Brunei travel guide and itinerary
This small yet absolutely beautiful country is located in Borneo, one of the oldest islands in the world. Brunei is rich in oil and therefore one of the wealthiest countries in the world – but did you know that it is also very rich in nature? Stunning black sand beaches, dense tropical rainforests and quaint cities with delicious food – just the perfect combination for a curious traveller!
In this blog post, we have made a small itinerary thats perfect for visiting Brunei over one week. You can also slow down to spend more time in some of these beautiful places within the country. While reading this Brunei Travel Guide, you can also refer to the more detailed blogs, activities, tour companies and other useful links mentioned here. Above all, this Brunei travel guide contains details on things to do and places to see, transportation to and inside the country, the best time to visit Brunei and travel costs.
The complete travel guide to visiting Brunei
What to see and things to do
Brunei is famous for its status as one of the biggest oil producers in South East Asia. But Brunei is also famous for its islamic architecture and beautiful mosques, and also its stunning nature which is easily accessible from the bigger cities like Bandar Seri Begawan and Kuala Belait. Here is a day-wise itinerary to seeing the best places in Brunei.
Bandar Seri Begawan
Bandar Seri Begawan is the capital of Brunei Darussalam. It used to be called Brunei town until the 1970s before it gained independence from being a British protectorate. Bandar Seri Begawan is a cultural and financial centre in the heart of the country. Visit the grand Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and the even more opulent Jame’ Asr Hassanal Bolkiah mosque – these are some of the biggest in SE Asia! Walk around the central part of the city visiting the Royal Regalia museum, the BIBD Brunei Frame, and the Bandar Seri Begawan Waterfront. Don’t miss visiting the beautiful Teng Yun Chinese temple near the museum.
Read more about Bandar Seri Begawan here
Kampong Ayer means ‘the village on water’ in Malay. It is the oldest settlement in the country which is actually a cluster of 40 small villages. Here, every house has been built on stilts on the Brunei river. Interestingly, the village has its own school, post office, supermarkets, fire station and even a police station – all on stilts. Residents and visitors can easily get around on a very well connected boardwalk and using small boats.
Read more about Kampong Ayer here
Ulu Temburong National Park
If you are in Brunei, you should not miss this one. The Ulu Temburong National Park is the first national park to be established in Brunei. Although located in the more remote eastern part of the country, the park is now accessible by road from Bandar Seri Begawan. It has been protected since 1991 and is home to the second oldest rainforest in the world! While we enjoyed a day trip to Ulu Temburong from Bandar Seri Begawan, we also learnt that you can camp overnight too. Go hiking in the forest, rafting in the Temburong river and spot crocodiles and proboscis monkeys in the wild here!
Read more about Ulu Temburong and Freme travel here
Oil was first discovered in Seria in 1929 and city has since become the centre for Brunei’s oil and gas industry. Even today, Brunei Shell Petroleum maintains its offices and oil storage facilities and refineries here. Spot the ‘nodding donkey’ or oil drills on land, visit the Brunei Shell Museum and learn about the history of the oil and gas industry at the Billionth barrel monument.
Read more about Seria here
Kuala Belait is the second largest city in Brunei after Bandar Seri Begawan. It is located only 15 kilometres from the western border of the country with Malaysia. The Sultan visits his smaller palace here during the holy months. The city centre is famous for Jalan Pretty, a colourful boulevard with shops and restaurants! Here, you can also see the Kampong Pandan mosque and the minaret overlooking the Belait river.
Read more about Kuala Belait here
Transport and getting around
Brunei has one international airport in Bandar Seri Begawan and is connected by regular flights to cities in Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. The airport is 6 kms outside the city centre but there are regular buses and taxis that ferry passengers to the BSB terminal near the Teng Yun temple.
Alternatively, you can also take a bus from across the border. Miri is one of the biggest cities in Malaysia and there are many daily buses departing to Bandar Seri Begawan. Or you can just take the bus from Miri to the Malay-Brunei border at Sungai Tujuh checkpoint and then find another means of transport from the border to Kuala Belait.
Ferries also connect Labuan in Malaysia with Brunei port in Seresa.
Getting around in Brunei is actually a lot easier than what most blogs say. There is a very efficient public bus service in Bandar Seri Begawan which we used to visit the local sights. It is also cheaper than using taxis which need to be pre-booked from your hotel desk. Similar to Uber and Grab, there is an app called Dart for booking taxis in Brunei. Buses also ply between BSB and Kuala Belait and Seria but check the schedule at the BSB terminal on Kianggeh road.
Best time to visit
The weather in Brunei is similar. tothe weather in neighbouring Malaysia – hot and humid all year round. Tropical rainstorms occur during the rainy season, and short afternoon showers are common in other months too. We visited in February and found the weather to be perfect for sightseeing!
Brunei enjoys summer all year round as it is very close to the equator. It is hottest between March to June. However it does rain heavily in May due to the south west monsoon.
Rainy season ⛈️
Since Brunei is located in the tropical region, it experiences rain nearly everyday which lasts for less than an hour. However, August to December and May experience heavy rainfall.
Shoulder season 🌦️
January and February are the best months to escape the heat and the rain. This is also the low season for travellers in the region (considering Brunei receives few tourists annually)
Currency and travel costs
The currency in Brunei is called the Brunei Dollar or Brunei Ringgit which is pegged to the Singapore Dollar and can be used interchangeably at any shop or restaurant. BND 1 = USD 0.75 or INR 62. There are several ATMs in the country (including at the airport) where you can withdraw cash using your Visa or Mastercard bank cards. Credit cards are also widely accepted for payment in most businesses (except at the night markets).
Tourist visa details
Brunei offers visa on arrival for many western and Asian passports. Check if you are eligibile for a visa-on-arrival on the MFA Brunei website. For Indian passports, Brunei accepts tourist visa applications only at a Bruneian Consulate or Embassy.
We opted for the Brunei visitor visa which can also be arranged for by a local resident or business. Once we received the approval letter, we presented it at the Brunei airport upon landing, and got a ten day visa for BDN 20 (USD 15 or INR 1,200).
Seek an agent’s assistance for your visa here
Here are some useful resources to plan and book your next trip. These are the same websites and apps that we use for our own bookings! We may earn a small commission if you make your booking using the below link, at no extra cost to you. 🤓
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Very well presented Shishira & Navneeth. A true picture indeed !!