Brunei Darussalam may be a small country in Southeast Asia, but it has some of the most beautiful natural wonders, jaw-dropping coastlines, magical sunsets, architectural marvels, and most importantly, drool-worthy cuisines.
Although Brunei Darussalam remains one of the most overlooked destinations for tourists, this is a blessing in disguise for many, especially those looking for a truly peaceful getaway from the mainstream and crowded tourist spots!
The best part? It’s a Muslim country! This is probably the biggest reason to visit Brunei Darussalam, as it cuts down on the worries of finding good Halal food and Masjids to pray in.
People have different reasons for going on a vacation; however, a clear majority want to get away from the hustle and bustle of work and daily life to explore the world. If you’re tired of your monotonous routine and are looking to step into a fresh and relaxed atmosphere, then visiting Brunei Darussalam should be your priority!
Given that Brunei is a rich country with plenty of oil-borne resources, the government provides for all its people. The citizens are free from hefty taxes, have access to free education and healthcare services, and have subsidized commodities. Hence, the people of Brunei are calm, stress-free, and full of life. With so much positive energy around you, you’re guaranteed to feel the same way.
People that are tired of going to places with mass tourism and consumerism will definitely appreciate the refreshing tranquility in the Sultanate. Without rubbing elbows with other tourists, you can easily explore the whole of Brunei, all within an affordable budget. This serene experience will keep you away from prying taxi drivers and tour operators looking to exploit the tourists.
Image: The Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien (SOAS) Bridge
Brunei is considered to be one of the cleanest and safest destinations for locals and tourists alike.
Brunei’s government has put a lot of effort into ensuring that the country stays clean and litter-free. As a result of which, most of the country, especially the big cities, are in immaculate condition.
On top of all this, Brunei offers an incredibly safe space for tourists. It has an exceptionally low crime rate, making it super safe to travel around Brunei, even as a solo traveler. Whether you wish to explore the city during the day or want to go about your way at night under the city lights, you’re sure to feel safe everywhere across the country.
Image: Wasai Wong Kadir
A clear majority of Brunei is covered in pristine rainforest, precisely due to the country’s extremely successful “no-cut” forest policy. As a result, the country’s virgin forests stretch hundreds of miles across.
Image: Batang Duri
To start discovering the untouched forests of Borneo, you need to start by visiting the eastern part of Brunei. The undisturbed rainforests in the Temburong District sprawl over 50,000 hectares, helping you experience nature like never before. Having one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, you’re going to find unique flowers and encounter exotic animals in their natural habitat.
Brunei is known for having some of the best food in all of Southeast Asia. This is because the food they serve is a fusion blend of Malay, Singaporean, and Indonesian cuisines. Brunei’s Gadong Night Market in Bandar Seri Begawan is well known for its scrumptious street food. From vibrant corner vendors to upbeat kiosks selling a variety of helpings, it might get difficult for you to pick the right meal.
When at the market, be sure to try the Malay-style fried rice and noodles mixed with Indonesian spicy Rendang – it is a true fusion combination of regional cuisine. Similarly, Udang Sambal Serai Bersantan is another great local dish to indulge in. It consists of spicy prawns cooked with chili and coconut milk. Another noteworthy dish to look out for is the Ambuyat - Brunei’s national dish that you need to try! It is a combination of flavorless sago dipped in a variety of sweet, spicy, and sour sauces. Other specialty dishes available in Brunei include Nasi Katok and Chicken Laksa Mee Hoon.
The best part? Brunei is predominantly a Muslim country, so you’re never going to come across the problem of choosing between Non-Halal and Halal food options! Almost everything available in local markets and restaurants is certainly Halal.
Image: Masjid Madang
The people of Brunei understand the value of Islamic heritage; hence, they have beautifully included it as a part of their cultural identity, which is easily observed in the constructions of their mosques, museums, and Islamic heritage sites. The unique mosque architecture in Brunei has distinguished itself by amalgamating designs that culturally signify historical exchanges from hundreds of years.
If you’re a big fan of exploring little facts and figures in history, especially the extensive Islamic history and heritage, Brunei Darussalam is the place to be! The country houses some of the most beautiful mosques in all of Asia. When in the country, you need to visit Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque, a timeless architectural work of art. It is constructed with a grand golden dome, stained glass windows, and eye-catching marble columns. Similarly, the Ash-Shaliheen Mosque is another lavish mosque featuring Moorish architectural elements. These elements, especially the intricate geometric window screens, elevate the Masjid’s beauty tenfold.
Image: Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
During your trip, Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is another visit due. The colorful mosaic tiles and perfectly manicured gardens are an inviting sign for all travelers, healing you spiritually before you even enter the premises of the Masjid.
The best way to get an honest rundown of a country’s culture, history, and unique offerings is through its national museums. The entrance fee varies for each museum, ranging from BND1 to BND5, and entry tickets can be purchased on the spot.
Image: Regalia Museum
To begin your fun history lesson, start at the Royal Regalia Museum in the country’s capital. More than a museum, it is a memorabilia of His Majesty, Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam. There are historical figures and artifacts that start from his early childhood years, going up to his coronation day, and following through the modern time. The rest of the museum is dedicated to traditional royal objects and artifacts dating back thousands of years ago. Many tourists are taken by the gold-plated and diamond-encrusted decoration pieces displayed as part of the hidden royal treasures at the museum.
Image: Kampong Ayer
Another tourist-favorite museum in the country is the Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery. It displays the complete history and cultural traditions of the country’s oldest showcase, the floating village. The antique handicrafts and relics from the early years of Brunei’s settlements are certainly very eye-catching. Similarly, the Malay Technology Museum displays the culture and way of life in Brunei. While other museums stress more on cultural artifacts, this museum displays technological advancements that the country has made over the past few years.