Balikpapan is an oil town - big, modern and relatively expensive. The modernization of Balikpapan is all a product of oil money. The discovery of coastal oil and gas here in the late 1960s quickly transformed traditional village life in the area, making Balikpapan the major economic transport center of East Kalimantan. The city's central distric at the waterfront sprawls up the hills to the northwest. There is not much here of interest to the visitor except for a hillside overview of the Pertamina Oil Complex. Americans, Australians, Europeans and high-placed Indonesian live on hills overlooking the town. Balikpapan has much more nightlife than anywhere else in Kalimantan,and better restaurants and accomodations. There are many souvenir art shops specializing in Dayak handicrafts and Chinese porcelain.


More than 450 years old, the city is renowned for its floating houses and network of criss-crossing rivers, streams, and canals. Banjarmasin is below sea level, and the water level rises and falls with the tides. Situated on the banks of the Martapura River, 22 km upriver from the sea, Banjarmasin is a convenient base for Central and East Kalimantan.


"The land of the equator" is the most popular name for the provincial capital of West Kalimantan, Pontianak which lies exactly on the equator. The city lies on the junction of the Kapuas and Landak River. Just 25 km north of the Kapuas River, Pontianak is a good starting place for trips to interior Dayak villages. Chinese are now primarily traders, restauranteurs, and shopkeepers, comprise more than 60% of the population. Most of Pontianak's highlights are concentrated in a relatively small area, and in a day or two you can explore the city's various points of interest. To reach Malaysia, you can fly or take the bus. Direct buses to Kuching, first reaches the Indonesian border town of Entikong, then crosses the border and stops in the Malaysian town of Serian.


The capital of East Kalimantan is, Samarinda, is the point of departure for all river travel inland on the Mahakam river and its tributaries, as well as for flights to the interior - to the upper Mahakam and to the Apokayan region. There are plenty of hotels in various price ranges, as well as restaurants. Samarinda is a busy place, with lots of traffic, art shops for bargain hunting, and a sports complex with a swimming pool and tennis courts. The Mahakam River, which is here almost half a mile wide and as much as 90 meters deep, splits the town in half. Recently, a bridge has been built across the Mahakam, joining the two halves of Samarinda.


The capital of Berau Regency is Tanjungredeb, a secondary harbor since WW II. This waterfront town is 59 km from the mouth of the Berau River.

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