Balikpapan Expats    

A community forum for the expatriates of Balikpapan.  

FAQ

Listed below are some common questions asked by people who are considering to move to Balikpapan.  We hope you find it helpful.  Please feel free to contact us for clarification or additional questions!!


Miscellaneous

General

  1. What is the currency of Indonesia?

    Indonesia uses Rupiah, which is designated as IDR or Rp.  Most business hold multiple currency accounts (USD and Rp) and will pay for things based on that currency if requested.  For example, schools and compound housing is often billed and paid in US dollars.  However, all day to day expenses are in Rupiah. 

  2. What's the weather like in Balikpapan?

    Balikpapan is just south of the equator, but we typically get a nice offshore breeze.  We have a tropical rainforest climate with average rainfall of just under 2800 mm of rain per year. Balikpapan generally shows little variation in weather with no real season changes.  The average temperature is 27 degrees Celsius throughout the year.

  3. What is appropriate clothing to wear in Balikpapan?

    Balikpapan is a fairly conservative Muslim city, so you will see many women with jilbab, long sleeves, and long pants. However, expatriates do not need to cover up, but instead just be appropriate and considerate.  It’s fine to wear shorts and a t-shirt to the mall, as long as it’s not too revealing.  Short shorts, mini-skirts, and see-through tops are best saved for late nights at the bars and clubs.

    If going to a religious place or ceremony, women should wear long pants or knee-length or longer skirts, a shirt with sleeves (not sleeveless), and bring a scarf just in case needed to cover your head.  Men should also wear long pants and a proper shirt.  However, for every day wear, you can dress more relaxed.  Sleeveless tops and shorts are fine, as long as you consider the place you are going.

    When going to the pool, it is best to cover up until you get to the pool.  Even if it is just across the compound or hotel, you do not want to offend staff.  It is best to just grab a towel or sarong. 

    For work, it’s appropriate to wear whatever was common in your home country.  For workers in industrial areas, safety gear should be worn.  For office workers, the dress is business casual. Women wear skirts, or slacks with a blouse or collared shirt.  Men often wear cotton pants with a collared shirt.  Many businesses offer shirts with names embroidered on them, which is always helpful in remembering names!  Every Friday is Batik Day, so it is very common for everyone to wear batik shirts.

    Remember that Balikpapan can be hot and humid, so bring cotton clothes that breathe especially if you’re working at all outdoors.  However, also note that the malls, movie theaters, and hotel restaurants can have their air conditioning on full blast and can be freezing cold so you might want to layer on a sweater!

  4. What things should I know so I am not disrespectful?

    Indonesians are quite welcoming, but here are a few general things to know so you do not appear to be rude when coming to Balikpapan:

    • Indonesians have a difference sense of punctuality so do not be offended if events do not start on time or if a guest arrives late.
    • Wait until food is offered before taking it, especially as a guest in someone's home.  
    • The left hand is considered unclean in a Muslim culture. You should use your right hand whenever possible in public, especially in exchanging money or gifts. 
    • Feet are also considered unclean and you should never point with them or put them on tables or chairs. Some Indonesians also consider it rude to point with a finger so this should be avoided.
    • Do not pat adults on their head as this considered offensive.
    • Indonesians are generally very physical in their personal relations, patting acquaintances on the back, putting a hand on their shoulder and so forth is common among same sex.
    • Do not chew gum in public as it is considered rude.
    • Restrain yourself from eating or drinking in front of fasting Indonesian Muslims (particular during Ramadan).
    • Women should be sensitive to the Muslim and Hindu beliefs and wear clothing which is modest, particularly in more local and remote places.  You do not need to fully cover yourself, but wear appropriate clothes in public (no short shorts, no see-through tops, etc.).  More modest clothes (long pants/skirt, long sleeves, and scarf) may be appropriate for a strict religious ceremonies.
    • Personal questions regarding salary, education and family life should be expected and politely sidestepped if you do not want to answer them.
    • The subject of birth control is quite openly discussed although discussions about sex should be avoided.
    • Topics to avoid are: human rights, politics, religion, military influence, corruption, personal success, sex/role of the sexes and criticism of Indonesia.
  5. Is Balikpapan safe?

