Balikpapan relief is very hilly with long shoreline.  According to many locals, a handful number of districts are named after a hill/ridge e.g. Gunung bugis (Bugis Ridge - Total Indonesie Complex), Gunung Karang (Karang Ridge - Total Complex), Gunung Pasir (Pasir Ridge - Chevron Complex), Gunung Dubbs (Dubbs Ridge - Pertamina Complex), etc.  Each of the complex mentioned above is occupied by large multinational corporations.  They used it for office and housing (expats and locals).

 The best vantage point to shoot panorama of Balikpapan is from Gunung Dubbs (Dubbs Ridge).  You will need to pass Pertamina Security. The guards are quite lenient, public should be able to enter the complex without much issues.  No public mass transportation is allowed, so you will need to hop into a private vehicle.  As soon as you are clear from the security guard inspections (if any), keep climbing uphill until reaching the highest point.  There are plenty of Pertamina housing around here.  Many good locations you can pick in this ridge to enjoy the panorama of the city or Makassar Strait.

 Another good spot without having to pass security checkpoint is Gunung Pasir (Pasir Ridge).  The exact location is uphill sharp turn prior to entering Chevron Complex.  The street name should be Jalan Attaka Besar.  From this point, you can view highrise of Balikpapan.  During New Year's fireworks or Balikpapan Birthday celebration, it is one of the best point to enjoy the lights.

 To see Tukung island from above, you can drive up to area called "Pelayaran".  If you are not familiar with the area, I encourage to ask locals about how to get to top of the hill.  This location is neighboring with Melawai Beach - a popular spot for locals.  There is a small steep hill that you can take to reach the top of the hill.  From this place, either Tukung island with seaview or part of refinery shipyard can be seen.

 If you have never been to rainforest, visiting Bukit Bangkirai is highly recommended.  You can climb up the trees using man-made steps and reach the top of the tree lines.  From there, you can appreciate the beauty of the rain forest.