Brunei Travel Tips

Too busy to write extensive post detailing my three days in Brunei, so I’m just writing down the essential stuff about traveling in Brunei.

Sleeping at the airport
Certain flights from Manila to Bandar Seri Begawan arrive at 1:40am, and unless you are staying with friends and relatives, it can be costly if you will be checking in to your accommodation at this time of the night. Sleeping at Brunei’s international airport is not as scary or uncomfortable at it sounds. There are plenty of cushioned seats with no arm rests, so you can stretch out.

Sleeping at Brunei Airport
My bed for the night


The Brunei International Airport is open 24-hours, but the stores and offices are closed. Exit from the arrival hall and walk up the stairs to the departure hall. The area to your left, the VIP area, sees the least traffic, so stay here if you think you’ll oversleep. The airport terminal faces East though, so be prepared to wake up with the sun in your face.

Getting into the city
You can take the bus from the airport, but the public buses seldom make the trip to the airport terminal. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch the bus (if the driver will let you board), otherwise, you’ll have to walk to the nearest bus stop. The alternative is to take a taxi to the city at a flat rate of BN$30 to Bandar Seri Begawan.

Pusat Belia
Offering the cheapest bed in Bandar Seri Begawan, Pusat Belia is the best place to stay for backpackers and budget travelers. Located within the huge community center, the hostel is within walking distance of major attractions (the Royal Regalia Museum, the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Kampung Ayer), central bus terminal and cheap eateries. The center also has a pool, which is open to the public for BN$1 per person.

Pusat Belia
Pusat Belia – cheapest accommodation in Brunei

Pusat Belia, however, only offer dorm rooms fitted with bunk beds. The dorms are single sex – females stay in one wing, the guys stay at another. But there’s a common area where you can hang out together. There are also clothes line on the ground floor, so you can wash and dry your clothes. Purified hot and cold water is available; just look for the water fountain.

RELATED:   Project Japan 2014

The reception is only open till 10pm, so if you’re arriving late at night, you’re better off sleeping at the airport. The receptionist actually doesn’t stay at his desk the entire day. More often than not, you’ll be met with a sign that instructs you to call a number and he’ll come within 15 minutes. If you come during a public holiday, check-in is pushed back to 7pm.

They accept reservations via e-mail, but most of the time, they don’t respond. You call them long distance, and all they will say is “okay, just come here.” The hostel doesn’t seem to get full, so it’s okay to arrive without prior reservation (provided there’s no major event in town).

Other Accommodations
For a complete list of hotels and guesthouses in Brunei, check out this list on Brunei.travel.

Word has it that there is a possibility of Tune Hotel opening in Brunei..

Jerudong Park
Empty Jerudong park because of the holiday

Public Holidays
It’s a great idea to check the public holidays wherever you’re going because it can affect your trip in a big way. Huge festivals can mean most hostels and guesthouses are full or charging peak rates, while public holidays can mean that you will be stuck with nothing to do. During public holidays, almost everything in Brunei is closed. I arrived on November 17 — just in time for Hari Raya. A list of Brunei’s public holidays is available at the Information Department’s Pressroom.

Business Hours
Shops open as early as 7:45am, but that also means they also close as early as 6pm. On Fridays, some establishments are only open until 12 noon or are close between 12pm – 2pm.

At the Royal Regalia Museum
Inside the Royal Regalia Museum

Bandar Seri Begawan Attractions
There’s not much to see in BSB. There’s the Royal Regalia, which commemorates Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s coronation. This includes exhibits about his early years, the gifts he received from foreign dignitaries, and the entire entourage of his silver jubilee parade. Within walking distance to it is the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, which has a bridge connecting to Kampung Ayer and to a replica of a royal barge. Kampung Ayer is pretty interesting, specially if you get to talk to the people who live there.

RELATED:   Snapshot: Heraklion

Other attraction includes the Jame’ Asri Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah mosque, Istana Nurul Iman or the Sultan’s palace (not open to the public, except on the Sultan’s bithday), the Brunei Museum, Jerudong Park and the newly opened Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery. There are no admission fees for these attractions.

