Introducing Balikpapan

Kalimantan's only cosmopolitan city, Balikpapan is also the only one worthy of being considered a destination unto itself, particularly with children. The influx of oil money has had a tremendous impact here in recent years. At once both Western (with its heavy expat influence) and Asian, the city is clean and vibrant, with several enormous shopping areas and (for Kalimantan) some rare beaches. High-end hotels abound, at very reasonable prices, including some fabulous ones. And the nightlife surprises, from the heights of the world-class Skybar to the smoky depths of waterfront clubs. The city sprawls in all directions, but most of the action takes place in the centre, off Jl Sudirman: the place to stay. This main drag comes alive at night, flush with scooters and clothed in advertising. Overall the city makes a fine weekend break, and a great place to begin or end more adventurous travels.

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