Typical passenger river ferries, Kalimantan

Getting Around Kalimantan – Borneo

Organised Tours

There are quite a lot of tour companies, many well established with excellent reputations, offering a range of group or private tours. Between them, they cover most of this big island so they’re a good option for those that like to have everything organised for them. You won’t have any trouble finding one that specialises in orangutan tours if you have limited time. Most of these companies will arrange domestic flights in and out of Kalimantan for you. As always shop around as prices can vary quite a bit.

Public Transport

Public buses service most of Kalimantan with air-conditioned coaches servicing the routes between the major centres. Local buses are less comfortable and sometimes quite crowded with luggage and passengers pile in the alley. Additionally, poorly maintained roads prone to regular flooding can make some journeys quite tedious so if you’re travelling on local buses don’t expect too much.

Private Transport

Travelling by private car is by far the most convenient way to travel if your budget runs to it. Ojeks are common for regional travel but less so for wider travel across the island. Contact one of the local tour companies if you want to organise a driver or driver and guide before arrival. Alternatively, wait until you arrive in Kalimantan and ask your hotel to help you organise a car.


Intra-island flights connect the major centres with each other and a few remote destinations such as Long Bawan, Apokayan, Bontang, Tanjung Selor, Malinau and Nunukan Island. Check out tiket.com for flight schedules and bookings.

River Boat

Not surprisingly for an island of great rivers and hundreds of waterways, many prone to seasonal flooding, Kalimantan is well serviced by local ferries, small passenger boats (kapal) and speed boats. Unfortunately, frequent overloading can make the public boats crowded, uncomfortable and dangerous. We’re not saying don’t use them, just exercise some caution and opt for another boat if things don’t look right. Alternatively, chartering your own houseboat (klotok), kapal, longboat or motorised canoe is quite affordable and a really enjoyable way to get around. The easiest way to charter a boat is to head down to the river where the boatmen congregate between jobs, usually under a bridge close to the middle of town. Just ask around and someone will point you in the right direction. On longer river trips, it may be necessary to change to progressively smaller boats heading upstream and vice versa coming downstream. If you’re planning to visit Tanjung Puting for an organgutan tour, a klotok is your only option to access the park.