Bandar Seri Begawan
Bandar Seri Begawan, also known as BSB or just Bandar, is the capital of Brunei.
See Brunei#Get in for Brunei's entry requirements.
Getting there/away: A taxi from the airport to the city centre takes 20 minutes and costs around B$25. Some hotels (like Grand City Hotel) may provide complimentary transport between airport and hotel. A covered walk down to the end of the car park away from the Terminal (turn right when exiting from Arrivals) leads to a bus stop for Purple buses to the city centre (B$2).
All main roads in Brunei (save for those in isolated Temburong Districts) lead to Bandar Seri Begawan. The main road into/out of Bandar 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.
The main bus terminal where all long-distance and local buses leave from and arrive is at Jalan Cator in the city centre. It occupies the ground level of a multistory carpark.
- To/from Kota Kinabalu: There is a direct bus service from Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan. The service is provided by Sipitang Express +60-88-751722 . The total travel time is about 8 and 1/2 hours.
- To/from Miri: PHLS Express runs a direct bus between Bandar Seri Begawan and Miri for B$18. The bus leaves Bandar Seri Begawan at 7AM and 1PM and takes about 4 hours. See Miri article for details.
- To/from Seria: Regular buses leave for Seria (where you can change buses to Kuala Belait and onward to Miri) that leave from the main bus terminal. They usually display the departure time on the windscreen. Journey time is about one hour and the fare is B$6 one way. If you want to go all the way to Miri, make sure you start early. The Miri Belait Transportation Company runs buses between Kuala Belait in Brunei and Miri in Sarawak, Malaysia. The journey requires a bus change at the Sungei Tujoh border checkpoint. Through tickets are however available at RM12.20 from Miri. Note that there have been reports that buses from Miri occasionally refuse to go all the way to the border and stop just before the Asean Bridge at Kuala Baram because of the high toll charge of the bridge. You may have to use taxis to complete the final 5km between the border and the bridge. From Kuala Belait, there are buses to Seria (B$1) where you can change to another bus for Bandar Seri Begawan (B$6). The entire journey takes about 5 hours and there are only a few buses each day operating on each part of the journey, so start early if you are travelling from Miri to Bandar Seri Begawan or vice-versa.
- To/from Kuala Lurah: Local purple buses run from the bus terminal right up to the Kuala Lurah checkpoint throughout the day. Journey is about half hour and fare is B$1 one way. At Kuala Lurah, walk across the border and either catch a bus or taxi into Limbang.
- To/from Muara: Regular buses depart from the bus terminal, including some direct non-stop buses, to Muara. Not all Muara buses go to the Serasa Ferry Terminal so check before boarding. Take bus #39 to Pekan Mura and then get ticket stamped and board bus 33 that will take you to Serasa Ferry Terminal.
- To/from Temburong: 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.
- To/from Limbang: Speedboats leave for Limbang in Sarawak from the ferry terminal at Jalan McArthur in the city centre. The boats leave when they are full. As of March 2013 it seems these have been discontinued.
- To/from other destinations: Boats to other destinations like Sundar and other towns in Sarawak leave from the Serasa Ferry Terminal in Muara. With a change of boats in Labuan, you can even make it to/from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, in a day.
Please note that the ferry terminal is quite a distance from actual Muara town where the container port is located. The terminal is about 25km from Bandar Seri Begawan.
Getting there/away: Purple buses leave for the ferry terminal from the Bandar Seri Begawan bus terminal in Jalan Cator. Please note that not all Muara buses go to Serasa.
The main ferry terminal in Brunei is the Serasa Ferry Terminal at Muara, where there are several ferries daily to/from Labuan and one daily ferry each to/from Lawas and Sundar, both in Sarawak.
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. A short ride costs B$1 (e.g. from Yayasan across the river to the water village).
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 pm). 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 tour van
Try asking the counter tickets for a tour van to drive you around Brunei and bring you to the places. Discuss the price first before you agree to board the van.
Don't expect to find much tasteful and stunning architecture like you would normally find in Southeast Asia. Here, most of the buildings are just plain and box-shaped. However, an interesting twist to the billboards around here, is that the "Jawi" (Arabicized Malay writing) are prevalent among them. Sometimes, foreign names are translated literally, e.g. "Pizza Hut" to "Pondok Pizza".
- Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is open to visitors when it is not being used for prayers. (Opening times are posted by the gate). The Mosque is very welcoming and you will be given a robe upon entry. Remove your shoes before entering and be respectfully quiet inside as there may be some people there meditating and praying. Consider visiting other mosques too. The mosque is visible from around the centre of the city, but the entrance is located on Jalan McArthur, just south of Jalan Elizabeth Dua.
- Jame' Asri Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is another mosque, that resembles Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. Whereas Omar Ali Saifuddin mosque is built to commemorate Sultan Omar, this mosque is to commemorate the current reigning Sultan.
- Kampong Ayer (the water village). Best visited by taxi boat. It's a beautiful sight to see hundreds of houses seemingly floating on water. The water village people are very friendly and many open up their homes to visitors year-round. Water taxis can be found by walking along the Brunei river or the main market in Bandar Seri Begawan and waving one down. Try to negotiate the price down. You shouldn't pay more than B$30 for an hour-long tour (B$15 for half an hour) of Kampong Ayer. Even though the water taxis are not wheelchair-friendly, their drivers are very willing to lend a hand and even team up and carry a person in a wheelchair on board; ask for a larger boat though. If you'd rather not pay for a water-taxi tour, consider wandering around the villages yourself. You can start from behind the Sultan's Mosque or from the other side in towns like Batu Satu. There is a small, free, water village museum across the river from the town centre. A boat ride there will cost B$1
- Royal Regalia Museum (Bangunan Alat Kebesaran Diraja) near the city center displays the royal accessories utilized during the coronation, and gifts received by the Sultan from all dignitaries around the world, and civilians alike. Definitely worth checking out. If you don't have time to visit both, and need to choose between this museum or "Brunei Museum" at Kota Batu, choose this one. The entrance is on Jalan Sultan, next to the Brunei History Centre, between Jalan Stoney and Jalan James Pearce.
- Istana Nurul Iman is the residential palace of the Sultan. The palace is only open on the first 3 days of Hari Raya, immediately after Ramadan, when you will be treated to a banquet and a fleeting audience with the Sultan. Otherwise it is closed, yet the huge size of the palace attracts tourists to snap picture in front of the gate. The palace is however, hidden behind the landscapes, so a better picture can be seen in flyers or souvenirs that feature it.
- Brunei Museum on the Kota Batu road has an excellent display in the Islamic Art Gallery. It is highly recommended.
After visiting the Brunei Museum, walk along the road toward BSB to visit two tombs: the first is the Tomb of Sharif Ali, the third sultan of Brunei. The green sign by the road is written entirely in Arabic lettering. Further down the road is the Tomb of Sultan Bolkiah, the fifth sultan of Brunei. Both tombs are in easy walking distance from the Museum.
- Malay Technology Museum, (Walk a short distance down from the brunei museum). This place has many exhibits featuring the different style of houses and lifestyle of those who live on the water village. Free. edit
- The Mall. Probably the best place to shop. Located in Gadong, it is also combined with the Rizqun Hotel.
- Yayasan, . Built by the sultan to support the welfare of the people. Located in central Bandar. edit
- Aminah Arif Restaurant. One of a few local restaurants that features the Bruneian delicacy ambuyat and a pretty good range of other food too.
- RMS Portview, opposite the Yayasan Shopping Center. 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, it's a steal.
There are plenty of small local Kedai Kopi (coffee shops) in town that sell simple, cheap and tasty food and are frequented by locals.
- 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.
Most hotels in Brunei are in the middle to higher price range.
- Water Village Malay Modern House This new, concrete water village house is operated by the friendly village chief. B$30pp/night. Contact Hj Ahmad Bin Hj Bujang, +673 8816873 or try emailing email@example.com or facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Water-Village-Malay-Modern-House/457900554296672
Next to the water village museum
- Pusat Belia (on Jalan Sungai Kianggeh) is Brunei's only youth hostel, designed more for school groups than for backpackers. Dorm beds are B$10/night, making it the cheapest sleep in town. There's also a swimming pool. Male and female sleeping quarters are separated, so this can be an inconvenience for couples. The location, however, is quite convenient as it is close to downtown BSB. It is best to arrange a bed in advance. IMPORTANT NOTICE: The dorm is expected to be reopened only in Sept 2014. Tel: 222-2900; 876-5515. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- APEK Utama Hotel is another budget option at B30/night. On the Kota Batu road towards the Brunei Museum. Cozy and a great deal. The only disadvantage is that it's 2km from downtown BSB, but Bus 39 (B$1) or water taxis (B$1-2) can solve this problem. Tel: 222-0808.