    Balikpapan is a very safe place to live!  Although like anywhere else in the world, you should use common sense and not leave yourself open to opportunities. There are occassional house break-ins, but typically only minor things are stolen.  And there are opportunistic petty crimes, which can be due an unlocked office or car door, or an unknown worker coming into your home. Using everyday precautions is the best deterrent. 

    Expatriates are comfortable walking around town both day and night, taking public transportation, shopping in the local markets, and doing every day activities. Although most private compounds and upscale hotels have security gates and razor fences, it is mostly used as a deterrent. And don't be alarmed that BSB Mall and most upscale hotels have metal detectors.  It is just precautionary and used as a deterrent to crime. 

    Although Balikpapan is a growing city, it still maintains its sense of community.  It is not atypical for locals to track you down if you have left something behind in a restaurant or taxicab.

     

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Moving to Balikpapan

  1. What is the visa process for Indonesia?

    Indonesian laws and regulations regarding visas and work permits are vastly complicated and your sponsoring company should arrange all of this for you and your family.  DO NOT ARRIVE before the paperwork is sorted and ready.

    You should NOT come to work or volunteer in Balikpapan without a properly sponsored KITAS.  The first step is sponsorship from your company in which they will ask for specific documents for the Indoensian government before your arrival.  Once this is done, they can arrange for a proper KITAS to be organized.

    The most common procedure is for you to go to Singapore or Kuala Lumper with your passport and a company representative will take your documents to process.  Everything will be returned within 1-2 days and then you will fly into Balikpapan.  You should never fly directly to Balikpapan to obtain a "visa on arrival" as a tourist if you plan to start working. 

    Also note that whoever has the sponsored KITAS is the person who is authorized to work in Indonesia.  Partners cannot legally work or hold volunteer positions unless they obtain their own sponsorship and valid KITAS in their own name.  

    If you do not have the proper documentation, you can be deported and banned from returning.

  2. Are there any special things to bring to Balikpapan?

    Depending on who you ask, you'll get anything from "nothing but a pair of thongs and some shorts" to "wait, let me write you a list!".  Frankly, it just depends on what you have been used to in either your home country or previous expat posting. However, here are a few things that people have mentioned over the years -

    One of the most immediate frustrating things can be bedding.  Most furnished houses come with a king or double king bed (although really they are double king and double-double king) and very few places sell sheets that large.  And, even if you can find sheets sets, they do not come with a top sheet.  We encourage people moving to BPN to bring DOUBLE KING sheet sets with you.  (You can have them made here fairly quickly and cheaply, but really it's often not on the top of your things to do upon immediate arrival).

    Another item that can be difficult to find are knives.  Good, quality knives  and even good everyday utensil sets with knives can be challanging to find.  (You can buy them at Jims or Informa, but they are quite expensive and only when they are in stock).   

    Most medicine is readily available or easy to order here, but you should check before arriving so you have enough.

    Another popular item that many expats kick themselves for not bringing is a good, quality barbeque grill.  You can buy semi-decent ones from Ace Hardware here, but you'll pay a premium.  You also can order in pretty good quality one from Bali for about Rp 10 million. 

    Additional suggestions are: extra femine products (hard to find and often out of stock), quality appliances, quality shoes and underwear (but can get good runners/sneakers here), particular exercise or sports gear, favorite foods or mixes, powdered antibiotics, and a well-fitted helmet if you plan to drive/ride a scooter/motorbike.

    Men may complain about not having the right replacement razor blades available and women may complain that they don't have their hair color in stock.  Bottom line is If you have something that you use which is very specific, bring it! Otherwise, you can get most anything you need here.   

    One note: DO NOT bring narcotics, pornographic literature, firearms, or ammunition into Indonesia!

  3. Can I bring my appliances? What is the voltage in Balikpapan?

    The electric current in Balikpapan is 220 volts. The electrical Hertz (Hz) is 50. If you are coming from the U.S. or an area that uses a different power system, you will need to use a transformer for your appliances. Most Australian and UK appliances that run off 220 volts can just be used with a plug adapter which are readily available and inexpensive in Balikpapan.  Power often fluctuates however, so you should use surge protectors. 

  4. Can I bring my pet?

    Most likely, the answer is yes!  Many expats here have brought in their furry friends!  Once you satisfy the export side of things in your home country (typically a full blood test and vaccines), they are flown to Jakarta. There is a handler that then can bring them on to Balikpapan. Most expatraites have used  Groovy Pets to help oversee the Indonesian side of things.  For specific information, submit the form on the homepage or email admin@balikpapanexpats.com and we can send you referrals of airlines and companies used by other expats here.