Outside BSB, you can get close to nature at Kota Batu, where locals go to catch fish and picnic, or drive further to Muara and Serasa beach for some water sports and outdoor activities.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

Eating Cheap
You can eat for as cheap as BN$1 in Brunei. Nasi Katok, a set meal of steamed white rice, fried chicken and sambal (chili based sauce) usually go for BN$ 1. For BN$2, you can get a Nasi Lemak (set meal of steamed rice cooked with coconut cream paired with meat (usually fried chicken or some sort of curry), peanuts, ikan bilis (fried anchovy) and sambal).

At the Gadong night market, you can find stalls selling huge servings of char kway teow for BN$1, if you’re hankering for something other than rice. There are a huge variety of meals for sale at the market, usually ranging from BN$1 to BN$3. If you’re vegetarian or craving for veggies, there’s a couple of vegetarian restaurants in Simpang 28. One of these is Pureland Vegetarian Restaurant, which has a sign that proudly announce that you can “eat as you want & pay as you wish.” It’s completely self-service — you’re expected to clean up after you eat.

Pureland Vegetarian Restaurant
Toni helping herself to Pureland’s vegetarian buffet

Public Transport
Because almost every household in Brunei has a car (average of 2 per household), there’s hardly any need for taxis (and if you take them, they’re very expensive). The bus system is pretty extensive and at BN$1 per ride within the city limits, getting around is easy and cheap. There are several buses that head to the airport, just tell the driver that you want to be dropped off at the terminal.

RELATED:   Lakbay Norte 2: Destination Pinatubo and Angeles

There are water taxis to go around Kampung Ayer. Regular rate is BN$1 per person, but tourist prices can go for BN$20 for a tour around the river.

Water taxi
Kampung Ayer water taxi

If you have extra money, are comfortable with right-hand driving, and want to see more, rent a car and drive outside Bandar Seri Begawan.

Brunei Airport
Brunei Airport is small, but it’s just the right size to accommodate the airport traffic. Check in, however, can be painfully slow, as there are limited check-in counters available. A departure tax is collected at checking, so be sure to set aside BN$12 for this.

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 34 Comments
  1. such a great list of tips indeed…will keep these in mind if i find time to visit the place

  2. Aleah says:

    Hi Nina! I had wanted to go to there but I was turned off by what I read about the lack of a good public transport. It’s nice to hear from you that it’s easy to go around πŸ™‚ Where will you go next?

  3. Ed says:

    Kahit may arm rest sa mga seats, pinipilit kong ipasok ang sarili — anything to get some sleep eh? Anyway, airport lounges are one of the better places to rest, at least aircon. hehe.

    Naintriga ako sa water taxi. πŸ˜€

  4. Tsina says:

    Wow. You’ve been everywhere na. =)

  5. ang ganda ng mosque. ikaw na ang naglibot ng Asya! anung next continent…Nina? hmmmm!

  6. rain says:

    congratz girl!!

  7. toni says:

    ei,that’s me! hehe.. ngaun ko lang nakita. penge ko pics natin especially sa boat tabi ng mosque ^_^ hanapin kita sa fb?

  8. Alelyn says:

    Hi Nina,
    I love your blog and I envy you a lot..harhar.. anyways just want to ask if I still need visa for Brunei.. I am planning to visit brunei and Myanmar this year…already planned to conquer KL-SG-BKK-SR-PP-HCMC on July…thanx to air asia lowest fare ever.

  9. hzl says:

    Ms. Nina,

    May show money din ba sa Brunei? ung BN$ 12 ba babayaran both arrival and departure? Punta kc ako dun s Sept.8 eh……
    thanks sa info po…super helpful ng blog mo….u are helping us materialize our dreams…:)

  10. Ruby says:

    Hi Nina,

    You really are a great help. Wish I can travel much as you do.

  11. Kristel says:

    Hi Nina,

    Just a couple of questions about Brunei. Did you notice if the buses were handicap-friendly? Also, would you know if may restrictions ba sila regarding women traveling with a number of men? Also are they strict in clothing?

