Imagine waking up to the gentle hum of a bustling floating market, where the vibrant colors of tropical fruits glisten under the morning sun. Welcome to Banjarmasin, the Venice of the East, a city crisscrossed by rivers and Canals that offer a unique blend of culture, adventure, and serenity. As someone who’s been enchanted by its charm, I’m thrilled to share the top 10 things to do in this hidden gem of South Kalimantan.
1. Explore the Lok Baintan Floating Market
Start your day early and head to the Lok Baintan Floating Market. It’s a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and smells. Watch as locals trade goods from their traditional wooden boats, a practice unchanged for centuries. Don’t miss out on tasting the local delicacies sold right off the boats – it’s a breakfast experience you won’t forget!
2. Visit the Sabilal Muhtadin Mosque
Next, marvel at the grandeur of the Sabilal Muhtadin Mosque, the largest in Banjarmasin. Its magnificent architecture is a sight to behold, especially during sunset when the golden hues reflect off the water. Take a moment to appreciate the peaceful atmosphere and intricate designs that adorn this spiritual haven.
3. Stroll Along the Martapura River
Take a leisurely stroll along the Martapura River. The riverbanks are bustling with life and offer a picturesque view of the city. You’ll find locals fishing, kids playing, and boats gliding by. It’s the perfect spot to soak in the local vibe and snap some stunning photos.
4. Dive into the Diamond Market
Did you know Banjarmasin is known for its precious stones? The Martapura Diamond Market is a treasure trove where you can witness the art of diamond cutting and polishing. Even if you’re not looking to buy, it’s fascinating to see the skilled craftsmanship that goes into creating these sparkling gems.
5. Relax at the Bekantan Sanctuary
For a change of pace, visit the Bekantan Sanctuary on Pulau Kembang. This small island is home to the endangered proboscis monkeys, known locally as Bekantan. Watching these unique creatures in their natural habitat is a serene and humbling experience.
6. Indulge in Culinary Delights at Banjarmasin’s Night Market
As the sun sets, head to the bustling night market. Here, you can indulge in local culinary delights like soto Banjar, a flavorful soup, or kueh lapis, a layered rice flour pudding. The market’s vibrant atmosphere is the perfect backdrop for an evening of taste-testing and people-watching.
7. Canoe Through the Mangrove Forest
For the adventurous souls, a canoe trip through the mangrove forest is a must. Paddle through the tranquil waters and be on the lookout for wildlife. The lush greenery and peaceful silence are a refreshing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.
8. Discover the Cultural Heritage at Wasaka Museum
Immerse yourself in Banjarmasin’s history at the Wasaka Museum. The museum houses artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of the city’s rich cultural heritage. It’s a great place to learn about the local traditions and the city’s role in Indonesia’s fight for independence.
9. Experience the Banjar Tribe’s Floating Houses
Experience the unique lifestyle of the Banjar tribe by visiting their floating houses. These traditional dwellings, built on stilts above the water, offer a glimpse into the locals’ adaptation to their aquatic environment. Some residents even welcome visitors, allowing you to see their way of life up close.
10. Shop for Souvenirs at the Siring Watchtower Market
Before you leave, make sure to visit the Siring Watchtower Market. It’s the perfect place to pick up souvenirs like handwoven baskets, traditional fabrics, and local handicrafts. Climbing the watchtower also gives you a panoramic view of the city – a lasting memory of your time in Banjarmasin.
- What’s the best time to visit Banjarmasin?
The best time to visit is during the dry season from May to September when the weather is more predictable, making it easier to explore.
- How do I get around in Banjarmasin?
You can get around by taxi, rented motorbike, or by taking a traditional boat known as a klotok for a more authentic experience.
- Are there any cultural etiquettes I should be aware of?
Yes, it’s important to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Also, always ask for permission before taking photos of locals.
Banjarmasin is a city that captivates with its riverine charm and warm hospitality. From the bustling floating markets to the serene mangrove forests, there’s an adventure around every corner. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or foodie, Banjarmasin has something special for you. So pack your bags, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in this enchanting South Kalimantan city.
Remember, the best way to experience Banjarmasin is to immerse yourself in its daily life. Engage with the locals, taste the street food, and let the city’s rhythm dictate your journey. It’s these authentic experiences that will make your trip truly remarkable. Safe travels!