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Living in Balikpapan

  1. What is the cost of living like in Balikpapan?

    The cost of living in Balikpapan is quite high compared to the rest of Indonesia. Even if you stick with local products, the prices are typically higher than Jakarta and certainly more than Bali.

    There are limited imported goods, and those that are available tend to be quite pricey.  For example, an imported box of cereal can cost over Rp100,000. However, if you buy fruits and vegetables from the local markets, you will save quite a bit of money on your grocery bill.

    One of the most marked up items is alcohol, so we encourage everyone to take advantage of duty free! Don’t let that worry you, though.  We still get in our fair share of alcohol and just about everything can be ordered in.  If you want to buy Jack Daniels, for example, a high end bar can sell you a .75 liter bottle for Rp1.5M or you can buy it in a bulk order with friends for 1 liter for Rp280,000. Local beer (Bintang or Anker) at a local bar can be around Rp28,000, or about Rp50,000 at a hotel bar.  However, you can order it by the case and have it delivered to your home for less than Rp300,000.

    Housing also ranges in price.  Most companies will contribute (or fully pay) for your accomodation, but if you plan to pay out of pocket, compound living can be anywhere from $2,500-$4,000 per month, which may or may not include electricity and water.  Several compounds have apartment complexes for singles or those just flying in/out. These tend to be about half the rate of compound houses.  There are options for off-compound living, which ranges in price from a typical 3 bedroom furnished house with pool in Pupuk ranging $1,800-2,600, to a larger 4-5 bedroom furnished home in Balikpapan Baru for USD $2,500- $4,000. If you're looking for more of a local flare, you can find smaller rental homes in safe Indonesian neighborhoods for as low as $3,500 a year! However, for the very high end, there are also some large, stunningly beautiful, unique homes that can range well over $5,000 a month. Balikpapan is very diverse and you will certainly find something that will suit your needs.

    There are certainly bargains in Balikpapan!  Going to the movies is very cheap and a great experience!  You can get a ticket for Rp50,000 for weekends or Rp35,000 for weekdays. Remember to add Rp12,000 for the yummy popcorn! And flights in and around Indonesia can also be inexpensive, particularly if you book ahead on one of the discount airlines such as Citilink or Air Asia. Flights direct to Bali can be as low as $35 and international to Kuala Lumpur $70! 

    You can find fabric here realitively inexpensive and we have amazing tailors and seamstresses.  Dupilicating a button up business shirt can be done for as little as Rp150,000.  Women can have a full custom-made ball gown made for a special event for less than Rp 1M.

    Restaraunt prices vary for expat-oriented places.  Burgers can be anywhere from Rp50,000 – 80,000, Pizza from Rp 80,000 – 145,000; a decent sandwich Rp 80,000 – 130,000; or a good steak dinner over Rp 200,000.  Even more local restaurants can have a wide range of costs.  Rumah makans (local restaurants) can be about Rp115,000 for crab, but only Rp 30,000 for a good chicken dish.  A large side dish of vegetables can be as low as Rp 15,000. 

    You can also do your grocery shopping at a combination of higher end grocery stores and more local stores for every day items such as laundry detergent and soap.  Typically there are good regional products at the local neighborhood stores at nearly half the price of the big supermarket.  Everyday products can be very cheap and you will be pleased at the quality of some of the items imported from Thailand and other surrounding areas. 

    Healthcare can also bequite affordable.  You can go to the dentist for a cleaning for about Rp400,000. Doctors can range in price. Hospitals tend to be more, but still fairly affordable for about Rp400,000 for a regular appointment.  If you have something like an ear infection, you can go direct to places like Panacea Clinic, which has Indonesian doctors that speak nearly fluent English.  An appointment plus medicine can be as little as Rp300,000.  Total and Chevron companies have their own doctors.  Total will accept any expat as a patient and their basic doctor fee is currently $50.  If you know what ails you, you can often go directly to an apotek (pharmacy) and get medicine at a low cost.  They can also order in specialty prescriptions at a reasonable fee. 

    As with any major city, prices vary greatly.  However, you will find ways to splurge as well as save money!

