Banjarmasin is the best place to absorb Kalimantan’s urban culture, both on land as on the waters. Located on a delta near the junction of the Barito and Martapura rivers, Banjarmasin, together with its neighboring city, Banjarbaru, form the center of the ninth largest metropolitan city in Indonesia.
From ancient times and up to this day, Banjarmasin has remained an important harbor town on Kalimantan. It has an abundance of wide and mighty rivers, which have always played a significant role in the Banjarese’ (the indigenous ethnic group of Banjarmasin) way of life. To this very day, every morning there are floating markets where farmers and merchants ply their goods on boats to trade. The town’s main attractions are the suburbs that are traversed by canals, where much of the city’s commerce takes place on the water.
The most notable of these river markets is the Muara Kuin Floating Market located on the Barito River. The floating market is the place to see the traffic of all kinds of boats laden with bananas, shrimps, fish, yams, spinach, coconut, incandescent spices and chilies, buckets of fuzzy rambutans, and whatever other fruit are in season. Maneuvering their boats with dexterity and precision, since the boats are constantly wobbled by the river’s waves, traders exchange goods and money.
There are daily flights from many Indonesian cities including from Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Balikpapan, Sampit and Pangkalan Bun to Banjarmasin’s airport of Syamsuddin Noor (BDJ) . The airport is 26 km from Banjarmasin, or about half an hour ‘s drive from the city. To go to the city, you can take a taxi (with fixed rate) or better yet, tell your hotel to pick you up.
Another alternative to get to Banjarmasin is by ship from various places in Indonesia to Banjarmasin’s main harbor, named Trisakti. The sea trip will take approximately 2 days and 2 nights from Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok Harbor’s Passenger Terminal. Plus, there are ferries from Semarang and Surabaya, both on Java. There’s a ferry every 2 days between Surabaya and Banjarmasin.
The ferry between Surabaya and Banjarmasin takes 21 hours. If you have a problem with cigarette smoke, this is not a good method to travel since smoking is permitted in the sleeping area. There are no cabins. Females travelling solo should be aware that they will receive a considerable amount of male attention, most of it unwanted. The food is also not good.
There are public buses from Balikpapan to Banjarmasin, which will take a little over 14 hours.
Alternatively, if you are coming from the neighbouring provinces of East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, there is plenty of boat transportation on the rivers of Kalimantan. This could be an adventurous or boring ride depending on your taste. A range of boats are available, from slow moving traditional boats to speedboats. It’s a great choice if you are extremely adaptable to the local’s way of life.
Our Hotel Pick Near the Banjarmasin
Swiss-Belhotel Borneo is conveniently located near Banjarmasin city center and offers free tours of the floating market. It features panoramic views of Martapura River and free Wi-Fi is available in its public areas.
Banjarmasin is the capital of South Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is located on a delta island near the junction of the Barito and Martapura rivers. As a result, Banjarmasin is sometimes called the “River City”. Its population was 625,395 at the 2010 Census and estimated to be more than 720,000 in late 2017.
Main economic sectors include transportation and communication (26.1% of the city’s GDP), processing industries (24.9%) and trade and commerce (16.5%). Main processing industries are: plywood, rattan and rubber manufacturing.
Infrastructure and transport
Banjarmasin is served by the Syamsudin Noor Airport, located about 25 km outside the town. The town is served by a deepwater port, Trisakti Harbour, which is the centre of the Barito basin; exports include rubber, pepper, timber, petroleum, coal, gold, and diamonds. Passenger ships and ferries to and from Java also carry their operation here.
The city is laced with flood-prone waterways, and many houses are built on rafts or stilts over the water. The waterways are also used for travel, using relatively small rowboats (only major rivers are accessible by larger speedboats, tugboats, longboats, and barges).
Banjarmasin serves as the closest town to the large coal loading anchorage port of Taboneo. Together with Tanjung Bara, they constitute the largest coal loading ports in Indonesia.
96% of the population is Muslim. Other religions include Protestants, Catholics, Hindus and Buddhists. Banjarese are the majority in the city, with Javanese, Madurese and other ethnics are the minority.The city is the home of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Banjarmasin.
