Getting from Kota Bangun to Samarinda


After enjoying a boat tour in Kota Bangun, we returned to Samarinda.

There are three methods s of transport from Kota Bangun to Samarinda, but we chose to take the bus.

In this post, I will share how to get from Kota Bangun to Samarinda.

Getting from Kota Bangun to Samarinda

Bus stop for Samarinda

There are three modes of transport from Kota Bangun to Samarinda.

  • Public boat (Kapal Biasa): departs Kota Bangun between 2am and 3am, arriving in Samarinda around 3pm.
  • Bus (Bis): several buses run daily. The fare to Samarinda is Rp 50,000 per person, no air-conditioning, and the journey takes about 4 hours.
  • Shared taxis (called Kijang or Travel): depart as soon as the vehicle is full. The boarding point is near the bus station. Fare to Samarinda is Rp 150,000 per person, with an additional charge of Rp 50,000 per item for large luggage. The journey takes about 3 hours.

Where to get on a bus to Samarinda

Kota Bangun boat landing

Bus and shared taxi stands from Kotabangun to Samarinda are located near Samarinda boat landing.

When we asked at Penginapan Sebangkat Raya, where we stayed, we were told that the first bus in the morning leaves at 7.30am, so we were driven to the bus station that morning.

In front of the bus station

Penginapan Sebangkat Raya has very simple rooms, but we had no complaints as they were very cheap and the air conditioning worked well. There is a discount if you stay for consecutive nights. We stayed two nights and the cost per night was the cheapest we have ever spent on a trip to Indonesia! A detailed review and images can be found on Google Maps.

Bus from Kota Bangun to Samarinda

Our bus to Samarinda

When we arrived at the bus station after being dropped off by the guesthouse staff, the bus to Samarinda was already parked. We bought a ticket from the nearby ticket office and it cost Rp 50,000 per person.

Bus ticket from Kota Bangun to Samarinda

Seat numbers are written on the ticket and you board the bus according to them. There are slight differences in legroom depending on the seat. We negotiated with a passenger to exchange our seats for seats with more legroom.

Breakfast and coffee

Snack and coffee shop

We had some time before departure, so we had a light breakfast at a nearby snack shop. We had traditional Indonesian snacks such as coconut sticky rice cake wrapped in banana leaves and coffee.

Indonesian snacks and coffee

We bought additional snacks to take away, and the total cost was only Rp 24,000.

As we were paying the bill, we heard the bus horn tooting and rushed back.

Departure from Kotabangun: 7.30 am

The bus departed from Kota Bangun bus station at 7.30am. The bus drove slowly and picked up passengers and refuelled. It was 8:00 am when we left the town of Kota Bangun.

When we asked the locals, we were told that the bus journey takes four hours, but it is better to interpret their ‘four hours’ as four hours after leaving the city, not the bus terminal.

Bus journey from Kota Bangun to Samarinda

Trees for paper materials

The road from Kota Bangun to Samarinda is consistently paved, but is in poor condition in places.

It takes a long time for the distance (about 100 km). We had to slow down every time we came to bumpy spots where the asphalt is broken.

Overtaking is not easy either, as the road is a single lane ‘mountain’ road. Well, before that, the engine of the bus is also quite clunky, and every steep hill makes you wonder if you will be able to make it up.

By bus, it takes four hours, but if you take a shared a small taxi with a powerful engine (mainly Japanese cars such as Toyota and Daihatsu), you can get there in three hours.

The bus was more than full without air-conditioning, but the moderately loud Indonesian pop music consoled us.

Arrival in Samarinda: 11.30am

Arrival in Samarinda

As the road to Samarinda became two lanes after Tenggarong, the journey got more smooth.

Buses from Kota Bangun arrive at Samarinda Bus Terminal (Balikpapan – Samarinda) on the west side of Samarinda town. We wanted to stay at a guesthouse in the centre of town, so we got off at a junction on the way. The time was 11.30 am. It still takes about half an hour to get to the city centre. From here we took a Grab taxi to the guesthouse where we would be staying.