Negara Brunei Darussalam (or simply Brunei) is one of the smallest countries in Southeast Asia but one of the wealthiest at the same time. The locals are very friendly and very religious. They enjoy free education, free hospitalization and a hefty pension package thanks to the country’s vast wealth coming from the abundant supply of oil and natural gas. There is an interesting area in the country where local residents are proboscis monkeys; the location is called Pulau Ranggu, a tiny island in the middle of Brunei River. (Proboscis monkey are endemic to Borneo.)
Brunei River is found in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. This means Pulau Ranggu is not very far from the main city. One may simply hail a water taxi from the capital and pay a reasonable fare of about B$20 to B$30. Not far away are two other tourist attractions, which are the Persiaran Damuan and Istana Nurul Iman. Tourists often include all these three spots in the same itinerary.
Istana Nurul Iman is the sultan’s grandiose palace. The site of its golden domes and glimmering towers are amazing to see. Sightseers must try to content themselves with seeing the palace from outside since the sultan accepts visitors only once a year during the celebration of the end of the Ramadan. “Istana Nurul Iman” literally means “Palace of the Light of Faith”. It is the largest palace in the world and the pride of the Bruneian people.
Persiaran Damuan, on the other hand, is a narrow strip of landscaped man-made park between the Brunei River and Jalan Tutong. On it are sculptures of famous artists from all over Southeast Asia. Persiaran Damuan is only a kilometer long and bordered by shrubs and mangroves.
These three are just a few of the many tourist destinations and attractions in Brunei. This Muslim sultanate attracts a number of tourists – more than 1 million a year – for its serenity and peacefulness. Its natural treasures such as beaches, coral reefs and dive sites remain untouched and unspoiled by man. Unlike most Southeast Asian countries, Brunei is not densely populated, with no traffic jams, very low crime rate and an over-all atmosphere of bliss and order. Much like its neighboring countries, however, Brunei experiences hot, sticky and rainy weather throughout the year.
Brunei is also quite unique for its law that prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol. Locals are not allowed to drink; it is difficult to break this law since there are no liquors for sale anywhere and violators will be subjected to painful caning. Only non-Muslim tourists are allowed to drink but neither in public nor more than the allowable amount of alcohol.
Some of Brunei’s leading attractions are the Istana Nurul Iman (sultan’s palace), Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, Brunei Museum, Brunei History Center and Malay Technology Museum, Kampong Ayer (“Water Village”), Peradayan Forest Reserve, Ulul Temburong National Park, modern shopping malls, public markets, and a number of local restaurants selling delicious local dishes.
From this list of must-see destinations in Brunei, Pulau Ranggu stands out since it allows tourists to have a close encounter with a rare monkey species.