Brunei is famous in southeast Asia for its gorgeous mosques and Islamic architecture. In Bandar Seri Begawan, both the Omar Ali Saifuddien and Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosques are huge attractions. The first stands near the Brunei River and waterfront with an impressive artificial lagoon. The second holds the title as the largest mosque in Brunei. Non-Muslims can enter outside of prayer time.
Borneo’s sunsets are some of the most spectacular on Earth. The persistent clouds towards the horizon create a plethora of reds, oranges and purples as the sun dips out of sight. Just like the beaches in Sabah and Sarawak, you can witness this incredible phenomenon in Brunei. We suggest visiting either Penanjong or Muara Beach.
Stand on the waterfront and admire the sprawling stilted buildings across the river. Ferries and speedboats zoom between the mainland and Kampong Ayer. Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, the water village houses approximately 13,000 permanent residents. But the wow factor extends further: the settlement consists of around 40 separate villages with schools, mosques and restaurants. Take the ferry from the waterfront and stroll along the maze of deserted boardwalks and neighbourhoods.
As of 2018, many of Brunei’s attractions are free to enter. Why not take advantage and explore some of the museums in Bandar Seri Begawan? We recommend the Royal Regalia to learn more about the Sultan and his extravagant lifestyle. The Brunei Museum covers natural history, ethnography and exhibits on their British colonial days. Visiting museums might not feature on everyone’s list of things to do in Brunei, but it does offer a chance to learn about this little-known country.
Proboscis monkeys, named after their unusual nose, are endemic to Borneo. The strange pot-bellied primates like to sit in the mangroves. If you’re in Bandar Seri Begawan, you can take a safari in search of the monkeys. Or head to Taman Persiaran Damuan Park and try to spot some in the trees on the river island.
Nodding donkeys are the strange contraptions used to extract underground oil. The small town of Seria along Brunei’s northern coast was the birthplace of the nation’s booming oil industry and is littered with the structures. A monument commemorates the production of Brunei’s billionth barrel of oil too. This isn’t one of the more conventional things to do in Brunei, but it will help you understand the industry driving the country’s wealth.
Because of Brunei’s lower tax levels, shopping for electronics and other products is often cheaper than in neighbouring countries. With a relatively strong currency and a predominately middle-class population, the citizens demand the latest technology. If you’re in Bander Seri Begawan on a stopover, check out the malls and see what bargains you can find.