3 days,  Aug 2010



INTRO brunei

Kind of travel:
me and my girlfriend Elisa in an independent travel

17th- 20th Aug 2010

Do I need a visa?
No, EU citiziens get the stamp at any entry border point for free

How I moved:
Brunei is a tiny country connected by a bus/minibus service and several boats shuttling to Sarawak (Lubian island) and the Temburung District (the separated Burnei enclave). International flights to Kuala Lumpur abound. Forget trains and taxis are expensive.

Freezing or baking?:
definitely baking with temperatures up to 34 C and humidity around 90%

Where I slept:
Brunei does not offer many budget accommodations. In the capital you have two options: Youth Hostel (15€ per bed) and the central Brunei Hotel (40€ a double).

What I liked:
the charm of being in Sultanate, with golden roofed mosque. The fishing village (part of the capital) is amazing. The feeling of safety outstanding and the boat trip, slaloming among the swamps, from Batang to Bandar is a must

What I disliked:
the heat

How much daily:
Brunei is not as cheap as Malaysia: so consider a budget of 45 € day, the good thing is that you won't spent more the few days here

Dangers/ hassles:
nothing that can be comparable even to a hassle, just get stick to the Muslim ethic.

What you do need:
a cap and long pants


ISince born in 1984 Brunei it's the youngest country I've ever been ; it's a sultanate whose capital in the evening is characterized by a fairy tale atmosphere, as time stopped. Brunei is also a rich country thanks to the oil pumped out by the Shell Company and I wonder what would happen if it runs out.
I had poor expectations since all the reports read where claiming being a dull country. However I 'd say it's worth a visit: the huge floating village, the Saudaffi mosque, The Bolkiah Mosque, The Sultan museum, the boat trip to Batang will keep you busy for at least two days.
So if you are traveling in Borneo it pays to visit Brunei in particular since the country highlights are quite different from what you can find in Malaysia, and on the other hands it's not worthwhile to do the efforts (also in terms of cost) to visit the Brunei jungle having the whole Borneo at your disposal.

However if you are not in Borneo and the idea of visiting a Sultanate makes you itchy, I'd definitely recommend Oman being far more impressive then Brunei.




[Coming from Malaysia, Sarawak]

From Miri to the Brunei capital it's 7h on a deluxe bus (and expensive: 10euro!). Entering the Sultanate means changing world compared to Malaysia.
First of all it's impressing to see the oil wells dotting the countryside, pumping out oil as water.
In particular Seria is the town where Shell company has his headquarters, and it was a pity just pass by having a look around, visiting also the Oil Museum and the monument to the 1Mioth barrel!
We reached the Bandar Seri Begawan (hard to memorize) in the evening, heading immediately to the Brunei hotel, the cheapest of the city (40€ for a double)
We had a stroll in downtown and we found touching the atmosphere of the golden color of the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in contrast with the green minarets reflected on the lake around the building, the whole echoing the Muezzin prayer.
The following morning we reached the port of Muaba (45min by bus) getting the 9.00am boat to Labuan Island (Malaysia) (2h), where we changed to Kota Kinabalu (3h).

[Proceeding to Malaysia, Sabah]

Coming from Kota Kinabalu we reached Batang (the capital of the small portion of Brunei called Temburung District detached from the country), where there's a hourly speed boat to Bandar Seri Begawan (till 16.30) slaloming through the labyrinth of mangroves, in 1h trip I'd strongly recommend.
Part of the Brunei capital is a floating village, namely palafittes connected by a maze of wooden footbridges: we walked for hours, glancing at village life and also visiting the school.
Another curious highlight to be visited is the Museum of the Sultan. It's for free but shoes are forbidden. You'll find a huge collection of kitch gifts donated to the Sultan by the personalities of the foreign countries visiting him. There's also an awesome huge golden kart used by the Sultan during the Coronation Day: the whole place is exactly how you would expect to be the Museum of a Sultan.
The last day we rented a boat (30usd for 3h) to reach an island upstream the river, where the famous Proboscis Monkeys (the ones with a long nose) live. Then we passed the 237 room Royal palace (just a glance from outside), and we were dropped nearby the magnificent 'Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque' (the name of the Sultan), the biggest in Brunei and whose lighting makes an evening visit a must






Eu citiziens don't need a visa, and you'll get your stamp (medium/ small size) at the border. If you want to go to the Temburung District without leaving Brunei (hence being stamped out and again stamped in) you need to take the speed boat; otherwise you have to pass through Malaysia



The ringgit Brunei (Malay) or the Brunei dollar (1€= 4 Ringit), has been the currency of the Sultanate of Brunei since 1967. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively B$ to distinguish it from other dollar-dominated currencies, It is divided into 100 sen (Malay) or cents (English).

The Brunei dollar is managed together with the Singapore dollar at a 1:1 ratio by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). (Singapore is one of Brunei's major trading partners.)



I used the english Lonely Planet 'Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei 2009 and the Rough Guide 'Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei' 6th edition , Sept2009.
I preferred Lonely Planet, but it could be since I'm used to.