Brunei is an intriguing travel destination, and offers a wide array of experiences, from spectacular architectural wonders, unique wildlife, to opportunities to interact with royalty. The following are some tips based on personal accounts of travelers who have been there.
Sultan’s Palace: If you’re visiting during Eid, the Sultan’s Palace is open to the public. It’s a rare opportunity to meet one of the world’s richest men and his family. Be prepared for a long queue (up to 3 hours), but you’ll be treated to unlimited food and even receive a signed greetings card and a fruit cake. As for the dress code, there isn’t a strict one, but dressing formally with long sleeves and pants is recommended.
Accommodation: The Radisson Hotel in downtown Bandar Seri Begawan is centrally located, making it easy to walk to many sites. However, it might not be the most glamorous of accommodations.
Another option is to stay in a lodge in the water village, which can be an amazing experience. Head to the Empire Country Club for a nice sunset view over the ocean and there’s also the Gadong night market with cheap but very good food.
Capital Residence Suite, which offers airport transfers and local drop-offs, is also a good option, especially considering that taxis are expensive and hard to come by in Brunei.
Activities and Sightseeing
- The Ulu Ulu National Park comes highly recommended, with many suggesting that an overnight stay would make the experience more enjoyable.
- Bandar Seri Begawan can be covered in half a day and the two main mosques, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, are a must-see.
- If you’re interested in museums, don’t miss the Brunei Museum which showcases various gifts from global leaders.
Consider asking a fisherman at the pier for a tour of the water village. You may even see crocodiles and fireflies at night. Don’t miss a visit to the Proboscis monkeys, locally referred to as ‘penis monkeys’, they’re quite the spectacle. If you have time, the boat ride to Bangar, the starting point for the Ulu Temburong Park, is said to be fun.
Public transport is scarce, with no taxis or public buses, so having accommodation within walking distance to attractions is beneficial. Otherwise, your hotel might be able to organize transport or recommend trusted drivers.
While Brunei is a dry country, non-Muslim foreigners can freely bring in duty-free alcohol. However, keep in mind that the country has strict laws, many based on Sharia law, so always be respectful of local customs and norms.
ATMs are available and you can change money at local banks or currency exchange bureaus.
Remember, everyone’s experience can vary and what may be a highlight for one person may not necessarily be the same for another. Thus, it’s always a good idea to do a bit of research before you travel and have an idea of what you’d like to see and do. However, one thing seems to be consistent – Brunei is a unique destination and a memorable place to visit.