From Bali to Borneo (Kalimantan): Your Ultimate Guide for Must See Attractions and Activities

From Bali to Borneo (Kalimantan): Your Ultimate Guide for Must See Attractions and Activities

From Bali to Borneo (Kalimantan) – Must See Attractions and Activities

Embark on a breathtaking journey from Bali to Kalimantan, Borneo’s heart, where you’ll encounter untamed wildlife, lush jungles, and immerse yourself in a world of natural wonders. From wildlife encounters to immersive jungle experiences and thrilling adventures, this expedition promises a soul-stirring adventure you’ll carry with you forever.

Borneo, the world’s third-largest island, is a treasure trove of natural wonders. From the bustling beaches of Bali, embark on a journey to the heart of Kalimantan, where untamed wildlife and lush jungles await.

Lahan basah Taman Nasional Danau Sentarum, Kalimantan Barat
The Sentarum Lake National Park is a special place in Indonesia. It’s like a big, protected park that has a huge wetland. This park is found in Nanga Leboya Village, Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan. It’s important because it helps take care of the environment and the animals that live there. RaiyaniM, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to go from Bali to Borneo Kalimantan?

A journey worth taking! Embarking on a journey from Bali to Kalimantan is not just a physical expedition, but a soul-stirring experience. Witnessing the raw beauty and incredible biodiversity of this island is an adventure that will leave an indelible mark on your heart.

What airlines are from Bali to Borneo (Kalimantan)?

Borneo is only accessible from Bali [code: DPS] by plane. Direct flights to Pangkalan Bun [code: PKN] (nearest airport to Tanjung Puting) depart from: Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya. If you are in Bali, you must make a stopover in one of these cities to go to Borneo.

From Bali to Tanjung Puting (Borneo), Pangkalan Bun airport

Borneo is only accessible from Bali [code: DPS] by plane. Direct flights to Pangkalan Bun [code: PKN] (nearest airport to Tanjung Puting) depart from: Jakarta, Semarang, Surabaya. If you are in Bali, you must make a stopover in one of these cities to go to Borneo.

From Bali to Banjarmasin (Borneo)

From Bali to Banjarmasin (Borneo), it takes 1 hour and 35 minutes by direct flight. The flight from Bali to Banjarmasin typically covers a distance of approximately 800 kilometers (around 500 miles) in 1 hour and 35 minutes. This route is well-served by several airlines, providing travelers with options for direct flights.

Aside from the markets, Banjarmasin is also known for its beautiful riverfront scenery. The city is intersected by several rivers, providing a picturesque backdrop for various activities. Travelers often enjoy boat tours along the rivers, allowing them to soak in the local atmosphere and witness daily life along the waterfront.

From Bali to Balikpapan

From Bali to Balikpapan, it takes 1 hour and 35 minutes by direct flight. The Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Sepinggan International Airport serves as a major air gateway for the region. It facilitates domestic and international travel, connecting Balikpapan with various destinations.

Balikpapan is a city in Indonesia near the ocean. It’s busy with oil and gas work. The place has pretty views of the ocean and lots of mangrove trees. They work hard to take care of orangutans there. People from different cultures live in Balikpapan, so you can try many types of food. It’s an interesting place to visit!

Exploring Kalimantan (Borneo): Must-See Attractions and Activities

1. Orangutan Rehabilitation Centers at Tanjung Puting National Park

Kalimantan is renowned for its incredible biodiversity. On this adventure, you’ll have the chance to witness orangutans swinging through the trees, pygmy elephants roaming freely, and elusive clouded leopards prowling in the dense undergrowth.

Wikiearth-Orang Utan Taman Nasional Tanjung Puting 0536
During the day in Tanjung Puting National Park, you can witness Orangutans enjoying the fruit provided by the park’s officers. It’s a wonderful sight to see these incredible creatures in their natural habitat, nourishing themselves with the tasty offerings. RaiyaniM, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Location: Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan

Tanjung Puting National Park is renowned for its orangutan conservation efforts. The park hosts several rehabilitation centers where orphaned and rescued orangutans are prepared for their return to the wild. Visitors can observe these incredible creatures in a semi-natural environment, gaining insights into their behavior and conservation efforts.

