Everything you Need to Know about Banjarmasin

Banjarmasin is a majestic tourist destination lying on a delta of the Barito River. The capital as well as the prime trade and commercial centre of South Kalimantan Province, Banjarmasin occupies an area of about 75sqkm and borders provinces such as Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and South Kalimantan. Due to its location close to the convergence of the Barito and Martapura rivers, Banjarmasin is dubbed the ‘River City.’

The origins of Banjarmasin trace back to the period of the ancient kingdom of Nan Serunai. It became a segment of a Hindu Kingdom namely Madjapahit in the 14th century. The city was actually founded in 1526 when Pangeran Samudera – the heir of Negara Daha - converted to Islam and dethroned his uncle with the aid of Javanese Sultanate of Demak. In the early 17th century, the Dutch started trade in the place, and then it came under the control of the British for a short period. In the late 18th century, it was developed into a Dutch province. As a result of the Banjarmasin War in 1859, the Dutch shifted its headquarters to Martapura. Later, the Indonesian government was formed. However, the city remained the capital of Kalimantan till it was fragmented into four: East, West, Central and South.

Even though Banjarmasin has come a long way, the city still retains its charm and draws tourists of all levels, with its picturesque surroundings, unique architectural heritage, floating market and gem trading.

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Banjarmasin Attractions

Built in 1980, the Sabilal Muhtadin Mosque is one of the key attractions of the place. With the Martapura River at its front, this expansive mosque, complete with library and religious education facilities, is the biggest of its kind in the province and can easily accommodate thousands of worshippers during Friday prayer. Another popular mosque in the area is Sultan Suriansyah that was erected about 300 years ago. For an insight into the interesting history of the place, visit Lambung Mangkurat Museum that has on display items such as traditional costumes, plates and jars, which in turn date back to the Banjar Kingdom. Nearby is the Grave of Sultan Suriansyah who played a prominent role in preaching the Islamic religion in the province.

Banjarmasin also stands out for its incredible floating market on the Barito River. A specialty of the floating market is that the local Banjarmasin people trade a variety of items including fresh fruit, vegetables, handicraft items and souvenirs whilst still on board the boat. Situated close to the floating market is Kembang Island (Monkey Island) – a conservation forest with thousands of monkeys and birds, in addition to being a Chinese sacred place. Further, as the gateway to South Kalimantan Province, Banjarmasin also provides easy access to such tourist spots as Kaget Island – a wildlife reserve that is inhabited by animals such as the proboscis monkey and Cempaka as well as Martapura that are famed as centres of diamond marketing.

Banjarmasin Restaurants & Dining

Food is an indispensable segment of the place’s culture. During your stay here, you will come across a good number of restaurants and food courts, all of them serving a delectable range of cuisines such as soto banjar, apam, creamy bingka, ketupat kandangan and klepon buntut. If you visit here during the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan, then delicacies such as amparan tatak (banana pudding) and bingka barandam should not be missed. Likewise, be sure to savour its Banjarese tea, no matter what time of the year you visit the place. To enjoy local cuisine, perhaps the best option is to go eateries dotted throughout the city’s small streets. Among the restaurants, try Yana Yani and Lima Rasa whose specialty is fried duck. Additionally, Banjarmasin also has a couple of choices to cater to international tourists in the form of KFC, Dunkin’ Donuts and Pizza Hut. Above all, the city boasts an agro tourism area, namely, Mek Farm, from where you can taste a variety of tropical fruits like avocado, delicious Kalimantan local mango and durian.

Banjarmasin Nightlife

For people seeking a lively evening, options are available in the form of bars, clubs and karaoke. If you want to spend your evening in a relaxed way, then the beautifully set streets, along the charming rivers, serve as a perfect setting for an enjoyable stroll. Further, the place’s restaurants and cafés, with its ambience and good cuisine, enable you to spend your evening in a unique way.

Banjarmasin Shopping

One of the prime reasons that attract many people to Banjarmasin is to shop at its floating market. In fact, a trip to the place will be incomplete without this. Situated at the Kuin River estuary, this is a traditional market where you can shop for an array of items that range from fresh fruits and vegetables to handicraft items and household utensils. The market is crowded in the early morning as well as late afternoon. However, shopping in Banjarmasin is not just limited to the floating market and includes a number of shopping malls – the most prominent being Dutta Mall, which is a great choice for modern shoppers. Being one of the significant gem trading centres in Indonesia, Banjarmasin also has a wide range of jewellery shops that sell ornaments studded with precious stones like diamonds, rubies, jade, sapphires, turquoise, amethysts, emeralds and topaz.

Banjarmasin Activities

From shopping at the floating market and jungle trekking to golf, tennis and water sports, a huge list of activities can be enjoyed here. For a thrilling experience, take an adventure tour along the majestic Barito River. Another amazing option open for adventurers is river rafting along Loksado’s Amandit River with traditional rafts made using bamboo or rubber. If you are looking for an option to spend some memorable time with your family and friends, a recommended option is to go to the Palau Hijau recreation park with its exceptional entertainment facilities that consist of a mini zoo, a fishing pond and a playground. Additionally, don’t miss out on visiting Cempaka and Martapura that are 10km and 40km respectively from Banjarmasin to see the process of diamond mining. Above all, visit Sunday Markets to savour delicious local treats like apam and ketupat kandangan.

Banjarmasin Information

Good to know

  • Banjarmasin’s climate is tropical rainforest and the average temperature is about 25 degrees Celsius.
  • The best time to visit the place is during dry season from June to October.
  • To move around, you can opt for transportation choices like angkot, shuttle microbuses and tricycle rickshaws.
  • There are accommodation choices to cater to all types of tourists.

How to get there
The nearest airport is Syamsudin Noor Airport – situated about 25km from the city centre. It operates regular flights to such significant cities as Jakarta and Surabaya. By road, the city is reachable from the Central Kalimantan and East Kalimantan provinces. You can also access the destination via ship that is available from different parts of the country to its main harbour. In addition, there are frequent boat services from East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan.

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