavily bombed by the Allied Forces. After reconstruction in the 1950’s the oil industry started to grow again. Today, this “Kota Minyak”, or “city of oil” (in English), still gets most of its growth driven from petrol and its related industries.
...green gateways, conservation forests, water activities...
Balikpapan is however not all about oil! If you are interested in ecotourism, explore Balikpapan’s wide green area of conservation forests, where endemic and protected animals, such as “Beruang Madu” or Sun Bears (Balikpapan’s icon), “Bekantan” (long-nose monkey) and Orang utans can be seen. Read our sections of “Wain River” forest, “Margo Mulyo” mangrove forest, and “Karang Joang” forest to find out more.
If peacefulness in white sand beaches with sparkling waters is your thing, Balikpapan beaches might be the right place for you. Among them, favourite to the locals and well worth a visit is “Manggar Segar Sari” Beach, which is located at about 22 kilometers (13.6 miles) from the city center.
Seafood lovers will not be forgotten. The seashore city is also renowned for its wide range of seafood restaurants. Fresh or catch of the day, crabs, prawns and fishes are offered with various local sauces, such as sweet and sour, hot and sour, black pepper, “nelayan” or “rujak”, just to name a few. Also do not miss the fried “gurame” fish or the “mud crab”.
...Balikpapan society life, Dayaks, floating village...
Despite Balikpapan’s short history, some cultural places are worth a visit. Discovering “Kampung Baru”, a floating village or visiting “Tanjung Pura” museum (mainly displaying WWII weaponry) or watching the indigenous people's, "Dayak” traditional arts and performance are great options.
Nowadays, the 530,000 inhabitants of Balikpapan are mixed of both Indonesian domestic migrans and skilled expatriates mainly coming from the US, France or Australia. This makes the city quite cosmopolite. For those who prefer to stay within their usual way of live, such as going to pubs, shopping malls and sport facilities, or for those who like to spend an amount of time deep in the island with no facilities, no western products, no comfortable hotels or international restaurants, Balikpapan has it all.
Welcome to Balikpapan!