Brunei is a tiny Muslim country in Southeast Asia but a very wealthy one, thanks to the abundance of natural gas and petroleum. The official name of this sultanate is Negara Brunei Darussalam. There are many reasons why people visit, and below are some travel and practical notes of advice on getting to Brunei. Where is Brunei exactly? It is found in the island of Borneo and surrounded by the Sarawak Province of Malaysia. With coordinates 4°30’N,114°40’E, Brunei lies along the coastline of South China Sea. The Brunei capital is the idyllic modern city of Bandar Seri Begawan, which is also the tiny country’s largest city.
The easiest way to get to Brunei from anywhere in the world is by air on board Royal Brunei Airlines (BI). The national carrier has regular flights to and from London, which takes 17 hours, to and from Los Angeles, which takes 24 hours, and other important cities in Asia. There are several other international carriers (mostly Asian) that find their way into Brunei’s international airport, which is located in the capital city.
Getting to Brunei by air from the US or UK is a long ride but once there, the beauty and attraction of this Muslim sultanate makes the trip worth it. Some of the leading reasons why tourists come are the sites, attractions and cultural appeal of being in a progressive Muslim country in Asia. Also, international travelers to neighboring Malaysia and Singapore make it a point to include Bandar Seri Begawan in their itinerary. From Malaysia or Singapore, getting to Brunei by land is not difficult to do.
A popular eco-tour destination in Brunei is found in the district of Temburong. Tourists come here by boat to see native longhouses and the Belalong National Park, which is a well-known rainforest reserve in Borneo. Visitors love the view from the canopy walk and learn a thing or two at the research center. There used to be a modern theme park in the capital city, but is now not as attractive. Jerudong Park was once considered the Disneyland of Brunei with free admission, but it failed to keep the people’s interest through the years. It is still operational at nights but some of the major rides have closed. There are also a few restaurants outside that still manage to attract a few tourists.
The real draw is scuba diving. Brunei has some of the best diving spots in the world with a number of stunning shipwrecks. Divers, enthusiasts and nature/marine photographers visit the waters of Brunei on a regular basis. Visibility ranges from 10 to 30 meters. The most frequently visited dive sites are the Blue Water Wreck, Cement Wreck, Australian Wreck, and the Big Reef. The coral reefs and underwater life remain unspoiled and largely untouched since the popularity of Brunei as a diving destination is relatively new considering the many world-class dive centers in Southeast Asia. Another tempting come-on for tourism is shopping.
Nearby Singapore may still be the most popular shopping destination in this part of the world, but Bandar Seri is not far behind. The Brunei and Singaporean dollar have the same value and either may be used in both countries, although there are some Bandar Seri stores that may refuse the Singaporean note. The exchangeability and equal rate of money in these countries is just perfect for international shoppers.
Getting to Brunei by sea is also possible (and pleasurable) when coming from a few Malaysian cities. There are water taxis servicing the areas from Limbang and Lawas, Malaysia to Muara, Brunei. There are also international cruise ships that dock at Muara occasionally throughout the year. The Sultanate of Brunei is pretty self sufficient. It is rich with natural deposits and its leader, Prince Bolkiah is one of the richest men in the world. The country is beautiful, laid back and very cultural. There are so many reasons why people are regularly getting to Brunei and it won’t be a surprise that soon this Muslim sultanate will be a major tourist destination in Southeast Asia.