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Kalimantan Attractions

What to See in Kalimantan

Kalimantan is a region that subtly balances modernity with tradition; roads are improving but the area’s best attractions are tied to its waterways. Journeys along its canals as well as visits to the floating markets imbue tourists with a taste of its culture. One of the last harbours for the world’s orang-utan population, Kalimantan is home to a smorgasbord of native life including indigenous tribes like the Dayak. The region's sprawling mesh of mountains, forests and rivers is a red flag for adventure enthusiasts. Divided into four provinces – namely east, south, west and central Kalimantan, this slice of Borneo is a relatively unknown tourist destination and remains undeveloped, preserving its lush bounty.

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Tanjung Puting National Park

Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan is famous for its orang-utan conservation. The 415,040-hectare park is a research site of four research centres for the study and rehabilitation of orang-utans and other primates. Today the park is a popular ecotourism destination, with various multiday river cruises and boat tours taking visitors to view the rich Read More...

  • Location: southern coast of Central Kalimantan
  • Remarks: Best time to visit is from June to September
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Balikpapan

Eastern Kalimantan is home to some of Borneo’s richest and most diverse natural resources. Said to be Kalimantan’s urban frontier, Balikpapan is one of the few places on Borneo Island to have embraced the 21st century absolutely – the city has a distinctively cosmopolitan and welcoming feel to it and there’s a variety of attractions here – the Balikpapan Plaza shopping mall is the centre of the town.

  • Location: East Kalimantan
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Banjarmasin

Located in southern Kalimantan, Banjarmasin is home to the Meratus Mountains. The city is best known for its waterways along which run small open canoes, loaded with colourful produce, that manoeuvre the tight quarters. Alternatively, simply enjoy a cruise down the canal as you watch villagers scrub clothes and kids splash around. Pay a visit to the spaceship-like Mesjid Raya Sabilal Muhtadin if you’ve got time.

  • Location: South Kalimantan
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Danau Sentarum National Park

The 132,000 hectare Danau Sentarum National Park is a wetland area that regulates the water levels of Sungai Kapuas. The surrounding area is primarily peat swamp and lowland rainforest; the variety of wildlife ranges from orang-utans, proboscis monkeys and crocodiles to storks and great argus pheasants. Additionally, several indigenous groups live in and around the park.

  • Location: Western Kalimantan

Kutai National Park

Known as Indonesia’s largest relatively untouched ironwood forest, Kutai is a 198,000 hectare park with coastal mangroves and a variety of wild orchids. Razed by the 1997-1998 forest fires, it’s recovered well from the disaster; the park is home to wild orang-utans as well as sun bears, slow lorises and deers.

  • Opening Hours: 07:30 – 16:00 Monday – Thursday; 08:00 – 12:00 Friday
  • Location: PHKA, Jalan Mularman 236 (Park headquarters)
  • Tel: +62 541 548 27218

Marabahan

Also located in southern Kalimantan, Marabahan is a small town that’s situated 65km upriver from Banjarmasin. The town features unique architecture; namely the Banjar-style ‘tall roof’ houses; you can also see a variety of river life when you cruise down the Sungai Barito.

  • Location: South Kalimantan

Negara

Northwest of Kandangan, Negara is a small town almost entirely on stilts. It’s a great place to enjoy a relaxing boat ride as you watch water buffaloes. Additionally, you can also see a variety of bird life, fish and snakes.

  • Location: South Kalimantan

Pontianak

Its name means ‘vampire’ in Malay, but don’t be fooled, as Kalimantan’s biggest city doesn’t boast much in the way of after-hours activity. Located at the confluence of Sungai Landak and Sungai Kapuas, there are a few tourist-worthy attractions in Pontianak including the Istana Kadriyah, Mesjid Abdurrahman, Museum Negeri Pontianak, Dayak Longhouse, Equator Monument and Saham Longhouse.

  • Location: Western Kalimantan

Samboja Lodge

Samboja Lodge is an ecotourism project that seeks to introduce tourists to the concept of orang-utan rehabilitation while minimising contact between the two. Visitors can observe the ginger-haired apes from a safe distance as well as participate in BOS (Borneo Orang-Utan Survival) projects.

  • Location: East Kalimantan

Sembuku Sembakung National Park

Well known as Kalimantan’s only elephant habitat, the 400,000 hectare Sembuku Sembakung National Park is Indonesia’s newest national park. Located along the borders of east Kalimantan, it has six types of forest ranges from tidal swamps to green hills; arrange a visit with the Borneo Ecotourism authorities if you’re planning a visit.

  • Location: East Kalimantan

Singkawang

Well known as the ‘City of A Thousand Temples’, this notorious western Kalimantan town is a popular human trafficking site – men from Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and China often come here to find brides. The city itself is not much to shout about – you can see the rafflesia at Gunung Poteng or stop over Kura Kura Resort to find out more about owner, Charlie Robertson’s struggle to protect turtles.

  • Location: Western Kalimantan
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