Introducing Brunei Darussalam
The last remnants of an empire that once included all of Borneo and the southwest Philippines, Brunei is now one of the smallest countries on earth – two tiny slivers of land lodged in the northern coast of Sarawak. This tiny country is blessed with some of the largest oil fields in Southeast Asia and, perhaps not surprisingly, one of the wealthiest rulers on earth. Thanks to these underground riches, Brunei has been able to spare most of its above-ground resources, and the country boasts some of the most intact primary rainforest in all of Borneo.
Chances are this little country will surprise you, for it is neither the mini Dubai nor the strict Muslim theocracy that most people expect. Instead, it is a rather relaxed and even charming little corner of Borneo with enough attractions to make it an interesting stop between Sabah and Sarawak. First there is the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB), with its soaring mosques and picturesque water villages. Then there is the aforementioned rainforest, which is best experienced in the fine Ulu Temburong National Park. Beyond these, there is a thrilling boat ride between the capital and Bangar, one of the highlights of Borneo.
Best places to stay in Brunei Darussalam
Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei travel guide
Southeast Asia’s terrific trio offer steamy jungles packed with wildlife, beautiful beaches, idyllic islands, culinary sensations and multiethnic culture.
Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque
Built from 1954 to 1958, Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddien – named after the 28th sultan of Brunei (the late father of the current sultan) – is surrounded by an artificial lagoon that serves as a reflecting pool. The mosque is basically the happening centre of city life in Bandar come evenings; folks come for prayer, then leave to eat or shop, which is sort of Brunei in a nutshell.
Sumbiling Eco Village
If you're looking for Brunei's version of a jungle camp with basic amenities and a chilled-out atmosphere that encourages slipping into a green state of utterly relaxed Zen, come to Sumbiling...
Home to an estimated 20,000 people, Kampung Ayer consists of 28 contiguous stilt villages – named after the crafts and occupations traditionally practiced there – built along both (but especially the southern) banks of Sungai Brunei.
Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei - Brunei (Chapter)
The tranquil sultanate of Brunei is known for its oilfields, but unlike much of Borneo, it hasn’t logged its forests. Get close to nature in verdant Ulu Temburong National Park or join the capital’s locals in their love of food and shopping.
Ulu Temburong National Park
It's odd that in a country as manicured and regulated as Brunei, there's still a sizable chunk of true untamed wilderness. Therein lays the appeal of Ulu Temburong National Park, located in the heart of a 500-sq-km area of pristine rainforest covering most of southern Temburong.
Bandar Seri Begawan
Cities built on oil money tend to be flashy places, but with the exception of a palace you usually can't enter, a couple of enormous mosques and one wedding cake of a hotel, Bandar (as the capital is known, or just BSB) is a pretty understated place.
Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
Built in 1992 to celebrate the 25th year of the current sultan's reign, Brunei's largest mosque and its four terrazzo-tiled minarets dominate the 'suburbs' of BSB. It's certainly a...noticeable building; because the sultan is his dynasty's 29th ruler, the complex is adorned with 29 golden domes.
Brunei's national museum, officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1972, is a decent place to blow an hour of your time.
Pondok Sari Wangi
Located in Gadong, Pondok Sari Wangi is a beloved Bandar institution.
The Empire Hotel & Country Club, Brunei
Featuring an 18-hole golf course, Empire Hotel offers relaxing stays in Brunei’s only beach retreat. Overlooking scenic landscapes, it has 7 dining options, a shopping arcade and lagoon pools...