Cities built on oil money tend to be flashy, ostentatious places, but with the exception of a palace you can't enter most of the time, a couple of enormous mosques and one wedding cake of a hotel, Bandar (as the capital is known, or just BSB) is a very understated place. Urban life pretty much revolves around two pastimes: shopping and eating – there is virtually no nightlife (though an enduring love of karaoke). BSB does boast a few good museums and the biggest water village in the world, providing a little slice of vintage Malay life.
BSB's city centre is on the north bank of Sungai Brunei at a spot – 12km upriver from Brunei Bay – that's sheltered from both storms and tsunamis. During the Japanese occupation, the city centre – known until 1970 as Brunei Town – was severely damaged by Allied bombing.