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Bandar Seri Begawan

Travel Guide Asia Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan

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Introduction

Kampung Ayer

Kampung Ayer

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Bandar Seri Begawan, or BSB, is the capital of the small Sultanate of Brunei. When Antonio Pigafetta visited Brunei in the mid-16th century, he described a water village made up of 25,000 homes on stilts with a palace in the middle. The water village, Kampong Ayer, exists to this day, albeit significantly modernized with electricity, televisions and even internet access.

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Sights and Activities

  • Arkib Negara - or the Brunei National Archives, contains the country's public records and archives. Popular with researchers.
  • Bangunan Alat Kebesaran Diraja - or The Royal Regalia Museum, housing collections of items used for the Sultan's Silver Jubilee festivities, as well as a multitude of gifts from foreign governments
  • Jerudong Playground, a theme park.
  • Kampong Ayer (English: Water Village) is a district of Bandar Seri Begawan and home to 30,000 people. All of the buildings in the Water Village are constructed on stilts above the Brunei River and roughly one out of ten people in Brunei live here. Kampong Ayer contains many small villages that are linked together by almost 30 kilometres of foot-bridges, although speed boats nowadays are a more important mode of transport, especially on some longer distances. There are over 4,200 structures including homes, mosques, restaurants, shops, schools, and a hospital and on top of the foot-bridges there are 36 kilometres of boardwalks connect the buildings.
  • Muzium Brunei - or Brunei Museum, displays a variety of historical items, including several gilded Holy Qurans and other Islamic artifacts.
  • Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque
  • Pusat Latihan Kesenian dan Pertukangan - or Brunei Art's and Handicrafts Training Centre, also houses a handicraft shop where silver goods and sarongs, among other items, are available for purchase.
  • The Royal Regalia Building houses a collection of the sultan's treasures. Entrance is free.
  • Taman Warisan Tasek Merimbun - or Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park, where visitors can enjoy trekking around Brunei's largest lake. It is a forest reserve in the middle of the city. It features a natural waterfall. There is also an exhibition hall displaying the flora and fauna of the area.

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Events and Festivals

Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday

An Islamic holiday without a fixed date, Muhammad’s Birthday usually falls in January/February. The Sultan and the rest of the royal Brunei family typically lead a procession throughout Bandar Seri Begawan.

National Day

February 23 is Brunei’s National Day, an annual celebration of its independence from Britain. Though freedom was actually achieved on January 1, 1984, the official celebration is held every February 23 to follow tradition.

Royal Brunei Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day is celebrated every May 31 to pay tribute to the dedicated men and women behind the Royal Brunei army. You will see displays of artillery, exhibitions, parachuting, and military parades.

Sultan’s Birthday

July 15 is Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s birthday. He is the 29th Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of the country, and is also the first Prime Minister of Brunei. He was born in 1946 in Brunei Town, which is currently known as the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.

First Day of Hijra

This day celebrates the migration of the prophet Muhammad and his followers to Medina from Mecca. This festival also marks the Islamic New Year, so it doesn’t have a fixed date but typically falls in June/July.

End of Ramadan

Eid al-Fitr is the celebrated at the end of Ramadan or the month of fasting, which is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. There is also no set date, but it usually takes place in August. Children are given presents and money, and everyone wears new clothes. Muslims go to the mosque in the morning for special Eid prayers, worship and thanksgiving. The rest of the day is all about eating and socializing with friends and family.

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Weather

Bandar Seri Begawan has a tropical climate with hot and humid conditions year round. There is not a specific dry and wet season, though the wettest time is between September and January at around 300 mm a month. February to April is the driest and sunniest time of the year, a good time for a visit with only around 120 mm of rain in March. February and March have some more sunshine as well, so this is a good time to visit. Temperatures are around 31 °C during the day and 23 °C at night, with very little variation throughout the year (average highs: 30.4 °C in January versus 32.6 °C in May, average lows: 23.0 °C in July versus 23.7 °C in April and May).

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Getting There

By Plane

Brunei International Airport (BWN) is the one and only civilian airport in the country and is the base of the national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines. Other airlines flying into this airport include AirAsia, Cebu Pacific Air, Malaysia Airlines, MASwings and Singapore Airlines.

There are daily flights to and from Dubai, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, London and Singapore.

An airport tax of B$12 is payable for departing passengers, at the check-in desk, in cash. For Royal Brunei Airlines passengers, the airport tax is already included in the ticket price. Passengers from other airlines boarding a Royal Brunei Airlines flight on codeshare are still required to pay the airport tax at the check-in desk.

By Car

All main roads in Brunei (save for those in isolated Temburong Districts) lead to Bandar Seri Begawan. The main road into/out of Bandar Seri Begawan connects to the coastal road to/from the Sarawak border via Tutong, Seria and Kuala Belait. Other main roads lead to Muara and Kuala Lurah where there is a border crossing into the Limbang division of Sarawak. Take this road if you are driving to Temburong but you will have to go through two sets of immigration checkpoints - at Kuala Lurah (Tedungan on the Sarawak side) and Puni (Pandaruan on the Sarawak side) - before you reach the district administrative center, Bangar.

By Bus

It is possible to travel between Bandar Seri Begawan and Limbang and Lawas in Sarawak and onward to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, but it is a long and tough journey compared to taking the boat.

By Boat

Speedboats leave for Bangar in Temburong District from the jetty near the foodstalls at Jalan Residency just over the bridge across Sungai Kianggeh to the east of the city centre. Regular boats run between Bandar and Bangar throughout the day. Speedboats leave for Limbang in Sarawak from the ferry terminal at Jalan McArthur in the city centre. The boats leave when they are full.

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Getting Around

By Taxi

It's almost impossible to hail a taxi outside of airport, so it's better to arrange a one via hotel or call a taxi service. Taxi services: ☎ +673 2222214, +673 2226853. Airport Taxi Service: ☎ +673 2343671.

You can hail a few water taxis at almost any dock but the most popular place to find one is at a stand behind the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah mall or at the canal market. They are great fun to ride in.

By Public Transport

Public buses are the cheapest way to travel in the city even though they do not operate at frequent intervals (usually 20-minute intervals) and end service quite early (at about 6:00pm). All of them begin and end service at the bus terminal at Jalan Cator. They cost $1 regardless of distance and stop anywhere along the route to drop or pick up passengers (so if you want to stop, just indicate it to the conductor on the bus, and the same thing if you want to get on). The buses are actually in the form of purple-colored large vans which can seat about 20 people at the most, and are generally clean and comfortable to ride. Main bus routes include bus service 01 (Circle Line) and 20 (Business Centres Line). The detailed routes of the bus services are written on a board placed on the front window of the buses and are also drawn on the information board at the Jalan Cator terminal.

By Foot

Much of the city can easily be explored on foot.

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Eat

  • Aminah Arif Restaurant - One of a few local restaurants that features the Bruneian delicacy ambuyat and a pretty good range of other food too. edit
  • RMS Portview, opposite the Yayasan Shopping Centre - The terrace offers a great view overlooking Kampong Ayer, great for cooling down after sightseeing.
  • Gerai Makan, on the waterfront in the southeastern corner of the city, just across a bridge - Here there are a number of outdoor restaurants serving cheap and tasty fare. It's a great place to relax and soak in the local atmosphere. Great views of stilt villages and water taxis speeding back and forth.
  • PGS Cafe, near the Palm Garden at Kiulap - Charges buffet dining at B$6 per head in a pleasant air-conditioned restaurant.

There are plenty of small local Kedai Kopi (coffee shops) in town that sell simple, cheap and tasty food and are frequented by locals.

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Drink

  • Tagz Lounge, Sheraton Utama Hotel - The closest you can get to a bar in an alcohol-free country, here you can bring your own booze and buy the mixers. Access theoretically only for hotel guests, but getting in is rarely a problem.

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Sleep

Most hotels in Brunei are in the middle to higher price range.

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Brunei Hotel95, Jalan Pemancha BSB BS8811Hotel91
Jubilee HotelJubilee Plaza Jalan Kg KianggehHotel96
Sumbiling Eco VillageKg Sumbiling Lama, Jalan Batang Duri, Temburong, Brunei Darussalam, BorneoHostel-
Terrace HotelJalan Tasek LamaHotel-
Traders InnBlk. D, Lot 11620, Jalan Gadong,Hotel70
Goodview HotelBlock A, Lot 13725 Jerudong BG3122Hotel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are very easy to find throughout the capital.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Brunei has a modern telecommunications infrastructure. To dial overseas from Brunei, dial 00 followed by the country code and the telephone number.

Emergency numbers:

  • 991 – Ambulance
  • 993 – Police
  • 995 – Fire Brigade
  • 998 – Search and Rescue

Post

Brunei Postal Services Department is the government run postal service. Airmail letters to Europe or the USA take 2 to 5 days. Registered, recorded and express postal services are all available. Post office opening hours are Mondays to Thursdays from 7:45am to 5:30pm. You can always check options with private companies like DHL, UPS or TNT for package services.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 4.9431
  • Longitude: 114.9425

Accommodation in Bandar Seri Begawan

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This is version 12. Last edited at 23:53 on Mar 27, 17 by hasbeen. 19 articles link to this page.

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