Samarinda, The Best Travel Destination in Indonesia

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Samarinda! The very name oozes exoticism. And happily you will find some of that here in this sprawling riverfront city, including the enormous mosque of the new Islamic Center, which stands like a sentinel at the gates of the mighty Sungai Mahakam (Mahakam River), a most impressive sight. But as with many fairy tales, there is a dark side to this story. Over half of Samarinda’s land has been opened for coal mining, resulting in numerous health and environmental effects, and causing hotels to advertise their ‘flood-free event halls.’ Meanwhile, a proliferation of monster malls has been gutting downtown, leaving some streets eerily vacant; take a taxi after dark.

Getting Around

Angkot (5000Rp) converge at Pasar Pagi market. Taxis from Tumindung Airport (3km) cost 60,000Rp. Alternatively, walk 200m to Jl Gatot Subroto, turn left and catch angkot B south into town.

Cross-Mahakam ferries to Samarinda Seberang (5000Rp) leave from the end of Jl Tumenggung.

Flights & getting there

Kalstar, Susi Air

Flights from Samarinda

Several airlines have planned additional routes when (if) the new airport 23km north of town is ever completed.


Mahakam ferries (kapal biasa) leave at 7am from Sungai Kunjang terminal, 6km upriver on green angkot A (5000Rp). At time of research, Pelni ferries were no longer serving Samarinda, but the office will sell tickets for Balikpapan departures.


Samarinda has three main bus terminals:

Sungai Kunjang terminal (6km west on green angkot A) serves Mahakam river destinations as well as points south.

Lempake terminal (8km north on red angkot B) serves all points north, including an irregular daily bus to Berau. Taksi gelap (unlicensed taxis) for Berau troll the terminal, effectively killing the public bus market.

Terminal Seberang (cross the river via water taxi) serves Banjarmasin.

Minibuses for Tenggarong leave from the east side of the Mahakam Bridge. Cross it on angkot G and head south 500m where buses gather opposite the PLTD electric station.

Kangaroo Premier sends minibuses to Balikpapan airport every 10 minutes. #lonelyplanet

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