Brunei Darussalam - A Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures
Brunei is a tiny nation on the island of Borneo, in 2 distinct sections surrounded by Malaysia and the South China Sea. It’s known for its beaches and biodiverse rainforest, much of it protected within reserves. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is home to the opulent Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque and its 29 golden domes. The capital’s massive Istana Nurul Iman palace is the residence of Brunei’s ruling sultan.
Brunei Darussalam boasts a colourful exhibition of fascinating customs and rich nature, with a contemplative respect for religion as well as reverence for its ancient sovereignty, and we’d like to invite you to experience it all, right in the heart of our home!
Since gaining independence from the British in 1984, Brunei has continued to strive forward, becoming a member of a number of regional and international organisations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the Commonwealth and the United Nations. Also, thanks to the extensive oilfields which were first discovered in 1929, the people enjoy plenty of benefits, such as free healthcare, a well-established state education system and even a housing scheme dedicated to providing citizens with affordable homes. There are plethoras of hotels in the capital, as well as numerous options for shopping and leisure.
Sports activities are also a common past time in Brunei, so there’s little difficulty in finding one to participate in. Despite the urban sophistication, there’s really nothing like walking through an air-conditioned mall looking for a place to eat lunch, and then trekking through the depths of the rainforest less than a couple of hours later!
Heritage of Brunei
According to early history, Brunei was discovered by a group of fourteen brothers travelling in search of a new place to live, which would be the beginnings of today’s Brunei.
When a group of brothers went on a journey for a new place to call home, they came across an area at the Brunei River and settled there because of the flanking hills, the water supply and the generous supply of fish, close to the country’s present capital. One of them was Awang Alak Betatar, who became the first Sultan of Brunei and took on the name Sultan Muhammad Shah when he embraced Islam.
Malay Islamic Monarchy
On January 1st, 1984, Brunei became a new nation, celebrating its independence and affirming its identity as a Malay and Islamic state governed by a monarchy. The philosophy of the Malay Islamic Monarchy, known as ‘Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB)’ in Malay, encapsulates Brunei’s culture and beliefs in a nutshell making it uniquely Bruneian.
Brunei is predominantly made up of Malays (65.8%), with significant Chinese (10.2%), Indian and indigenous populations (23.9%). However, ask a Bruneian Malay what their ethnicity is, and you’ll most likely get either one of these seven answers: Melayu Brunei, Kedayan, Dusun, Tutong, Belait, Murut and Bisaya. (Note that two of them are actually named after two of Brunei’s districts, which gives you a hint as to where most of them live.) The Malay population is divided into these seven ethnic groups and are each characterised by distinct aspects of its culture and lifestyle with their own native language as well as customs and traditions.
Whether you’re thinking of taking a comfortable flight, spending some time on less-travelled roads, or fancy a quick boat ride, Brunei is easily reachable by air, land and sea.
The easiest way to reach Brunei would be through our flag carrier and national airline – Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) – which is serving 22 destinations across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Australia since December 2018. New flights are being added to Haikou, Taipei, Changsha and Tokyo. RB uses B787 Dreamliner and Airbus A320neo aircraft for these services. Its hub, Brunei International Airport, is also only a 15-minute drive away from the nation’s capital. So don’t worry about those long drives to and from the airport. You’ll have plenty of time. A number of other airlines also fly through the international airport. AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines serves Brunei from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), with Singapore Airlines from Singapore, Cebu Pacific from Manila (Philippines), and Lucky Air from Kunming (China).
Not from somewhere far, far away? Thinking of a road trip to Brunei? Well, you’re in luck. There are four ports of entry around Brunei that you can travel through by land. The first and most accessible one is located on the southwestern end of the country in Belait District. Known as Sungai Tujoh Control Post, it lies closest to the Sarawak city of Miri – one of our most visited neighbours. Another one is the Kuala Lurah Control Post, located in the Brunei-Muara District, less than an hour away from the border town of Limbang in northern Sarawak – another popular neighbouring destination. And if you’re coming from the east, travellers from the state of Sabah can also reach Brunei through the ports of entry in the Temburong District: the Labu and Ujong Jalan Control Posts.
