The “Abode of Peace” located in the north on the island of Borneo. A calm and colorful city with rich culture and a healthy economy. Famous for their Sultan who is one of the richest men in the world.
CURRENCY: Brunei Dollar
CLIMATE: Tropical (hot & humid), Equatorial, Rainy reason: Oct – Feb, May – June
DRESS CODE: Extremely Conservative (Muslim country), Cover shoulders and legs
GETTING AROUND: Local buses, Dart, Local taxis
COST OF VISITING: $$-$$$ – Hostels start at $10 per night and street food is around $5 to $6 (USD) per meal
TIPPING: A 10% service charge is usually added to the bill, additional tipping is not necessary
SAFETY: An extremely safe city
PACKING ESSENTIALS: Alcohol is not sold here at all but you are allowed to bring 2 liters (wine, spirits) or 12 cans (beer) across the border
VISA: No visa needed for tourist visits under 90 days for US citizens, Must have passport valid for at least 6 months; If traveling by air, keep in mind that you may be required to show proof of onward travel
FROM BRUNEI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Brunei International Airport in Bandar Seri Begawan is only around 8km from the city center.
Walk to the south end of the main terminal and you will see a covered walkway. There are a few different buses that run about every 30 minutes until 6pm and you can buy a ticket from the driver. Let the driver know where you are going and they should be able to tell you if their bus is the best option for you.
Taking a taxi to the city center will cost you around $20-$25 Brunei dollars and take around 15 minutes. If you are arriving late, there is a 50% evening surcharge. Many taxis are not metered, therefore you will need to agree on a rate before starting your trip.
You can take a ferry into Brunei from Kota Kinabalu. In order to do this, get to the Point Jessleton Ferry Terminal around 7:00am; earlier if it is a weekend. You will need to buy a ticket there and make sure they know you are planning on going all the way to Brunei. They ferry leaves at 8:00am and will first stop at Labuan, arriving at 11:15am. Once you arrive in Labuan, you will take another ferry to Brunei which leaves at 1:30pm. Once in Brunei, you will go through immigration and customs at the Serasa Ferry Terminal. Taxis from the ferry terminal are quite expensive but there is a local bus that comes by and will take you into town. Just let the driver know where to let you off. This will cost you a few USD.
WHERE TO STAY
One of the only hostels in Brunei with cheap rooms (I read they are around $5 per night) and a huge swimming pool! I couldn’t find anywhere to book this online and read that you just need to go there to book a room. We went but they were undergoing renovations at that time so we were unable to stay here.
I obviously didn’t stay here as I would rather spend money on food and experience than accommodation, but we did come spend the day here and it left me drooling. The hotel is beautiful and is one of those that smells incredibly good the second you step inside. There is a pool in the back, as well as a private beach. The hotel is so big, I don’t think they mind if people come there to walk around or hang out on the rocks by the ocean.
Simple accomodation but there is hot water and you can get a private dorm room with one bunk for about $30 Brunei dollars. The owners were nice and it is located right by the river. Walking distance from many shops and restaurants.
WHAT TO DO
SEE THE SITES
The most famous park in Brunei, home to the Proboscis monkey. The jungle here is beautiful and although we didn’t have a chance to go, we were told by many that it is a must! This park is in the middle of a 500 sq km area of rainforest that covers most of southern Temburong. Independent visitors are not allowed so you will need to book a trip through a tour guide.
A beautiful mosque surrounded by a lake right in the city center. The mosque is open to visitors and admission is free, but there is only a really small part on the inside that you are able to see. (A few feet is all you are able to walk inside.) You are required to cover your whole body and head but attire is provided outside of the entrance. (Photo can be seen at the top of the page.)
With 1,800 rooms and over 200 bathrooms, this is the world’s largest palace and family residence. The palace is only open to the public the 3 days following Ramadan, but you are still able to drive by and look through the gates (we took a photo with the guards).
You are able to take a boat tour through the world’s largest water village and see the homes of the 30,000 people who currently live there. The village is surrounded by a mangrove area, home to many Proboscis monkeys.
An extremely gorgeous mosque both during the day and and at night. I love architecture and couldn’t stop smiling when I first saw this. This mosque is made up of 29 golden domes and the entire place is lit up at night making it somehow even more beautiful.
Since there is no alcohol sold here and therefore no bars, we pretty much went cafe hopping and sat around drinking coffee and using their wifi all day long. I now have a coffee addiction. Thank you, Brunei.