As the sun begins to rise in Lok Baintan in Banjar regency, South Kalimantan, the river comes to life with a bustle of boats, colour and people. Members of the Banjar community, one of the ethnic groups of Kalimantan, adept at maneuvering their jukungs (rowboats) on the Martapura River, take up position for the morning ahead.
Established in the 18th century, Muara Kuin floating market was once the most famous of its kind; it still exists today, but with rapid urban development, including the construction of malls and mini marts, sadly the floating market is in decline, with the number of boats and transactions decreasing each year. But whilst this market declines, Lok Baintan floating marketing is increasing in popularity as a place for tourists to enjoy the experience of doing the grocery shopping from a boat!
From the city centre of Banjarmasin, it takes just 30 minutes by klotok (speeadboat) to reach Lok Baintan, to find a boat just head to "Warung Soty Ayam Bang Amat", a chicken soup eatery found on Jl. Banua Anyar - there are numerous boats there available to transport you to the market, with private charters for 30 people costing just Rp 300,000. Smaller boats are alos available for half the price.
To enjoy Lok Baintan’s activities, which take place from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., visitors should depart at 5 a.m. Along the way, rows of wooden settlements erected above the water can be seen on both sides of the river.
It's an early start, heading off at 5am, passing by the river settlements of wooden houses along the riverside. The market itself is an amazing site to see, as boats jostle for position, and the women chat amongst themselves, selling, buying and bargaining. For the hungry traveller, you're in luck - this is an incredible place to grab some fresh fruit and veg for incredibly cheap prices. There are also traditional food and snack “stalls” aboard rowboats, offering Banjar dishes with yellow rice to klotok passengers. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a view vendors offering Soto Alam Roh.. an flavoursome and unique soup dish. Local handicrafts, such as purun hats, and baskets are also for sale, made from the leaf and bark of palm trees and purun plants that grow in swamplands nearby.
We highly recommend a trip to Muara Kuin floating market… this icon for the Province of South Kalimantan, just in case the shopping malls take over and before it fades into oblivion, and this centuries long tradition is gone.