What will do if you have several hours in your stopover country or city? Will you just stay in the airport or will you go out and explore? If you will ask me, I would take the chance to wander around the place to kill some time and gain some experience.
This happened to me recently in the small country of Brunei located in Southeast Asia. Brunei International Airport is a regular stopover of flights between Asia and Australia. Its town Muara is also a popular cruise port of call of huge cruise liners.
Brunei is comparable to Hong Kong in terms of land area which is perfect to discover if you have several hours during a stopover. But what are the things that you can do in Brunei? Here are some recommendations that you can consider in case that you are stuck in their airport or cruise terminal.
Things To Do In Brunei
Seize the Majestic Beauty of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque
This grand mosque is the exclamation point in a man-made lagoon on the embankment of the Brunei River. It is the most snapped and popular attraction in Brunei because of its captivating pure gold covered dome. Try to google ‘Brunei’ and you can see its photos right away. Its architectural style is mixed of Mughal, Renaissance and Italian making it one of the most extraordinary mosques in this Asian region.
Although its facade is beautiful and inviting enough to pull you closer to it, the mosque is only intended for praying and only Muslims are allowed to go inside.
Visit Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
This marvelous architecture is the largest mosque in Brunei. It was built on 1992 to celebrate the 25th year of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s reign. The mosque is adorned with 29 domes covered with pure gold that look blazing at nighttime.
The mosque permits visitors to actually enter inside. But you must remove your footwear and be in proper attire. Body covers are provided to those who are wearing shorts and sleeveless. Photo taking is not allowed inside so the magnificent interior is for your eyes only.
Brunei Monarchy 101 at the Royal Regalia
A visit to the Royal Regalia is important if you want an introduction about the culture and tradition of the six century-old Brunei Monarchy. This big-domed building stores a huge collection of treasures, arsenal, relics and costumes used in Royal rites and occasions.
There is also a huge gallery of ornamental gifts from different head of states around the world. You are not allowed to take photos in the gallery so just admire the precious collection with your eyes. You can snap some photos in the entrance hall where the Royal Chariots of Sultan Bolkiah are displayed. One of the chariots was used in the parade during the leader’s silver jubilee celebration of his coronation on 1992 while the other one was used during his coronation on 1968.
Join the tour in the Water Village (Kampung Ayer)
Kampung Ayer is tagged as “The Venice of the East” by an Italian explorer on 16th century and is one of the must visit places in Brunei. This ancient society was constructed over the Brunei River and renowned as the largest water village in the world.
The village has its own fire station, police station, school, mosques, shops, clinics and more. The historical and cultural heritage of the community are preserved despite all the upgrades of facilities and services made in the Water Village.
‘Perahu Tambang’ or water taxi is used to get in and out of the village. A guided tour in Kampung Ayer for an hour will cost you B$30 to B$50 (USD 22 to USD 37).
Have a glimpse of the Istana Nurul Iman
The Royal Palace or ‘Palace of the Light of Faith’ is the official residence of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. It is the biggest residential palace in the world with 1,788 rooms. The palace is open to the public only during Hari Raya celebration. However, you are allowed to stop-by at the entrance to glance the palace and take some photos.
I have done all of these things and visited all these places in less than a day by hiring a private car. Day tour package ranges from B$50 to B$100 or USD 37 to USD 74 per person while a private car/taxi for a day costs up to B$150 or USD 110.
Visiting Brunei will not be completed without trying their local food. Make a stop at Gadong Night Market if your time permits to taste their yummy delicacies and to try some local fruits.
Where To Stay In Brunei
If you will have a chance to stay longer in Brunei, you can definitely find great hotels in Bandar Seri Begawan. Here are the top reviewed accommodations as scored by Agoda users.
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