Banjarmasin is the busiest and the most crowded city in Kalimantan, even though the area is rather small. It is also the capital of South Kalimantan Province. Being the center of business and traffic in the province, the city holds an important role in the growth of the region. But beneath all that, Banjarmasin has unique feature of nature.

The city is passed by plenty of rivers. For the people of Banjarmasin, rivers are very major to their life. It is not only the source of water or beautiful scenery to enjoy. But, it is also the major place for transportation and trading. No wonder if the city is sometimes dubbed as The River City. Sometimes, it is also dubbed as “The Venice of the East”.

The River City (Source: Flickr. Credit: Banjarmasin Box)
The River City
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Banjarmasin Box)

How to Get There

There are several ways to reach the city of Banjarmasin. The quickest transportation is indeed airplanes. Syamsudin Noor Airport of Banjarmasin accommodates daily flight from many cities in Indonesia including Jakarta City, Surabaya, Bandung, Balikpapan, Sampit, and much more. The airport is about 26 kilometers away from the city. It is about 90 minutes’ drive.

Other choice is to get there by ferry ships. Banjarmasin has a port on Burito basin named Trisakti Harbor. Passenger ships are available from Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang, and other places. The trip from Jakarta to Banjarmasin will take up to two days and two nights.

From Surabaya, it is about 21 hours. Ferry ship is not a recommended choice of transportation for female who is travelling solo or in a small group as there are too many male passengers and the ship could be very crowded.

Trisakti Harbor at Night (Source: Flickr. Credit: Khristian Gunawan Aden)
Trisakti Harbor at Night
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Khristian Gunawan Aden)

Being a city with a thousand rivers, it is indeed possible to reach the city by sailing your boat through the rivers. This choice of transportation is quite popular from the towns in neighboring provinces such as East Kalimantan and West Kalimantan. For adventurous trip, you can rent a speedboat and sail it away. Regular public boats are also available.

Public buses are also available from many towns around Kalimantan. Most buses are from Balikpapan, as a lot of people like to travel there.

 

Where to Stay

There are many hotels to stay in Banjarmasin. Here are some of them:

  • HOTEL MERCURE
  • HOTEL RATTAN INN
  • SWISS-BELHOTEL BORNEO BANJARMASIN
    • Address : Jalan Pangeran Antasari 86A, Banjarmasin
    • Phone : +62 511 3271111
    • Website : swiss-belhotel.com
  • HOTEL METRO
    • Address : Jalan Mayjend Sutoyo S. No. 26 Banjarmasin
    • Phone : +62 511 3352427
    • Fax : +62 511 3360499
Barito Bridge; Vital Bridge in Banjarmasin (Source: Flickr. Credit: Yeni Riwayanti)
Barito Bridge; Vital Bridge in Banjarmasin
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Yeni Riwayanti)

Floating Market

People of Banjarmasin use the rivers that flow through the city for many purposes. The most unique one is to use the river as a market venue. It may sound unusual at almost everywhere, but floating market is something that is very common in Banjarmasin.

On floating market, every vendors will ride a traditional wooden boat called “jukung” and put all the products they sell on it. They will row their jukung from one point to another so other people on other jukung could see what they have to offer. People who visit the market to buy will also ride jukung. You can charter one for about $4.5.

Floating market usually operates only in the morning. It usually starts since the sun rise and ends at 9 o’clock in the morning. The crowd of the market will reach its peak around 7 o’clock. The products that are available at the markets are ranging. Fruits, vegetables, and meat are the most common ones as people need to buy it for cooking meals. Plenty kinds of foods are also available so you could have a nice breakfast or just some snacking in the morning. You could also buy several types of souvenirs that are traditionally from Banjarmasin.

Crowded Floating Market (Source: Flickr. Credit: Pepelos)
Crowded Floating Market
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Pepelos)

Other uniqueness of this market is that barter system is allowed and common to use. It is not a rare thing to happen that one vendor had barter with other vendor instead of buying with real money as they need each other’s products.

The barter system is called “bapanduk” on folk language. Sometimes, they do barter in larger amount in order to add variations on their products to sell. For example, chili vendor does barter with tomato vendor so both of them could sell both chili and tomato at the same time. This system is called “penyambangan” in folk language.

There are several rivers that became a venue of floating market in the morning. The biggest and the most famous one is Muara Kuin Floating Market. This market is located at the estuary of Kuin River and Barito River. To reach this place from the city, you only need to drive for only 15 minutes. If you want a more unique journey, you could row a traditional boat through Kuin River for about one hour. Other famous floating market in Banjarmasin is the Lok Baintan Floating Market which is located on Martapura River.

Selling and Buying (Source: Flickr. Credit: Adhy Bramantyo)
Selling and Buying
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Adhy Bramantyo)

The tradition of floating market started in 1526 when a man named Sultan Suriansyah built an empire at the side of Kuin River and Barito River. The people from the empire then started doing their business on the river as it was the most strategic place. As time went by, this business kept on going and growing.

 

Floating Market Culture Festival

This kind of market is considered very unique and attractive to tourists. To liven up it even more, the government has initiated Floating Market Culture Festival that will be held annually. The festival will last for three days straight. More than 250 jukungs of various vendors will participate at the festival. The event will take place on Jalan Sudirman and Lok Baintan Floating Market in Martapura River.

On the event, you will get more than just market business on the river surface. There will also be culinary festival where you can taste any kinds of foods and beverages from Banjar traditional culinary. Art performances will also be showcased on the land.

The performances are usually traditional art forms of Banjar and several other places in Indonesia. You can also observe the traditional customs of Banjar from the Banjar Village. On the village, not only you could see many art performers, but you could also buy several traditional goods as souvenirs.

To make the festival more cheerful, a series of competition will also be held. The main competition is Jukung Decoration where people have to decorate their jukung as creative as they could. Hundreds of people will participate at this competition. Other competitions are traditional rowing competition, traditional jukung, etc.

Jukung Decoration Competition (Source: Flickr. Credit: H Zainal Hakim)
Jukung Decoration Competition
(Source: Flickr. Credit: H Zainal Hakim)

 

Floating market seems very interesting to visit. But Banjarmasin still has a lot to offer other than a floating market. To know other interesting attractions in Banjarmasin, you can read our next article about the tourism on The River City of Banjarmasin.