One thing you may find surprising when you start planning your Borneo trip is that it’s not actually that easy to get between Malaysian Borneo and Indonesian Borneo without flying back to a major hub.
Matter of fact, far as we can tell the quickest way is to hop on the daily MASWings circuit from Kota Kinabulu -> Sandakan -> Tawau -> Tarakan and then back. Which is pretty nifty actually, you get an aerial tour right around Sabah for the price of a cheap ticket. Score!
There is outdated information you’ll still find floating around the web claiming you can’t get a visa on arrival at Tarakan airport, only at major international hubs, but we are pleased to report that is in fact incorrect; we had no trouble whatsoever with our Canadian passport.
Indonesian people in general are remarkably friendly we’ve found, and particularly so in Tarakan; pretty sure this is the first time we’ve walked out to find a local band serenading the arrivals,
… and it is definitely the first time the band has made sure everybody gets photos of the ocassion!
Anyhow, while it’s always nice to have your visit fussed over and all, chances are you’re not actually going to spend much time in Tarakan, just need a place to stay overnight to catch your plane the next day; and as the tourist infrastructure in Tarakan is, well, nonexistent pretty much, it would be prudent to pick a hotel that offers airport service.
And our recommendation for that is: Milia Hotel!
It’s a fairly straightforward hotel, the big reason we recommend it is that the rate includes pickup and dropoff at the airport and they’re close to what passes for the Tarakan downtown so you can wander around the night market and join the locals at KFC and … well actually that’s about it for Tarakan nightlife far as we could tell.
But if you want to experience a part of Indonesia that is not overrun with tourists, then Tarakan is an excellent choice for your Borneo itinerary!