    Sorry, ang daming tanong. I’ve been trying to google all of these pero parang walang masyadong information regarding my questions.

    Thanks for the tips. They are helpful!

    • nina says:

      Hi Kristel, from what I remember, the buses were not entirely handicap friendly. I don’t there is a restriction regarding women traveling with men and they’re not strict with clothing either. You can walk around wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts.

  12. Kristel says:

    Got it, thanks again Nina! πŸ™‚

  13. Maria Jopio says:

    Hi, I’ll be in Brunei in July next year, is it safe to travel there alone? HAve you tried to visit the water village or go to nearby country, like Sarawak/Kota Kinabalu in Malyasia from Brunei?

    I’d like to try that but I’m afraid my 4-day trip won’t make it

    Any tips? πŸ™‚

    thanks

    • Ronald says:

      Hi Maria,

      I did a solo backpacking tour of Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei in October 2011.

      I can attest to how safe it is to travel and tour BSB even when you are alone.

      I did my tour plan based on what I read from numerous travel blogs (including Nina’s). I even shot a similar photo of the seat which Nina used as her bed in the airport.

      Enjoy BSB! πŸ™‚

  14. Checked-in: Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei (2011) « I CHECKED-IN says:

    […] want to spend a lot on taxi, I tried to follow what a blogger (Nina Fuentes of Just Wandering Blog [http://justwandering.org/2010/destination/brunei-travel-tips] did – sleep in the airport. I even shot a similar photo found in her blog. “bed” […]

  15. Didn’t like Brunei coz i couldn’t have a drink!!

  16. Toni says:

    Hi nina! its been awhile girl! Currently planning my next long-awaited tour in another asian country — Vietnam (including visiting my brother Gelo who introduced us in Brunei ^-^ FYI: He is living with his wife and 2 babies there now!) plus hoping for a side-trip to Angkor Wat as well. Lol, and thats why I am here again checking your blog for tips. Anyhow, Its so flattering to see my smiling self here..I remember it being one crazy restaurant…pay as you like! Don’t recall if we did pay for the food though.. ^-^ thank you for this and for the memories of a short fateful day in BSB. I hope our paths will cross again one day. Stay safe and happy wandering πŸ˜‰

    • Nina says:

      Haha yes! My Brunei trip would’ve been a lot different if I didn’t meet you guys! Super swerte talaga! Congrats your brother (wow, ilang years late!) Enjoy your trip to Vietnam! It’s a pretty nice country to travel in, and the food’s really good! πŸ˜€

  17. Paula says:

    Hi Nina,

    Saw your blog. I am going to Brunei for the same flight but I may need to check in baggage since I will be carrying a “selfie pod” (would you happen to know if this is allowed to carry on?). In any case, would it be possible to claim my baggage then go back in the departure area to sleep until morning or is it safe to leave my baggage in the conveyor belt and claim at around 6AM?

    thank you!

    • Nina says:

      If you leave your baggage, there’s a chance they might take it to their security office. Best to take it with you. Don’t worry, you can easily go to the departure area after claiming your baggage.

      • Thank you for sharing your experience Ma’am! (c”,) I’ll be traveling to Brunei by tomorrow. I came across your blog while searching for the sleeping experiences in the Brunei International Airport. Like you’ve said, I’ll be also taking the sole red-eye flight and will be taking a nap until daybreak. Thanks for the tips! I appreciate it! πŸ˜‰

  18. rizaline says:

    Hi, I’m traveling Brunei next year for 3 days only, would like to ask if how much the budget trip will take for a solo Filipino traveler. Is it okay 5,000 pesos only as my pocket money in Brunei? or should I take 30,000? I don’t have any Idea. Hoping for any response Thank you.

  19. Awesome tips! Good thing you found an affordable accommodation to stay in. Brunei has little need for tourism, so there’s not a lot of budget-friendly accommodations in sight over there.

  20. Hi. Im traveling Brunei this May 23-26 2017. would like to ask the average budget I should bring around 4D and 3N in brunei. Thank you

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: