Brunei is an old British colony that sits on the northern side of Malaysia. When the British left, they thought that they had taken or claimed everything they could. Little did they know that they left behind some massive oil fields. Now, Brunei may be best known for its outrageously excessive Sultan that is one of the richest men in the world. When visiting Brunei, the best parts are all pretty consolidated in the city and then in a jungle tour. To have a good run through the country you only really need 2-3 days, but these are packed days full of beautiful mosques, boat rides, floating villages, and jungle. So, without any further adieu, here are our 3 favorite parts of Brunei.
Bandar Seri Begawan - The capital city is clean, orderly, and offers a couple really great spots. We couldn’t decide between which mosque we prefer more - Omar Ali Saifuddin or Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. Omar Ali Saifuddin is along the river and has water and gardens around it, while Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah is huge and imposing and colorful. They both present stunning examples of architecture! But that isn’t all - the city is great to stroll around, with the only Buddhist Temple in the city there, plus the Royal Regalia museum for a look at the Sultan’s of Brunei.
Get out on the water - Brunei is surrounded by water, as is the capital city Bandar Seri Begawan, so it is pretty easy to get out on the water. This can include a boat ride to the Mangroves searching for the long-nosed monkeys or walking on water in Kampong Ayer. This floating village is one of the most unique places we have been and we spent almost 2 hours out on the water. Kampong Ayer is also just a 5 minute boat ride away from the city, so it makes it nice and easy to get to! If you are looking for a longer boat ride to see the long-nosed monkeys, there are plenty of drivers that are willing to take you. We used Mel who is a local that has done his tourist certificate. He organized the boat and accompanied us and it was an amazing experience.
Explore the Jungle - Obviously you’re in Southeast Asia and there are jungles everywhere. Brunei also offers an above the canopy walk out in the Temburong National Forest, which is marketed as the highlight. But let us tell you, there is so much more that a trip out to Temburong offers. There is the canoe ride with the locals that have to navigate dangerously low sections of water, floating down the river in inner tubes, having small fish clean your feet, and eating lunch with your host family. So, while the canopy walk gets the ticket, the tour is so much more than that!
So, while Brunei may not be your end destination when planning your trip to Southeast Asia, it is definitely worth a stop over. The country is clean, the people friendly, the food varied, and the activities many. We recommend a 3 day itinerary, with 2 full days there and 1 for your arrival. For our full itinerary, check it out here. And, when you do visit, let us know your thoughts!