  2. What education options are available for children of expatriates?

    Pasir Ridge International School.  Located at the Chevron complex, PRIS follows the American system certified international teachers and offers classes pre-k through grade 8.  Seamus Marriott, Director, smarriott@prisborneo.org,Telephone +65 542 543474, Fax +65 542 767 106, E-mail office@pris-school.com

    Australian International School  (AIS) is located at Batakan Housing Complex in Batakan.   They offer Pre K - Year 10. Their website can be located here: www.ais-indonesia.com/balikpapan/balikpapanwelcome.html

    Email: balikpapan@ais-indonesia, Phone: (62-542) 750 781, Fax: (62-542) 750 791, Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 7.30am to 4.00pm

    Ecole MLF/TOTAL Francaise is for TOTAL employees only, with classes taught in French.  www.site.ecole-de-balikpapan.org

    International Learning Centre provides enrollment into American and Australian distance education and homeschool programs and individual tutoring for secondary students (Grade 7-12).  Contact Dr. Garland at www.balikpapanlearning.com

    Raffles in an international school educating children ages 2-15; website www.raffles.sekolah.ws

    Prabu International is located at Villa Beta complex and provides Australian curriculum for 18 months - age 15.  http://prabuinternationalschool.com/

  3. What are transportation options in and around Balikpapan?

    Private Car - Most companies will provide one car and driver per family.  Usually, the company will pay all the fees associated with insurance, fuel, etc., but specific companies will have their own requirements.  Often it is frowned upon (or possibly forbidden) to drive the company vehicle.  Be sure to ask for specifics regarding this!  Drivers typically have a set "work schedule" but work overtime nights and weekends for you.  They often become part of your family and help with errands paying bills and making simple purchases.  

    Taxicabs are widely available in Balikpapan.  They are metered and start at Rp7500.  You can easily get from BSB Superblock Mall to Batakan for about Rp40000.  You can call and they will come to you.  Be sure to be able to speak enough Bahasa Indonesia or ask a local to help you for the first time. After the first time, they typically remember your phone number and house. Often cab drivers will give you their phone number directly to call for future bookings.  You can also easily grab a "standby" cab from most of the major malls and hotels. If one is not on standby, then people at the information desk will gladly call a cab for you. Common taxi companies/numbers: Taxi Borneo 0542424277, Anwar Taxi 0542412525, Taxi Mawar 0542873145

    Ankots are the "local" transport buses.  They are Rp 4,000 and operate via different routes with different numbers/colors to identify each route.  There are quite a few on the road and you never have to wait long.  If you're walking, they'll often beep their horns to grab your attention.  They run early in the morning until about 8pm (after that, there are fewer on the road and you may have a hard time just jumping on one quick).    If you need to go far, you might transfer at a terminal, but typically there are other ankots waiting and it is a very quick process.  

    Rental - You can also rent a vehicle.  One of the most popular companies is Astra/Trac., Phone:+62 542 820820.  This is a good option if you need a 4x4 to drive to Samarinda or places like Samboja Lodge. (Be sure to have a proper Indonesian "A" license or an international permit.)

    Purchased Car - Some expatriate families choose to buy a second car.  Balikpapan offers new car dealerships as well as several used shops. There also is a bit of "expat networking" so you can buy a used vehicle through local connections fairly easily. You also can shop online at places like tokobagus and look up Balikpapan if you're more adventurous to do it on your own.  Be sure to get insurance.  And only KITAS holders can register a car.  Be sure to have an Indonesian SIM car to drive it.  And good luck on the roads!!

    Motorbikes (Scooters) - If you're daring, motorbikes can be fun transport!  They are relatively inexpensive in BPN and you can buy and register one in your name if you have a KITAS.  (Don't forget to get your C license!  There is a wide selection of new or used ones available.  New motorbikes range from Rp7,000,000 for a basic "twist and go" scooter to Rp20,000,000 for 150cc geared motorbike.  They're also very inexpensive to service here.

  4. Can I drive in Balikpapan?

    Most likely, yes.  You can obtain an Indonesian SIM (driver's license) for a car and/or motorbike as long as you have a KITAS.  There is an online test you have to pass that is in Bahasa Indonesia (although experience has proven that they just tap you on the shoulder to indicate which answer is correct).  You can also legally drive with an interntional license.

    However, most companies provide a car and driver, so there is very little need to drive yourself.  Check with your company whether you are allowed to drive the company vehicle before doing so.  Often if your driver cannot work, another assigned driver can be appointed that day (even weekends and nights).

    Be warned that Indonesian driving is challenging!  There are very few followed "road rules" and the streets are crowded with many more swerving motorbikes than cars.  Also, side roads and roads just outside of Balikpapan are not ideally maintained.  Expatriates are cautioned against driving as accidents with motorbikes can result in extreme injuries or deaths, which become a highly complicated matter.  

  5. What banking options are there in Balikpapan?

    Balikpapan has a large choice in national banks.  You are able to get accounts in local currency, Rupiah, as well as hold bank accounts in United States or Australian dollar. Nearly all banks offer online access to at least view your balance.

    You can get a debit/ATM card for your Rupiah accounts, however, only one card is issued per account.  Often couples will have two joint accounts that they are able to transfer money between just so they both can have an ATM/debit card.  Although you can link USD or AUD accounts to the card, you can only view balances at ATM.  Transfers for currency other than Rupiah needs to be done at a bank branch, however it is quite easy (although typically always a line). 

    In order to open Indonesian accounts, you must have a KITAS and bring that along with your passport to the branch.  Fees are quite reasonable for local services as well as international transactions.  

    There is an ANZ branch in Balikpapan, but they are operated seperately from ANZ banks in Australian or New Zealand, so there is no real benefit from banking with them over a local bank. 

    There are plenty of ATMs around Balikpapan where you can withdraw money from using cards from your home country. ATMS dispense only in Rupiah and in Rp 50,000 or Rp 100,000 denominations. 

    Credit cards are very difficult to obtain as you have to have about 150% of what you want in credit on deposit reserve with the issuing bank.  Most expats find it necessary to use their credit card issued in their home  country versus trying to apply for one within Indonesia.  Visa and Mastercard are accepted at most larger stores.

    Banking hours vary, but typical banking hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.  Banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

  6. What kind of domestic help is available?

    Most expats have a pembantu (maid) who can help you greatly in everyday tasks such as cleaning, laundry, shopping, and cooking.  You can decide how much help you need, and whether you will provide live-in accommodation. Some families have a separate pembantu for child care, depending on the number of children and ages. Some families prefer Monday-Friday during working hours only, while others prefer help in the evenings or weekends.  Hours, work schedule, required duties, days off, holidays, pay, and future pay raises will be deteremined should be decided upon prior to hiring as to reduce problems later.  Recommendations from expats leaving are always a good source for fantastic pembantus. 

    Most companies will provide a company car and driver, however some contracts come with just the car and you can hire your own driver.  Regardless, they can be invaluable not only for safety in navigating the streets of Balikpapan, but also your right hand person to help with running small errands like paying bills or picking up dry cleaning. 

    Depending on the housing you choose, you may need to hire private security, pool maintenance men, and/or gardeners.  You will find most laborers kind, hardworking men, who are willing to work very long hours.

    In regards to payment of personal help, each should be clearly negotiated before the start of employment.  Typically, payment is made once a month but employees should receive extra if they work on religious or public holidays. For a general indication of salary range, the minimum wage in Balikpapan is Rp 1,700,000 per month, which does not necessarily apply to domestic help and manual laborers.

    English language skills vary across pembantus and drivers, however it rarely seems to be a problem.

    It is important to respect the culturally beliefs of your staff and also to ask up front about any issues to avoid problems.  For example, a driver may want to attend the Friday extended mosque service at noon.  However, if you have a child in half-day school needing to be picked up, you may that driver is more compatible with a different family.  Another example is if you plan on having a dog as a pet, some pembantus may not want to touch the animal due to religious reasons.  Finding the right staff is important as they will become an integral part of your family here.

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Healthcare

  1. Are there expatriate doctors in Balikpapan?

    There are several expatriate doctors in Balikpapan.  Some of the more common ones are listed below:

    Siolam Hospital has an expat clinic which can coordinate care and is available appointments or drop in emergencies. 

    The Total Company provides a clinic for their employees.  However, it is also open up to other expatriate families.  It is located on the Total Complex and you need to make an appointment by calling the clinic.  They have a doctor on staff who speaks French and English.  He is a general practioner and if he cannot treat you, he will refer you to a specialist or out of Balikpapan.    PHONE 0542535513 or 0542533315 or 0542534376

    Chevron also has a doctor onsite, however it is for Chevron employees only. 

