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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Much of the city can easily be explored on foot.
There are plenty of small local Kedai Kopi (coffee shops) in town that sell simple, cheap and tasty food and are frequented by locals.
Most hotels in Brunei are in the middle to higher price range.
|Brunei Hotel||95, Jalan Pemancha BSB BS8811||Hotel||91|
|Jubilee Hotel||Jubilee Plaza Jalan Kg Kianggeh||Hotel||96|
|Sumbiling Eco Village||Kg Sumbiling Lama, Jalan Batang Duri, Temburong, Brunei Darussalam, Borneo||Hostel||-|
|Terrace Hotel||Jalan Tasek Lama||Hotel||-|
|Traders Inn||Blk. D, Lot 11620, Jalan Gadong,||Hotel||70|
|Goodview Hotel||Block A, Lot 13725 Jerudong BG3122||Hotel||-|
Internet cafes are very easy to find throughout the capital.
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.
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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