Brunei Travel Guide
I won't be surprised if you've never heard of Brunei. The tiny country located on the island of Borneo isn't very popular. So, many travelers do not know about it and those that know about it sometimes consider the country not worth visiting, which isn't true!
Brunei manages to pack a lot of punch despite its small size. The country has beautiful beaches and pristine rainforests. Thanks to its massive oil and gas deposits, the roads are good (comparable to that of most western States) and the quality of life is like no other. One could call Brunei a mini Dubai except that the wealth of the country is mostly seen in the comfort and wealth of the citizens rather than towering skyscrapers.
I think more travelers should give Brunei a chance. The country has its own charms and all the attractions are mostly within a short distance of each other due to the small size of the country.
Capital city: Bandar Seri Begawan.
Currency: Brunei dollar (BND) 1 USD = 1.38 BND.
Electricity: Power voltage is 240 Volts. Power socket type G.
Languages: Standard Malay is the official language of Brunei although the Brunei Malay variety is more widely spoken. English is also commonly spoken in the country.
8 Handpicked Highlights of Brunei
Omar Ali Saiffuddin Mosque, Bandar Seri Begawan
Brunei is a rich Islamic country and it’s only logical the country has some stunning mosques, right? The Omar Ali Saiffuddin mosque is one of the most beautiful and picturesque mosques in Brunei. Adorned with a gold dome, a beautiful ceremonial barge, and a stunning artificial lagoon, it’s easy to see why the mosque is one of the main attractions in Brunei.
Omar Ali Saiffuddin mosque looks even more stunning at night as the lighting makes the building look bright gold. Visitors are allowed in the mosque but have to dress conservatively. It’s a place of worship, after all.
Gadong Night Market, Bandar Seri Begawan
If you want to experience local culture and food in Brunei, there’s no better place to do this than the Gadong Night Market. Where there are several food options, the focus is on barbecued meat and vegetables. Amazingly, the food here is very cheap as you can eat for as cheap as 1 BND (0.73 USD).
Generally, vegetable servings are the cheapest and meat, especially lamb is the dearest. You are spoilt for choice here!
Kampong Ayer (Water Village), Bandar Seri Bagawan
It’s easy to think Brunei is just mosques and Bandar Seri Begawan (the capital). A visit to Kampong Ayer will change that view. The Kampong Ayer is a village built on water and the interesting thing is that the inhabitants chose to live there. Houses are connected by walkways and the villages on the water have schools, mosques, and police stations. People get around on motor boats. It’s a different and enjoyable experience especially for those that have never visited a water village.
Ulu Temburong National Park
Ulu Temburong National Park is one of the best conserved rain forests. You’ll need to sign up for a guided tour to visit the park and the journey there involves both road and water travel. When you get to the park, you’ll hike to an observation deck which provides incredible views of the forest. You can take a dip in a small stream on your way back and enjoy some thrill by ziplining in the park.
Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, Bandar Seri Begawan
The biggest and one of the most iconic mosques in Brunei, the Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is worth a visit. The sheer size of the most is fascinating on its own. Throw in the tropical scenery and architecture and the mosque becomes a work of art.
There’s a beautiful fountain and a green courtyard near the entrance of the mosque. Visits to the mosque are free but you have to dress conservatively and follow the code of conduct which you’ll be informed of before being granted access.
Jungle hike to the top of Bukit Patoi (Patoi Hill)
If you are the type that likes to explore the outdoors, you shouldn’t miss out the chance to visit the Bukit Patoi forest reserve whenever you are in Brunei. The main attraction here is the hike up the Patoi hill. It’s recommended you travel with a guide and you’ll have fun learning about the plant and animal life at the reserve.
When you get to the summit of the hill, you’ll be rewarded with great views over the surrounding rainforest. Simply mesmerizing.
Pulau Selirong Forest Recreational Park in the Brunei Bay
Located in heart of the Brunei Bay us the Pulau Selirong Forest Recreational Park which is an amazing and untouched mangrove forest island. The island is blessed with a wide variety of plants and fauna.
There are observation towers, boardwalks, and berths where visitors can take in the beauty of the park. Enjoy a scenic stroll through nature and have fun spotting some of the most exotic animals species in the world.
Pantai Seri Kenangan, Tutong
The Pantai Seri Kenangan is one of the best beaches in Brunei. You see a beautiful stretch of clean soft white sand and majestic pine trees. It’s advisable you bring some refreshments as the beach doesn’t have a lot of amenities. Brunei generally has beautiful sunsets and the Tutong beach is one of the best place to view them.
Brunei's Geography & Landscapes
Brunei is divided into 2 disconnected segments of unequal size by the East Malaysian state of Sarawak. The Western segment is the larger segment and contains the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan.
The Eastern segment, Temburong, is wilder and covered with pristine jungles. It is where you need to go for the Ulu Temburong National Park or Bukit Patoi.
The landscape of Brunei consists of a flat coastal plains that becomes mountainous in the east and hilly lowlands in the west.
Best Time To Go Brunei
The climate of Brunei is mostly tropical and the country has two seasons – the dry and wet seasons. The dry season runs from February to April and the temperature is scorching during this period. The wet season, which is between October to January, sees abundant rainfall although it will still be hot and humid. While you may think the wet season is the best time to visit the country, the abundance of rainfall during the season may ruin your experience.
The best time to visit Brunei is during January to March, which are the transitional periods as the temperature is bearable during this time and rainfall is low. However, June to August is the peak tourist season in Brunei. The temperature during this period is also favorable for travelers.
Traveling in Brunei
Crime levels are low although petty thefts may occur in the major towns. especially against tourists. So be careful and follow these safety tips:
- Avoid large public gatherings.
- Keep your valuables secure and lock your accommodation even when you are in.
- Avoid raw and undercooked food to prevent foodborne and waterborne diseases.
- Dress conservatively and follow respect local customs.
- Don’t leave your drinks unattended to or accept drinks from strangers.
- Drink responsibly.
- Travel in groups at night.
- Watch yourself around ATMs.
- Buy good travel insurance.
Getting to & Around Brunei
The only international airport in Brunei is the Brunei International Airport in the capital city. There are no local flights in the country.
Brunei has only one form of public transportation and that’s the Franchise Bus. Public buses are cheap, covers the key areas tourists visit, and connect the capital to the rural areas.
Taxis are the most common form of transportation and Fares are priced via distance, time and traffic.
Brunei has a local ride sharing app called ‘Dart’ which is the country’s version of Uber. Dart is usually more convenient and may even be cheaper than taxis.
Water taxis connect those who stay across the water to the inland.
Speedboats are available to cross the Brunei Bay from Bandar Seri Begawan to Bangar, in the province of Temburong.
There’s a wide range of accommodation in Brunei, ranging from luxurious seven-star hotels to simple, basic guesthouses, and budget hostels. Brunei is generally budget-friendly although it’s not as cheap as the other countries in South East Asia.