The Brunei sultan's palace Istana Nurul Iman seen from Sungai Brunei.

Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Istana Nurul Iman

Bandar Seri Begawan

The sultan's official residence, the world's largest residential palace, is more than four times the size of the Palace of Versailles. It has 1788 rooms, air-conditioned stables for the sultan's polo ponies, gold door handles and 257 bathrooms. The palace is open to the public only during the three-day Hari Raya Aidil Fitri festivities at the end of Ramadan. The best way to check it out on the other 362 days of the year is to take a water-taxi cruise.

Designed by Filipino architect Leandro Locsin, the palace mixes elements of Malay (the vaulted roofs) and Islamic (the arches and gold domes) architecture with the sweep and oversized grandeur of an airport terminal.

The crystal teardrops in the royal reception room, sinuous wooden ceilings above covered walkways, and the glass ceiling features of the grand banquet hall are the work of Khuan Chew, responsible for Dubai's Burj Al Arab.

Istana is located 3km southwest of the town centre.

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