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Banjarmasin – Go with the Flow in Indonesia’s River City
Banjarmasin is a city that sparkles in the equatorial sun. The capital of South Kalimantan, the Indonesian province in the southeastern corner of Borneo, this historic settlement dates from the 16th Century when it grew on an island between two rivers. Aptly nicknamed the “River City”, Banjarmasin is now home to over 700,000 people and offers a wonderful blend of historical charm, ancient customs and modern infrastructure. It is easily accessible, with the recently expanded Syamsudin Noor International Airport offering direct flights to and from many major Indonesian cities, including Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar, Yogyakarta and Semarang. Visitors have a wealth of cultural attractions to explore, such as the famous floating markets on the Martapura River and batik weaving villages, which produce a wonderful range of goods in the “Sasirangan” style, which is native to South Kalimantan. Another precious local product is diamonds, and Martapura Diamond Market – 40km east of downtown – features dozens of gem and jewelry stores. After their shopping trip, visitors can unwind with a stroll around Siring Martapura River Park or take a ride on a traditional “klotok” boat. With so many glittering attractions to uncover, Banjarmasin is a highly rewarding destination.
Nicknamed the “River City” due to its location between two waterways, Banjarmasin is famous for its floating markets. Every day, local vendors pack their wooden boats with fresh produce, including fruit, vegetables and fish, and paddle out to sell their wares to local residents. There are several floating markets to choose from, but the most famous is Lok Baintan, located approximately 45 minutes’ drive from the city, which sees hundreds of floating vendors flock to the Martapura River, often wearing traditional curved hats. This colorful daily ritual is believed to have taken place for more than 500 years, making it an unmissable attraction an sight for any visitor to South Kalimantan.
Martapura River Siring Park
Martapura River Siring Park is an inviting public space nestled on the banks of the Banjarmasin’s main waterway. Within this tropical city, this park provides a welcoming place to sit, stroll or simply soak up the ambiance next to the rippling river. The main attraction in the area is the Park Siring View Tower, which offers panoramic views from its elevated 21-meter-high observation platform, while two restored heritage houses provide interesting attractions, and a small floating market is hosted on weekends. Otherwise, the best way to pass time is to watch the local life, including young people who use the park to practise their dancing, skateboarding or BMX bike tricks.
There are two iconic symbols of Banjarmasin, the proboscis monkey and the musk tree, and Mascot Park celebrates them both in one attractive outdoor space. Popular with locals and visitors alike, this downtown park is often busy at weekends. Guests are greeted by a large statue of a proboscis monkey at the entrance, and inside the park is a statue of a musk tree with more of the long-nosed primates hanging from it. These are not the only attractions however; youngsters will be kept entertained at the well-equipped children’s playground, all ages can visit the greenhouse with several species of cactus, and there is also a selection of souvenir stalls and snack bars.
Neighborhoods to Explore
- Sasirangan Village
- Diamond Market Martapura
- Wasaka Museum
- Kembang Island (Monkey Island)
Top Things to Do
- Go shopping and take photos at the floating markets
- Discover traditional batik fabrics at Sasirangan Village
- Visit the observation tower on the Martapura River
- Explore Kembang Island, the “Kingdom of The Monkey”
- Shop for precious stones at the diamond and jewelry market of Martapura
- Taste the local cuisine at Martapura Riverside Culinary Center
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