The Nation of Brunei is a small sovereign state on the island of Borneo, landlocked by Malaysia. Indonesia is the third country that shares Borneo's land. Brunei is the only sultanate in southeast Asia. While Brunei doesn't have any world famous sights, visitors come to see its capital city Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) and the jungle. Unlike most other countries in southeast Asia, Brunei sees very few tourists and is therefore still unspoiled.
Brunei is divided into two parts: the area in which the capital BSB is located and Temburong, which is jungle for the most part. The two parts are divided and each part can only be reached by crossing Malaysia’s border in Sarawak before re-entering Brunei.
Most places of travelers’ interests are located within or very near to BSB. As Brunei is a small country, other places can easily be visited as a day trip, either by bus or by organized tour. BSB is also the only place in Brunei where hostels and private budget rooms can be found. The centre is located around the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque and the riverside. From here, it’s easy to book day tours or go independently to other places in Brunei. If you do wish to stay somewhere overnight that's not in Bandar Seri Begawan, the only option is a hotel as there are no hostels outside of BSB.
Most hostels in Brunei offer small dorm rooms and a local vibe. The hostel prices and the costs of traveling in Brunei are higher than in the rest of Southeast Asia. In the hostels, however, you will often find tourists with more experience who like to travel off the beaten track.
The cuisine of Brunei has lots of influences from Indonesia and India, with many restaurants serving food along those countries’ themes. Alcoholic drinks are not for sale in Brunei, but it's allowed to bring a limited amount from other countries.
At BSB's riverside, visitors can find offers for day tours to go farther into (a different) jungle. Hostels or hotels in BSB may also sell tours into the jungle in Temburong. Visitors can explore the mangroves where wildlife such as crocodiles, several kinds of monkeys and many bird species can be encountered.
Brunei becomes more alive on public holidays and the sultan’s birthday. Many activities will be organized where it is easy to meet locals. Therefore, this is the best time to visit Brunei. The activities will continue for up to a week after the sultan’s birthday.
In contrast to other countries in Southeast Asia, poverty hardly exists here as Brunei is rich in oil. Locals in need get support from the government. Therefore you won’t even find many homeless on the street and the crime rate is lower than in surrounding countries. However, do always keep an eye on your belongings and remember that in the more touristic areas, vendors may still try to overcharge you.
In summary, Brunei does not necessarily have the most to offer to travelers and is slightly more expensive than surrounding countries, but some interesting places can be visited and tourists are warmly welcomed by the citizens of Brunei.
Hi, I'm Martin Straatman,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Brunei hostels. Welcome.