- Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque: This magnificent mosque sits at the very heart of the capital city and the country’s Islamic faith. Built in 1958 and named after the 28thSultan of Brunei, it is one of the most impressive mosques in Southeast Asia. Set amid its own lagoon, the mosque seems to be floating, surrounded by lush greenery and floral gardens, while its glittering dome, covered in real gold, soars above the skyline. Featuring luminous stained glass windows, floors of gleaming Italian marble, walls of Shanghai granite, chandeliers from Britain and carpets from Saudi Arabia, the mosque brings together the world’s best materials in a tour de force of architectural beauty and spiritual ambience. A marble bridge across the lagoon brings you to a replica of a 16thcentury Royal Barge, which used to host religious ceremonies, like Quran reading competitions. At night, the mosque is illuminated, making it a vision to be seen.
Opening hours: Sun-Wed, 8am-5:30pm except at prayer times. Closed: Thu-Fri. Shoes are to be removed before entering. Dress appropriately.
- Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque: This ornately decorated mosque, built in 1994, is surrounded by landscaped gardens and fountains. This mosque is a fine example of Islamic architecture carried out with a devotion to details.
Opening hours: Sun-Wed, 8am-12 noon, 2pm-3pm and 5pm-6pm. Open on Saturdays if there is no official function the following day. Closed: Thu-Fri. Shoes are to be removed before entering.
- Istana Nurul Iman: His Majesty The Sultan’s official residence and seat of Government, is the largest residential palace in the world. Set on the banks of Brunei River, it is a stunning sight with its Islamic-style architecture, low-sweeping Southeast Asian-style roofs and glistening domes, tiled with 22-carat gold leaf. The Istana has 1, 788 rooms and a banquet hall that can seat 4,000 people. A prayer hall for the Sultan’s family and state religious functions can accommodate 1,500 worshippers. The palace is only open to the public during Hari Raya Aidilfitri when His Majesty throws open the doors and meets his subject and well-wishers, for the best view of the palace at other times of the year, see it from Persiaran Damuan, a park along the river.
Opening hours: Times are announced prior to Hari Raya. Formal attire required.
- Istana Darussalam: This is the palace where His Majesty The Sultan was born. Located on Jalan Sumbiling, this wooden palace captures the splendor of architectural heritage of the old Malay palaces of the period. Visitors may only view it from the outside.
- Kampong Ayer: A historic settlement still vibrant with in the 21stcentury, Kampong Ayer (water village), is a township of multi-colored houses built on stilts over the Brunei River. Having been in continuous occupation for at least 600 years, this tourist hotspot is home to more than 20,000 people. Made up of 42 separate villages or kampongs, it is the largest and best preserved such village in Southeast Asia. Stretching along the river are some 4,000 buildings, many of them made of wood, connected by 30km of wooden walkways. People make their way around using the walkways or by water taxis. Were it not for the television antennae bristling on the roofs, you could almost believe that you had walked into the pages of a history book, when Brunei’s people depended on the sea and river for their livelihood. But this community is no inert relic of the past, and the homes feature electricity, running water, and internet access. There are schools, mosques, fire stations, police stations, restaurants, and shops. Drop by the Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Galleryto learn more about the settlement watch a craft demonstration or pick up a souvenir.
Opening hours: Kampong Ayer can be visited at any reasonable hour. The Gallery is open from 9am-5pm (Last entry: 4:30pm)
- Sultan Bolkiah’s Tomb: During the golden age of Brunei’s empire, its territory stretched along the coast of Borneo, and north Luzon Island in the Philippines. This golden age had much to do with Sultan Bolkiah (1473-1521), the fifth Sultan and considered one of its greatest monarchs. He is buried here in a splendid tomb in the country’s old capital, Kota Batu. Close by is another well-preserved tomb, that of Sharif Ali, the third Sultan of Brunei. Kota Batu is an extraordinary site in Southeast Asian terms, being the only one known to show evidence of more or less continuous occupation for 1,000 years. Discoveries have included coins and ceramics dating back to the Tang Dynasty.
- The Royal Mausoleum:This significant memorial site is tucked away on the banks of the Brunei River. The mausoleums house the graves of the last four Sultans – Sultan Sir Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien III (1950-1967), Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin (1924-1950), Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam (1906-1924), and Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin (1885-1906). Other members of the royal family are also buried here.
- Lapau and Dewan Majilis:The glided interior of the Lapau, or Royal Ceremonial Hall, has seen many a grand celebration as it is used to host royal traditional ceremonies. His Majesty The Sultan was crowned here, under its domed roof, on August 1, 1968, and you can see the grand throne.
