SMK Negeri 2, Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, Indonesia

Klotok Rental at the Floating Market (Tourism Industry)

Banjarmasin is the capital city of the province called South Kalimantan, which is famous for its many rivers, big and small, connecting city areas. Rivers are a part of Banjarmasin’s community and everything is based on water. Indigenous people of Banjarmasin, called Banjar People, live along the riverbanks. Although there are many newcomers from Hulu Sungai, (an area that includes Hulu Sungai Tengah and its capital Barabai, Hulu Sungai Selatan and its capital Kandangan, and Hulu Sungai Utara and its capital Amuntai), Banjar people welcome them warmly because they share the same river culture. Hulu sungai means “headwaters of rivers” and Banjar people conduct their daily activities on water. One of the activities is the floating market, which has played important role for the indigenous people of Banjarmasin.



The floating market on Barito River opens at dawn (around 5:00 am), and ends after the sun rises (about 8 am). The floating market is popular with tourists, and its unique and traditional way of transaction has attracted many people who want to come and see it. Tourism opened many business opportunities for local people. One such business is klotok rentals.


A klotok is a traditional, long, wooden, canoe-like boat, which has a small motor at the bottom. The boat gets its name from the “klok tok tok” noise it makes, and it is used in rivers as a taxi or to transport goods. Driving klotok on Barito River requires special skill, and this is the reason why business owners usually drive the boats themselves. Although now there are some big-capital owners who run businesses too, they do not have a high regard for the art of navigating the boats on Barito River. People who know about klotok choose it for transportation to the floating market.



One of the local owners of a klotok rental is Pak Amat. He has run the business for about 15 years. Every day he awaits his passengers at the dock, along with other drivers. People will come and negotiate the fee (usually about Rp. 100.000 – Rp. 250.000) depending on the route. Pak Amat will offer routes from which tourists can choose: floating market only, floating market plus sailing around Banjarmasin, floating market plus visiting the Flower Land, or the complete route which includes everything. Flower Land is a small land at the heart of Barito, and is the habitat for bekantan (a long-nose monkey). The land is full of monkeys and no people live there.


To attract tourists, while driving, Pak Amat will tell legends. He also offers a breakfast on the river, and the way he gets this is unique. Pak Amat will call one of the floating food-stalls, and then he helps the tourist hook their breakfast with a long bamboo stick. If the tourists want, they can try to hook their meal themselves. When buying fruits or any other goods, Pak Amat will help them bargain with the sellers.


There used to be a shortage of klotok rentals owned by locals. Most of them do not speak English, and some of them even do not speak Bahasa Indonesia. This is a challenge in expanding their business, and also in facing globalization, which has prompted more foreigners to come to Banjarmasin. How can the drivers tell their legends in the local Banjar language? They also lack promotion skills and even the Floating Market itself is diminishing. It used to attract hundreds of boats floating to the market, but now has only tens. The Indonesian government is promoting tourism, but it lacks sensitivity toward the local sellers who are the main actors of the floating market. The klotok rental and the floating market are mutually dependent in the face of these challenges. The klotok driver should be trained to modify his boat in a green way to the save the gas they use for their motors. They used to dispose the waste from their boats into the river.


This “Going Green” project was conducted by the students at SMK Negeri 2, a vocational high school in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo):

Tengku Novita Yuli Andika
Ismaya Fitria
Ayu Andini

Teacher supervisor: Ari Rahman


  1. Colin Halvey
    November 17, 2011

    I found this to be a fascinating picture of local culture, although it’s emphasis on going green is debatable. Yet, I do not think that this detracts from the project. I do not completely understand the conflict that is being presented here. The increased tourism has led to the development of the klotok niche, but is also threatened by the same phenomenon, globalization, which led to its creation. This is a rather interesting casual relationship. Is there still currently a deficit in klotok rentals owned by locals? I am not sure if the “used” tense is meant to imply that this has continued. I would also be interested in knowing why the Floating Market is declining.

    Colin Halvey- Ridgewood High School, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA.

  2. Alex Sarappo
    November 20, 2011

    As someone who has spent nearly the entirety of his life in suburbia, more or less, it is not only refreshing, but fascinating to hear about life outside the boundaries of northeastern New Jersey. The prose in your report is clear and very readable, and the videos you decided to include are interesting and well-placed. Great job, keep up the good work. I would love to hear more.
    -Alex Sarappo, Ridgewood High School

  3. November 21, 2011

    Local trade international exports, we have not experienced the effect here in the US, but we see a global example of what we need to do in future, and the future is now.

  4. Qurrat Schmidt
    November 21, 2011

    The klotok boat is very fascinating especially that it could be used in multiple ways in our everyday life. The videos are very interesting and they demonstrate the process of the floating market clearly.
    From Summer, Qurrat, and Erin
    Students of Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences

  5. Sophie
    November 22, 2011

    This is incredible! I have actually been to some floating markets in Vietnam and Laos. It really is hard to imagine such a different culture. It is unbelievable how this culture can trade goods with such little pollution in comparison to the United States whose food will be transported miles to get to its destination.

    Sophie-Scarsdale High School, New York.

  6. Sara.MidPacific
    November 24, 2011

    This is a great way of showing us their culture. The Klotok owners can instead of having a motored power boat, they could use the paddles like the other boat owners use. It might take a lot of work but it be cool for the tourist to paddle themselves around as well. They could actually put themselves inside your shoes and see how you live. The tourism is a great economic profit for them, and more people should know about this great experience. The Klotok owners could make a new ride that allows the passengers to go where they want, and paddle themselves with their help. It can give them a better look at how they live their every day lives.

  7. Tomo S.
    November 27, 2011

    This is a very interesting presentation. Almost all of this information was new to me. I am very grateful to you guys for helping me learn something new. This was a very interesting article about tourist attractions and how tourists get carried around in a floating market boat. People can look at this presentation and they can get a better idea of what life is like in other places like these.

  8. December 1, 2011

    OH! This is an amazing project.

  9. Kathy N.
    December 4, 2011

    It was really interesting to learn about klotok and to see the video of the floating market, but I don’t understand how this connects to any “going green” idea….Could you explain?

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