    Many other hospitals and clinics offer good care for expatriates and many have staff that speak English, so they are worth a visit depending on your needs.

  2. Can my prescription be filled in Balikpapan?

    There are many pharmacies (apoteks) in Balikpapan which readily stock common medications.  However, if you need a special prescription filled, Kimia Farma across from Klandesson market can often help.  Phone: +62542422691

  3. Are there dentists available in Balikpapan?

    Although there are many "doktor gigis" in Balikpapan, most expatriates go to Balikpapan Dental Health Care (BDHC), which is a large, clean dental office next to the Bintang Hotel. The dentists speak English and they take walk-in appointments (but you should call first).  Phone number is 0542426461.  They provide routine care as well as fillings.  They also provide teeth whitening service.  The other popular provider is Dr. Putri at Dental House in Balikpapan Baru 05427204148.

    For advanced or technical procedures, we recommend you get work done in Singapore or your home country.  Insurance companies can help coordinate treatment if needed. 

  4. Are there orthodontists in Balikpapan?

    There are several orthodontists, however Dr. Monica is popular among expats.  She speaks good English and has evening appointments. 

    BB Dental Care - in Sepinggan Pratama 

    +6281210690123

     

  5. Is the water safe to drink?

    No. Do not drink the tap water anywhere in Indonesia, unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected. Most hotels provide boiled or bottled water, and many housing compounds have their own water treatment.  Also, do not drink unbottled beverages or drinks served with ice. For home use, water coolers are quite popular.  You can have a service deliver new bottles and pick up empty containers.  Some housing compounds will provide this service. 


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Food and Drink

  1. Can you describe some of the best grocery stores?

    Ranch Market.  Opened in July 2012, Ranch Market stocks the most variety of local and imported foods.   Located at The Plaza, it has a large variety of fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, fresh dairy products, and has probably one of the better selections of imported goods such as cereals, sauces, and snacks. (If you can't find what you're looking for, you can ask to see the back storage area for excess imported goods).

    Food Mart is located on the bottom floor of SuperBlock.  Although their prices tend to be a bit pricer and selection limited, the location makes it a good stop for many expatriates.  They sell limited export items, but typically has lemons in stock when Hero is out.  Don't miss the food stalls out front of the store for a cheap and tasty take-away!

    Hero Supermarket is located in Balikpapan Baru in Mall Fantasi.  Stocks many imported goods.  Also known as one of the places that sells fresh milk (when in stock) and whole bean coffee. 

    Hypermart is located inside The Plaza.  It is a combined department store and supermarket, but it stocks mainly local items with a few imports.  However, this is a good one-place shop as it is very large and includes a full department store that sells office supplies, clothes, sporting goods, housewares, electronics, automotive, etc.

    Royal is a small shop located in Balikpapan Baru (in the shops outside of Mal Fantasi) in Fantasy Junction.  This little gem of a shop is the go-to place for imported dry goods, frozen imported meats, limited fresh veggies, and fresh milk and cheeses.  Stock varies and certain items get sold out fast (like fresh milk whole milk and frozen pastry), but the owner does a good job in keeping stock on the shelves. Royal also sells fresh specialty bread (often out of stock, but you can make special orders) and wine.

    Lottemart is located not too far from Informa in Balikpapan Baru.  It's the "bulk warehouse" store of Balikpapan.  Great to stock up on items (check the sticker price on shelf - most items if you buy 3 or more, you get them at a cheaper price).  This store also has electronics, office supplies, housewares, and hardware.  Tip: Don't go when busy or you'll stand in long, slow moving lines.  Also, be sure to have boxes to carry out your stuff, or grab one at the exit. 

    Diamond (PT Sakunda) is a supplier that has a shop in the Batakan area.  Look for the white trucks with bright colored circles on them!  Diamond stocks imported dry goods as well as imported meat and cheeses.  They also supply fresh milk (frozen) to the larger grocery stores and you can buy cases direct from them.

    CV Central is a great little general  store located near the Blue Sky Hotel and Kebun Sayer and has a grocery store on the 2nd floor.  They carry quite a few imported items such as cereals, cake mixes, seasoning packets, etc.   Although mainly dry goods, they have a small section of cold and freezer items, which makes this a great little store for people living nearby.

