travel to brunei

Travel to Brunei Darussalam: Small Country, Lucky People

To be honest, among all the South East Asia Countries, Brunei attracted me the least.

I don’t know why I’m not interested in it or even search any information about Brunei, it just didn’t come through my mind.

I thought it was just a small country with nothing special. I don’t even hear or see them in the news. Brunei is too peaceful

If you meet the right people, then you will enjoy Brunei.

I will not forget these words, coming from a Siberian guy who’s traveling all over Borneo by hitchhiking.

I met this Bahasa-speaking guy after hiking Mount Kinabalu.

We were sitting with some others traveler in a cafe and without any reason the conversation about Brunei started.

Most of them said that nothing much to do in Brunei, same thing as what I thought.

I was about to leave on the next day to Brunei since I had to do visa run, my Malaysia visa was almost expired.

“I spent a week in Brunei and it was so much fun.” said the Siberian.

“What did you do? I was in Brunei for ten days and I almost killed myself. Too quiet there, no alcohol.”, said the Indian guy

“The people. They are all nice. I’d stay longer in Brunei if I could.”, he replied.

During this conversation, I was more pro to the Indian Guy.

One or two days will be enough to see Brunei. I crossed the sea, had a stopover in Labuan, and stepped on Brunei.

On my way to the capital city, Bandar Sri Begawan which takes about an hour, I bumped an Indonesia guy.

We chattered till the point he told me that he’s a couchsurfer and he had a host.

I took this opportunity asking him if I could stay as well, and everything went on perfectly.

Apparently, there were seven of us staying in the same super cool host.

Dipping into Bruneian Culture

First day upon arrival, Waida, our host, invited us to her cousin’s wedding.

It’s a bit weird for me because I didn’t know her family well yet was invited to attend this special occasion, plus I had no formal clothes at all.

Waida and her sister dressed us up with traditional baju kurung (special Malay clothing).

Second day, again Waida brought us to open houses. Open house is a tradition for Muslims celebrating Ramadhan by inviting family and friends.

The purpose is to strengthen relationship within family and friends, get know each other closer.

The open house in Brunei is quiet different with Indonesia or Malaysia where in both countries open house only happens three days or maximum a week after Hari Raya, while in Brunei it still happens until the end of month.

One tip in visiting Brunei, please respect them by not wearing shorts and sleeveless shirt.

Sultan as the Most Powerful Man in Brunei

As the head of state and head of government, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has gained full respect and love from his people.

Even though he is a Sultan, he is a down-to-earth and humble person in Brunei.

He doesn’t mind jumping into the public; for example, every Friday during prayer, he goes to a different mosque each week and prays in the midst of common people.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has proven his ability and power to improve the country’s welfare.

He is deeply concerned about health and education. Bruneians pay only 1 dollar to see a doctor.

They can also pursue their education for free, gaining scholarships to study abroad wherever and to whatever extent they desire (something I am most jealous of).

The Sultan’s interest in cars is no longer a secret. He collects all the finest and most expensive cars in the world.

Things to do in Brunei Darussalam

As  muslim country, Brunei has stunning mosques in nearly all districts.

he interior designs are highly decorated with the finest materials. Almost half of this Northern Borneo country is covered by jungle.

Most famous national park is Ulu Temburong National Park.

Unfortunately I have no enough budget to explore it, so I will tell you more about sight-seeing around Bandar Sri Begawan.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei, this mosque represents high-end Islamic art and also signifies Brunei’s identity.

Constructed in 1958, the mosque has become the major attraction of the city.

The dome is made of pure gold. Inside the prayer room, if you look up, you will see a large crystal chandelier.

The ablution area, commonly called wudu (the act of cleaning oneself before praying), is neatly styled between the white pillars.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque

Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah is the biggest mosque in Brunei Darussalam.

The ground floor of entrance hall has 29 steps of grand white marble stairs which symbolize the 29th Sultan.

There are 29 domes finished with gold mosaic. Gotta check this out if you travel to Brunei.

hassanal bolkiah mosque

Royal Regalia Museum

Surely one of the must visit place in Bandar Seri Begawan. It looks tiny outside but huge inside.

The museum houses an impressive collection of royal artifacts, gifts, and personal belongings of the Sultan and the royal family which includes regal attire, ceremonial weapons, and precious jewelry.

One of the highlights of the museum is the magnificent ceremonial chariot used during royal processions.

The museum is beautifully and neatly decorated enable visitors to see and learn more about the country.

Royal Regalia Museum

Kampung Ayer

Part of Bruneian culture, these people, constituting about 10% of Brunei’s population, have lived along the Brunei River for a long time.

I was kind of surprised when I saw the well-built modern houses.

Some wooden houses are also still well-preserved on the other side.

Water taxis will take you to the village’s jetty for 1 Brunei Dollar each way.

Kampung Ayer travel to brunei

Tasik Lama

This is where locals engage in their morning exercises, especially during the weekends.

People jog, dance, practice chi kung, and engage in various forms of exercise.

The fresh air, along with the presence of a beautiful waterfall, makes this place perfect for relaxation and exercise.

Tasik Lama

Getting to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu

The most convenient way to travel to Brunei is by taking a fast boat from Jesselton Port in Kota Kinabalu.

The Kota Kinabalu – Labuan route departs at 8 a.m. (3 hours), and the Labuan-Brunei route departs at 1:30 p.m. (1 hour).

You can purchase a two-pass ticket for KK – Labuan-Brunei for RM 63.30 (non-Malaysian).

A RM 5 tax will be charged at Labuan Port. Upon arrival at Serasa Port in Brunei, you can wait for a bus connecting to the center (1 Brunei Dollar), which takes a 1-hour journey.

The same process applies for traveling from Brunei to KK. Take a bus from the bus terminal to the port.

The boat from Brunei-Labuan departs at 8:30 or 9:30 (15 Brunei Dollars + 2 dollars tax). The Labuan-KK route departs at 1 p.m. (RM 34, including tax).

There are also buses from KK to Brunei, taking around 8 hours in total. Buses from Miri are also available.

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Traveled in 16-18 August 2014

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5 responses to “Travel to Brunei Darussalam: Small Country, Lucky People”

  1. The Travelling 3o Avatar

    Thank you for your nice review. I live in Brunei and I couldn't agree more 🙂

    Btw, my friends and I just started a travel blog, hope you can drop by and leave some feedback or comment. Our first entry is about backpacking in New Zealand.

    Thank you!!

  2. Velysia Zhang Avatar

    Thanks alot ! Sure, will stumble to your blog, good luck!

  3. Fitri Avatar

    Nenad is Serbian not Siberian. I know because [1] A surfer I hosted, John, made fun of me for getting it wrong [2] I hosted him, Nenad. 😉

  4. Meidiana Kusuma Avatar

    rumah-rumah di kampong Ayer seru banget, sebelumnya pernah baca di blognya kak fahmi anhar juga 🙂

  5. Velysia Zhang Avatar

    Hi Meidiana, seru kok hehe. Main gih kesana =)

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