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!
The best time to visit Brunei is between May to October, as equatorial monsoon winds from the sea cause heavy rainfall from December to March. You can also time your visit to the end of Ramadan, when the Sultan opens his palace doors to all visitors.
Currency: Brunei Dollar
Official language: Bahasa Melayu (Malay)
The earliest recorded history of the country can be found in documents discussing China’s trade with Puni during the Tang Dynasty in the 6th century AD. Brunei was initially a part of Java’s Majapahit Empire. Its glory days were in the 15th to the 17th centuries, when it encompassed the southern Philippines and Borneo’s northwestern coastal areas.
James Brooke, a British imperialist and adventurer, helped the sultan resolve the rebellion caused by inland tribes in 1838, rewarding him with power over a section of Sarawak. Brooke appointed himself as a “Raja” and eliminated the pirates of Borneo, promoted peace, and deliberately forcing treaties with the sultan, causing Brunei to be divided in half by 1890.
Brunei became a protectorate of Britain in 1888, but in 1929 it regained rights to its own land when oil was discovered. The country flourished when offshore oil fields were developed in the 1960’s. By 1984, the 29th Sultan, Sultan Sir Hassanai Bolkiah, led Brunei to independence from the British. A US $350-million palace was built in celebration of his success.
In 1998, Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, the son of the sultan was declared heir to the throne. As the 30th sultan from his family, amendments to the constitution were finally made in 2004 to allow the first parliamentary elections in Brunei.
Brunei’s culture is very similar to other Malay cultures, but it is also influenced by the country’s diverse population – two-thirds are Malays, and the remaining residents are Indians, Chinese, and indigenous Kedazans, Dusuns, and Dayaks. Bruneians are very family-oriented and welcoming.
Sharia, the religious law and moral code of Islam, is followed, which prohibits the public consumption and sale of alcohol. There are no official clubs or pubs in the country, and the Western style of nightlife is limited. For entertainment, there are cinemas showing the latest Hollywood films. There are restaurants, shopping and drinking across the border in Malaysia.
Summers are cool and winter is mild. A cold climate with cool, dry summers covers the middle and high mountains of Nakhchivan AR between 1,000 and 3,000 meters (3,300 and 9,800 ft). Annual precipitation accounts for 50 to 100 percent of possible evaporation. Summers are cool, and winter is cold enough for snow.
Brunei allows certain countries to visit without obtaining a visa for a maximum stay of 90, 30 or 14 days. Travelers can check if they require a visa prior to entering Brunei here, which also lists the visa fee and processing period according to a specific country. In the case that one may need a visa, travelers can apply for it in person through Brunei’s Missions Abroad offices, which are based in a number of countries, listed in this handy directory. However, if there is no Missions Abroad office in your country, no need to fret! Complete applications can also be sent via secure courier to the nearest Missions Abroad office.
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 will be serving 22 destinations across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Australia by 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 neighbors. 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 neighboring destination. And if you’re coming from the east, travelers 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.
Before you leave on your holiday, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:
Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)
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