Brunei


Overview

Brunei travel guide, including map of Brunei, top Brunei travel experiences, and tips for travel in Brunei and Dubai

Brunei is a tiny, tranquil enclave on the north coast of Borneo. The residents of this wealthy country have a quality of life like no other – thanks to its massive offshore oil and gas deposits, education and healthcare are free, and houses, cars and even pilgrimages to Mecca are subsidised.

Brunei is a country of lavish contrasts: the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) is a mix of extravagant mosques and traditional wooden houses built on stilts. You can spend a weekend living the life of a sultan in one of Brunei's luxury hotels before trudging, waist-deep in murky water, through pristine, virgin rainforest.

Brunei may see itself as an oil state, but it is far from being a mini Dubai. Its wealth is reflected in the happiness and welfare of its people rather than ultra-modern skyscrapers, so the atmosphere is relaxed and calm.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Marvel at Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque – It'd be pretty difficult to miss this big, beautiful building, a wonderful mixture of Italianate and Mughal design, English stained glass and Saudi Arabian carpet, all mixed together in one extravagant creation. 
  2. Sail through Ulu Temburong National Park – A boat trip through this park takes you through mangrove forests and jungle-flanked hills, monkeys screeching all around. A canopy walk offers breathtaking views as well as sightings of gibbons and hornbills.
  3. Go shopping – Locals here love shopping. At night, join the swarms of people at Gadong, just outside BSB, to window-shop, people-watch and spend, spend, spend!
  4. 4 Visit Kampong Ayer Water Village – Floating in BSB, Kampong Ayer is an incredible maze of markets and homes teetering on stilts above the water.
  5. 5 Try ambuyat – The favourite dish of Brunei, ambuyat is a glutinous mass of sago tree pith, ground and mixed with water. Make sure you dip it in sauce first.

Wanderlust tips

Brunei is a Muslim country. There is no alcohol here; however, you can import two bottles of wine/spirits and up to 12 cans of beer if you think you'll really miss it. Note, you won’t be able to drink it in public.

Further Reading

When to go to Brunei

Brunei is warm and humid all year round. The rainy season is from September to January. However, heavy downpours can occur at any time.

Brunei international airport

Brunei International Airport (BWN) in Bandar Seri Bagawan

Getting around Brunei

There are buses in BSB, and infrequent buses head to other areas of the sultanate.

The country has few taxis; if you want one, book it in advance. Arranged tours are a good way to get between the sites.

If you're heading to Limbang or Kota Kinabulu, travelling by boat is recommended.

Brunei accommodation

There’s a range of accommodation in Brunei, ranging from extortionate seven-star hotels to simple, basic guesthouses.

Food & drink in Brunei

Snack stalls can be found around every corner in Brunei. Make sure to try ambuyat and don't be scared of the miniature edibles that are found everywhere – most are sweet and delicious.

With tea, you'll often be offered bualulu, a simple and delicious dessert made from eggs, flour and sugar. Wash it down with cendol, a coconut beverage with green bits floating in it – it doesn't look appealing, but is surprisingly refreshing.

Health & safety in Brunei

General common sense is advised in Brunei. Avoid tap water outside the main hotels. Wear sunscreen and stay well hydrated.

Brunei is a Muslim country. Dress modestly, respect local customs and be aware of additional restrictions if visiting during Ramadan.