Nestled between the tropical island of Borneo, Brunei Darussalam is a peaceful country known for its picturesque view and little tourist traction, making it the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of fast-paced city life.
While the country might be small, its culture, history, and people are larger than life. When we think of Brunei, we think of modern infrastructure and equipment coupled with traditional values, huddled in an ancient rainforest – it is undoubtedly a country surrounded by beauty of all kinds.
Being one of the safest Southeast Asian countries, planning a week-long trip to Brunei is a calm yet adventurous getaway, with little to no worry while you keep yourself busy with the top activities to do in Brunei Darussalam. So if you want to experience places, culture, and Halal food, all while seeing beauty in the smallest of things, Brunei Darussalam is the best place to plan your next trip.
Image: Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque
Brunei Darussalam is famous for housing some of the most beautiful mosques, all of which blend Islamic architecture with contemporary elements of elegance. Once in the serene country, you must start your visit by paying respects to Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque. The mosque is prominent for its lush gold dome and marble minaret, presenting a modern Islamic style. Having the perfect mélange of Mughal and Malay elements, the grand mosque stands tall with floral gardens and a reflecting pool surrounding its exterior.
Image: Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
Next, go to the city center and visit Brunei’s largest mosque, Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah. The mosque is covered by twenty-nine gold domes to honor the country’s twenty-ninth and current Sultan. In addition, a hundred feet high minaret further enhance the grandeur structure. If you’re looking to explore more Islamic architecture and pay respect to mosques in the country, add Al-Muhtadee Billah Mosque - also known as the Pyramid Mosque, Kampung Mentiri Mosque, and Masjid Mohamed Bolkiah to the list.
Brunei Darussalam is known for its small, quaint beaches with remarkable views. One of their most famous beaches is Pantai Seri Kenangan, which literally translates to “the unforgettable beach”. The beach is hosted by the Kuala Tutong area in Tutong Town, where it stretches across 4 km of pure white sand and clear icy blue water.
To add to the picturesque scenery, Pantai Seri Kenangan boasts beautiful sunsets. With magnificent orange, yellow, and red-tinted sunsets laden behind coconut trees, there isn’t a moment you want to miss out on. Other beaches with similar views include Penanjong Beach and Muara Beach.
Jerudong Park is Brunei Darussalam’s best amusement theme park. It is divided into three sections to help visitors make the most out of the park, the most prominent of which is The Playground. The Playground is grouped into three clusters:
(1) Wonder Park: Bumper cars, jumpers, laser maze, golf, paddle boat, carousel, and so on.
(2) Adventure Park: 4D Cinema, F1 supakart, pirate ship, zipline, and so on.
(3) Water Park: Water playground, jet curtains, water tubing, lazy rivers, and so on.
The rest of the park is split between an open venue that can be booked for events and a massive food court with cuisines from around the world. We definitely recommend snacking on the local offerings at the food court.
Image: Royal Regalia Museum
Brunei Darussalam’s people hold their rich culture and history on a very high pedestal, and rightfully so! The country has been under the influence of Indianised kingdoms and empires for much of its history, making it vested with interesting artifacts.
The Royal Regalia Museum is one of the capital city’s most renowned museums. It depicts the life of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and the entire history of his rule, dedicating much of the museum to his work. Millennia-old artifacts can also be found displayed in museum sections devoted to showcasing traditional royal objects. Visitors would always find fascination in the hidden royal treasures of the museum like the gold-plated and diamond-encrusted decoration pieces.
Above all, it is the museum’s architecture that attracts tourists. The semi-circular exterior of the museum is structured with golden domes and is fully decorated with mosaic designs. The inside of the museum is laden with white marble, featuring the Sultan’s gold chariot and coronation relics.
Other popular museums in the country include Belait District Museum, Kampong Ayer Cultural and Tourism Gallery, and Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum.
Tasek Lama Recreational Park is a few minutes short of Bandar Seri Begawan. It is beautifully constructed around a natural waterfall and a tranquil lake.
Full of fun and family-friendly activities, ranging from exciting jungle hiking trails where you can usually spot the Macaque monkeys to quaint picnic sites full of flora and fauna to unwind at, Tasek Lama is an oasis for those looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The best part? There is a reflexology track in the park that acts as a foot massage when walking on it – this foot massage is also free and a unique attraction for tourists.
Known as the “Venice of the East”, Kampong Ayer is Brunei’s floating village. The traditional village with pristine old streets surely stands in stark contrast to the rest of the lavish capital city. Once known just for being the trade center of the city, the villages at Kampong Ayer have evolved heavily over time and have expanded to having residential houses, marketplaces, schools, and hospitals.
If you’re interested in exploring all forty of the tiny villages clustered around Kampong Ayer, take a stroll on the boardwalk while sipping on some locally bought beverages from one of the marketplace’s kiosks. Take a minute out of your time exploring the villages to stand at the waterfront and admire the colorful little buildings from afar. There is nothing more intriguing for many tourists than to observe people go on about their daily lives in Brunei’s very own Venice.
Brunei is known for its one-of-a-kind, fusion-style local cuisine, which makes visiting all the food markets and indulging in mouthwatering dishes as one of the top activities to do in Brunei Darussalam.
The Gadong Night Market is very well known in the country for having some of the best local food options, including continental and fusion cuisines from around the world. Be wary! You’re going to be stuck choosing between hundreds of unbeatable options from dozens of stalls serving local food. Nonetheless, do give Satay, Malay-style meat kebabs, and BBQ fish a try – they are the market’s specialty. Alternatively, look for Ambuyat, a sticky sago ball dipped in a sweet and spicy gravy.
If you want to visit the market, be sure to plan your trip after 4 pm, when all the shops are open and ready to serve customers.
Pangkalan Waris, located in Tutong District’s Kampong Penapar, is one of Brunei’s hidden gems. It is a small fishing lodge where many locals go to catch their daily grub. Hence, making it a fun activity for tourists to partake in just as much. There are several kiosks nearby, offering to fully prepare and deliciously cook your catch so that your fishing activity turns into a memorable meal. Or if you aren’t looking to do some fishing, you can just rest and relax in the calm ambiance at Pangkalan Waris.