Accessible Travel

If you’re thinking of travelling to Brunei in a wheelchair, you should reconsider your plans unless you have no other option. You can get a wheelchair-accessible transfer to your hotel, but thereafter you will be limited to your hotel and shopping malls. Pavements (sidewalks) are often inaccessible, most shops and buildings – including official buildings such as police stations, consulates and the national airline office for example – have steps to enter. Even the main mosque can only be entered via a flight of stairs. Blind and vision impaired visitors – and those using a cane or mobility aid – will struggle with extremely high kerbs, lack of tactile paving and completely unplanned wayfinding.

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Bargaining

Gentle haggling is common in markets; in all other instances you’re expected to pay the stated price.

Dangers & Annoyances

  • Brunei is very safe for travellers of both sexes.
  • Saltwater crocodiles are a very real danger in waterways, especially in muddy estuaries. Exercise caution when swimming in rivers, and never swim near river mouths.

Embassies & Consulates

Emergency & Important Numbers

Brunei Darussalam's Country Code673
Ambulance991
Police993
Fire995
Search & Rescue998

Entry & Exit Formalities

For most travellers, entering Brunei is straightforward.

Customs Regulations

Tobacco may not be imported into Brunei. Non-Muslims can import two bottles of wine or spirits and 12 cans of beer, which must be declared at customs, to consume in private. Keep the customs slip in case of inspection.

Passports

Israeli passport holders are not permitted to enter Brunei.

Visas

Travellers from the US, European Union, Switzerland and Norway are granted a 90-day visa-free stay. Travellers from New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia, among others, receive 30 days. Japanese and Canadians get 14 free days. Chinese can apply for a 14-day single-entry visa (B$20). Australians can apply for the following visas upon arrival: 72-hour transit (B$5), 30-day single entry (B$20) or multiple entry (B$30).

Etiquette

  • Greetings Shaking hands is uncommon and if it occurs is very brief and not firm. Women and children usually won't offer a hand.
  • Physical affection Hand-holding between people of two genders is fine; extreme public displays of affection, such as kissing, are not.
  • Clothing Despite the heat and humidity, adult men in Brunei don't tend to wear shorts in cities or towns, particularly not in restaurants. Likewise women should remember that Brunei is largely Muslim, and relatively discreet clothing that covers your shoulders and knees must be worn.
  • Eye contact Staring is considered extremely rude (unlike in neighbouring Malaysia).

LGBT Travellers

Though homosexual acts are illegal in Brunei and penalties technically include prison sentences, there's an underground gay scene in BSB, with gay young people connecting on social media. If you're out and about in Kiulap in the evenings, you may well spot local young men dressed as women also. That said, visitors to Brunei best err on the side of caution and not openly advertise their sexual orientation.

Internet Access

Wi-fi is available at all top-end and midrange hotels and most budget guesthouses. More and more restaurants and cafes in BSB also offer free wi-fi.

Money

ATMs widely available in BSB and larger towns. Credit cards usually accepted at top-end establishments. The Brunei dollar is tied to the Singapore dollar, which is used interchangeably here.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1B$0.99
CanadaC$1B$1.05
Euro zone€1B$1.56
Japan¥100B$1.24
New ZealandNZ$1B$0.90
SingaporeS$1B$1.00
UKUK£1B$1.75
USAUS$1B$1.38

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Tipping

Tipping is not practised much in Brunei, though rounding off the bill is always appreciated.

Opening Hours

On Fridays all businesses and offices, including restaurants, cafes, museums, shops and even parks, are closed by law between noon and 2pm for Friday prayers. During Ramadan, business and office hours are often shortened and restaurants are closed during daylight hours.

Banks 9am–4pm Monday to Thursday, 9am-noon and 2pm–4pm Friday, 9am to 11am Saturday

Restaurants Variable hours, generally 11am–11pm Saturday to Thursday, 11am-noon and 2pm–11pm Friday

Cafes Variable hours, generally 8am–6pm Saturday to Thursday, 8am-noon and 2pm–6pm Friday

Shops 10am–9.30pm Saturday to Thursday, 10am-noon and 2pm–9.30pm Friday

Government offices 7.45am–12.15pm and 1.30pm–4.30pm Monday to Thursday and Saturday

Post

The Brunei postal service (www.post.gov.bn) is generally reliable and reasonably efficient. BSB no longer has a central post office, though there's a post office in several outlying neighbourhoods.

Brunei postal tariffs for a postcard/letter weighing 20g:

  • Brunei Darussalam – B$0.20
  • Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand – B$0.30
  • Rest of the world – B$0.50

Public Holidays

The dates of Muslim holidays follow lunar calendars and so vary relative to the Gregorian (Western) calendar. Muslim holidays fall 11 or 12 days earlier each year; their final dates are determined by the sighting of the moon and therefore may vary slightly relative to the dates below. The dates we give for some other religious holidays are also approximate. Many religious celebrations begin the night before the dates given.

For details on public and religious holidays (as well as cultural events), see the events calendars posted by Brunei Tourism (www.tourismbrunei.com).

New Year's Day 1 January

Chinese New Year 5 February 2019, 25 January 2020, 12 February 2021

Brunei National Day 23 February

Israk Mikraj (Prophet's Ascension) 3 April 2019, 22 March 2020, 11 March 2021

First Day of Ramadan 6 May 2019, 23 April 2020, 12 April 2021

Royal Brunei Armed Forces Day 31 May

Gawai Dayak (Iban only) Evening of 31 May to 2 June

Nuzul Quraan (Koran Revelation Day) 22 May 2019, 10 May 2020, 29 April 2021

Hari Raya Aidil Fitri End of Ramadan; three-day holiday begins 4 June 2019, 24 May 2020, 14 May 2021

Sultan of Brunei's Birthday 15 July

Hari Raya Aidiladha 11 August 2019, July 30 2020, July 19 2021

Awal Muharram (Islamic New Year) 31 August 2019, 19 August 2020, 9 August 2021

Maulidur Rasul (Prophet's Birthday) 9 November 2019, 28 October 2020, 18 October 2021

Christmas Day 25 December

Smoking

  • Smoking Brunei has been completely smoke-free since the sultan made a birthday wish for his subjects to be healthy on his birthday in 2017 (the sultan's wishes always come true). Tough anti-smoking laws ban puffing in all public spaces, and you're not allowed to import any tobacco into the country either.

Taxes & Refunds

There is no sales tax or value-added tax (VAT or equivalent consumption-based tax) in Brunei Darussalam.

Telephone

Inexpensive prepaid SIM cards are readily available. If you bring your own phone, make sure it can handle 900/1800MHz and is not locked. There are no area codes within Brunei.

Mobile Phones

There are two main mobile-phone networks: DST (www.dst.com.bn) and Progresif (www.progresif.com). Both sell SIM-card starter packs that include local minutes and 3GB of data for B$35 at the airport and in outlets around the city. Progresif has better deals in general, but DST allegedly has better network coverage.

Local calls cost from B$0.20 a minute, depending on the time of day. For international calls, using the access code 095 ('IDD 095') is cheaper than 00. Calls to Australia, the UK and the USA cost B$0.30 to B$0.70 a minute.

Time

Brunei is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT/UTC+8). Brunei does not observe daylight-saving time.

Toilets

  • You'll find a lot of squat-style toilets in Brunei, particularly in public bathrooms.
  • Western-style seated toilets are the norm in midrange hotels and guesthouses.
  • You may be expected to flush using water from a plastic bucket.
  • Toilet paper is often unavailable in public toilets, so keep a stash handy. In urban areas you can usually discard used toilet paper into the bowl without causing a blockage, but if there is a waste-paper basket – as there often is in rural toilets – it's meant to be used.

Tourist Information

Brunei Tourism A useful website, containing information on transport, business hours, accommodation, tour agencies and more.

Tourist information There is a counter at Brunei International Airport.

Tourist Information Centre In the Old Customs House on BSB's waterfront.

Borneo Guide Private tour company in BSB can supply up-to-date information, including land transport to Miri (Sarawak) and Sabah.

Travel with Children

  • Brunei is easy for family travel, though outside of central BSB stroller-friendly footpaths are non-existent.
  • Cots are not widely available in cheaper accommodation. Some top-end places allow two children under 12 to stay with their parents at no extra charge.
  • Baby food, formula and nappies (diapers) are widely available, but stock up on such items before heading to remote destinations such as Ulu Temburong.
  • Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children is packed with useful information.
  • Kids aged four to eight may enjoy BSB's Jerudong Park Playground, a tame amusement park. Visits to Ulu Temburong National Park are an enjoyable jungle adventure for kids aged seven and up.
  • While most restaurants may not have separate kids' menus, children are usually made to feel welcome.

Volunteering

Volunteering tourism is not well developed in Brunei Darussalam. It's important to do your research on organisations offering volunteer work, particularly those offering work with children. Lonely Planet does not endorse any organisations that we do not work with directly.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures The metric system is used.

Women Travellers

Discreet clothing is appropriate here – you certainly don't have to cover your hair (unless visiting a mosque), but loose-fitting clothes that cover the shoulders and knees are best, especially when visiting any kind of official or religious building.

Work

Foreign workers account for over one third of Brunei's workforce. The attractions of working here include the preference for using English as a major business language and the absence of personal tax (this applies to citizens and expats alike). There are, however, other contributions to provident and pension funds that are deducted from your salary (totalling about 8.5%).

All foreign workers must pass mandatory health checks and have a valid work permit organised by their employer before their arrival. Permits are valid for two years.