Balikpapan is a picturesque port city and a gateway to the sun-drenched Derawan Islands, where you'll discover a treasure trove of Indonesian history and culture. Nearby conservation centres are dedicated to protecting orangutans and sun bears, while Balikpapan’s central area features some of Indonesia's best shopping malls and nightlife.
Things to do in Balikpapan
In Indonesia, sun bears are considered national treasures. There's no better place to learn more about the unique Southeast Asian species than KWPLH Balikpapan. The conservation centre is home to several resident sun bears who happily venture out their enclosure at feeding time.
Samboja Lestari will get you up close with native orangutans. It's home to around 200 primates, with conservation carried out in conjunction with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation project. The park offers half-day tours and volunteer opportunities.
Clad in intricate carvings, Masjid Agung At-Taqwa is one of Indonesia's most beautiful Islamic mosques. You can wander around the cavernous prayer hall during the day or visit at night to see the mosque lit up in a rainbow of colours.
If the city feels a little crowded, head down to Kemala Beach. It's fringed by gleaming white sand and swaying palms. A handful of laid-back cafes and restaurants line the waterfront, perfect for dining on sumptuous seafood grills at sunset.
Getting around Balikpapan
Balikpapan is easy to navigate on foot, while angkot" mini buses zip around the city and taxis are readily available. Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Airport is around 10 kilometres from the city centre.