    Edelweiss is somewhat tucked out of the way.  It's located in a small shop in Regency to the left of the Caribbean Island Water Park.  However it can be worth the trip as they stock a wide selection of frozen meat and breads.  (And delicious frozen chocolate croissants). 

    Yova Supermarket is a great supermarket with a bit of everything.  They tend to have good selection of imported chocolate, frozen meat (including pork), fresh fruit and vegetables and dry goods.  They also have a good selection of household products and the prices seem overall to be a bit cheaper than other supermarkets.

    Toko Cherry carrys mostly items for baking - Special flours, butter, cheeses, mixes, and toppings.  Upstairs provides   It's a small shop located in the strip of stores to the right of Ace Hardware.  Behind Gardua, towards the back way to Le Granduer Hotel on the right.  It's worth a shop as they stock speciality baking items that are hard to find elsewhere.  

  2. What are some of the best local dishes in Balikpapan?

    Padang -   One of the more popular padang restaurants is on Jl. Mulawarman in Gunung Bakar.  Tradionally eaten with the right hand, there are aselection of dishes placed on the table to chose from.  This is a greatmeal to share with friends.  You will notice the dish generally contains aportion of one or two pieces, you only pay for what is removed from the plate. Rice & tea come with the meal, you can order a range of juices and alimited selection of bottled drinks.  For those in a hurry you can ordereither a boxed meal or paper twist to take away.  You may want to request half the rice as it is a big serve.

    Bakso - Enjoy a traditional dish of bakso, an Indonesian meatball soup.  A favorite is located in BDI, almost opposite BDI compound. The food is tasty, cheap & the service is fast & efficient.

    General Seafood -  Fish dishes are common everywhere, but funny enough, Seasik is a great local place to eat! Contrary to the name, Seasik restaurant in BDI is really great.  The food is predominantly seafood, but there is chicken & vegetables as well.  The tables are set above a fish pond & the kids (or adults) can have fun feeding the fish while you wait for your meal to be prepared.

    Crab -   There are several places that specialize in crabs around Balikpapan (they have big crabs on their signs!).  Located on Jl Mulawarman close to the airport, Danditos is a popular place for hard shell crabs.  A favorite is with oyster sauce and a side of kankung (green leafy vegetable).  Servings are quite large so expect to take leftovers home!  Delicious! 

    Satay - Sate ayam (Chicken satay) and sate champur (mixed satay) can be found being grilled up at Klandasan Market.  A great snack on the go.

  3. What's the best/easiest way to get alcohol in Balikpapan?

    The "higher end" hotels typically have a wine shop which sells bottles of wine and spirits - Jatra Hotel (as well as their small store in the basement of BSB), Blue Sky, Gran Senyiur, and Le Grandeur; however it tends to be expensive. Kings Head (and Royal) sell wine at a fairly reasonble cost and have a fairly wide range of spirits for a reasonable Balikpapan price.   

    Although there is a minimum order, you order direct by emailing mywinesupplier@gmail.com (or BBM 29DC51A6).  They sell a large variety of wine from various countries as well as the most variety of spirits for very reasonable (Indonesian) prices. They deliver directly to your home from Java. Fast and reliable.

    Bintang Beer  - The GRHA Bintang building has an area at the rear where Bintang cans, bottles and "tallies" can be purchased. Average price for a case of 24 bottles/cans or 12 tallies is less than 300,000IDR. The GRHA Bintang building is a green building of about 6 levels just past the entrance to BSB on Jl. Jend. Sudirman.

  4. What local food shopping is available in Balikpapan?

    Balikpapan has many outdoor daily markets, or "pasar" where you can buy fresh seafood, chicken, vegetables, fruits, spices, and other ingredients for a delicious meal. 

    Everyday vegetables in the market include cucumber, carrots, longbeans,  potatoes, eggplant, onions, cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, bean sprouts, squash, tomatoes, various types of leafy greens and lettuces, and, of course, more varities of chilis than you'll ever need to see!

    Fruits include different types of bananas, as well as watermelon, rockmelon, papaya, rambutan, snake fruit, jackfruit, durion, local limes, lychee, starfruit, mangosteen, mangoes, strawberries, and grapes, among others.