- KH Soon Resthouse, 140 Jalan Pemancha (near bus station), tel. 222-2052, . Its major advantage is its excellent location, right downtown near the bus terminal, with an ATM on the corner and an Internet cafe in the adjacent alley. The staff are friendly and helpful, though the rooms are somewhat Spartan. An air-conditioned single room with attached bathroom (HW) is B$39/night (Oct 2012); B$33 without bathroom. 24 hour reception and good security.
- Jeruton Hotel. Convenient only for the Jerudong area but excellent value at B$40 per room with a/c and restaurant. Car or taxi essential.
- Brunei Hotel, ☎ (673) 224 2372, . Located along Jalan Pemancha, a 15-minute drive from the international airport. Rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with satellite TV, a mini-bar, IDD telephone, and Internet access. 95, Jalan Pemancha, Bandar Seri Begawan BS8670, Brunei Darussalam. From B$125. edit
- Le Gallery Suites Hotel, In the Seri Comlex, ☎ 673 222 1228, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. A boutique hotel located in the heart of the Seri Complex. Offers friendly and artistic ambience with resonable rates. from B$58. edit
- The Holiday Lodge Hotel, Lot: 27192, Kg Jerudong, Jalan Pulau Kubu P.O.Box 555, Sengkurong Negara Brunei Darussalam, ☎ 673 - 2611618, . The Holiday Lodge Hotel, in restful tones of terra cotta and cream with deep green trim, features a two-storey foyer where guests are greeted with traditional hospitality. Well-known for warm and friendly service, located near Jerudong Park, on the coastline of the South China Sea, and roughly equidistant from Brunei International Airport and Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam's Capital, The Holiday Lodge Hotel offers a relaxing environment and proximity to the country's attraction: Jerudong Park Playground. Jerudong Park Playground is a mere 5 minutes' walk or a complimentary shuttle from The Holiday Lodge Hotel. edit
- Orchid Garden Hotel, Lot 31954, Simpang 9, Kg. Anggerek Desa, Jalan Berakas BB3713, ☎ (02) 335544, . Four star hotel. edit
- The Empire Hotel and Country Club, . Asia's Ultimate Family, Beach and Spa resort that overlooks the South China Sea. A 5-star property that is itself one of Brunei's tourist attractions. from US$150. edit
- Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam, Jalan Tasek Bandar Seri Begawan BS8211 Brunei, ☎ (673) 2244272 (fax: (673) 2221579), . checkin: 3 PM; checkout: 12 noon. Walking distance to several tourist attractions in the city Rates start at $162. edit
- Grand City Hotel, Tel: 2452188. A useful hotel near the airport. Will arrange transport even for a short rest of a few hours.
- Traders Inn Blk. d, lot 11620, Jalan Gadong. Coffee Lounge offers various Asian and western cuisine as well as coffee and treats. Free Wi-Fi is available in every room. Make sure to book at appointment at the Foot Reflexology Center after a long day of sightseeing.
Brunei is a very safe place to visit. Crime does occur, but is much less common than in many other Asian destinations. Locals are very helpful and will usually assist you if you ask for help. If you do get in trouble, the police can be bureaucratic and inefficient - only call them if you can't resolve the situation yourself.
Embassies and High Commissions
- Canada, 5F, Jalan McArthur Bldg No. 1, Jalan McArthur, ☎ +673 222 0043 (email@example.com, fax: +673 222 0040), . M-Th 8:30AM-noon and 1PM-5:30PM, F 8:30AM-2PM. edit
- China, NO.1,3,5 Simpang 462, Campong Sungai Hanching, Jalan Muara, ☎ +673 2 334163 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +673 2 335710), . edit
- Japan, 33, Simpang 122, Kampong Kiulap, ☎ +673 222-9265 (email@example.com, fax: +673 222-9481), . M-F 8:30AM-noon, 1PM-5PM. edit
- United States, Simpang 336-52-16-9, Jalan Kebangsaan, ☎ +673 238-4616 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +673 238-4606), . M-F 7:45AM-4:30PM. edit