Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan – Making the Most Out of What’s Offered

Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 24 February 2011   •  Itinerary

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Here we are, at the destination where the whole Tanjung PutingPangkalan Bun – Banjarmasin – Martapura – Loksado began (we’ll tell you about the two latter next weeks). As Mumun had said it, I suffered from itchy feet (not literally, that could sound gross) and thought that maybe, hey, visiting Keukeu in Banjarmasin would be a good idea! Long story short, the trip was enhanced to be several destinations with Banjarmasin in the middle and as the end point (when you see the short list under Ventures tab, you’ll know why). Minus Mumun who went back home ahead of us, here’s what the friend-visiting trip turned out to be.

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

Floating Market

This is the ultimate tourism site in Banjarmasin, a city of rivers. A market, where locals barter – yes, barter, as in swap – goods from their own backyard or plantation. I didn’t realize that they were bartering. I kinda assumed that they were using money. I finally knew after Keukeu mentioned it, umm… the next morning! The people were so casual so I figured the boats were the only thing that was interesting. Now that I think about it, bartering feels so ancient. It was always been taught in school as the first trading activity. But whadya know? It still exists!

You won’t see any stalls or kiosks like in the usual traditional markets; instead you’ll see wooden boats or canoes. From dawn till probably 7ish in the morning they row around the river and trade some goods. They must have pretty evil biceps.

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin 

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

This is an actual market, it’s not made for tourism per se. But because it is unique, can only be found in a few places around the globe, it attract tourists. And so now some traders accept money as well, since tourists won’t be carrying around cabbage or coconuts to trade. Well, unless you want to try it and bring your own watermelon. It was an interesting experience, buying breakfast from other boats and eating it on your boat. Bamboo poles with hooks were provided by the seller for you to snatch which ever food you wanted. I wonder if Teddy plays billiard?He was quite handy with the hooks, and we had our nasi kuning (yellow rice) in wraps as breakfast. They also sell gorengan , donuts, and even hot coffee or tea!

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

Floating market tours are operated in two places, one being the one we went to, called Kuin Market on the Barito river, and the busier one is Lokbaintan Market on Pinang river. We chose the Kuin Market simply because it was closer from our stay and cost less than the Lokbaintan tour.

When the sun was up on our way back from the market, I could see a glimpse of how the locals live at the riversides. They do many things there, like washing clothes, bathing, brushing their teeth, and I guess the number 1 and 2 as well. I was sort of hesitant to take pictures of them because I was afraid they’d feel like freaks in cages in freakshows, when all they did was just live a daily routine.

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

And something else caught my attention: a “garage” full of boats. This family must be doing well. Cruising the river in the summer, perhaps?

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

The Kuin floating market tour was operated by Swiss-Belhotel Borneo, among others. We paid IDR 35,000 / pax and the tour started at the hotel’s river jetty at 5 AM. They accept non hotel guests in the tour. The tour include a stop at Kembang Island to see long-tailed monkeys, but that is only if the hotel guests are up for it. Non hotel guests don’t have a say in it. And Teddy and I were the only non-guests in the tour of about 7 people.

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

Tour reservation is at the Swiss-Belhotel Borneo’s front desk

Jl. Pangeran Antasari No. 86 A

Banjarmasin , Indonesia

Tel    : +(62-511) 327-1111

Fax   : +(62-511) 326-1369


Kembang Island

On our way back to start/end point of the Kuin floating market tour, we made a stop at Kembang Island. I’m not really sure how it was voted, but apparently we did visit Kembang island.It’s home to long-tailed naughty monkeys that would snatch your tangling bags, cameras, or even glasses. Entrance fee is IDR 5,000 / pax, and locals would keep the monkeys away from getting too close to you for IDR 10,000 – 20,000 donation.

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin 

The stop was only for 30 minutes tops, gives you time to walk around the island on a neat wooden bridge. Kembang itself means flower or inflate (weird, huh?). I’m not sure why they called this island Kembang, but I was busy worrying about these hairy beings.Seriously, I felt so uncomfortable with these monkeys – that are actually cute – hopping and lurking around looking for things to snatch, and Teddy had to keep his glasses in his pocket just to be safe.

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin


Pampering our legs

What’s a good way to pamper your pair of tired legs after hours and hours sitting on the bus and strolling around town? Well, you probably come up with so many weird answers, but ours was.. reflexology! Hahahaha..

Obviously this isn’t unique to Banjarmasin experience, you can do this just about in any city, but that’s what we wanted and kinda needed to have. So we went to the Duta Mall and got 90 minutes reflexology treatment at …aw shucks I forgot the name, but I remember it was IDR 75,000 / person. Luckily, we got a bonus of 15 minutes fish spa treatment. It was my first time and it felt funny, them fishes tickling you feet.. tee hee..

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

Soto Banjar

Gee, I wonder why the local food of Banjarmasin is named Banjar. Tee hee.. NOT! Well anyways, this is where Keukeu as our host took us for the first lunch, the Depot Soto Bang Amat (Bang Amat being the owner of the soto depot). It’s basically a soup-like dish with ketupat (rice wrapped in palm leaf pouch and then boiled), chicken shreds, boiled egg, perkedel (potato nugget), vermicelli, with various spices like shallots, garlic, pepper, and clove. 

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

Apparently, this soto depot is one of the most famous places to eat soto banjar. No wonder it was jam-packed with students, families, and yuppies. And because it rained hard the tables on the riverside were not really available for seating, too bad. The place is actually reachable by angkot , but we took a cab from the Duta Mall instead, because of the rain.

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

How did it taste? Umm.. honestly I can’t remember. Sorry. I’m not a big fan of Soto. I’m a Minangkabau girl, I like meat in coconut milk sauce. Can’t help it. Chicken should never be in a soto! (Mumun butting in: WTF?! How dare you question the existence of Chicken Soto?? Vira’s tongue is weird!) But I do remember that I was hungry and this soto satisfied every inch of stomach that was hungry.

A portion of soto varies from IDR 16,000 – 25,000, a portion of chicken satay is IDR 18,000, and beverages vary from IDR 2,500 – 9,000 (avocado drink being the most expensive).

Depot Soto Bang Amat

Jalan Benua Anyar

+62 511 7746004, 7406164


Katupat Kandangan

Looks like the South Kalimantan people love katupat (another dialect for saying ketupat) so much. This one is originally from an area called Kandangan, 3 hours drive from Banjarmasin. The recommended diner to have katupat kandangan by Keukeu is Mama Ani’s on Antasari street, about 10-15 minutes walk from the Swiss-Belhotel Borneo. Unfortunately Mama Ani ran out of stock when we got there at 6 PM. Oh but we wanted katupat kandangan! Well, we walked a little more and settled with this warung . Surprisingly, it was delicious! Now that makes me wonder what Mama Ani’s ketupat tastes like, must be even more delish?

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin 

I personally like katupat kandangan way more than the soto banjar. It’s the usual ketupat with santan pecah (broken coconut milk?) and fried shallots. Tasted very savory, and added to that is a smoked fish head. Yes, the head, my most favorite part of fish. No, seriously! (Mumun just had to butt in: No, seriously! It’s true. And she can even do it with a spoon and fork. Mumun butting out!)


Lontong Orari

Lontong tastes similar like ketupat, but slightly different, I myself don’t recognize the difference sometimes. Ketupat is square-ish in shape, while lontong is usually long and round. But the lontong in lontong orari is triangle shaped. And the dish is basically lontong with jackfruits in opor soup (coconut milk based soup). It’s usually eaten with side dish like haruan fish (a freshwater fish), but now they’ve modified it with chicken or duck, as your liking.

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin 

The name Lontong Orari is derived from this group of amateur radio activists (the group is called ORARI, Indonesian Republic Amateur Radio Organization) who used to base at a place across to a diner that served this lontong dish and they were the ones who made it popular.

As for the taste, well, I don’t remember it being too good or special.. Maybe I shoulda gone for the original Lontong Orari to really know what’s so special about this dish..


Since we were still in Tanjung Puting, Keukeu had been talking about this favorite snack in Banjarmasin called ‘pentol’. It sort of means a knob or something small and round. It’s actually bakso (a kind of meatball) but eaten in a different way. You pin a skewer through it, and then dip it in the red hot sauce, and then bite and chew chew chew. It’s sold with some other dumpling kinds of food as well.

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin


The unusual thing about this hotel is that it’s located in a school complex… *Question marks on my forehead* And the dumb thing is that I didn’t even try to find out why that is by asking the receptionist *d’oh*

 Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

Anyhoo, the hotel was.. well, it’s an old and worn out building, it’s got spacious rooms, corridors, and lobby (well it’s either spacious or just minimum in furniture), it’s equipped with a TV set, and in cleanliness I’d give it a 7 out of 10. Rate: IDR 150,000 / room / night including breakfast.

