Saturday, December 2, 2023

Best Things To Do In Banjarmasin

Kalimantan is part of Indonesia and is located on the island of Borneo (which incidentally is Kalimantan in Indonesian). 73% of Borneo is covered by Indonesia and the rest is made up of Malaysia and Brunei. Kalimantan actually means ‘Burning Weather Island’ and derives from the Sanskrit for Kalamanthana as it is located close to the equator and as a result you can expect it to get pretty hot here. If you want to check out the equator in person, then make your way to the city of Pontianak which lies directly over the equatorial line. Keep reading on for the best things to do in Banjarmasin.

Best Things To Do In Banjarmasin

1. Shop for exotic fruits at the Lok Baintan Floating Market

Shop for exotic fruits at the Lok Baintan Floating Market | Best Things To Do In Banjarmasin

Banjarmasin’s floating markets (pasar terapung) make for an enchanting experience uniquely Southeast Asian. Dating back to the 1500s, these markets on rivers can also be seen in the neighboring countries Thailand and Vietnam. In Indonesia, the best ones to visit are Muara Kuin on the Kuin River and Lok Baintan on the Martapura River. Despite the country’s constant modernization, the government makes efforts to preserve this piece of Indonesian heritage.

Traversing the markets requires precision, dexterity, and a flair for haggling. From dawn to early morning, traders do their business on klotoks (river boats). They sell a variety of items from exotic fruits to local delicacies and (sometimes) clothing. As the sun rises, visitors can shop for exotic fruits like the spiky rambutan, lanzones, rambai, menteng, Malacca grape, and mangoes. There are also vendors who sell nasi bungkus which you can eat on the spot.

From central Banjarmasin, the floating market can be reached in less than an hour by cab. The klotoks can be rented on the port. There are also big klotoks in central Banjarmasin which can transport large groups of people to the river.

2. Visit monkeys and birds at Pulau Kembang and Pulau Kaget

Located near the floating market on the Barito River is a sanctuary for thousands of long-tailed macaques and birds. It is also the site of a sacred prayer place for the Chinese. According to the locals, the island became what it is today when a British ship was destroyed in the 1700s on the orders of the sultan. Debris from the ship washed up on the island and gradually succumbed to nature. Eventually, a group of monkeys inhabited the island and populated the area.

Visitors are advised to be careful with their belongings for the mischievous little residents can get a little too excited. It is also a tradition to bring small offerings along.

Another wildlife conservation area to visit is the Pulau Kaget which can be accessed by a boat ride along the Martapura River. Visitors can see proboscis monkeys swinging around and diving into the water. Sometimes eagles also fly overhead.

Banjarmasin is a city of religious diversity. Although around 96% of the city is Muslim, the Christian, Hindu and Buddhist places of worship coexist with Banjarmasin’s many beautiful mosques.

Located in the Kuin Utara village, the Sultan Suriansyah Mosque (Masjid Sultan Suriansyah) is known as the oldest mosque in the South Kalimantan region at more than 300 years old. Named after Sultan Suriansyah, the first Banjarese king that converted to Islam, the mosque is an example of pre-Islamic Indonesian architecture with its long, tiled roof.

The Masjid Raya Sabilal Muhtadin, the second largest mosque in Indonesia, is another one worth visiting. This mosque was built in 1974 as a tribute to Sheikh Muhammad al-Banjary Arsyad, a major figure in the development of Islam in the region.

5. Explore Wasaka Museum

Explore Wasaka Museum

For history buffs especially those into the fight for Independence against Dutch Colonialism in South Kalimantan, visit the Wasaka Museum. Located in  Kelurahan Sungai Jingah, Kecamatan Banjarmasin Utara, the Wasaka Museum, whose name derives from a Banjarese warfare motto, WajaSampaikaPuting,  meaning the fight (in the war against the Dutch Colonial Army) will not end until the last drop of blood of the Banjarese.  In this museum, you can find the collection of traditional weapons, basic equipment used during the period, as well as paintings that capture heroic actions during the war.