Brunei sits on the banks of the South Chinese Sea, squashed between the Malysian Sarawak and Sabah Provinces. The country can be technically divided into two main territories: the capital city Bandar Seri Begawan and the Bruneian countryside. Already the fact that it part of Borneo indicates its tropical climate – extremely hot in the dry season and tremendously rainy during the monsoon. The regional areas are covered by equatorial jungles, waterfalls, abundant wildlife and murky rivers that grow dramatically in the wet season. The sultanate`s country is defined by paddy fields, lush rain forest, swamps, mangroves, floating villages and the traditional longhouses.
Kampug Ayer, Brunei River
WEST OF BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
The Western Part of the main landmass of Brunei is easily quickly to reach by a car from the capital city. The region has pristine forests, gorgeous waterfalls, natural reserves, decent beaches, striking istanas and longhouses.
Tutong Region is known for the Merimbun Lake – the largest in Brunei. Tourists come to the reserve to observe the wildlife from a wooden boarded walkway. Also, the Andulau Forest Reserve is a nice swamp park with good wildlife spotting opportunities.
Seria is known as the “oil kingdom” on the southern coast of Brunei with a huge Shell Petroleum installation and the Billionth Barrel Monument.
The inland village of Labi is a good starting point to the indigenous Longhouses, and Rumah Panjang Mendaram Besar, located in in the jungles of Labi Forest Reserve. Continue driving towards Teraja to enjoy the views of Malaysian Sarawak and the highest hill of Brunei – Bukit Teraja. There is a 2 hour easy walk to the hilltop through primary forest and waterfalls.
- Merimbun Lake – the largest lake in Brunei (wildlife spotting, monkeys and exotic birds)
- Andulau Forest Reserve – a tropical swamp park with great boardwalks
- Seria – the coastal “oil kingdom” known for the Shell Petroleum and the Billionth Barrel Monument
- Labi Forest Reserve – visit the iconic Rumah Panjang Mendaram Besar Longhouse in the jungle
- Teraja – walk through pristine rainforest to the top of the highest hill of Brunei Bukit Teraja (2 hrs)
EAST OF BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (TEMBURONG)
The Eastern Part of Brunei, Temburong, is surrounded by Sarawak and it is only accessible by boat from the capital. Speed boats depart from Bandar Seri Begawan in the open sea until it joins the milky-brown Temburong River and arrive in Bangar, in just 45 minutes. The journey itself is an attraction: a labyrinth of mangroves and swamps, virgin rainforest and dense jungles in the background remind of a scene from the “Tarzan” movie. It is a lovely day trip for any kind of traveller.
Peradayan Forest Reserve is ideal for rafting, kayaking and jungle walking. The most visited is a 3 hour loop jungle walk to Bukit Patoi, Bukit Peradayan and back.
Batang Duri has an Iban longhouse and a small Zoo. Those ones who are interested in a more serious, multi-day jungle trekking are advised to stop by at the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre that can arrange such an adventure.
- Bandar – a boat trip from BSB along the “Amazon-like” Temburong River
- Peradayan Forest Reserve – hike to the summit of Bukit Patoi, Bukit Berdining and Bukit Peradayan and enjoy the spectacular views of the Chinese Sea and Sarawak (3 hours loop)
- Batang Duri – pay a visit to the impressive Iban longhouse and the local jungle Zoo
- Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre – organise a 2 day guided trekking experience in the remote and deep jungles of Brunei
A traditional Iban longhouse
MUSLIM CUSTOMS AND ETIQUETTE
Brunei is a strictly Muslim country and conservative behaviour is expected. Therefore, do not show affections in public, dress modestly, women should not expose their shoulders and knees, do not enter the mosques during the prayer time. Prices in Brunei are fixed so do not try to bargain except the markets and water taxis. Remember that pork or dog meat is not to be served or sold and alcohol is prohibited in Brunei. Smoking is not allowed on public transport or indoors.
HOW LONG TO STAY
Brunei is a quite small country with good infrastructure and roads. The capital city and its surrounds are to be explored in 2 days and if you hire a car you can easily drive around the countryside in less than a day. Generally, we suggest staying in Brunei 3-4 days.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Brunei is defined by two seasons: dry season (Jan-May) and the rainy season (Oct-Dec). The best time to visit is obviously when there is more sunshine and less rain but even the shoulder season is good for travelling (June-July). However, it gets extremely hot during these months.
NOTE July is a month of the Sultan`s birthday and there are many festivals and celebrations throughout the whole months which can make it more exciting to visit the country.
HOW TO GET THERE
For all flights go to www.momondo.com or www.skyscanner.com
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