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.
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.