Balikpapan is served by Sepinggan Airport on the outskirts of the city, which has flights to and from Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar, Manado, and intra-Kalimantan cities of Banjarmasin and Tarakan (near the Malaysian border). In addition, there are three flights a week linking it to Singapore with Silk Air and a twice-weekly Kuala Lumpur flight with Malaysia Airlines. A bone of contention with many residents is that there is still no direct flight between Balikpapan and Bali. Travelers must transit in Surabaya.
Transport by road to Banjarmasin, to the south, is possible but is long and arduous. Much closer is Samarinda, the provincial capital, two hours to the north, and the similarly distanced town of Tenggarong, an oddly ornate place on the banks of the mighty Mahakam River. Buses, cars and minivans ply these roads all day.
Balikpapan’s seaport, Semayang, is one of the country’s busiest. It’s a port of call for several Pelni ships on their voyages around the archipelago, and is also the base for various vessels sailing to other places in Kalimantan, across the Makassar Strait and even farther to the east.
If you don’t have your own private vehicle, getting around Balikpapan is still easy enough. There are many ‘angkot’ (minivans) of different hues buzzing around the town. Each color denotes a different route and you’ll learn soon enough which is which. There are also some reliable taxi companies, the best of which is Mawar Taxi (0542) 874-545.
Contributor: Nick Aarons