Samarinda Travel Guide

Samarinda is in the southeast of East Kalimantan at the head of the Mahakam delta. It is the provincial capital and largest city of the province and is gateway to the Lower Mahakam River.

As far as cities go, Samarinda isn’t much to look at and most visitors head here for visits to the likes of Kutai Barat, which involve boat trips up the Mahakam River. The town is a lot more laid back than Balikpapan (farther south) and also has cheaper accommodation and eating.

Shopping options in Samarinda are pretty good, with the Citra Niaga Shops in the Arena Promosi Citra Niaga shopping center being the best bet. This place is huge and has all types of shops, food and entertainment options for an East Kalimantan town. The best buy in Samarinda is a sarong as they feature high quality silks and are locally made.

Getting There & Away

Samarinda’s airport (Temindung Airport) is the gateway to the capital, receiving flights from all over East Kalimantan, including from Balikpapan Sepinggan International Airport. Flight time from Jakarta is around 2 hours. Buses to Samarinda from Balikpapan leave throughout the day and take a few hours, while ferries come in from elsewhere on the coast. It can take two or three days to reach the Upper Mahakam River by boat from Samarinda.

Things to Do

Samarinda Attractions

Mahakam River

Samarinda lies on the banks of the mahakam and trips up it into the rainforest are the main point of staying in the city.

Side trips from Samarinda

Kutai National Park

A huge national park of rainforests along the mahakam river features orangutans and myriad bird species.


Erau Festival

This annual festival happens in september in nearby tenggarong (up the river from samarinda) and celebrates the founding of the city with dragon parades.