    Indonesian cuisine contains multiple flavors, so the markets also sell lemongrass, sage, mint, tumeric, basil, and a myriad of other spices.

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General Shopping

  1. What western stores and/or brands are in BPN?

    You'll find popular chains stores and restaruants in Balikpapan such as The Body Shop, Polo, Rip Curl, McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins, Black Canyon Coffee, etc. You will also find the malls to have a strong western influence with shops offering some western brands like Nike and Puma.

    Cosmetic brands such as Nivea, Maybelline and L'oreal are offered at nearly every grocery store or chemist.  Food imports vary across grocery stores, but you can find popular brands and products (mostly dry goods) to give you some "comforts of home".  Imported food brands come mainly from Thailand, Australia, USA, France, UK, and Netherlands.

    Ace Hardware is a popular store for not only hardware, but also other household goods.  And Informa is a popular for furniture and houseware. 

    Near Balikpapan Baru, Balikpapan has an authorized Tupperware distributor.  You can drop in to see current products or get a current catalog (for a small fee).  If in stock, you can purchase on the spot, or you can place a catalog order.  They always have different specials going on and prices are quite less than Australia or America for same Tupperware product. 

    Regardless of these more western-influenced brands, Balikpapan offers a wide range of stores and products mainstream to Indonesia.  Many of these are fantastic and you may find yourself opting for Excelso coffee house over Starbucks! (Excelso serves alcohol with their coffee!)

  2. What kind of local specialty shops are there in Balikpapan?

    Fabric/Upholsterer/Tailor -  One of the more popular upholsterer and dress making stores - Sells material and provides services for curtains, cushions, blinds, sheets, bed covers, etc.  Also can make clothing copies. JL Jend Sudirman, Shop 12, Level 1 and 2 at Klandason.  kmbjj@indo.net.id 

    Jewelry - Afat is a popular jeweler among expats.  He sells loose diamonds and gemstones and is able to make jewelry based on your own design or picture.  Many expats have had their items appraised after they return to their home countries and have been quite pleased with the price/quality.  The shop is back on a side street near Kebun Sayur.  Jl Pandan Sari, Rt 20, Shop 6, Pandan Sari. 

    Cultural Clothes - Attending a wedding or need an outfit for Idul Fitri? Salon Narti & Rias Pengantin is the place to go.  Located at Jl. Mulawarman Rt. 47 Manggar Baru. Mob: 085246618538. Here you will find a range of dress designs and accessories for hire from across the archipeligo.  The salon is also able to style hair in the tradition suited to the outfit.

    Crafts - Kebun Sayur is a great outdoor market which sells local products and handicrafts.  There are also a number of local shops:

    Arry Batik & Handycraft  located at Jl. Tanjungpura No 38 Rt 15 Mob: 081253010706 stocks batik tablecloths, runners & placemats.  Indonesian crafted items from various locations including: Wayang Golek - puppets, 'Canting' batik jackets & small crafted items.

    Magdalena Artshop - Pak Toha specialises in handicrafts, jewellery, coins, procelain, primitive artifacts and antiques. For ease of shopping he is able to bring a range of his products to you. Jl. Soekarno Hatta Km. 5.5 Komp. Perumahan Graha Indah Blok D1 No. 14. Mob: 082154669166

    Bornoe Craft Collection - Jalan Wiluyo Puspoyudo No.13 Klandasan Balikpapan, open daily from Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm. Tel: 0542 418717, 0542 418 725. The Centre carries a range of traditional items woven by  Dayak artisans. While some of the objects have traditionally been designed for practical use, more richly decorated items, have been created for specific social or ritual value.  These objects would be used only in traditional ceremonies. weddings and festivals. Artisans use only natural raw material, including dyes collected in a sustainable way from the tropical forest.

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Miscellaneous

  1. What are some recommended travel agencies in Balikpapan?

    Vayatour - Near Mal Fantasi - Blok AB1, Shop 23-24.  English speaking.  Able to communicate via email. www.vayatour.com

    Cakrawala Indah Tours and Travel - YuYu Cendra, Ruko Sentra Eropa Blok AB2/2, Balikpapan Baru, Balikpapan 76114, Phone 0542871095 or 7204266, www.cakrawalatravel.com, email:  yuyu@cakrawalatravel.com. English speaking and good email communication.

     


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