The park is made up of different kinds of forests, like dryland forest, swamp forest, and mangrove forest. It covers a really big area, about 416,040 hectares. (1,028,057 acres)

Venture into the heart of Kalimantan’s rainforests, where ancient trees stand tall and the air is alive with the sounds of nature. Guided treks will lead you through this vibrant ecosystem, providing a chance to witness rare flora and fauna up close.

Win the Orangutang in Tanjung Puting National Park 2005
Tanjung Puting National Park is a national park located on the southwest peninsula of Central Kalimantan province. Bjornman, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the Tanjung Puting Park in Indonesian Borneo, you can watch orangutans

This place is like heaven for many plants and animals, some of which are very rare. About 6,000 orangutans still live here in the wild, which is the biggest group in the world, in an area of 416,000 hectares.

Their numbers dropped by 60% from 1950 to 2010, mostly because of humans and cutting down trees. There are only 2 places in the world to see these monkeys: the island of Sumatra and Borneo. You get to meet them by going on a boat through the jungle on a klotok (a traditional wooden boat) along the Sekonyer river. It’s amazing to watch these primates move from tree to tree with so much strength and flexibility.

Orangutans are plant-eaters and they like being alone. They aren’t usually aggressive, but they’re as strong as 10 men, so it’s important not to get too close.

Landscape of theTanjung Puting National Park - Indonesia 2
Sekonyer River. Landscape of the Tanjung Puting National Park – Kalimantan (Borneo). Thomas Fuhrmann, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ride and Sleep on a KLOTOK Boat at Tanjung Puting National Park

Here you can see the amazing Klotok tour experience in Borneo forest.

A Klotok is a traditional wooden boat, which will be your accommodation during the 3 days of travel. It is made up of a cabin, the crew’s living space (the Captain, the mate, the cook and the guide), a kitchen with a table (for meals), a mattress (with a mosquito net), seats to enjoy the view, and a shower.

Sleeping in a Klotok is an incredible experience: discover the wildlife, observe crocodiles, birds, monkeys, orangutans in their natural environment and wake up to the sounds of these animals in the Borneo forest.

Here, orangutans live most of the time in the forest and climb trees to feed and rest, unlike orangutans in the Sumatran forest. In Borneo there are no natural predators and they own the forest.

The rainy season begins in November until March. Even if it rains every day that doesn’t mean it rains all day. You can still do the excursion to see the orangutans in the Borneo forest during this season, but of course at some point it will rain.

The best months to do this excursion in Klotok are between April and October.

Sunrise at Kumai River
Experience the breathtaking Sunrise at Kumai River in Tanjung Puting National Park. This stunning national park is situated in the southeast of West Kotawaringin Regency in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. The closest major town is Pangkalan Bun, which also serves as the capital of the Regency. It’s a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking the beauty of Indonesia’s natural landscapes. Nala Rinaldo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Lake Jempang, Tanjung Isuy 

Immersive lake experiences! For the thrill-seekers, Kalimantan offers an array of adventurous activities. From heart-pounding canopy walks to exhilarating white-water rafting, there’s no shortage of opportunities to get your adrenaline pumping.

Jempang Lake is a big lake in West Kutai. It’s thousands of hectares wide and about 7 to 8 meters deep. It’s not only pretty but also has lots of different plants and animals. The village nearby, Tanjung Isuy, has interesting art and culture. Every five years, the lake completely dries up. It looks like a desert with no water at all. This strange event makes a lot of people, both locals and tourists, want to see it.

Discover the vital conservation efforts taking place in Kalimantan. Learn about initiatives aimed at preserving this precious ecosystem and the endangered species that call it home. Engage in responsible tourism practices to ensure the beauty of Kalimantan endures for generations to come.

