©Sergiy Borakovskyy/EyeEm/Getty Images


Although not as populous as the capital Samarinda, Balikpapan is Kalimantan's only truly cosmopolitan metropolis thanks to a long history of oil money. It's still seen largely as a stepping stone to Samarinda, Derawan or Banjarmasin, but a night in Balikpapan's club scene will give you a whole new perspective on Borneo.

For the most part the city is vibrant, with several enormous shopping plazas and some decent beaches. Midrange to high-end hotels with reasonable rates abound, and a social scene exists in the form of restaurants, hotel bars, live-music venues and the odd nightclub.

Overall the city makes a fine weekend break and a great place to begin or end more adventurous travels.

Explore Balikpapan

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Balikpapan.


Learn more about Balikpapan

Uncover the heart of travel and be inspired to see new sights with one of Lonely Planet’s in-depth, award-winning guidebooks.