👋 Apa khabar’! My name is Trisha, and I’ve traveled and have lead group tours to Brunei several times. In this Brunei travel guide, I will share with you everything I know about Japan travel including budget, things to do, cheap flights, affordable accommodations, what to avoid, and more!
Nestled on the northern coast of Borneo, Brunei Darussalam, or simply Brunei, is a hidden gem that offers a unique travel experience for those seeking a blend of rich culture, pristine nature, and unspoiled tranquility. Often overshadowed by its more prominent Southeast Asian neighbors, this tiny, oil-rich sultanate beckons intrepid travelers with its captivating charm and warm hospitality.
Stepping foot in Brunei, you’ll be immediately struck by the stunning architectural wonders of its mosques, adorned with shimmering golden domes and intricate designs that pay homage to the nation’s Islamic heritage. Delve deeper into the cultural tapestry by exploring the opulent Royal Regalia Museum or strolling through the bustling markets of Bandar Seri Begawan, the country’s vibrant capital.
Beyond the urban landscape, Brunei’s verdant rainforests and unspoiled ecosystems offer a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure-seekers alike. Embark on an unforgettable journey into the heart of Ulu Temburong National Park, where you can traverse canopy walkways, encounter exotic wildlife, and relish the serenity of the lush Bornean jungle.
Join us as we explore the wonders of Brunei, uncovering its best-kept secrets and revealing the allure of this enchanting destination. Immerse yourself in the fascinating fusion of tradition and modernity that awaits you in this remarkable corner of the world.
🇧🇳 Brunei Travel Guide: quick info
The currency in Brunei is the Brunei Dollar, abbreviated as BND and symbolized as B$. The Brunei Dollar is further divided into 100 cents. Banknotes come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 B$, while coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents. Interestingly, the Brunei Dollar is interchangeable with the Singapore Dollar at a 1:1 ratio, meaning both currencies can be used in either country. This interchangeability is due to a Currency Interchangeability Agreement between Brunei and Singapore that has been in place since 1967.
In Brunei, the electricity sockets used are of Type G. These sockets are the same as those used in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Singapore. They are designed for three-prong plugs with rectangular pins, and the standard voltage is 240V with a frequency of 50Hz. If you are traveling to Brunei from a country with a different type of plug or voltage, you may need to bring a travel adapter or a voltage converter to ensure compatibility with your electronic devices.
Whether or not you need a visa to enter Brunei depends on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Citizens of certain countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most European Union member states, are allowed visa-free entry for short stays, typically ranging from 14 to 90 days. However, the exact duration of visa-free stays varies depending on your nationality.
In Brunei, internet connectivity and Wi-Fi speeds have improved over the years. In urban areas, such as Bandar Seri Begawan, you can expect reasonably fast Wi-Fi at hotels, restaurants, cafes, and shopping centers. However, the internet speeds may not be as fast as those in more developed countries or major cities in other parts of the world.
In rural areas or remote locations, the Wi-Fi coverage and speed can be less reliable and slower. If you require a consistent and fast internet connection during your stay in Brunei, you may want to consider purchasing a local SIM card with a data plan from one of the local mobile operators, such as DST or Progresif. This will allow you to have access to mobile internet, which can be helpful in areas with limited Wi-Fi availability or slow connections.
The official language of Brunei is Malay, which is spoken by the majority of the population. Malay, or Bahasa Melayu, is a member of the Austronesian language family and is used in government, education, and media throughout the country. Brunei Malay, a distinct dialect, is spoken by locals and may have some differences in vocabulary and pronunciation compared to Standard Malay.
In addition to Malay, several other languages are spoken in Brunei due to the country’s ethnic diversity. These include Chinese dialects such as Hokkien, Hakka, and Cantonese, as well as indigenous languages like Iban, Dusun, and Tutong.
English is also widely spoken and understood in Brunei, particularly in urban areas and tourist centers. English is taught as a second language in schools and is often used in business, commerce, and official matters. Most signs and official documents are written in both Malay and English, and many Bruneians are proficient in English, making communication relatively easy for travelers from English-speaking countries.
Brunei is generally considered a safe country for travelers. The crime rate in Brunei is relatively low, and incidents of violent crime against tourists are rare. The country is politically stable, and the risk of civil unrest or terrorism is minimal compared to many other regions in the world.
However, as with any destination, it is essential to exercise common-sense precautions to ensure your safety during your stay. Petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and bag-snatching, can occur, particularly in crowded or touristy areas. To minimize risk, be aware of your surroundings, avoid displaying valuable items, and keep your belongings secure.
Additionally, Brunei has strict laws and regulations, particularly regarding drug offenses, which carry severe penalties, including the death penalty for trafficking. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with local laws and customs to avoid inadvertently violating any rules or regulations.
In terms of health and safety, Brunei has a well-developed healthcare system, and the risk of contracting infectious diseases is relatively low. However, it is always advisable to follow standard precautions, such as staying up-to-date on vaccinations, practicing good hygiene, and using insect repellent to protect against mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever.
🗺️ Brunei Map
✨ Brunei travel tips for first-timers
- Respect local customs and religion: Brunei is an Islamic country, and it is essential to be mindful of local customs and religious practices. Dress modestly, particularly when visiting mosques or religious sites, and refrain from public displays of affection. Be aware of the local prayer times, as some establishments may close temporarily for prayers.