Indonesia Travel - banjarmasin 

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin


Jalan Hassan Basri


 Hotel Wisata

Vira “likes this” *a thumb up*

Thanks to Teddy’s avid use of twitter and my wondering mind at random unpredictable times, we missed Edotel when trying to go back there from a stroll, by angkot .  Not wanting to pay for extra IDR 3,000 for another ride back to where Edotel’s supposed to be (we’re not cheapos, we’re just savers *cough*), we ended up walking towards Edotel. And whaddya know, we passed by a much better hotel with just slightly more expensive rate, Hotel Wisata.

It was brand new, and they were having a promo, so we only had to pay IDR 165,000 / room / night, and I think that included breakfast. Oh but I also did a dumb thing at this hotel.. I forgot to take a picture of it for you.. shucks! And why do these Banjarmasin cheap yet recommended hotels don’t have a website??

Anyway, there are several food stalls, diners, and an internet café near this Hotel Wisata. And later we found out, when getting our deposited bags at Edotel, that these two hotels are only about 50 metres away from each other!

Wanna know where it is and how to contact them?

Hotel Wisata

Jalan Brigjend H. Hasan Basri no. 70


Phone +61 511 3304744

Fax +61 511 326 3318


A heads up for you who’s traveling with your girl / guy friend (not necessarily “in a relationship” relationship), Banjarmasin is quite a religious city as I observed, and an Islamic one at that. So some lodges won’t take in two persons of the opposite sex in the same room if they’re not married to each other because it’s considered to facilitate extra-marital sex, which is wrong wrong wrong according to the religious laws. They might even ask you to show them your marriage certificate. I don’t know if they’ve considered same-sex relationships in this case, probably not.

One place I know for sure that won’t take unmarried people of the opposite sex is the Kencana Guest House. I guess to them boy and girl being platonic friends are just not possible, huh?


Banjarmasin is the capital city of South Kalimantan. You can fly there from several points throughout Indonesia, but I don’t think it serves international flights. Or you can get there by bus if you’re starting from other places on Kalimantan Island (some say Borneo), just like we did.

We took the Logos bus from Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, a neighboring province. Total trip was a-long-almost-butt-aching 18 hours, but we had to transit at their station in Palangkaraya (the capital of Central Kalimantan) to switch buses. So, departed from Pangkalan Bun at 4 PM with the AC bus, we then waited with heavy eyes for about 2 hours for the connecting bus at the station before the sun even rises. Finally, at 5 AM a smaller and without AC bus came, and we hopped on. 6 hours later we arrived in Banjarmasin and washed up at Keukeu’s place. Phewh!

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

Bus fare from Palangkaraya to Banjarmasin by Logos = IDR 125,000 / pax. Along the ride, the bus stopped twice (or was it three times?) at diners where we had our dinner (and maybe supper?) and breakfast, which all we paid for ourselves.

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin 

There are other options, including a service from Logos as well, costing IDR 165,000/pax. I’m guessing this one is air-conditioned all the way.

I also noticed another coach line that goes to Banjarmasin, named Yessoe.

travel Indonesia - Banjarmasin

Just like in any other cities of Indonesia, Banjarmasin provides angkot, ojek, and taxi for means of transportation. And surprisingly, there’s also bajaj in Banjarmasin! I thought only Jakarta has bajaj! 

Indonesia Travel - Banjarmasin

The taxis don’t always put the meter on, instead they charge you in bulk. And taxis here are often called “sedan”.

Angkot is often called “taxi” here. Why?Beats me! The angkot system is kinda confusing because most of them are the same color, yellow, so you can only tell the different routes by reading the not-so-clear writings (handwritten, everyone!) on the front window. And sometimes passengers can even ask for detour to get them closer to the destinations. Is this service or an unorganized transportation system? (Don’t answer that 😛 ) Isn’t that amazing and confusing at the same time? hehehe..

Average rate of angkot ride is IDR 3,000 / pax.

 Indonesia Travel - banjarmasin

travel Indonesia - Banjarmasin

Now, ojek seems to be the most favorite transportation in Banjarmasin, or rather motorcycles in general. They seem to hate walking so much, that they’d even ride motorbikes for a 100 meters trip only to buy some cigarettes! People, walking is actually good for your health, not to mention you’ll save some gas and money!


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