Nan Serunai was an ancient kingdom in South Kalimantan, but soon it was replaced by Buddhist kingdom of Tanjungpuri. In the fourteenth century, Banjarmasin was part of the Hindu kingdoms of Negara Dipa and Negara Daha, a vassal of Majapahit. But Pangeran Samudera converted to become a Muslim in the fifteenth century. Following this Banjarmasin was founded at the junction of the Barito and Martapura Rivers on 24 September 1526. The Dutch opened trade there in 1606. The British controlled the city for several brief periods. The British East India Company (EIC) started trading with the city, which they called Tamborneo or Tomborneo, in 1614. In 1703 the EIC established a factory there, which the inhabitants destroyed four years later. The EIC attempted, highly unsuccessfully, to trade with the city between 1736 and 1746, and then in 1747 the Sultan signed a treaty with the Dutch giving them a trade monopoly.
In 1787 it became a Dutch protectorate. Banjarmasin remained the region’s capital until the onset of the Banjarmasin War in 1859, when the Dutch headquarters were moved to Martapura.
The Hikayat Banjar is the chronicle of Banjarmasin. This text, also called the History of Lambung Mangkurat, contains the history of the kings of Banjar and of Kota Waringin in South-east and South Borneo respectively.
In 1930 the city’s population was 66,000 and reached 444,000 in 1990.
Banjarmasin was the capital of Dutch Borneo. It was therefore an objective for the Japanese during Japanese Occupation of Indonesia during World War II. Banjarmasin was occupied on 10 February 1942.
The metropolitan area, known as Banjar Bakula, consists of the cities of Banjarmasin and Banjarbaru, and the regencies of Banjar, Barito Kuala and Tanah Laut in South Kalimantan. This metropolitan area covers an area of 3,404.46 square km, and at the 2010 Census has a population of 1,924,427.
Pulau Petak is an island next to Bandjermasin just across the Barito river. Of old, the people of Pulau Petak have settled along the borders of the rivers, even though pronounced river levees are absent and flood danger exists. The rivers were the main traffic ways and transport occurred mainly by boat.
Along the river fruit tree plantations and palawidja (upland crop) fields were developed. From the plantations inland, drainage canal (handils) have been dug towards the back swamps in the centre of the island. Along the handils , lowland rice fields (sawah’s) dominate the landscape. Here, the water management is a difficult task and has been subject of a scientific study.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Banjarmasin features a tropical savanna climate. Temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the year, averaging about 27 degrees Celsius, and the city has no real dry season. However Banjarmasin has noticeably wetter and drier times of the year. November through May forms the wettest part of the year with monthly precipitation of 200 millimetres (7.9 in) or more per month. June through October is drier with monthly precipitation of about 120 millimetres (4.7 in) per month. Banjarmasin on average sees just under 2,600 millimetres (100 in) of rain per year.
Places of interest
The Sabilal Muhtadin Mosque, located along the Martapura riverfront, is a major landmark in the city. Completely built in 1979, the mosque accommodates thousands of worshippers on Friday prayers.
A state university (Universitas Lambung Mangkurat, UNLAM) is also located in the town.
A floating marketplace, where buyers and sellers meet each other using boats, is located on the western outskirts of town. It is a traditional market and is considered one of city’s identity mark for years.
Banjarmasin has long been renowned as a center for gem trading, particularly rare diamonds and rubies. An informal network with international connections exists, which also supports the large domestic Indonesian trade in rare diamonds. Banjar’s diamonds are especially known for their exquisite brilliance. In recent times, however, many of Indonesia’s large diamond stones have been traded out of the country.
A local dish is “soto banjar”, a soup served with lime. Another notable local dish is “Ketupat Kandangan”, a ketupat dish with coconut milk soup (can be served with either chicken or snakehead fish meat), usually presented or sold by the Kandangan’s people or descent who live in Banjarmasin.
The city has professional football club that is playing in Liga 1 (Indonesia), PS Barito Putera.
Featured Photo by oh sk