Within the precincts of the Lapau is the Dewan Majilis, the historic seat of the country’s Legislative Assembly. With the recent completion of the new Legislative Council Building on Jalan Mabohai, the Lapau enters the pages of Brunei’s constitutional history as a prized icon of its past. Official permission is required told observe traditions and etiquette on the premises.
- Bubongan Duabelas: Built on the side of a hill overlooking Kampong Ayer in 1906, Bubongan Duabelas was home of the British Resident and High Commissioner till the country’s independence in 1984. The name means “House of 12 Roofs.”
Built in Colonial style, this single-storey timber structure with hardwood floors and wrap-around verandahs evoke bygone days of leisurely afternoon teas and clipped accents.
The building houses a gallery that showcases the relationship between Brunei and the United Kingdom. There are interesting charts, maps, and reports on the area dating from the first British contact here in the 19th century.
Opening hours: Mon-Thu & Sun, 9am-4:30pm, Fri 9am-11:30am & 2:30am-4:30pm, Sat 9:45am-4:30pm
- Brunei Museum: See exquisite illuminated copies of the Koran, and thousand-year-old ceramics, jewelry, weapons and coins at this grand museum which is famed for its collection of Islamic art and artifacts. Located on an archeological site at Kota Batu, the country’s historic capital, the museum’s Islamic Art Gallery showcases a superb collection acquired personally by His Majesty The Sultan. Its other galleries, which focus on region’s history, culture, flora and fauna, and oil and gas, contribute to create an interesting overview of the country.
Opening hours: Sat-Thu, 9:30am-5pm, Fri 9 am-11:30am, 2:30pm-5pm
- Royal Regalia Museum: A tribute to the Sultan and grand trappings of royalty, this museum is a highlight of any trip to Brunei. The main gallery presents an impressive recreation of the coronation of His Majesty The Sultan, displaying the glided carriage which carried the newly crowned Sultan through the streets of the capital city, along with gold and silver ceremonial armor.
The Royal Exhibition Gallery showcases a selection of Royal Regalia from His Majesty’s childhood days up to the time of his coronation, such as jewel-encrusted crowns, thrones, garments and his Majesty’s revered silver keris (dagger).
The Silver Jubilee Gallery celebrates the mark of His Majesty’s 25th ruling year. Here, one can view film footage of the auspicious event, amongst other Royal Regalia that made an appearance during the occasion.
There is also the Constitutional History Gallery, which houses documents, photographs, film and recordings, and a gallery devoted to the life of His Majesty The Sultan up to the time of his coronation.
Opening hours: Sat-Thu, 9am-4:30pm, Fri 9am-11:30am, 2:30pm-4:30pm. Shoes are to be removed before entering.
- Malay Technology Museum: This museum offers an inside look into the intricacies of indigenous workmanship which is in danger of disappearing as the country adopts modern technologies. Take a look at the architectural details of stilt houses (as seen in Kampong Ayer) dating from late 19thto mid 20thcenturies or the homes of various indigenous tribes like Murut, Dusun, and Punan. You can also delve into some of Brunei’s most famous handicrafts, like kain tenunan, their prized art of brocade-weaving, as well as gold- and silver-smithing, brass-casting and more.
Opening hours: Sat-Thu, 9:30am-5pm, Fri, 9am-11:30am, 2:30pm-5pm
- Brunei Arts and Handicrafts Center: Brunei‘s age-old traditional arts and crafts are showcased at this center which aims to preserve their rich legacy. Taking pride of place are Brunei’s famous brocades, kain tenunan, woven with gold and silver threads. Lengths of kain tenunan, which are woven and worn for ceremonial occasions, are handed down as heirlooms. Hand-tooled silverware is another big draw. You can view ornamental canons, the keris (traditional dagger) and various intricately worked silver artifacts. Other traditional crafts like brass-work, wood-carving, basketry and more are also showcased. The center has a teaching program and handicrafts made by its students are on sale at the gift shop.
Opening hours: Mon-Sun, 8am-5pm
- Brunei History Center: Royal watchers will appreciate its wealth of information regarding the Sultan’s of Brunei. From family trees to replicas of royal tombs and reference books on regal matters, it’s all here.
Opening hours: Mon-Thu, Sat, 7:45am -12 noon, 1:45pm-4:30pm
- Brunei Currency Galley: Numismatics take note: this is a treasure trove of coins where you can not only view the growth and development of the country’s currency but also pick up commemorative coins. The gallery is housed in a modern building, located a short out of BSB.
Opening hours: Mon-Thu, Sat, 7:45am-12 noon, 1:45pm-4:30pm
- The Oil and Gas Discovery Center (OGDC): This interactive science center is located in Brunei’s oil and gas center. Set up by Brunei Shell Petroleum, it aims to create awareness of the petroleum industry and stimulate interest in science and technology.