Brunei also has a ferry terminal – the Serasa Passengers and Vehicle Ferry Terminal – which frequently sees visitors from Labuan, a federal territory of East Malaysia, located off the coast of Sabah.
Spectacular Sunset Spots around Brunei
The island of Borneo – known for its grand sunsets with mesmerizing colors in the sky blanketing landscapes and silhouettes that are sure to warm your heart. Brunei, located on the coastline of the island will definitely give you the ringside seat to watch the beautiful golden rays as it dips slowly into the horizon, leaving the vast skies a brilliant mix of colours from purple hues to red and pink.
Fortunate to have only one tropical season all year round, Bruneian sunsets generally start around 5:30pm every day. To help you in your sunset chase, here are five places to check out:
The Empire Brunei
Perfectly located on the shores of Jerudong Beach, take a walk to the sunset point overlooking the horizon where you can catch a glimpse of some of the most magical sunsets, or enjoy the beautiful view of the sunset over mocktails or coffee at their Pantai Restaurant.
Tanjong Batu Beach, Brunei/Muara District
A fairly new beach in Brunei, Tanjong Batu has one of the most mesmerizing views especially as the sun slowly disappears into the horizon. Located at the end of the Muara-Tutong Highway and down the road leading to Muara town, follow the signs to ‘Jalan Tanjong Batu’. This long man-made structure and seawall is a popular area for families, joggers and cyclists to relax and unwind. Coupled with gives the seaside a stunning and clear view of the sea, with its calming breeze and the sounds of crashing waves allowing visitors to immerse in tranquility.
Meragang Beach, Brunei/Muara District
This untouched sandy beach is an ideal spot for some quiet reflection and sunset watching. Within walking distance nearby is the Marine Biodiversity Centre where members of the public can visit and learn about the marine life and conservation efforts in Brunei.
Seri Kenangan Beach, Tutong District
Also known as Tutong Beach, Seri Kenangan Beach is located about 45 minutes away from Bandar Seri Begawan. It is generally quiet throughout the week but it can get quite crowded over the weekends as families and friends can be seen setting up barbecues and picnics at the huts dotted around the beach. So, head there early if you want to picnic under a hut and then stay on till the sun sets for a wonderful end to your day!
Belait Beach, Belait District
If you’re heading down to the Belait District, approximately 2 hours away from the capital, pay a visit to Belait Beach. With its long sandy coastline stretching out for miles as far as the eyes can see and the offshore oil platforms glistening in the distance, be prepared to get mesmerized by its beautiful skies as the sun slowly fades into the horizon leaving the skies with a beautiful and majestic array of colours. Belait Beach is known to have one of the most tranquil and mesmerizing sunsets in all of Brunei due to its location and is not to be missed, especially if you’re in the district near sunset hours!
Before you head to any of the beaches in Brunei..
Please make sure to use adequate sun block, bring a hat or a beach umbrella, and put on insect repellant to protect yourself and more importantly, please be mindful to keep our beaches clean and to dispose your rubbish responsibly at designated areas, if any, or bring it with you.
Brunei is a tightly-knit, conservative community filled with warm politeness, evident in the way we speak, dress and carry ourselves. There are also hidden wonders in the vast expanses of the rainforests!
A Cultural Feast
Whether you’re in the mood for Japanese cuisine with a view in the capital, or a simple dish of ‘Nasi Katok’ right in the heart of that same view, Brunei offers a diverse array of cultural delights! Walk off the beaten track into the rural areas of Belait District, where age-old traditions still live on in the Labi longhouses, or learn a cultural dance in Tutong and make handicrafts, perfect for keepsakes of your time here.
One of the wonderful things about Brunei is how green it is everywhere! Trees that have resided in this land for centuries soar into the air, while trails through the jungle give way to reveal waterfalls. Don’t miss your chance to catch a sunset at one of Brunei’s pristine beaches, and bask in the gorgeous sight of bright golds, pinks and purples colliding across the skies.