How to Spend 48 Hours in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

| © Sophie James / Shutterstock
Sam Bedford

Brunei’s capital is known for Islamic architecture, the world’s largest floating village and the Gadong Night Market. Discover how to make the most of 48 hours in Bandar Seri Begawan if you’re a curious tourist and or just on a Royal Brunei Airlines stopover.

Day one: Morning

Explore Central Bandar Seri Begawan

We recommend staying at the centrally located Capital Residence Suite. Start the day early and get down to the compact city centre. Most attractions are within walking distance; it’s easy to see the best of the capital in the first morning of your 48 hours in Bandar Seri Begawan. First, head to Omar Ali Saifuddien, the capital’s most famous mosque. Snap a few photographs of its artificial lagoon and ceremonial royal barge. Next, stroll around the centre in loop ending at the Waterfront. Enjoy the views of the Brunei River and floating village. Piccolo Café sits near the Waterfront, which makes an ideal spot to cool down with a cold drink.

Pro tip: Some hotels provide their guests with a free driver. It never hurts to ask.

Kampong Ayer in the Brunei River from the Waterfront


Take the water ferry to the world’s largest stilted village

The sprawling conglomeration of stilted structures in the Brunei River is called Kampong Ayer. Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, it houses more than 13,000 residents. The world’s largest floating village has several villages along with their own mosques, shops and schools. Wooden boardwalks connect the villages above the water as speedboats ferry passengers from one place to the next. Water taxis cost around B$1 ($0.66 USD) from the Waterfront to Kampong Ayer.

Pro Tip: If money isn’t an issue, try to negotiate a price for a one-hour boat trip through the village.

Take a water taxi and spend an hour or two exploring the world’s largest floating village


Shop for bargains

In the early evening, head to The Mall Gadong. Apart from offering several floors of goods, it also provides an air-conditioned haven to escape from the stifling heat outside. Brunei has lower taxes compared to its neighbours, which makes designer clothes and electronics more affordable. You don’t have to visit the shopping centres on your 48 hours in Bandar Seri Begawan, but it does offer a window into the pastimes of locals. And you might be able to get that new phone or camera for a fraction of the price elsewhere.

Pro Tip: Freshen up beforehand and combine a trip The Mall with Gadong Night Market.

Gadong Mall might be the place to buy that new camera!


Grab some local food at Gadong Night Market

Gadong Night Market is a short walk from The Mall over the river. The market consists of multiple stalls with a tent-like roof as vendors cook up local dishes. Stroll through the cloud of smoke and aroma of fried rice, noodles and barbequed chicken. Try the Bruneian favourite nasi katok (white rice and fried chicken served with a spicy sambal sauce).

Pro Tip: Bring a waterproof jacket and an umbrella in case it rains.

Grab some street food at Gadong Night Market

Day two: Morning

Enjoy Bandar Seri Begawan’s Architecture

Wake up bright and early and either hire a taxi or arrange a private driver from your hotel. First, head to Brunei’s largest mosque, Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah. Plan to spend 20 or 30 minutes strolling around the outside and snapping photographs. Next, visit Istana Nurul Iman, the Sultan’s official residence. With a total of 1,800 rooms, this is the world’s largest house. Get photographs from the river or at the nearby park.

The grand interior of Jame Asr Mosque


An afternoon of culture

At the time of writing in 2018, most of the museums in Brunei are free. This is the perfect excuse to soak up some of the local culture on your 48 hours in Bandar Seri Begawan. First, visit the Royal Regalia Museum in the city centre. This houses all the extravagant gifts given to the Sultan of Brunei in a two-storey, air-conditioned building. Visitors need to remove their shoes at the door and sadly you can’t take pictures. Other worthwhile museums in Bandar Seri Begawan include the colonial Twelve Roofs House and Brunei Museum.

Pro Tip: Visit the museum around lunchtime to avoid being outside at the hottest time of day.

The Sultan’s chariot inside the Royal Regalia Museum

Evening and night

Hit the beach for Borneo’s world-famous sunset

Save the best for last: witnessing one of Borneo’s famous sunsets. Brunei doesn’t have an international reputation for white-sand beaches, but it does offer a few quiet spots along its South China Sea coastline. Muara Bach lies approximately 30 minutes from the capital by car. You might need to either hire a car or get a driver (there aren’t many buses and they stop running at 6:00 pm). After the sunset, return to the capital and enjoy a meal in one of the restaurants along the Waterfront overlooking Kampong Ayer.

Relax at Muara Beach and enjoy the Bornean sunset
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.