Opening hours: Tue-Thu, 9am-5pm, Fri, 10am-12pm, 2pm-6pm, weekends and public holidays, 10am-6pm
Parks and Forests
- Persiaran Damuan: Located right in the heart of the city, this kilometer-long park runs along the river. A favorite with joggers, it has pleasant walkways bordered by shrubs and sculptures by artists from ASEAN countries. The park affords gorgeous view of the royal residence, Istana Nurul Iman, as well as Palau Ranggu, an island in the middle of the river, which is inhabited by the rare proboscis monkey, native only to Borneo. For a closer sighting of the region’s famous primate, hire a boat from the jetty next to Fratini’s restaurant and head past the island.
- Tasek Lama Park: Another tranquil getaway in the heart of the city. Stroll along its well-maintained walkways or relax by a waterfall. It’s perfect respite from the city within the city. Macaque sightings are guaranteed. Heading away from the lower level, paths and steps lead up to a ridge offering a bird’s eye view of a section of Kampong Ayer and Bandar Seri Begawan. Be prepared for a rigorous climb.
Extra: Cool down with a drink of fresh coconut juice from the vendors at the main car park.
- Bukit Subok Recreational Park: A short walk out of town brings you to this undulating park that offers wonderful views over the water village of Kampong Ayer, Brunei River, and, on a clear day, Mount Mulu in Sarawak. Be prepared for a strenuous experience as you have climb wooden steps going up a ridge, but there are shelters and seats en route for you to catch your breath. The path takes you through pine trees and bamboo groves and rewards your effort with great views from the summit.
- Bukit Shahbandar Forest Recreation Park: A favorite with hikers, this is the most accessible rainforest in the country. One of Brunei’s many forest reserves; it spreads over 70 hectares of rolling terrain, offering a variety of trails of different levels of difficulty. You can choose to go on a gentle stroll over a couple of hillocks or a tackle a route that will take you over 11 hills through secondary rainforest. You’ll spot plenty of wildlife and flowers along the way. For a panoramic view, follow the Langir trail to the observation tower from there you can see the golden domes of the Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque and beyond. Mountain bikers will enjoy the park’s challenging trails as well.
- Berakas Forest Recreation Park: This forest reserve is spread over 199 hectares of rolling hills with meandering paths, a lookout point and picnic and barbecue spots. There’s a whiff of saltiness in the air as the heath-covered grounds, dotted with casuarinas gloves stretch down to a long, white beach. It gets very busy over weekends.
- Tasek Merimbun National Park: The park, which is on the list of ASEAN Heritage Parks and Reserves, stretches over 2,500 hectares of wetlands. The centerpiece is the freshwater lake, which supports a variety of fish and fauna. In the middle of the lake is an island. Elevated wooden walkways cross the lake connecting the shore and island at several points. The banks are fringed by swamp and long grass, which is home to waterfowls, giant beetles and the dramatically patterned Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing butterfly. The forests are inhabited by species endemic to the region, like the red-leaf monkey, slow loris and flying lizard. This is a popular spot nature lover, drawing a number of people on Sundays. Relax, soak up the beauty of the place and have a picnic at one of the pavilions set up off the walkways.
- Luangan Lalak Forest Reserve Park: Covering 270 hectares of the Labi Hills Forest Reserve, Luangan Lalak deatures an alluvial freshwater swamp that nudges the verge of Labi Road. A rare phenomenon in Borneo, it looks like a substantial lake during the rainy season but at times of drought, the water level recedes and area is covered in a field of sedge.
- Mendaram Waterfall: Further down Labi Road is the tranquil Mendaram Waterfall and plunge pool, which is perfect for swimming. It is a tranquil spot, surrounded by trees. To reach it, you walk around 3.5km from the end of the sealed road at Labi. Look for the Wasai Kadir signpost. Stepping stones lead across the stream where the path rises steeply onto the opposite bank. Further on, it ramps up again to skirt a large boulder fall. Here the path can be treacherous, particularly during wet season.
- Anduki Jubilee Recreation Park:This park is one of the newer recreation areas in the Belait District and was developed from an old sandpit that has since been transformed into a landscaped leisure area. Now with trees, flowers, shrubs, picnic spots and washroom facilities, the area is perfect for a day out. A 3.8km jogging track runs through the park and the lake offers fishing, boating and windsurfing opportunities.
- Teraja Waterfall: The journey to this waterfall is as exciting as the destination. You enter the jungle behind the Teraja Longhouse (at the end of the Labi Road) and make your way through bamboo bushes, past jackfruit, duarian and wild fig trees, wading across the river at several points to follow the path. Watch your feet and legs for leeches. Continue to head upstream over fallen tree trunks until you reach the waterfall set in lush nook. You can carry on beyond the waterfall to Bukit Teraja nut the path is indistinct and a scramble at places.