- Try local cuisine at night markets: Brunei offers a unique blend of Malay, Indian, and Chinese culinary influences. Visit the Gadong Night Market or Tamu Kianggeh for a taste of authentic Bruneian dishes, such as ambuyat, nasi katok, or satay.
- Visit Kampong Ayer, the “Venice of the East”: This historic water village in Bandar Seri Begawan is home to stilt houses, mosques, and schools built on the Brunei River. Take a water taxi to explore the village, and don’t forget to visit the Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery to learn about the area’s rich history.
- Discover Brunei’s shipwreck diving sites: Brunei has several shipwreck diving sites worth exploring, such as the Cement Wreck and the Australian Wreck. With clear waters and an abundance of marine life, these sites offer fascinating diving experiences for both beginners and experienced divers.
- Take note of the alcohol restrictions: Brunei is a dry country, and the sale of alcohol is prohibited. Non-Muslim visitors can bring a limited amount of alcohol for personal consumption, but be sure to declare it at customs upon arrival.
- Be prepared for limited public transportation: Public transportation options in Brunei are limited, with infrequent bus services and no trains. Consider renting a car or using taxis and ride-hailing apps like Dart to get around more efficiently.
- Visit the Oil and Gas Discovery Centre: Gain insight into Brunei’s oil and gas industry by visiting the interactive Oil and Gas Discovery Centre in Seria. The center features hands-on exhibits, multimedia displays, and educational programs that showcase the science and technology behind the industry that fuels the nation’s economy.
- Learn about Brunei’s biodiversity at the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre: Located in Ulu Temburong National Park, the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre is dedicated to research and education on Brunei’s diverse ecosystems. Visitors can participate in guided tours and workshops to learn about the flora and fauna of Borneo’s rainforests.
- Attend a traditional Bruneian wedding: If you have the opportunity to attend a traditional Bruneian wedding, don’t miss the chance to experience the customs, rituals, and lavish celebrations that accompany these events. Be sure to dress appropriately and follow any etiquette guidelines provided by your hosts.
- Explore Brunei’s pristine beaches: While Brunei may not be famous for its beaches, the country boasts several unspoiled stretches of sand that are worth exploring. Visit beaches like Muara Beach, Serasa Beach, or Pantai Meragang for a quiet escape from the bustling city life.
Let me help you plan your trip to Brunei!
I have been traveling to Brunei for the last 10 years and have hosted trips and tours in Brunei. Let’s talk on the phone and plan your Brunei travel!
📅 Best time to visit Brunei by month
January in Brunei
Traveling to Brunei in January offers visitors the chance to experience the country during its northeast monsoon season. This period typically lasts from November to March and is characterized by more frequent rainfall than the rest of the year. While this may not seem like the ideal time to visit, there are still some advantages and unique experiences during this month.
The weather in January tends to be warm and humid, with average temperatures ranging from 23°C (73°F) to 31°C (88°F). Despite the increased likelihood of rain, the showers are usually short and heavy, often occurring in the late afternoon or evening, leaving much of the day dry and suitable for outdoor activities. When venturing out, it is essential to be prepared for sudden downpours by carrying an umbrella or raincoat.
One of the benefits of visiting Brunei in January is the potential for fewer tourists, which can lead to a more authentic and less crowded experience at popular attractions. Moreover, the lush vegetation flourishes during the rainy season, making it an excellent time to explore Brunei’s rainforests and national parks, such as Ulu Temburong National Park.
February in Brunei
Traveling to Brunei in February provides visitors with an opportunity to experience the country during the tail-end of the northeast monsoon season. While rainfall remains relatively frequent during this month, the weather gradually begins to improve as the dry season approaches. Despite the occasional rain, there are still plenty of opportunities to explore the beautiful landscapes and cultural attractions that Brunei has to offer.
February’s temperatures in Brunei are consistently warm and humid, with average highs of around 30°C (86°F) and lows of approximately 23°C (73°F). While rain showers can still occur, they tend to be short and heavy, typically taking place in the late afternoon or evening. This leaves the majority of the day suitable for outdoor activities, but it’s wise to carry an umbrella or raincoat as a precaution against sudden downpours.
One advantage of visiting Brunei in February is the possibility of encountering fewer tourists, which can lead to a more authentic and less crowded experience at popular attractions. Additionally, the abundant rainfall during this season ensures that the country’s rainforests and national parks, such as Ulu Temburong National Park, remain lush and vibrant.
March in Brunei
March is a great time to visit Brunei – temperatures are mild, with an average of around 25°C (77°F) during the day. March marks the beginning of the dry season, meaning days are generally sunny and pleasant.
When it comes to festivals, visitors may be lucky enough to experience the titah ceremony, in which the Sultan reads out his new commands for the year at the Istana Darul Hana Palace. Aside from this unique experience, there are also two Islamic holidays celebrated in Brunei – Maulidur Rasul and Isra Mi’raj – both of which involve processions and other festivities.
April in Brunei
April is a wonderful time to visit Brunei – temperatures are a pleasant 27°C (81°F) during the day, making it perfect for exploring the outdoors. April also marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, meaning many food stalls and certain establishments close until sunset.
Festivities-wise, the Water Village Festival takes place in April, celebrating the traditional stilt houses and culture that’s so unique to this country. Many other festivities take place throughout Brunei during this time as well, such as fireworks displays on national holidays and religious celebrations like Isra Mi’raj.
May in Brunei
May is a lovely time to visit Brunei – temperatures are a pleasant 29°C (84°F) during the day, making it ideal for exploring the outdoors. May marks the end of Ramadan, so expect plenty of feasting and festivities around this time.
Festivities-wise, visitors can also witness the ceremonial titah ceremony at Istana Darul Hana Palace, in which the Sultan reads out his new commands for the year. In addition to this unique experience, there are also several other religious celebrations held throughout Brunei in May, such as Isra Mi’raj and Nuzul Al-Quran.
Overall, May is an excellent time to visit Brunei – perfect for those looking to take advantage of warm weather and explore all sides of this beautiful country.
June in Brunei
June is an ideal time to visit Brunei – temperatures are comfortably warm at 31°C (88°F) during the day. June also marks the beginning of the annual Sungei Liang Festival, which celebrates Brunei’s traditional boats and seafaring culture with parades, performances, cultural dances and activities.
Other festivities taking place throughout Brunei in June include Hari Raya Aidil Fitri and His Majesty’s Golden Jubilee. The latter event commemorates His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s 50th year on the throne – it involves grand parades, fireworks displays and many other fun activities for visitors to enjoy.
Overall, June is an excellent time to visit Brunei – perfect for those looking to soak up some sunshine while experiencing all of the amazing sights that this wonderful country has to offer.
July in Brunei
July is an ideal time to visit Brunei – temperatures are hot and humid, reaching up to 33°C (91°F) during the day. For visitors looking for some respite from the heat, there are many air-conditioned attractions such as museums, galleries, shopping centres and cinemas.
One of the main festivities taking place in Brunei during July is Hari Raya Aidiladha. This religious holiday celebrates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God and is marked by animal sacrifices, prayers and feasts. There are also several other cultural activities held throughout Brunei during this time of year, such as dragon boat races, Regatta Lepas Labuan Races and various festivals in Temburong district.
Overall, July is an excellent time to visit Brunei – perfect for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life while enjoying all that this wonderful country has to offer.
August in Brunei
August is an ideal time to visit Brunei – temperatures are hot and humid, reaching up to 33°C (91°F) during the day. It’s also worth noting that August is the beginning of the monsoon season in Brunei, so visitors should be prepared for rain and thunderstorms.
During this period visitors can experience a plethora of festivities including Ramadan, National Day and Royal Birthday Celebrations. The latter event commemorates His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s 72nd birthday – it involves grand parades, fireworks displays and many other fun activities for visitors to enjoy.
Overall, August is an excellent time to visit Brunei – perfect for those looking to both escape from sweltering heat and get a closer look at this amazing country’s culture.
September in Brunei
September is an ideal time to visit Brunei – temperatures are warm and pleasant, typically ranging between 22°C (72°F) and 34°C (93°F). It’s also worth noting that this month marks the peak of the monsoon season in Brunei, so visitors should be prepared for rain and thunderstorms.
September marks the end of Ramadan and celebrates Hari Raya Aidilfitri, a religious holiday which commemorates Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Medina. Other cultural events taking place during this time include National Day Celebrations, royal birthdays, and international competitions such as Regatta Lepas Labuan Race.
Overall, September is an excellent time to visit Brunei – perfect for both those looking to enjoy some cooler weather and those wanting to immerse themselves in local culture.
October in Brunei
October is an ideal time to visit Brunei – temperatures are cool and comfortable, usually ranging between 21°C (70°F) and 33°C (91°F). As with the previous months, visitors should be prepared for rain and thunderstorms due to the monsoon season.
October marks several important festivals in Brunei, including Hari Raya Haji, a religious holiday commemorating Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac; Chinese Mooncake Festival; and Deepavali, a festival of lights celebrating knowledge over ignorance. There are also plenty of cultural events taking place during this period such as National Day Celebrations and international sailing competitions.
Overall, October is an excellent time to visit Brunei – perfect for those seeking cooler weather and wishing to explore local culture.
November in Brunei
November is a great time to visit Brunei – temperatures are mild and comfortable, typically ranging between 20°C (68°F) and 32°C (90°F). As with the other months of the monsoon season, visitors should be prepared for rain and thunderstorms.
November marks several important festivals in Brunei, including Chinese Mooncake Festival and Deepavali, a festival of lights celebrating knowledge over ignorance. There are also plenty of cultural events taking place during this period such as National Day Celebrations and international sailing competitions.
Overall, November is an excellent time to visit Brunei – perfect for those seeking mild weather and wishing to explore local culture.
December in Brunei
December is a great time to visit Brunei – the temperature is mild and pleasant, usually around 21°C (70°F) to 30°C (86°F). The monsoon season is still in effect so visitors should be prepared for rain and thunderstorms.
December marks several important festivals in Brunei, including Hari Raya Haji, which commemorates Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac; Chinese Mooncake Festival; and Deepavali, a festival of lights celebrating knowledge over ignorance. There are also plenty of cultural events taking place during this period such as National Day Celebrations and international sailing competitions.
Overall, December is an excellent time to visit Brunei – perfect for those seeking mild weather and wishing to explore local culture.
🚍 Getting around Brunei
Getting around Brunei can be an interesting experience due to the country’s relatively limited public transportation options. However, there are several ways to explore the nation, each with its own advantages and drawbacks.
- Public buses: Brunei has a public bus system, primarily concentrated in the capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan. Buses are an affordable means of transportation, but the routes and schedules can be infrequent and challenging to navigate for visitors. While they can be a viable option for short trips within the city, buses are less suitable for longer journeys or for reaching more remote destinations.