  • Location: East Kalimantan

This conservation forest in East Kalimantan provides a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of Kalimantan. It’s a sanctuary for various species of plants and animals, making it a great destination for nature enthusiasts and those interested in ecological preservation. The forest offers a serene environment for hiking and birdwatching.

  • Price: Free entry
  • Link:

Indigenous cultures

Along the way, you may encounter indigenous communities, offering a glimpse into their unique way of life.

Tarian Dayak Benuaq
One of the Dayak Benuaq ethnic dances in Tanjung Isuy Village, Jempang District, West Kutai Regency, East Kalimantan. Innal rahman 9806, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Derawan Islands

  • Location: Off the coast of East Kalimantan

The Derawan Islands are a group of pristine islands known for their stunning underwater biodiversity. They’re a paradise for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, offering a chance to explore vibrant coral reefs and encounter diverse marine life, including sea turtles.

Kapal di Pulau Derawan
The sight of a small wooden boat gently bobbing on the crystal-clear waters surrounding Derawan Island is nothing short of picturesque. The calm sea mirrors the azure sky, creating a serene scene that invites exploration. These boats, often with colorful designs, serve as the gateway to further adventures. They can take you to hidden coves, vibrant coral reefs, and secluded beaches, offering a closer look at the natural beauty that Derawan Island holds. Whether it’s a leisurely ride or a thrilling voyage, these boats become your trusted companions in uncovering the treasures of this idyllic island. Nidyaamalia, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Price: Varies depending on the tour package, typically starts from IDR 2,000,000 (approximately USD 140)
  • Link: Derawan Islands (UNESCO)

The islands also provide opportunities for beach relaxation and water sports. Exploring this underwater paradise is an experience that etches itself into your memory, leaving you with a deep appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

Maratua (29)
In Maratua, part of the Derawan Archipelago in East Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia, you can find the beautiful Chaetodon speculum fish. These vibrant creatures add to the colorful marine life that thrives in these waters. Nanosanchez, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Mahakam River Cruise

Experience the tranquil beauty of Kalimantan’s rivers by embarking on a river cruise. Glide through the waterways, surrounded by dense foliage and the calls of exotic birds. Along the way, you may encounter indigenous communities, offering a glimpse into their unique way of life.

The Mahakam river stretches for about 980 kilometers (610 miles), beginning in the highlands of Borneo at Long Apari district and ending at the Makassar Strait.

  • Location: East Kalimantan

A cruise along the Mahakam River offers a unique way to experience the culture and natural beauty of Kalimantan. Travelers can witness traditional riverside villages, cultural performances, and wildlife along the riverbanks. It’s an immersive journey that provides insights into the daily lives of communities living along the Mahakam River.

  • Price:
    • Approximately IDR 5,000,000 – 7,000,000 (USD 350 – 500) for a 3-day cruise
    • Shorter day cruises available at lower prices
  • Link: via Global Nature Fund (GNF)

Mahakam reverside park in Samarinda City

If you don’t want to a long cruise, you can simply walk around the Mahakam riverside Park in Samarinda.

5. Kutai National Park

  • Location: East Kalimantan

Kutai National Park is a protected area known for its diverse ecosystems, including rainforests, mangroves, and coastal areas. Visitors have the opportunity to explore these environments, encountering a wide range of wildlife such as orangutans, proboscis monkeys, and various bird species. Trekking and wildlife observation are popular activities within the park.

  • Price:
    • IDR 150,000 (approximately USD 10) for foreign tourists
    • IDR 40,000 for Indonesian tourists
  • Link: Kutai National Park via Borneo Eco Adventure Indonesia

6. Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat prehistoric karst (prehistoric rock paintings area)

  • Location: East Kutai Regency, East Kalimantan

The Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat prehistoric karst in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, is a special place for scientists and history lovers. It’s like a time machine, giving us a glimpse into ancient times. In May 2015, it was proposed to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

This special place in East Kalimantan, called Sangkulirang-Mangkalihat Peninsula, is filled with ancient paintings on red rocks. These paintings are really old, about 5,000 years! They show us how people lived a very long time ago.

This area seems to have been an important meeting place for different groups of people in ancient times. The paintings give us a peek into their beliefs and how they saw the world.

The pictures on the rocks tell stories about their daily lives, like hunting and dancing. They also show their connection with nature, including animals that don’t exist anymore.

We can learn a lot about their culture by studying these paintings and the things they left behind. It’s like a window into their world!

This area has caves with very old paintings. These paintings show us how people used to live and what they believed in a long, long time ago. This site is really important because it helps us understand the early cultures in Borneo. It’s like a treasure chest of knowledge about the past!

How to get there?

Reaching the Sangkulirang Peninsula, where the karst area is, involves a bit of travel. It’s around 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Samarinda. You might need to take a long road trip from Samarinda or Berau, and then use a sturdy four-wheel-drive vehicle to get closer to the karsts. Once you’re there, you’ll likely use a mix of a canoe ride and walking to get to the center of the karsts. Approximately you need 8-9 hours by bus or car.

Depending on how much you want to explore, set aside about 4 to 10 days for your trip. You can stay in simple lodges or homestays in nearby villages, or even camp right in the karsts.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try going on your own. Rent a four-wheel drive and find your way to nearby villages like Perondongan, Pengadan, Merapun, and Takat Manubar. From there, you can hire local guides and helpers to show you around. But for a smoother and safer experience, it might be best to go with an experienced local tour company. You can find them online or visit travel agencies in Balikpapan or Samarinda.

Read also: Indonesia Weather Guide by Islands | Best Months to Visit for Your Holiday

7. Samarinda Islamic Center

  • Location: Samarinda, East Kalimantan

This architectural marvel in Samarinda serves as a cultural and religious hub. The center features a grand mosque and a complex dedicated to Islamic education and activities. It’s a place of spiritual significance and an architectural gem, offering a tranquil space for prayer and reflection.

The whole thing is grandiose, the mosque is the second largest in Southeast Asia. There are 7 towers, the tallest measuring 99 meters (325 feet) and has 15 floors.

Islamic Centre Samarinda by bloesafir - panoramio
Samarinda Islamic Center Mosque, Masjid Baitul Muttaqien. Bloesafir Pamanjagau, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

8. Balikpapan Botanical Garden

  • Location: Balikpapan, East Kalimantan

Balikpapan is THE Exotic City of Oil. This botanical garden is a haven for plant enthusiasts and nature lovers. It showcases a diverse collection of plant species, including indigenous flora of Kalimantan. Visitors can enjoy leisurely walks, learn about various plant species, and appreciate the natural beauty of the garden.

  • Price:
    • IDR 10,000 (approximately USD 0.70) for foreign tourists
    • IDR 5,000 for Indonesian tourists
  • Link: Balikpapan Botanical Garden via Borneo Tour Guide

9. Banjarmasin and its floating market

Banjarmasin, located on the island of Borneo, is the capital of South Kalimantan province in Indonesia. It’s renowned for its vibrant river-based markets, particularly the famous floating market, where locals trade fresh produce and goods from boats. Exploring these markets offers a unique and culturally rich experience.

Banjarmasin is a city in Indonesia that’s famous for its special market. This market is not like the ones you see on land. Instead, it’s a floating market! People sell all sorts of things like fruits, vegetables, and even local snacks, all from their boats. It’s a very unique and interesting place to visit. You can take a boat ride through the market and experience the lively atmosphere. Plus, you get to see the city from a different perspective, right on the water! It’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists because it’s not something you see every day. So, if you ever find yourself in Banjarmasin, make sure to check out this one-of-a-kind floating market!

Lok Baintan Market

This market is in Lok Baintan Village, Banjar Regency. People use special boats for trading on the water. Instead of money, they often trade crops like fruits and veggies. Open between 04:00 am to 10:00 am.

The market opens early in the morning, so don’t be late! You can reach Lok Baintan by boat or by land, but by boat is faster.