- Bukit Patoi Recreational Park: Located in eastern Temburong, this 1,000-hectare forest reserve is home to the 330m-high Bukit Patoi. Unique geological formations dot the trek to the summit, which offers magnificient views over the surrounding jungle stretching to the South China Sea. You can choose to relax here or catty on further to the peak of Bukit Peradayan. It usually takes about five hours to do both peaks.
Every year, hundreds of runners from Brunei and the neighboring Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak take up the Bukit Patoi Challenge: a 15km marathon through dense jungle.
- Ulu Temburong National Park: This is the crown jewel of Brunei’s prized green spaces. This sprawling 50,000-hectare expanse of undisturbed primary rainforest stretches over most of Southern Temburong. Considered one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, it encompasses a range of habitats, from lowland forests to jungle and mountain forests that are home to many unique species. This is also the realm of Borneo’s longhouse communities and their ancient culture. Conservation of this pristine environment is a top priority, so most of the park is untouched by man, with road access.
You travel by boat to the park from Bangar, with a part of the journey buy longboat along fast shallows and swirling rapids. Within the park, visitors are kept off the delicate vegetation on the forest floor thanks to a series of canopy walkways rising above the treetops, which offer a unique perspective of this arboreal world and its denizens. You’re eye to eye with tree-dwellers. There are also raised boardwalks which take you deep into the park with its windswept summits, gentle hillside slopes and steep valley ridges.
There are many experiences to savor – from watching gibbons forage along the river at daybreak, hearing the sounds of the rainforest at dusk to taking on the Grade 1 and 2 rapids on the Temburong River, and more.
The park can be visited as a daytrip but an overnight or multi-day stay allows you to make the most of the experience.
For ecological and practical reasons it’s best to visit the park as a part of an organized tour. Comprehensive tours can be recommended through the Tourist Information Center.
- Bukit Bujang Pahang: Located on Berambang Island, Bukit Bujang Pahang offers one of the most commanding views over Bandar Seri Begawan. The journey to Berambang Island takes approximately 15 minutes by boat from the Waterfront jetty in the City Central. The climb up Bukit Bujang Pahang can be challenging, depending on your level of fitness. The view d\from the top makes it all worthwhile as you are treated to an unobstructed view of Brunei River and the sprawling greens of Brunei on one side of the island, and a view of Malaysia on the other. It is advisable to pre-arrange your trip with an authorized tour guide who is familiar with the area.
- Selirong Island: Selirong Island is a 30 minute boat ride away from Bandar Seri Begawan. Here you will find the Selirong Forest Recreation Park, a mangrove paradise and bird-watching retreat. Witness a range of unique and exotic creatures in their natural habitat as you stroll through the virgin forest that is packed with trees that are as tall as 40 meters. It is best to leave for Selirong at the crack of dawn in order to catch sight of the island’s inhabitants.
- Muara Beach: This popular weekend picnic spot is located close to the capital. Its long, quiet esplanade is ideal for sunset strolls. There are amenities for picnic, changing facilities and a well-equipped children’s playground. Food and drink stalls are open over weekends.
- Meragang Beach: Located off the Muara-Tutong Highway, near the junction of Jalan Meragang, is another quiet spot for a sunset stroll or jog. The area is sometimes called Crocodile Beach, but rest assured that there has not been any recorded sighting of this creature along the tranquil stretch.
- Serasa: Right at the end of Muara Town is the Serasa spit, a narrow stretch of beach where the Royal Brunei Yacht Club (RBYC) and the Serasa Water Sports Complex are located, RBYC grants reciprocal membership to members of affiliated clubs. The Water Sports Complex hosts activities like jet-skiing, kayaking, windsurfing, regatta sailing, powerboat racing, aqua sports training and water skiing.
- Jerudong Beach: This used to be the place to watch the sunset and pick up fresh-off-the-boat seafood from the fish stalls near the beach. But now, it draws water sports and diving enthusiasts as well, particularly to the section along Empire Hotel. However for a more leisurely evening out, you can take a seat along he rocky fringes of the beach, watch the fishermen haul in their catch of the day as the sun sets, and pick up some fresh seafood on your way home.
- Seri Kenangan Beach: This is a unique beach which sits between two bodies of water – the South China Sea on one side and Tutong River on the other. The beach is fairly narrow and you can see from one to the other, the rolling waves of the sea contrasting with the gentle flow of the river. The beach offers restaurants, huts, a playground and food stalls.
- Tungku Beach: A hot spot for surfers, this beach, surrounded by trees, exudes serenity. Find a scenic spot along the miles of wave breakers and watch the sun set over the South China Sea.
Source: Brunei Tourism
Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources