I went to Brunei unintentionally and had actually never heard of it, but my flight to Philippines was with Royal Brunei Airlines with a compulsory 12 hour stopover there.
The airport is about as interesting as watching paint dry and no alcohol is served because its not part of their culture.
I cannot remember much about this place it was before the time of decent digital cameras or smart phones, so forgive my basic journalism.
Where Is it
Brunei is a tiny nation on the island of Borneo, halfway between Saigon Vietnam and Bali Indonesia in 2 distinct sections next by Malaysia and the South China Sea.
It’s known for its beaches and rain-forest, much of it protected within reserves. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is home to the magnificent Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque and its 29 golden domes.
The capital’s huge Istana Nurul Iman palace is the home of Brunei’s ruling monarch the sultan. Population is about 450000 and is a peaceful Muslim nation, so its not a huge city.
Alcohol is completely forbidden therefore don’t bother looking for a 7/11 or Wallmart lol, because you cannot drink alcohol anywhere in public view in Brunei. However if you’re a foreigner you may be able to bring in some duty free and keep it in a brown paper bag 🙂
Tight Arsed Tips
No Tax, a buck to see a doctor and even bring a guest, and if they cannot perform the required medical procedure within Brunei, Bruneians get flown internationally on the governments dime.
Then to top it all off, at age 50 they get a boost of $200 a month added to their pensions. Then you ask about education? Well its free also, but i don’t think ill be moving there anytime soon 🙂
No BEER……. so don’t bother trying to find any lol.
Things to do
City Half Day Tour
Instead of hanging around the airport for my 12 hour layover i decided to take this half day tour, its well worth it for $50. Buy tickets at the airport and get a day temporary visa its free.
After booking a ticket and hopping on the aircon tour bus, i quickly noticed the price of fuel in USD/L, there is no tax on gasoline, Brunei is a major oil production country, in fact Brunei residents
pay zero income tax.
See the main highlights of Brunei’s capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan, on this half-day tour. From the city’s iconic buildings and historic museums to its beautiful mosques and the majestic Sultan’s Palace, get a comprehensive overview of the area’s best in a short period of time.
We then went to the sultans palace where is 200 vehicles are stored from Lambos to ferraris, no shortage of wealth displayed here. It would be easy to get lost in there if you had a hangover with 1700 rooms.
I did see a solid gold cast of the sultans hand apparently worth $5 Million, a giant paperweight.
Marvel at its grandiose architecture and don’t miss this opportunity to snap photos of one of the largest residential palaces in the world.
Get lost on the world’s largest floating village
Then we decided to get into a motorised canoe and speed across the muddy waters between the mainland and Kampong Ayertowards a floating version of New York’s Bronx,
As we sped down in between these stilted architectural marvels,
i couldn’t help but imagine this depicted in Grand Theft Auto Brunei style. I was amazed that 13000 people call this home, and infrastructure comprises of 40 separate villages with schools, mosques and restaurants.
You can hear the floor boards creak and moan under the weight of 15 tourists at a time, and imagine yourself falling through.
We were ushered into a small room for a traditional meal washed down with different teas and coffees.
Royal Regalia Museum
Not another museum you say…….If you have seen Night At The Museum, imagine it ten times bigger with some find it interesting and not as mind numbing as most museums that all seem to have the same artefacts.
I myself started mentally singing the Dire Straits song in my head The Sultans Of Swing lol, or imagined Aladdin lurking behind the curtains,
I reckon this is one of the most interesting places to see in Brunei.
Wall to wall gold and jewels on display and I’m sure i counted 400 cameras per square meter, there are throne replicas, royal gifts and crowns and gowns, you name it .
Anything to do with the Sultans Reign can be found here,
it can be likened to the Armory, in Moscows kremlin where the riches of the Tsar are on display.
The museum is located in the downtown part of Bandar Seri Begawan near the famous mosque. Entrance is free and you will have to leave your belongings and cameras at the entrance.