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: A taxi from the airport to the city centre takes 20 minutes and costs around B$25. Some hotels may provide transport between airport and hotel for free or for a cheaper price. 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 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.
2 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. Map of Brunei public bus routes.
- 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 5 km 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.
- 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.
The main ferry terminal in Brunei is the 3 Serasa Ferry Terminal at Muara. Where there are about 6-7 daily ferries to Labuan (the first one departs at 8:00am, while the last - at 3:00pm), journey lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes depending on the boat. It costs B$15 + terminal tax B$2. With a change of boats in Labuan you can even make it to Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) in a day. The same applies to Lawas and Sundar (both in Sarawak) accessing which requires changing boats in Labuan. Serasa terminal is 25 km from Bandar Seri Begawan and also in quite a distance from Muara town.
Getting there: Buses to Muara depart from the Bandar Seri Begawan bus terminal in Jalan Cator, first bus departs at 6:30am, duration is about 1 hour. There are two possible options: first is to catch a shuttle express bus that goes directly to the ferry terminal and costs B$2, departs roughly every 2 hours. Second option is a regular buses #37, #38, #39 that go to Pekan Muara first, where you'll be required to change bus to #33 that will go to Serasa Ferry Terminal, price is B$1 including transfer.
From 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.
Try to pick up the official map of Brunei Darussalam, as it is easy to read and the public bus lines are easy to follow. The people of Brunei are very helpful to visitors, so don't be surprised after a few minutes of conversation they offer a ride to one of the attractions, as they know how much easier it is to drive there than get there any other way.
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 6PM). 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.
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.
By water taxi
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.
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".
- 1 Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Jalan Elizabeth II. 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. 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.
- 2 Jame'Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque, Jalan Stadium Negara Hassanal Bolkiah, ☎ . 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.
- 3 Kampong Ayer village. The water village is 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 shell out the dough for a water-taxi tour, consider wandering around the villages yourself. You can start from behind the Sultan's Mosque or from the other bank in Batu Satu.
- 4 Royal Regalia Museum (Bangunan Alat Kebesaran Diraja), Jalan Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien (entrance on Jalan Sultan, next to the Brunei History Centre, between Jalan Stoney and Jalan James Pearce.), ☎ . 9AM-5PM. It displays the royal accessories utilised 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. Free entrance.
- 5 Istana Nurul Iman. The residential palace of the Sultan. It is not possible to enter, 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.
- 6 Brunei Museum (on the Kota Batu road). 9AM-5PM. Has just closed for a undetermined period of time, maybe until 2016. Though had 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.
- 7 Malay Technology Museum (Muzium Teknologi Melayu) (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.
- 8 Tasek Lama Recreational Park, Jln Tasek Lama. 6:00am - 6:00pm. Huge park close to the city with lots of walking trails and a waterfall. Free entrance.
Small market town with population of 21,000, 24 km west of Bandar Seri Begawan.
- 9 Jerudong Park (take bus #55 from Bandar Seri), ☎ . Thursday 4:00pm-11:00pm, Friday 3:00pm-11:30pm, Sat & Sun 10:00am-11:30pm. It was one of the best parks back in 2000s, but these days of glory are faded away long time ago. It got some renovation in 2015 but anyway still some parts of it look abandoned. It consists of two parts: playground and water park. B$ 20, residents B$ 15.
Small town on the north-eastern tip of Brunei where the country's only deep-water port is located.
- 10 Muara Beach (take Bus 39 to the Pekan Muara bus terminal and then transfer to a bus to Muara Beach). Beautiful beach with food stalls, playground and washrooms.
Another small town with population around 10,000 people close to Muara.
- 11 Serasa Beach. Beach got a major face lift in 2015 and now features stylish restaurants, showers, walking trails.
Meet the sultan
Every year, for three days at the end of Ramadan, the sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, opens his palace (Istana Nurul Iman) to the public. This event is primarily intended for the citizens of Brunei to meet their sultan, but foreigners are welcome too. Prepare to queue up for hours; even the queue for security alone takes over an hour. In the palace, free meals are distributed amongst all visitors; there is a wide choice. You can then queue up again in order to meet the sultan himself. You won't have the opportunity to exchange more than a handshake and a few words with him, but it's still a unique opportunity to meet a head of state.
