Wednesday, 20 December 2017

BRUNEI: Bandar Seri Begawan Is Safe, Police Are Bureaucratic And Inefficient, Only Call Them If You Have No Choice

Bandar Seri Begawan, also known as BSB or just Bandar, is the capital of Brunei.

Bandar Seri Begawan formerly known as Brunei Town, is the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Brunei. Bandar Seri Begawan has an estimated population of 100,700, and including the whole Brunei-Muara District, the metro area has an estimated population of 279,924.

The original name for this city was Bandar Brunei or Brunei Town in English.

In 1967, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III abdicated in favour of his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah and took the title of Seri Begawan.

Omar was then made the defence minister and on 5 October 1970, the city was renamed to honour him. The word Begawan was also used for Bruneian monarchs who have abdicated, the word originally coming from the Sanskrit word for god.

Besides that, Seri Begawan was known as blessed one in Sanskrit. Seri comes from the honorific Sanskrit word Sri, and Bandar comes from Persian via Indian languages and originally meant harbour or port or haven. In Malay, the word bandar means town or a city.

Istana Nurul Iman is the seat of the Brunei government and is the largest residential palace in the world according to Guinness World Records. There are two prime minister offices in the city, one is located inside Istana Nurul Iman and another one is located at Jalan Kumbang Pasang.

The Bruneian Census 2011 Report estimated the population of Bandar Seri Begawan is around 20,000, while the metropolitan area has around 279,924.

The majority of Bruneians are Malays, with Chinese being the most significant minority group. Aboriginal groups such as the Bisaya, Belait, Dusun, Kedayan, Lun Bawang, Murut and Tutong also exist.

They are classified as part of the Malay ethnic groups and have been given the Bumiputera privileges.

Large numbers of foreign workers are also found within Brunei and the capital city, with the majority being from Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia mostly Betawi and the Indian subcontinent.

Places worth visiting:

The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque – Built in 1958, it features a golden dome and an interior of Italian marble walls, carpeting and an elevator.

It also has tunnels, which are used by the sultan on journeys through the town. This mosque is considered by some to be one of the world's most beautiful mosques.

Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque – This mosque is the largest mosque in Brunei. It was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the sultan's reign. It is known locally as the Kiarong mosque.

Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam Mosque This green mosque is located just next to Jalan Jerudong.

Ash Shaliheen Mosque – This mosque is located next to the prime minister's office in Bandar Seri Begawan. The mosque architecture is inspired by Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Saudi Arabia and Spain's Mosque–Cathedral of C√≥rdoba.

Surau Brunei International Airport – This surau or small mosque is located just next to Brunei International Airport.

Historical sites:

- Late sultan Bolkiah's tomb in Kota Batu

- Late sultan Sharif Ali's tomb in Kota Batu

- Royal Wharf

- The Royal Ceremonial Hall or Lapau

Located in Jalan Kianggeh, the Lapau or Royal Ceremonial Hall is used for royal traditional ceremonies. It was here that the sultan Hassanal Bolkiah was crowned on 1 August 1968. The interior of the Lapau and sultan's throne are decorated in exquisite gold.

Within the precincts of the Lapau is the Dewan Majlis where the legislative assembly used to sit. Official permission is required by visitors to enter this building.

With the completion of the new legislative council building in Jalan Mabohai, the Lapau will soon become a symbol of the sultanate's constitutional history.

The Royal Mausoleum or Makam Di-Raja

Located away from the banks of Brunei River, behind the department store Soon Lee Megamart now Freshco Shopping Centre at Mile One, Jalan Tutong, the Royal Mausoleum and the graveyard have been used by succeeding generations of sultans.

Inside the Mausoleum itself are the remains of the last four sultans, Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddin (1950–1967), who died in 1986, Ahmad Tajuddin Ibnu Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam (1924–1950), Muhammad Jamalul Alam Ibnu Sultan Hashim (1906–1924), and Hashim Jalilul Alam Putera Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II (1885–1906). Other members of the royal families from those times are also buried there.

Dang Ayang Mausoleum, a legendary figure who was chased away from Kampong Ayer for committing adultery. Adultery was a taboo in Bruneian society. She died in what we know today as Pusat Bandar or Central City. However some sources say that she was a Queen of Brunei.

Istana Darussalam, this Istana or Palace is located near to the river. It is one of the oldest non-residential palaces in Brunei. This palace was where the Begawan Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III resided and where Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah was born. It is not open to the public.

Museums

Brunei Museum or Muzium Brunei – Located on an archaeological site at Kota Batu about 5 km (3.1 mi) from Bandar Seri Begawan, this museum is the largest in the country. It was first established in 1965 and occupied its present site since 1970. Officially opened in 1972.

The museum focuses on Islamic history, natural history, Brunei artefacts and customs, ceramics and the oil industry of Brunei. of oil, process of drilling, refining, the history of the petroleum industry in Brunei and a map depicting current oil fields.

Malay Technology Museum – The museum was officially opened in 1988.

Royal Regalia Museum – Located at Jalan Sultan, this museum is devoted to the sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. The main gallery displays the coronation and Silver Jubilee Chariots, gold and silver ceremonial armoury and traditional jewellery encrusted coronation crowns.

A collection of documents that chronicles the sultan's life up to the coronation together with the constitutional history gallery is also housed in the same building.

Brunei History Centre – Located at Jalan Sultan next to the Royal Regalia Museum is the Brunei History Centre. The centre was opened in 1982 with a brief to research the history of Brunei. Much of that work has been establishing the genealogy and history of the sultans and royal family.

The public display has a wealth of information on these subjects including replicas and brass rubbings of tombs. A flow chart giving the entire lineage of the Brunei sultans can be found at the entrance.

Brunei Stamp Gallery – The recently opened Brunei Stamp Gallery is located inside the post office building in Jalan Sultan.

Bumbungan Dua Belas – The name which translates to the House of Twelve Roofs is located in Jalan Residency. It was built in 1906 and was formerly the official residence of British residents and high commissioners in Brunei. It is one of the oldest surviving building in Bandar Seri Begawan.

It now serves as a gallery that exhibits the long-standing relationship between the sultanate and the United Kingdom

The Arts and Handicrafts Centre – Located at Jalan Residency it was opened in 1980. Brunei's fine arts and crafts date back to centuries and are part of the nation's proud heritage. The Arts and Handicrafts Centre conducts courses in silverware, brassware, woodcarving, songkok-making, weaving and basketry.

Istana Nurul Iman palace

The Istana Nurul Iman palace is the residence of the sultan of Brunei. It is located 3 km southwest of the city centre. Its name is taken from Arabic, meaning Palace of the Light of Faith.

The palace was designed by Leandro V. Locsin, and built by the Filipino firm, Ayala Corporation, mixing Malay and Islamic elements in the building architecture. It contains 1,788 rooms, with 257 bathrooms, and a banquet hall that can accommodate up to 5,000 guests.

The palace only opens to public during the yearly three-day Hari Raya Adilfitri celebration.

The city's suburb incorporates nearby Kampong Ayer or water village, in which houses were built on stilts and stretches about 8 km (5.0 mi) along the Brunei river. It was founded 1,000 years ago.

The village is considered the largest stilt settlement in the world with approximately 30,000 residents and 2,000 houses. Venice of the East was coined by Antonio Pigafetta in honour of the water village he encountered at Kota Batu,just east of city's central business district.

Pigafetta was on Ferdinand Magellan's last voyages when he visited Brunei in 1521.

This latest addition to the beautiful Bandar Seri Begawan is strategically overlooking the historical Kg. Ayer. The approximately 1.8-hectare (4.4-acre) site took almost three years to be completed and was officially opened to the public on 28 May 2011.

The Waterfront is accessible to everyone as it is open 24 hours where public can enjoy sightseeing and take a break at the outdoor cafes offering varieties of drinks and dishes.

Persiaran Damuan - This narrow strip of landscaped park between Jalan Tutong and the Sungei Brunei was created in 1986 as a Square. It has a permanent display of the work of a sculptor from each of the original ASEAN countries.

The 1 km (0.62 mi)-long park has pleasant walkways bordered by shrubs and the mangrove fringed Pulau Ranggu where two species of monkeys live, including the notable proboscis monkey only found in Borneo. The park also offers some of the best views of the Istana Nurul Iman.

The capital is connected to Bus of Bandar Seri Begawan the western part of the country by road. To get to the eastern part of Brunei (Temburong) it is necessary to travel through Sarawak which is in Malaysia, via the town of Limbang which is accessed by the Kuala Lurah Bus terminal.

To get to Bandar Seri Begawan from the west, access is via Miri town in Sarawak via the Sungai Tujuh Bus terminal and then along the coastal highway.

The main bus station in the city is located in Jalan Cator underneath a multi-story car park. There are six bus routes servicing Bandar Seri Begawan area; the Central Line, Circle Line, Eastern Line, Southern Line, Western Line and Northern Line.

Buses operate from 6.30 am till 6.00pm except for Bus No. 1 and 20 which have extended to the night. All bus routes begin and terminate their journey at the main bus terminal.

Buses heading to other towns in Brunei such as Tutong, Seria and Kuala Belait also depart from the main bus terminal and Taxicab.

Brunei International Airport serves the whole country. It is 11 km (6.8 mi) from the town centre and can be reached in 10 minutes via the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Highway. Royal Brunei Airlines, the national airline, has its head office in the RBA Plaza in the city.

A water taxi service known as penambang is used for transportation between downtown Bandar Seri Begawan and Kampong Ayer. Water taxis are the most common means of negotiating the waterways of Kampung Ayer.

They can be hailed from the numerous docking parts along the banks of the Brunei River. Fares are negotiable. Regular water taxi and boat services depart for Temburong between 7:45 am and 4 pm daily, and also serve the Malaysian towns of Limbang, Lawas, Sundar and Labuan.

A speedboat is used for passengers travelling to Penambang Ferry Service and from Bangar and Limbang.

The city produces furniture, textiles, handicrafts, and timber.

Brunei are known to its shophouses design. These are the shopping areas:

- Gadong Central is where many shopping complexes, shops and restaurants are located (e.g., The Mall Gadong, Western fast food restaurants and Ayamku, the local fast food chain). There is also a night market called Pasar Malam Gadong.

- Serusop Complex, Few small shopping malls and shopping complexes can be found near Brunei International Airport.
Rimba, a medium-sized mall with Giant supermarket.

- Tungku-link Commercial Complex, various shophouses and local and Korean restaurants, textiles shops, carpet.

- Beribi Complex

- Kiulap Commercial Precinct in Kiarong, Kiulap Mall, private colleges, banks and various restaurants from local to Pakistani and Korean restaurants.

- Abdul Razak Complex and Seri Complex in Jalan Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha, Batu Satu.

- Tamu Kianggeh. The open market brings together numerous small entrepreneurs selling local vegetables, fruits, live chickens and fish, potted plants, assorted food and beverages.

- Pasar Pelbagai Barangan Gadong / Pasar Malam or night market, located a few metres away from The Mall Gadong, brings together numerous small entrepreneurs just like in Tamu Kianggeh, however, it's more into selling foods such as Sate, Soto, national dishes like Nasi Katok and Ambuyat, fruits and beverages, also selling like wooden handicrafts. During the day, it is where local botanists sell their potted plants.

Jalan Tasek Lama - Located just a few minutes walk from the city centre, this is a popular trekking trail for the local residents of Bandar Seri Begawan. There are well made walkaways through the small park which has benches and picnic spots as well as a waterfall and ponds with water lilies.

Bukit Subok Recreational Park - The park offers a great view of the Kampong Ayer and downtown Bandar Seri Begawan. There is a well maintained wooden walkaway with viewing huts along the way. These huts provide a good vantage points of Kampong Ayer and its surroundings.

Brunei International Airport is the main airport in Brunei.

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.

Public bus is available just outside of the Arrivals hall, turn left after exiting Arrivals. There is a clear sign 'Bas Awam / Public Bus' with seatings. The busses arrive either half hourly or hourly.

Purple busses number 23, 24, 36, 38 & 57 runs between the airport and the bus station in Bandar Seri Begawan and costs only B$1 (2017). It takes around 30 minutes to the city.

You no longer need to walk down the covered footpaths through the carpark to get to the bus stop as it used to be previously as the bus stop has been moved to the new area outside the Arrivals which is easier to find.

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. The bus leaves once daily at 8am and takes 8.5 hours. The bus departs from a lay-by on the waterfront. The ticket is 100 RM and can be purchased from the driver.

To/from Miri: PHLS Express runs a direct bus between Bandar Seri Begawan and Miri for B$20. The bus leaves Bandar Seri Begawan at 7AM and 1PM and takes about 4 hours.

To/from Seria: Regular buses leave for Seria (where you can change buses to Kuala Belait) 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.

The local bus to Miri has been discontinued. PHLS express bus make stops in Seria and Kuala Belait and the fare to Miri is B$15.

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.

By boat To/from Temburong: Speedboats leave regularly 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.

To/from Labuan Boats to Labuan 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.

From Kota Kinabalu Boat from Kota Kinabalu leaves only once at 8am. It goes to Labuan and there need to take another boat to Muara at 1.30pm. It cost 63'75 RM.

Boats to any other destinations in Sarawak and Sabah were discontinued. You need to change boats in Labuan to reach these destinations.

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. 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.

Walking, The downtown area - Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Kianggeh Market, Royal Regalia Museum is best covered on foot. From there to Jame Asr' Hassanil Bolkia Mosque or Gadong night market takes 30-60 minutes and sidewalks are not always present, so a bus might be the better choice.

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. 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 and have improved a lot in recent years, even though they do not operate at frequent intervals usually 20-minute intervals and end service quite early at about 8 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 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.

By Taxi, there are not many taxis in Brunei because almost all locals own a car. The only official taxi stand is at the bus terminal in the city center. Taxis are either using a meter, or you have to agree the fare beforehand.

For reference, a short ride of a few kilometers e.g. from the bus terminal to Gadong night market costs around B$10 by meter. Your hotel or hostel can also call a taxi to pick you up.

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 or 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 located in Bandar Seri Begawan and is known as one of the most peaceful and calm mosque in the world. Before stepping in to the mosque you may sense the beautiful ray of the sun and the smell of the unique odour of fish because of the river near the mosque.

The mosques' gold dome gleams under the sunlight during the day, the white walls of the exterior complementing the gold. Even during the night, the dome seems to shine brightly as light illuminates it. The mosque is surrounded by a peaceful setting of swishing trees and colourful floral gardens.

The green marble floor as well as other parts of the mosque feels hot against your feet as you pass through the men's ablution area. White marble columns surround the area, where little blue and gold tiles line the perimeter of the walls.

As you step into the peaceful and quiet atmosphere of the prayer hall in the mosque, you can feel the soft, plush carpet. It is a little too comfortable because of the cool air. Aside from that, the bland taste of water would also refreshes you.

You will smell the alluring odour of the Arabic perfumes used by the worshipers as you peer at the beautiful chandelier, stained glass windows and marble domes imported from foreign countries such as Italy, England and Saudi Arabia. Quranic verses are carved on the semi-domes and arches.

In addition to that, there is an artificial lagoon situated at the back of the mosque. Made out of concrete, it is designed with multi-coloured tiles and arches which are adorned with intricate designs. A long winding bridge leads from the mosque to the lagoon.

There, you could see a spectacular view of the water village and bustling Yayasan Complex; the sight leaving a tranquil feeling inside.

Visiting hours for non-Muslims: Sat-Wed: 08:00-12:00, 13:30-15:00, 16:30-17:30; Thurs: closed all day; Fri: 16:30-17:30; any religious activities: closed.

Jame' Asri Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is another mosque, that resembles Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. Whereas Omar Ali Saifuddien mosque is built to commemorate Sultan Omar, this mosque is to commemorate the current reigning Sultan.

Kampong Ayer or 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 or 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.

The smell of the classic and old heritage stuff allow one to taste the infinite royal accessories.Royal regalia is a very interesting place that should be visit by the foreigners and also the locals that really want to know about the history and the heritage of the bruneian royal family.

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. Hours: Sun-Thurs, 09:00-17:00; Fri, 09:00-11:30, 14:30-17:00; Sat, 09:45-17:00. Free entrance.

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. As of Feb 1 2017: museum is closed until further notice. Accesible from the city by Bus 39.

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.

Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum walking distance from Brunei Museum. Displays the thousands of 4-5 centuries old artifacts,mostly Chinese ceramics rescued in the 90s from a shipwreck.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium - Trying to find a place to jog and have a peace of mind? Or would you like to improve your time in a race or in a marathon? Then the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium might be the place for you to visit.

Located in Berakas , near with the Orchid Garden Hotel, the stadium has a capacity of around 28,000 for fans to watch DPMMFC Football matches. Be careful because the hot blazing tracks can heat up your shoes in the middle of the day, but it is still a great place to burn off your calories.

Alongside the stadium you can see smoke rising up into the atmosphere, The smells of different types of foods either being fried, steamed or grilled will make your saliva drop to your toes.

If the Ramadhan season is near, Many stalls become reserved for sellers to sell their own food for Muslim People to break their fast at the end of the day.

Muara Beach - To find a place to have fun and relax at the same time is not easy. However, the beach is a place that perfectly meet these need. In Brunei there are many delightful beaches, and Muara Beach is one of them.

Muara Beach is located in Muara Town, along the South China Sea. The beach is about a mile long and is very wide. It is usually alluring as it has very large amenity spaces including a well-equipped picnic area, usable toilet facilities, a colourful children's playground as well as small and numerous weekend food and drink stalls.

Most people go to Muara Beach during the Bruneian weekend which is Friday and Sunday. The sound from the huge,non-stop waves here is very soothing, smells refreshing and reduces stress.

It is also relaxing to watch the delightful endless view of the sea with its glossy surface and feel the wind hitting your whole body. Playing with the fine sand is also a favorite pastime.

After having fun with the white fine sand, instead of rubbing it off from their clothes, people usually run straight to the salty, but fresh,sea to play with the splashing water while cleaning off their bodies. Many competitions are also held here due to its clean environment and large space.

Some of the food sold at the small stalls is rare and can only be found at these specific stalls, The smell from the food stalls and the sea makes a great combination which attracts many people. The food and drinks are visually pleasing and they make your mouth water.

Agro Technology Park - Located in the south-east of Brunei Darussalam, is one of the most visited park in the country. First entering the park visitors will immediately capture the enticing view of the whole park, the radiant green and translucent grass flattened in waves with each gust of wind.

The field is trimmed daily making it soft and comfortable for laying down and having picnics. Further inside is a miniature zoo which contains various of local and foreign animals that can be seen sauntering inside their field.

Animals such as the Peacock with its elongated and iridescent feathers, and also the ostrich strolling around with its long legs and a long neck that protrudes its round body. Twitters of all different kinds of birds, and the bleats of the deer and fawns can be heard as you stroll down the zoo.

After visiting the zoo visitors can amble down the path crossing the creaking wooden bridge to the alluring flower garden. The most prepossessing part of the park. All sorts of plants each with its elegant colors and unique shapes.

The petals glow and changes in color as the sun shine through it and with the sweet and fragrant smell of all the plants in the garden makes the garden a truly magical place.

Lastly, after walking through the flower garden, visitors that are hungry may buy food and drinks from the stalls right outside the park. The flavor of the saute chicken in the smoke can be smell a distance away luring in customers.

The refreshing drinks with each gulp of sweetness and satisfaction, perfect for an end to a park visit.

Proboscis monkeys can be watched from a boat tour which is often combined with a visit to Kampong Ayer. Tour boats can be found by walking along the water front and asking around.

Be sure to just do the tour during low tide, because at high tide crocodiles come into the mangroves, scaring the monkeys away.

Tasek Lama is one of the oldest recreational park in he country. It is also considered as a popular exercise spot for joggers. You can see plenty of colourful flowers and inhale the fragrant smell of the plants as you enter the park entrance.

You can also hear the distant waterfall splashing and there is a well-built bridge that allows you to enjoy a gorgeous view of the waterfall. There are jogging and waling trails provided and other enjoyable activities as well. You can constantly hear the shuffing of feet on the trails.

Surrounded by clean, tropical jungle, with fresh clean, air it's a great place to visit. You can see the joyous expressions of guests when they do their activities. You are also able touch the lake water if you wish and even feel the coolness of the water.

You are invited to taste and buy savory and delicious foods that are sold by a row of vendors at the park entrance.

You can find it on Jalan Tasek Lama, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. The opening times for this park are, Sunday-Thursday from 6:00am-6:00pm. On Fridays, it is open from 6:00am-11:00am and 2:00pm-6:00pm.

Taman Jubli Perak Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah

Taman Jubli Perak Park is located in Bandar Seri Begawan,it is a very large park with a beautiful gardenscape.It is open 24 hours a day.there are few authentic mini gazebo where you can do small activity such as picnic.

There is mini prayer room for the Muslims, where it is located near the entrance.If you walk straight fron the entrance,you will be directed straight to the center large fountain where you can sit while admiring the beautiful large Gardenscape.

It is very pleasing if you are to decide spending time with your family, you won't regret it for coming here.

The Super Spinning Studio in Bandar Seri Begawan is a place where you use bicycles to do your cardio along with unique movements according to various types of cool instructors.

When the loud music plays everytime the session begins, Your heartbeat goes crazy, but in a good way, along with your mind.

Spinning may look to you as a regular cardio but what you'll feel once youre in. You will feel just right in the place because Spinning community is for everyone no matter their sizes.

In fact, Super Spinning Studio has its own aroma that just fits in with the place such as logos of superheroes such as Batman, Wonderwoman and Superman on the walls that glows in the dark, its called super for a purpose.

You'll see inside, there are lots of decorative flashing disco lights, That live up the atmosphere but arent too distracting.

Once you get into one of their sessions, loud enjoyable music is play to go along with the exercise of one hour or add a thirty minute to it of vigorous exercise depending on your desire.

People's scream of joy will be heard too and you will enjoy the bloom by the air conditioners and fans. You wont regret it once you do it.

Berakas Forest Reserve Recreational Park is a recreational park home to various unique species of Flaura & Fauna. It is located in the Brunei Muara District, Berakas.

The most attractive feature of the park is it's camping grounds where visitors or campers can relax and experience living in the wilderness, listening to the sounds of nature itself.

Various outdoor activities can be done in this luscious park such as hiking. Enjoy a hike into the wild where you can observe the nature of this park.

You can also enjoy the sun on the beach and listen to the relaxing sound of the crashing waves as you walk along the shore. It is the right place if you want to go for a picnic or to have a barbeque party with your friends and family.

If the heat is too much for you, quench your thirst with the sweet, refreshing taste of coconut juice which can be bought from the food stalls which often produce the savoury smell of delicious food.

The Mall Gadong. Probably the best place to shop, including a food court and a cinema. Located in Gadong, it is also combined with the Rizqun Hotel.

Yayasan or Hua Ho Department Store. Built by the sultan to support the welfare of the people. Located in central Bandar, it offers the usual fashion brands, fast food and air conditioning.

Arts and Handicraft Center (Pusat Kesenian dan Pertukangan Tangan Brunei). Overlooking the waterfront on Jln Residency, it offers various exhibit halls organized by types of handicraft e.g. silversmith, wood work, etc.

It is an official outlet organized by the government, but the selection is rather limited, quality is average, and tend to be on the more expensive side.

Kianggeh Market. This beautiful market is located in the Capital City of Brunei alongside the Brunei River,which is connected to the South China Sea.

This amazing market is known for its beautiful stalls,where people usually get excited because of the cheap and wonderful foods and handicrafts sold there.You can reach the market.You can smell the delicious food and see the amazing atmosphere as you breathe in the wonderful fresh air.

You can reach the market by boat which you will get a chance to see the wonders of Brunei or you can enjoy a relaxing walk and have a drive through around the city after visiting the market.

At night,the scenery is magnificent as the colourful neon lights make the city look energetic and attractive.

Gadong Night Market. A fascinating place to visit. It sells a variety of inexpensive food made by local entrepreneurs. Gadong Night Market is one of the popular markets in Brunei and is open daily from around 4pm until late at night.

The new modernised market offers more space and more convenience for all the market vendors .Some areas of the touristy market are filled with barbecue-smelling smoke from vendors, making your mouth water from the scent.

You can purchase and taste the tender, juicy meat as its flavours explodes inside your mouth. Drinks can also be bought from most of the vendor with each drink tasting sweet and refreshing.

In the market, vendors sell food such as crispy and scrumptious curry puffs and well-seasoned shawarmas that again explodes with flavour of spiciness and sweetness.

Along with that, some of the vendors sell local mouth-watering -desserts like Kuih Malaya, a dessert like a pancake that is fully filled with peanuts and raisins. They also sells a sweet tasting and flavourful dessert called Cendol that will absolutely quench your thirst.

Some vendors also make different variations of Cendol such as Cendol Milk Tea and Cendol topped with durian. The market sometimes gets crowded at times making the environment quite warm, from the heat of all the people. During these times, people usually bums into each other.

The busy night market makes a fantastic visit due to the vibrant environment with the sound of vendors calling people to buy their goods along with people chatting and the sound of the sizzling meat and fried noodles.

At this admirable market, the benches provided allow people to enjoy their food within an adorable environment together with some loud and modern music that is played by the vendors.

In addition, from the market, we can see the picturesque view of the most impressive piece of modern Islamic architecture in Southeast Asia which is the Mosque of Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah.

Wine & Dine

Gadong Night Market. Bustling night market offering everything from fruits of fried noodles and barbecue fish to bubble tea and desserts. Come after sunset to join crowds of locals and try some delicacies. Price per item between B$1-B$3.

Step into the Gadong Night Market and you’ll be charmed by this heartland of the Bruneian community.The Gadong Night Market is full of vibrant colours,sounds and scents that stimulate your senses.

It is a favourite place for Bruneians to look for a wide variety of affordable hawker food,fruits,vegetables,local pastries and clothing.A variety of goods are sold at low prices. It is located near the bridge linking Simpang 137 and Simpang 37 near the outstanding Mall Gadong.

You can enjoy various kinds of mouth-watering local dishes.Be greeted by the aromatic scent of spices and astounded by the smell of sizzling meats cooked perfectly on the well oiled griddles.

Also, the taste of succulent chicken with BBQ sauce dripping slowly off of it will make your taste buds explode with flavours.Don’t be afraid to walk through the plumes of smoke that are diffusing seamlessly throughout the market The Gadong Night Market has a wonderful array of traditional businesses.

