Brunei, the tiny Sultanate of Borneo island is not only renowned for its vast oil reserves and lush rainforests, but also of the most beautiful Islamic architecture in Asia. If this amazing destination is part of your 2019 wishlist, it is best to get acquainted with the famous tourist spots of Brunei in preparation of your itinerary.
Check out the list of exciting things to do in Brunei:
Make a round on the famous mosques
The first place to visit is Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddien. This mosque is the major landmark of the country, a proud symbol of the Islamic religion. It was built in 1958 to honor the late father of the present Sultan. It is made of solid gold and the finest gems of Italy. This 52-meter high structure which sits in the center of the capital city was inspired by the Mughal architecture of India. It is a bit similar to the Taj Mahal.
Another picturesque place is the Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. It was constructed in 1992 and can accommodate up to 5,000 worshippers. It has 29 golden domes, representing the reign of the 29th Sultan of the dynasty.
Explore the museums
Get familiar with history and culture by visiting the Museum of Brunei. It showcases the rich heritage of the country along the years. It is interesting to learn the Sultanate was ravaged by wars and disputes until the 15th century. Before achieving its absolute freedom in 1984, Brunei was under the protection of the United Kingdom.
Another must-visit place is the Royal Regalia Museum, home to the Sultan’s ultra-luxurious life. It displays the replicas of his royal throne, the crowns, jewels, gowns, and gifts that the Sultan received from the world’s Heads of State and Royalties.
View the Istana Nurul Iman (The Palace of the Light of Faith)
This is the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei. The gates only open to the public during the Hari Raya season. Nevertheless, viewing it from a distance is an experience to behold. It has more or less 1,800 rooms and 200 bathrooms. The garage houses the Sultan’s 100 luxury cars, selected among his over 7,000 car collection.
Make a trip to the Ulu Temburong National Park
Do not leave Brunei without visiting its noted virgin jungle. Only one percent of the vast area is open to the public due to the government’s strict access regulations. However, it is still one of the spectacular things to do in Brunei, giving you a glimpse of the rainforest that is well-preserved and an ecosystem that is unspoiled.
One must-do activity while in the park is to climb about 1,000 steps to reach the suspended structure or the canopy walk on top of the jungle, giving you a 360-degree breathtaking view of the untouched natural resources.
Take a boat ride to Kampong Ayer
Considered the world’s largest floating village, Kampong Ayer is dubbed as the “Venice of the East.” This popular water village is a community of about 30,000 residents with over 40 individual villages. Each of these villages has its own mosques, restaurants, and schools.
You need to rent a boat to take you to this place. Take a stroll along the suspended streets of Kampong Ayer and see how people live in the fascinating village. They may even allow you to peek inside their homes.
Watch proboscis monkeys
In the mangrove areas around Kampong Ayer, you can spot the proboscis monkeys (also known as Bengkatan). You can take also take a safari in Bandar Seri Begawan or head to the Taman Persiaran Damuan Park to search more of them. These potbellied primates with unusual noses are endemic to Borneo. They are shy and quick to hide when startled or bothered. So, better bring a binocular or camera to document your experience.
At night, the mangroves offer the amazing sight of glowing fireflies. Just a precaution, there are also crocodiles that love resting on the shore, so watch out for red eyes along the mangroves.
Take a photo or have a selfie during sunset
The plethora of orange, red, and purple hues amidst the incredible horizon as the sun sets in Brunei is such a pleasurable sight. This amazing phenomenon is one of the Earth’s stunning sunsets. Best places to experience it is in Muara Beach and Penanjong.
And don’t forget to try the Ambuyat dish
Your visit will not be totally complete without tasting Brunei’s unique local dish which is made of sago pudding. You must definitely try this thick, elastic porridge which is eaten by rolling it around the fork, then dipping into a chili sauce with meat. It comes with veggies and cucumber.
When in Brunei, take note of the following reminders:
- Dress conservatively. Avoid wearing shorts, short sleeved-dress, or vests. If you are a woman, you must always have a scarf to cover your head when visiting the mosques.
- Alcohol is forbidden. Restaurants typically close at 10:00 in the evening. Parties are not allowed.
- There is no public transportation around the capital, so either rent a cab or walk. For touring, you can rent a boat or water taxi.
- Only Brunei dollars and Singapore dollars are accepted in this country.
- Take advantage of Brunei’s low tax by shopping electronics and other items that you like
to takeback home.
Now, you are more ready to visit this wondrous destination and experience the list of exciting things to do in Brunei. Do it soon!