Unfortunately, the sultan only meets men. Fortunately though, women can meet his wife, Queen Saleha, in similar arrangements on the same three days.
- 1 The Mall (Across the river from the night market.). A good place to shop for supplies, or to check out some local department stores. Surprisingly few multi-national brands. Located in Gadong, it is also combined with the Rizqun Hotel.
- 1 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 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.
- 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.
- 1 Pusat Belia Youth Hostel, Jalan Sungai Kianggeh, ☎ (Manager), (Assistant Manager). Check-in: after 7:30PM, check-out: 11AM. Closed until mid March 2016. Brunei's only youth hostel, it is designed more for school groups than for backpackers. Dorm beds are B$10/night, making it the cheapest sleep in town. 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. The rooms are spacious and clean, as the commodities. The free WiFi is not always available. It is best to arrange a bed in advance, since the manager is not always present. He generally arrives at 7:30PM but is reachable by phone during the day. The e-mail addresses indicated online are wrong. There's also a swimming pool nearby ($1, 8AM-6PM). $10/bed.
- 2 APEK Utama Hotel, Simpang 229, Kampung Pintu Malim (on the Kota Batu road towards the Brunei Museum, take the bus 39 from downtown), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Another budget option. Cozy and a great deal. The only disadvantage is that it's 2 km from downtown BSB, but Bus 39 (B$1) or water taxis (B$1–2) can solve this problem. $30-60.
- 3 KH Soon Resthouse, 140 Jalan Pemancha (very near bus station), ☎ . Although it is probably the worst deal in South East Asia, its major advantage is its excellent location, right downtown near the bus terminal, with an ATM on the corner and an Internet café in the adjacent alley. The staff are friendly and helpful, though the rooms are really spartan. 24-hour reception. No Wi-Fi, no shared computer, no non-smoking area, no Western-style toilets, no booking service, no fan. Also note that everyone in the building opposite the road will see you when you take your shower. In the same building you will find a very useful information center, Borneo Guide. Single/double shared bathroom $35/40, attached bathroom $40-50.
- 4 Brunei Hotel, 95 Jalan Pemancha (near the downtown bus station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. $130-155.
- 5 Jeruton Hotel, Simpang 396, Sengkurong, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Convenient only for the Jerudong area but excellent value withs rooms with a/c and restaurant. Car or taxi essential. standart $40, super $50, suites $60-100.
- 6 Traders Inn, 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. $80-120.
- 7 Joy Downtown Rest-Station, Jalan McArthur No. 9 1st floor (right behind the main bus station(where all minibuses stop)). Opened since Dec 2015. It offers one of the cheapest accomodations in town. Friendly staff, they can give you advices of how to go to many parts of the city. Clean rooms but you can hear your neighbours since there is a gap of space in the roof of the rooms. 20$-30$double-40$deluxe.
- LeGallery Hotel, ☎ . In the Seri Complex - B$58/night. A boutique hotel located in the heart of the Seri Complex. Offers friendly and artistic ambience with reasonable rates.
- The Holiday Lodge Hotel, Lot: 27192, Kg Jerudong, Jalan Pulau Kubu P.O.Box 555, Sengkurong Negara Brunei Darussalam, ☎ . 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.
- Orchid Garden Hotel, Lot 31954, Simpang 9, Kg. Anggerek Desa, Jalan Berakas BB3713, ☎ . Four star hotel.
- 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. Rooms from US $150.
- Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam, Jalan Tasek Bandar Seri Begawan BS8211 Brunei, ☎ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12 noon. Walking distance to several tourist attractions in the city Rates start at $162.
- Grand City Hotel, Tel: 2452188. A useful hotel near the airport. Will arrange transport even for a short rest of a few hours.
Crime is very uncommon in this tightly controlled small country.
Embassies and High Commissions
- Canada, 5F, Jalan McArthur Bldg No. 1, Jalan McArthur, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 8:30AM-noon and 1PM-5:30PM, F 8:30AM-2PM.
- China, NO.1,3,5 Simpang 462, Campong Sungai Hanching, Jalan Muara, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Japan, 33, Simpang 122, Kampong Kiulap, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8:30AM-noon, 1PM-5PM.
- United States, Simpang 336-52-16-9, Jalan Kebangsaan, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 7:45AM-4:30PM.