If you’re thirsty,try a cup of cold Milo Peng filled with ice cubes to quench your thirst. But if you’re hungry, don’t hesitate to satisfy your cravings with a wide variety of food to choose.You can hear the voices of sellers competing to sell their foods.

Mumbling chatter of people can also be heard in the background while you shop. The possibilities are endless.So take a stroll through the hustle and bustle of the Gadong Night Market and soak up the atmosphere.You’ll be impressed beyond words.

Aminah Arif Restaurant. One of a few local restaurants that features the Bruneian delicacy ambuyat and a 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.

Tarindak Restaurant, overlooking the waterfront and located at the first two floors of the Arts and Handicraft Center, Tarindak Restaurant offers a wide variety of local buffet, including Brunei, Malaysian, and Indonesian food/drinks.

It is a very good choice to sample different local cuisines without stuffing yourself.

Tamu Selera, located across the street from the Terrace Hotel and by the St. Andrews Church, it is one of the most bustling night spots for local food stands/shops.

It is open until 11pm, a rare handout spot where you can see the locals and taste a wide variety of fresh seafood, curries, local cuisines, young coconut, etc.

There are plenty of small local Kedai Kopi or coffee shops in town that sell simple, cheap and tasty food and are frequented by locals.

Gerai Ramadhan or Outdoor Stadium, it only happens during the holy month of Ramadhan. A bewildering amount of people can be seen jostling around the Stadium or Gerai Ramadhan , purchasing mouth-watering food and thirst-quenching drinks for their breaking of the fast meal.

Naughty children can also be seen running around or playing by the side of the deserted, wide road. Their colorful laughter and giggles can be heard as you visit the stalls that are close to the road.

Grey, dark smoke billows from the stalls due to the hard-working sellers who are frying various types of fish until their finished product has a crispiness that a crunch can be heard as you bite through it.

The sizzling sounds when vendors fry some patties also can be heard when they make their huge, juicy burgers.

When you bite into them, you can taste the tenderness of the meat and the soft buns, which also includes a reasonable amount of fresh vegetables and a variety of sauces that makes the inside of your mouth explodes due to the amazing taste.

When holding one in your hands, feels like it's precious to you.

As you finished bustling yourself through the huge crowds, beware of the metallic stench and the fumes from the cars because there are a long line of cars parked outside and it is uncountable because there are so many people try to enter the bazaar.

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$35pp/night.
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.

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.

KH Soon Resthouse, 140 Jalan Pemancha near bus station, across the Brunei Hotel. 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, the rooms are spacious but somewhat Spartan. An air-conditioned single room with attached bathroom (HW) is B$39/night; B$33 without bathroom. Shared toilets are only squat toilets while the attached bathrooms are Western. 24 hour reception and good security.

Joy Downtown Rest-Station right behind the bus terminal. Single room B$20, double B$30. Basic accommodation, with partitions that are not full height so aircon flows into the room.

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. 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.

Le Gallery Suites Hotel, In the Seri Comlex. 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.

The Holiday Lodge Hotel, Lot: 27192, Kg Jerudong, Jalan Pulau Kubu, 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. Best rates on official website start at B$ 150″.

Capital Residence Suites, Simpang 2, Bandar Seri Begawan BS8211, Brunei. Located about 15 minutes walk from the waterfront on a quiet residential street, this hotel offers comfortable mid-price air-conditioned rooms.

It offers simple complimentary breakfast and shuttle services between the airport and hotel, as well as to major tourist spots. The staff is very friendly and helpful.

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.

Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam, Jalan Tasek Bandar Seri Begawan BS8211 Brunei. checkin: 3 PM; checkout: 12 noon. Walking distance to several tourist attractions in the city Rates start at $162.

Grand City Hotel. 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.




Tourism Observer