- Taxis: Taxis are available in urban areas and can be hailed on the street or booked through hotels. While taxis offer a more convenient and comfortable mode of transportation compared to buses, they can be significantly more expensive. It is important to negotiate the fare in advance, as not all taxis are metered.
- Ride-hailing apps: In recent years, ride-hailing services like Dart have become increasingly popular in Brunei. These apps allow you to book rides using your smartphone, providing a convenient and reliable alternative to traditional taxis. Prices are typically lower than standard taxi fares, and the apps offer an easy way to estimate costs and track your journey.
- Car rental: Renting a car is a great option for travelers who prefer the freedom and flexibility of self-driving. Car rental agencies are available at the airport and in major urban centers. Keep in mind that driving in Brunei is on the left side of the road, and an international driving permit may be required for some visitors.
- Water taxis: For exploring Kampong Ayer, the famous water village in Bandar Seri Begawan, or traveling to nearby attractions such as Pulau Selirong, water taxis are the ideal mode of transportation. These small, motorized boats can be hailed at designated points along the Brunei River, and fares should be negotiated before boarding.
- Domestic flights: Royal Brunei Airlines operates domestic flights between Bandar Seri Begawan and other destinations within the country, such as Bangar in the Temburong District. Although flights are infrequent, they can provide a fast and convenient means of reaching more remote areas.
- Bicycle: For those who enjoy a more active mode of transportation, cycling can be a pleasant way to explore Brunei’s cities and countryside. Bike rentals are available in some urban areas, and there are dedicated cycling paths in certain locations, such as Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas in Bandar Seri Begawan.
While Brunei’s transportation options may be more limited than other countries, there are still various ways to get around and experience the nation’s unique landscapes and attractions. By choosing the mode of transportation that best suits your preferences and itinerary, you can make the most of your visit to Brunei.
📍 Places to visit in Brunei
Bandar Seri Begawan
Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital city of Brunei, is a vibrant destination that offers travelers a unique blend of modernity, rich cultural heritage, and natural beauty. One of the primary reasons to visit Bandar Seri Begawan is its stunning architectural wonders. The city is home to the magnificent Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, a symbol of Islamic artistry, and the opulent Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, one of the largest and most impressive mosques in Southeast Asia.
In addition to these architectural gems, Bandar Seri Begawan boasts a range of fascinating cultural attractions. The Royal Regalia Museum offers an intriguing glimpse into the lives of Brunei’s royalty, showcasing a vast collection of regalia, including the royal chariot, ceremonial weapons, and glittering jewels. Kampong Ayer, the world’s largest water village, provides a unique opportunity for visitors to explore traditional stilt houses and experience the local way of life.
Nature lovers will also find plenty to appreciate in Bandar Seri Begawan. The city’s Tasek Lama Recreational Park offers a tranquil escape from urban life, with walking trails, picturesque waterfalls, and a beautiful lake. For those interested in wildlife, the nearby Ulu Temburong National Park presents an unspoiled rainforest habitat, where visitors can embark on guided tours and canopy walks for a closer look at Brunei’s diverse flora and fauna.
Kampong Ayer, often referred to as the “Venice of the East,” is a must-visit destination for travelers exploring Brunei. As the world’s largest water village, it showcases a unique aspect of Bruneian culture and heritage. Kampong Ayer has been the traditional heart of Brunei for centuries, with its history dating back over 1,000 years. A visit to this remarkable settlement allows travelers to gain a deeper understanding of the local way of life and the country’s rich history.
Visitors to Kampong Ayer will be captivated by the picturesque stilt houses interconnected by a network of wooden walkways and bridges. These homes are a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the Bruneian people, who have maintained their traditional lifestyle despite the rapid modernization of the surrounding areas. Exploring the village by water taxi offers a truly immersive experience, as it allows for close-up views of the local architecture and the chance to witness the daily life of residents.
Kampong Ayer is also a hub of local craftsmanship, with many skilled artisans residing in the village. Visitors can observe and purchase traditional handicrafts, such as woven mats, baskets, and wood carvings. The Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery provides additional insight into the history, culture, and customs of the water village, featuring informative exhibits and displays of traditional artifacts.
In essence, a visit to Kampong Ayer is a unique and enriching experience for travelers seeking to understand the cultural fabric of Brunei. Its distinctive architecture, living heritage, and vibrant community make it an unmissable destination for those looking to explore the authentic side of this fascinating country.
Ulu Temburong National Park
Ulu Temburong National Park is an extraordinary destination for travelers seeking a genuine encounter with the natural beauty and biodiversity of Brunei. Spanning over 50,000 hectares of pristine rainforest, the park offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, virtually untouched by human development. This protected sanctuary is home to an impressive array of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered species, making it an essential stop for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.
One of the most popular attractions in Ulu Temburong National Park is the Canopy Walkway, an exhilarating treetop adventure that provides visitors with a bird’s-eye view of the rainforest. Suspended 50 meters above the ground, the walkway offers a unique vantage point from which to observe the diverse plant life and spot wildlife, such as hornbills, gibbons, and flying lemurs. The park also features a range of well-maintained trails suitable for trekking and birdwatching, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the vibrant rainforest environment.
In addition to its ecological riches, Ulu Temburong National Park provides valuable opportunities for travelers to engage with local communities and learn about their customs and traditions. Many guided tours of the park are led by indigenous Iban people, who share their knowledge of the rainforest and its inhabitants. This cultural exchange enriches the visitor experience, fostering a deeper appreciation for the natural world and its relationship with local communities.
Kuala Belait, situated in the southwest region of Brunei, is an appealing destination for travelers seeking a less-trodden path. As the second-largest town in the country, Kuala Belait presents a more laid-back atmosphere compared to the bustling capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. This charming coastal town offers a blend of cultural attractions, natural beauty, and a warm, welcoming community, making it an ideal stop for those looking to experience authentic Bruneian life.
Kuala Belait’s town center showcases a unique mix of architectural styles, reflecting the diverse influences that have shaped Brunei over the years. Visitors can wander through the town and admire the colorful shophouses, stately colonial-era buildings, and the elegant Masjid Muhammad Jamalul Alam Mosque. The Silver Jubilee Park, located near the town center, offers a peaceful space to relax and enjoy the serene surroundings, with beautifully landscaped gardens and a picturesque lake.
The town’s location on the South China Sea provides visitors with the opportunity to explore its scenic coastline. The picturesque Kuala Belait Beach, also known as “Pantai Seri Kenangan,” is a popular spot for swimming, picnicking, and enjoying stunning sunsets. Travelers can also venture to the nearby Billionth Barrel Monument, a symbol of Brunei’s oil industry, to learn more about the country’s rich natural resources.
In addition to its natural beauty and cultural attractions, Kuala Belait offers a range of local culinary delights. Visitors can sample delicious Bruneian cuisine at the town’s various eateries, cafes, and street food stalls, which serve both traditional dishes and international fare.
Seria, a small town located in the Belait District of Brunei, offers travelers an intriguing glimpse into the country’s oil-rich history and a chance to experience local life in a less touristy setting. Often referred to as the “Oil Town” of Brunei, Seria plays a significant role in the nation’s economy due to its abundant oil and gas reserves. As such, a visit to Seria provides an opportunity to learn more about the industry that has shaped Brunei’s development and prosperity.
One of the main attractions in Seria is the Oil and Gas Discovery Centre, an interactive museum that educates visitors on the history and science of the petroleum industry in Brunei. With engaging exhibits and hands-on displays, the center offers a fascinating insight into the technology, processes, and environmental considerations involved in oil and gas production.
In addition to its educational attractions, Seria is also home to several cultural and religious sites, such as the Masjid Zainab Mosque, a beautiful example of Islamic architecture that is both an active place of worship and an emblem of the town’s heritage. Visitors can also explore the local markets and shops, where they can discover traditional handicrafts, sample authentic Bruneian cuisine, and interact with friendly locals.
For those interested in nature, Seria’s proximity to the coast and mangrove forests offers opportunities for outdoor excursions. The nearby Luagan Lalak Recreation Park, a serene freshwater lake surrounded by lush vegetation, is an ideal spot for birdwatching, picnicking, and enjoying the tranquility of the Bruneian countryside.
Tutong, a charming district nestled in the heart of Brunei, offers travelers a unique and enriching experience that combines cultural diversity, natural beauty, and a warm sense of community. With its picturesque landscape of rolling hills, lush forests, and pristine beaches, Tutong is a haven for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
One of the key reasons to visit Tutong is its rich cultural tapestry, which is evident in the district’s numerous ethnic groups, languages, and traditions. This cultural diversity can be explored through visits to local villages and handicraft centers, where travelers can learn about traditional weaving, pottery, and other artisanal crafts. The Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park, a UNESCO-recognized site, offers further insights into the region’s cultural heritage, including its indigenous communities, and features a serene lake, walking trails, and a museum.
Tutong’s pristine natural environment offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy, such as hiking through verdant rainforests, birdwatching, and relaxing on the beautiful Pantai Seri Kenangan beach. Additionally, the district is home to several ecotourism projects and conservation initiatives, which provide opportunities to engage with local communities and learn about their sustainable practices.
Food enthusiasts will also appreciate Tutong’s culinary offerings, as the district is known for its delicious traditional dishes and diverse cuisine. Local markets and eateries provide visitors with the chance to sample an array of flavors and ingredients, many of which are unique to the region.
In essence, Tutong is an alluring destination for travelers seeking an authentic and immersive experience of Brunei’s rich cultural diversity and stunning natural landscapes. Its warm and welcoming atmosphere, coupled with its wide range of attractions, make it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the heart of Brunei.
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🗼 Popular attractions in Brunei
- Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque: Located in the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan, this stunning mosque is an architectural masterpiece adorned with Italian marble, golden domes, and a 52-meter minaret. The mosque is surrounded by a tranquil artificial lagoon and beautifully landscaped gardens, making it a must-visit attraction.
- Kampong Ayer: Known as the “Venice of the East,” Kampong Ayer is an ancient water village built on stilts above the Brunei River. A maze of wooden walkways connects the village’s traditional houses, schools, and mosques. Visitors can take a water taxi to explore the village and gain insight into Brunei’s unique way of life.
- Royal Regalia Museum: This museum showcases the opulent lifestyle of Brunei’s royal family. Exhibits include royal regalia, ceremonial weaponry, and an impressive collection of gifts received by the Sultan from foreign dignitaries. The museum provides a fascinating glimpse into Brunei’s history and monarchy.
- Ulu Temburong National Park: Often referred to as the “Green Jewel of Brunei,” this pristine rainforest reserve offers a range of eco-tourism adventures. Visitors can trek through the jungle, visit canopy walkways, and encounter diverse wildlife, including proboscis monkeys, hornbills, and various reptile species.
- Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque: Built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Sultan’s reign, this mosque is the largest in Brunei. The grand structure features 29 golden domes, intricately carved arches, and stunning gardens. It is particularly mesmerizing when illuminated at night.
- Istana Nurul Iman: As the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei, this opulent palace is the largest residential palace in the world. Although it is not open to the public, visitors can admire its lavish exterior from a distance and enjoy the surrounding gardens.
- Gadong Night Market: For an authentic Bruneian experience, visit the bustling Gadong Night Market, where locals gather to buy fresh produce, street food, and other goods. Sample local delicacies, such as satay, nasi katok, and grilled seafood, while soaking in the vibrant atmosphere.
- Tasek Lama Recreational Park: Located near Bandar Seri Begawan, this park offers a peaceful retreat from the city. Featuring walking trails, picturesque waterfalls, and a natural pool, it is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of Brunei.
- Malay Technology Museum: This museum showcases the traditional crafts, architecture, and technologies employed by the indigenous Malay people of Brunei. Visitors can learn about the construction of Kampong Ayer, boat-building techniques, and traditional weapons, providing insight into Brunei’s rich cultural heritage.
- Pulau Selirong: A mangrove island reserve located off Brunei’s eastern coast, Pulau Selirong is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Accessible by boat, the island features a network of wooden walkways that wind through the mangroves, allowing visitors to spot monkeys, birds, and other wildlife in their natural habitat.
🛏️ Brunei hotels and accommodations
In Brunei, travelers can find a wide range of accommodation options that cater to various budgets and preferences. From budget-friendly hostels to lavish luxury hotels, the country offers a diverse selection of places to stay, ensuring a comfortable experience for every visitor.
Budget accommodations in Brunei are ideal for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers. These options often include guesthouses, hostels, and budget hotels, which provide basic amenities such as clean rooms, shared or private bathrooms, and Wi-Fi access. Some popular budget accommodations include the Youth Hostel in Bandar Seri Begawan and the Apek Utama Hotel in Kuala Belait. While these establishments may not offer the same level of luxury as their higher-priced counterparts, they provide a comfortable and affordable base from which to explore the country.
Mid-range hotels offer a balance between affordability and comfort, catering to travelers who seek a little more in terms of amenities and services. These establishments typically provide private rooms with en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, and often include facilities such as on-site restaurants, swimming pools, or fitness centers. Some well-known mid-range hotels in Brunei include the Jubilee Hotel and Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam in Bandar Seri Begawan, as well as the Garden Sentral Hotel in Kuala Belait. These hotels offer a comfortable stay with added conveniences, ensuring a pleasant experience for their guests.
For those seeking a truly luxurious experience, Brunei boasts a selection of high-end hotels and resorts that offer top-notch amenities and services. These establishments provide spacious and elegantly appointed rooms, fine dining options, and extensive leisure facilities such as spas, golf courses, or private beaches. Among the most notable luxury hotels in Brunei are The Empire Hotel & Country Club, a lavish resort situated along the coastline with stunning views, and The Rizqun International Hotel, which features upscale amenities and a prime location in Bandar Seri Begawan. These upscale accommodations promise an indulgent and memorable stay for discerning travelers.
🍲 What to eat in Brunei
Brunei boasts a rich culinary tradition, influenced by Malay, Chinese, and Indian cuisine. Here are 10 of the most traditional dishes that you should not miss when visiting Brunei:
- Ambuyat: A national dish of Brunei, Ambuyat is made from the starchy interior of the sago palm trunk. The sticky, glue-like substance is eaten using a bamboo fork called a “chandas” and is typically dipped into various savory sauces and side dishes.
- Nasi Katok: A simple yet popular dish, Nasi Katok consists of white rice, fried chicken, and a spicy sambal sauce. It is a staple meal in Brunei and can be found at many street food stalls and local eateries.
- Nasi Lemak: A popular dish in Brunei and neighboring countries, Nasi Lemak features fragrant coconut rice, accompanied by a variety of side dishes such as fried anchovies, peanuts, boiled egg, cucumber slices, and spicy sambal sauce. It is often wrapped in banana leaves and enjoyed for breakfast or lunch.
- Soto Brunei: A traditional soup, Soto Brunei consists of a flavorful broth made from spices, herbs, and chicken or beef. The soup is served with rice noodles or compressed rice cakes, and garnished with fresh vegetables, fried shallots, and a boiled egg.
- Ayam Penyet: Originating from Indonesia, Ayam Penyet is a popular dish in Brunei, featuring marinated and deep-fried chicken that is smashed and served with a spicy sambal sauce, rice, and fresh vegetables.
- Satay: A popular street food, satay consists of skewered and grilled meat, such as chicken, beef, or lamb, marinated in a blend of spices. The skewers are served with a rich and flavorful peanut sauce, as well as rice cakes or fresh cucumber and onion slices.
- Serunding: A traditional Malay delicacy, Serunding is a dry, spiced meat floss made from shredded beef or chicken, cooked with spices, coconut milk, and palm sugar. It is often enjoyed as a snack or served with rice or bread during festive occasions.
- Roti Jala: A lacy, net-like pancake, Roti Jala is made by pouring a thin batter through a special mold onto a hot griddle. The delicate pancake is typically served with curry dishes or sweetened condensed milk as a dessert.
- Kuih-Muih: A collective term for various traditional sweet treats and cakes, Kuih-Muih includes items such as Kuih Seri Muka (a steamed layer cake made of glutinous rice and coconut milk custard), Kuih Bingka (a baked tapioca cake), and Kuih Lapis (a colorful, multi-layered steamed cake).
- Cendol: A popular dessert in Brunei and Southeast Asia, Cendol is a refreshing, icy treat made from pandan-flavored rice flour jelly, coconut milk, and palm sugar syrup. It is often served with additional toppings, such as red beans, corn, or glutinous rice.
💲 Brunei travel costs
Accommodation in Brunei ranges from luxurious 5-star hotels to basic budget rooms. Prices for a hotel room vary depending on where you stay and the type of accommodation you choose.
If you want something luxurious and top-quality, the best places to stay in Brunei are The Empire Hotel & Country Club and The Rizqun International Hotel. These hotels offer luxurious amenities such as swimming pools, spas, gyms, tennis courts, and more. Prices range from around $96 to $176 USD.
For those on a tighter budget, there are also plenty of mid-range hotels offering reasonably priced rooms. These include Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam, Le Gallery Suites Hotel and Orchid Garden Hotel. Prices at these locations range from $48 to $88 USD.
Finally, if you’re looking for a place to stay that is easy on the pocketbook, many basic budget hotel options are available in Brunei too. These typically cost as little as $22 USD per night for a single room.
Food prices in Brunei are generally quite affordable. The country is known for its delicious cuisine, which can be enjoyed without breaking the bank.
Eating out is an enjoyable experience, with high-quality food being served at reasonable prices. For example, a three-course meal at an upscale restaurant can easily cost around $22 – $29 USD. Street food is also available and even cheaper, with items such as fried noodles and rice dishes costing from $0.75 – $3 USD.
When shopping for groceries, you can find a variety of local produce including tropical fruits such as pineapples and papayas. Prices are usually lower than the global average, with staples such as rice and vegetables coming in at very low costs. Imported items tend to be more expensive but you can always opt for local goods at more affordable rates.
Attraction and tour costs
Brunei offers a wide range of exciting tours and activities to enjoy. Prices vary depending on the type of activity and the duration of the tour, with most day trips costing between $22 to $6 USD.
The country’s many cultural sites offer visitors a chance to explore its unique heritage. Popular examples include visits to iconic landmarks such as The Empire Hotel & Country Club, Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Istana Nurul Iman Palace, and more. Prices for most cultural tours are generally around $37 to $44 USD.
Outdoor activities such as river cruises, wildlife safaris and nature hikes are also available in Brunei. Prices for these tend to be higher than for cultural tours, ranging from $52 to $74 USD. Finally, there are also a variety of water sports available such as kayaking and jet skiing that cost from $7.50 to $29 USD per hour.
Getting around in Brunei is relatively inexpensive. The most common method of transport is by taxi, which are widely available and affordable. Prices start from $1.50 USD for the first two kilometers and then increase incrementally for subsequent distances.
Buses are another option, with fares ranging from $0.11 – $0.23 USD depending on the route and distance traveled. For tourists visiting from other countries, renting a car is an attractive choice as insurance and unlimited mileage plans are included in the rental fee – prices typically range between $11 USD – $26 USD per day depending on the vehicle type.
Finally, there are also bicycle-rental services operating throughout the city where you can rent bikes for $2 USD per hour or $7.50 USD per day.
Exchanging money in Brunei is a straightforward process. The Brunei Dollar (BND) is the official currency and can be exchanged at banks, foreign exchange offices and certain authorized money changers.
Banks offer competitive rates and extended opening hours, making them ideal for travelers who are searching for large amounts of cash. Meanwhile, foreign exchange offices provide better rates than banks but have limited operating hours and may not be available on weekends or public holidays.
Finally, there are also several licensed money changers, located in shopping malls around the country. Money changers offer very competitive prices and operate during regular mall hours – this makes them a great option for those looking to quickly exchange smaller amounts of cash – such as from USD to BND.
ATMs are widely available in Brunei and offer a convenient way to withdraw cash when traveling. All major banks, such as Baiduri Bank and RHB Bank, provide fee-free ATM services in the country – meaning customers can withdraw money free of charge if they use their own bank’s ATM.
Some smaller banks may levy a small fee of about BND 4 (USD 3) for withdrawals from an ATM that is not part of their own network. Make sure to check with your bank before you leave your home country to confirm fees associated with foreign withdrawals. It is also important to note that some cards may be declined at certain ATMs in Brunei due to international bank regulations.
Overall, ATM withdrawals in Brunei are relatively straightforward and largely hassle-free – as long as you take time to familiarize yourself with your card’s terms and conditions before travelling.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Brunei and are a popular choice for many customers due to their convenience. All major international credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club are accepted at most stores, restaurants, hotels and other locations.
Be aware that some smaller businesses may only accept cash or debit cards. Additionally, some merchants may use dynamic currency conversion when processing credit card transactions – meaning you could end up paying more than the listed price in your home currency. You can avoid this by requesting the transaction be processed in Brunei Dollars (BND) instead of your local currency.