Muara Kuin Market

This is the oldest floating market in Indonesia, over 400 years old! It’s at the meeting point of two rivers in Banjarmasin.

They sell lots of things like food, fruits, and household stuff. You can get there by boat or by land, but a boat is better because the market is in the middle of the river. It’s best to go in the morning, as many sellers leave by noon.

Siring Piere Tendean Market

This market is by the Martapura River. It’s not as busy as before, but the government is trying to keep it alive.

They’ve fixed the docks so boats can easily stop there. There’s no entry fee, but if you bring a vehicle, you might have to pay for parking.

10. Climb Mount Kinabalu

  • Location: Sabah, Malaysia

Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Borneo and Malaysia. With its highest point at 4095 meters above sea level, Mount Kinabalu is a magnificent mountain that can be climbed.

Climbing Mount Kinabalu will take you two days with a stop in a refuge. The ascent is done with mountain and hiking guides.

Mount Kinabalu has a very rich and protected biodiversity. By trekking Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, you will have the opportunity to see sublime landscapes and panoramas at sunrise.

This is a great adventure that should delight lovers of thrills and trekking!

Gunung Kinabalu during sunset
Mount Kinabalu taken from Kundasang during sunset. Angah hfz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Remember to plan your visit according to your interests, and make sure to check the official websites or contact the attractions for any specific requirements or additional information. Enjoy your exploration of Borneo!

11. Sentarum Lake National Park

  • Location: Kapuas Hulu Regency, West Kalimantan

Sentarum Lake National Park is a special place in Indonesia. It’s like a big, protected park that has a huge wetland. This park is found in Nanga Leboya Village, Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan. It’s important because it helps take care of the environment and the animals that live there.

Perahu Melintas di Taman Nasional Danau Sentarum
Boat passing through Danau Sentarum National Park. When Lake Sentarum is filled with water, canoes or speed boats are the most important transportation. When the water recedes or the lake is dry, this transportation is not used. Lo2asinamura, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To go to Sentarum Lake National Park, you can take a plane to Pontianak, which is a city in West Kalimantan. From Pontianak, you can take a car to the park. It might take a while, but the journey will be worth it because you’ll get to see the beautiful nature and wildlife in Sentarum Lake National Park.

Seorang Nelayan Sedang menangkap ikan dengan menggunakan Jala di Desa Vega Taman Nasional Danau Sentatum
Communities living in the Danau Sentarum National Park area still maintain their way of taking fish using traditional tools to meet their daily needs. Bundany Anugrah, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

12. Bako National Park (Kuching – Malaysia)

  • Location: Kuching, Malaysia

Bako National Park in Kuching, Malaysia, is a beautiful place to visit. It’s known for its lush rainforest, wildlife, and scenic trails.

To get there from Bali, you’ll need to take a flight to Kuching, which is the capital of Sarawak, Malaysia. Once you arrive in Kuching, you can arrange transportation to Bako National Park. There are buses and taxis available, and the journey takes about an hour.

Bako National Park 2006
View of Bako National Park. Tuya70, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the park, you can explore various trails, each offering unique experiences. Keep an eye out for wildlife like proboscis monkeys, bearded pigs, and various bird species. The park also has beautiful beaches where you can relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.

It’s a good idea to bring comfortable walking shoes, water, snacks, and insect repellent for your visit. And don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning scenery and wildlife!

Sea Stack off the coast of Bako National Park - panoramio
Sea Stack off the coast of Bako National Park. slippymark, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Remember to check the park’s opening hours and any regulations before you go. Enjoy your trip to Bako National Park!

Website: Sarawak Tourism Board

Photo credit: darwisalwan via Pixabay

Must See Places in Indonesia | A Guide to the Country’s Best Attractions to Explore and Discover

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4 Replies to “From Bali to Borneo (Kalimantan): Your Ultimate Guide for Must See Attractions and Activities”

    1. Hi Olivia, Kalimantan boasts captivating natural sites like the Kinabalu National Park, Danum Valley Conservation Area, and the Tanjung Puting National Park, home to diverse flora and fauna.

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