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Oil-rich Brunei Darussalam sits along the South China Sea on Borneo Island, receiving just a handful of annual visitors. For a non-touristy experience, head to the Sultanate and marvel at these stunningly beautiful places in Brunei.
Bandar Seri Begawan is usually the first port of call for visitors to Brunei. With two of Southeast Asia’s most stunning mosques and a sprawling floating village on the Brunei River, the capital is a photographer’s dream come true. Stroll the small centre, snap pictures of Kampong Ayer from the Waterfront and enjoy your time in Borneo’s cleanest city.
Kampong Ayer features among the most beautiful places in Brunei for its distinctive appearance. The sprawling settlement consists of more than 40 separate villages on stilts over the Brunei River. With their own mosques, shops and schools, some residents rarely venture onto the land. Take a ferry and stroll along the rickety boardwalks and glimpse into an ancient way of life. According to some estimates, the village dates back five centuries and houses more than 13,000 residents. Snap the best photographs in the early evening before sunset from the Waterfront.
Because of Brunei’s oil reserves, the rainforests remain free of deforestation. Ulu Temburong National Park is a prime example of Brunei’s state-sponsored conservation. Centuries old trees soar into the air connected by canopy walks offering views of the vast forest. Trails lead through the steamy jungle to hidden waterfalls and natural pools. When combined, it provides one of the most beautiful places in Brunei to enjoy the best of nature.
Visitors can reach Brunei’s golden sand at Muara Beach within 30 minutes from the capital. The palm tree-lined stretch of coastline hugs the South China Sea, hosting the magical multi-coloured tropical sunset. Join the local picnicking families in the afternoon and marvel at the serene views before the main event at dusk.
Tasek Merimbun lies approximately one hour by car from Bandar Seri Begawan. The often overlooked ‘S’-shaped lake is among the most beautiful places in Brunei. Picture a deep blue surface interspersed with bright green lilies surrounded by the thick rainforest. Tropical flora grow among the foliage, creating a habitat for a host of wildlife including a rare type of fruit bat. The best way to enjoy the lake’s tranquility is from either the boardwalk or by taking a boat trip.
Our favourite place in Brunei to see the Bornean sunrise is at Luagan Lalak. Located near the Labi Forest Reserve to the west of Bandar Seri Begawan, the lake exudes beauty. A series of boardwalks span over the freshwater swamp’s surface. Footpaths and wooden bridges form a network around the surrounding park. You’ll need to drive more than an hour from Bandar Seri Begawan to witness this spectacular phenomenon. Plan to leave the city at 4:30am to get there in time for sunrise.
Tutong Town some 40 kilometres (24.9 miles) west of Bandar Seri Begawan offers a quiet beach retreat. The stretch of yellow-orange sand hugs the town along the Tutong River. Either visit on a day trip or spend the night in one of the guesthouses to enjoy the sunset. We also recommend checking out Sungai Basong Recreational Park, which includes hiking trails and a miniature ethnic village.
Located in Tutong District, Bukit Ladan Forest Reserve is among the most beautiful places in Brunei for nature lovers. The 76-square-kilometre protected area offers hiking trails, picnicking spots and viewing platforms. With towering teak trees lining the paths and the occasional orchid, this provides the ultimate experience for fans of the outdoors. Climb the canopies to witness the dense green forest rolling over the hills towards the horizon. You’ll need to rent a car to see this natural wonder in Brunei. It’s not advisable to make the trip during the rainy season when flooded roads make access challenging.
From a distance, Brunei’s most important mosque appears to be floating on a pool. Stand closer and the elegant, gold-domed structure gleams under the tropical sun. The adjacent lagoon creates a mirror image of the grand structure. Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, named after the nation’s 28th Sultan, consistently ranks among the most beautiful places to visit in Brunei. Stroll around the exterior and see the replica of a 16th-century royal barge. Inside, the floors use Italian marble, British chandeliers and Saudi Arabian carpets. Brunei’s gem is an architectural masterpiece of Southeast Asia.
Translating to ‘Palace of the Light of Faith’, Istana Nurul Iman is officially the world’s largest royal residence. With an incredible 1,788 rooms and more than 250 bathrooms, the Sultan’s Palace is a sight to behold. The elegant building blends both traditional Malay and contemporary Islamic styles. A series of vaulted roofs and golden domes decorate the exterior surrounded by manicured gardens. The best place to get a photo is either from the Brunei River or Taman Persiaran Damuan Park.