Tipping is not a customary practice in Brunei, and most establishments do not expect tips. However, if you have received excellent service while out and about in Brunei, a polite gesture of appreciation may be allowed. When visiting restaurants or hotels, a small gratuity up to 10-15% of the bill is accepted. It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers but if you feel they have provided good service, your spare change may be appreciated.
Overall, tipping is not expected or required when travelling in Brunei and visitors should take care to respect the local culture when deciding whether or not to leave gratuities for services rendered.
💵 Money-saving tips
- Visit during the off-peak season: Traveling to Brunei during the off-peak season, which typically coincides with the rainy season (November to March), can result in lower prices for accommodations and flights.
- Use public buses: While Brunei’s public bus system may be limited, it is an affordable means of transportation. Familiarize yourself with the routes and schedules to save money on transportation within the city.
- Eat like a local: Street food stalls and local eateries, particularly those offering Nasi Katok, offer delicious and affordable meal options. Eating at these establishments can help you save money while also experiencing authentic Bruneian cuisine.
- Leverage your hotel’s free services: Many hotels in Brunei offer complimentary services such as breakfast, Wi-Fi, and shuttle services. Take advantage of these inclusions to save on additional expenses.
- Choose a centrally located accommodation: Selecting a hotel or guesthouse in a central location can minimize transportation costs, as many attractions may be within walking distance or easily accessible by public transportation.
- Bargain at markets: When shopping at local markets or street vendors, don’t be afraid to haggle for a better price. Bargaining is a common practice in Brunei, and polite negotiation can result in significant savings.
- Use ride-hailing apps: Opt for ride-hailing services like Dart, which tend to be more affordable than traditional taxis. These apps can also help you avoid overpaying or getting lost by providing upfront price estimates and GPS tracking.
- Explore free attractions: Brunei offers several free attractions, such as Tasek Lama Recreational Park and the beautiful gardens surrounding the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. Plan your itinerary around these sites to minimize entrance fees and other costs.
- Visit attractions during non-peak hours: If you’re planning to visit popular attractions, try to schedule your visit during non-peak hours, such as early morning or late afternoon. This can help you avoid tourist crowds and may also result in discounted entrance fees.
- Look for local promotions: Keep an eye out for local promotions, discounts, or special offers at attractions, restaurants, and shops. These deals can help you save money and discover unique experiences that may not be widely advertised to tourists.
📱 Useful Brunei travel apps
- Google Maps: A reliable mapping app, Google Maps provides comprehensive navigation, public transportation schedules, and points of interest. It is essential for getting around Brunei and discovering new places.
- Dart: As Brunei’s local ride-hailing app, Dart can be a more affordable and convenient alternative to traditional taxis. Download the app to quickly request rides and avoid potential language barriers with drivers.
- XE Currency Converter: To stay up-to-date on currency exchange rates, download the XE Currency Converter app. It will help you manage your finances and ensure you’re getting fair rates when exchanging money or making purchases.
- Google Translate: This translation app supports Malay, the official language of Brunei. Use it to translate text, signs, or even spoken conversations to help you navigate the country and communicate with locals.
- TripAdvisor: For reviews and recommendations on attractions, accommodations, and restaurants, TripAdvisor is an invaluable resource. The app can help you plan your itinerary and make informed decisions on where to go and what to see.
- WhatsApp: Stay connected with new friends, travel companions, or local contacts through WhatsApp, a popular messaging app in Brunei. It’s an excellent way to communicate for free using Wi-Fi or mobile data.
- Muslim Pro: As Brunei is a predominantly Muslim country, this app can be useful for finding prayer times, locating nearby mosques, and identifying halal restaurants.
- Weather apps (e.g., Weather Underground, AccuWeather): To stay informed about the local weather in Brunei, download a reliable weather app. It will help you plan your daily activities and pack appropriately for your trip.
- Brunei Travel Guide by Triposo: This travel guide app provides detailed information on Brunei’s attractions, accommodations, and transportation. It also includes offline maps and an integrated currency converter.
- Wi-Fi Finder: As Wi-Fi access is essential for many travelers, the Wi-Fi Finder app can help you locate free Wi-Fi hotspots around Brunei. This is especially useful if you need to connect to the internet without using mobile data.
🈲 Helpful Malay phrases
For first-time travelers to Brunei, knowing some basic Malay phrases can be helpful in navigating the country and interacting with locals. Here are 15 useful Malay phrases to get you started:
- Selamat pagi (Se-lah-mat pa-gi) – Good morning
- Selamat petang (Se-lah-mat pe-tang) – Good afternoon
- Selamat malam (Se-lah-mat ma-lam) – Good evening/night
- Terima kasih (Te-ri-ma ka-sih) – Thank you
- Sama-sama (Sa-ma-sa-ma) – You’re welcome
- Maaf (Ma-af) – Sorry
- Boleh bantu saya? (Bo-leh ban-tu sa-ya?) – Can you help me?
- Berapa harganya? (Be-ra-pa har-ga-nya?) – How much does it cost?
- Di mana tandas? (Di ma-na tan-das?) – Where is the toilet?
- Ya (Ya) – Yes
- Tidak (Ti-dak) – No
- Tolong (To-long) – Please (when requesting assistance)
- Nama saya Trisha (Na-ma sa-ya …) – My name is Trisha
- Boleh saya minta bil? (Bo-leh sa-ya min-ta bil?) – Can I have the bill, please?
- Jumpa lagi (Jun-pa la-gi) – See you later