|TRAVEL| Discovering Brunei: The Abode of Peace - Jona Shares

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Feb 26, 2019

|TRAVEL| Discovering Brunei: The Abode of Peace



Discovering Brunei: The Abode of Peace


When you talk about Brunei, I am sure many would react on, why Brunei? What are you going to do there?





Well, for me, I want to explore and learn different cultures and somehow immerse to it, so here I am, exploring and discovering the country which is known to be as the "The Abode of Peace".





Brunei Darussalam is is located on the northern coast of the island of Borneo on the South China Sea, surrounded by Malaysia. It is a small and peaceful sultanate country which gained independence in 1984. The country is an oil-rich Kingdom which is governed by absolute monarchy and has been ruled by the same family for over six hundred (600) years. 


Brunei has a population of just under half a million (500,000) people who are mostly Malays and are devoutly Muslims. It is an Islamic state and with that being said, the sale of alcohol and non-halal meat is not allowed. 


Brunei also has really taken good care of its rainforests which are largely intact. There is a very rich and exotic flora and fauna which can be discovered here. 


I have researched and had some places to visit in our itinerary. 


There are so many discoveries and learning during our short stay in Brunei. I was amazed how the city remain super calm even during busy hours. We are there on a weekend and was able to see how a wide street is closed in the city. "No-Car Allowed" during Sunday mornings in the said area. It is a family day and the streets are filled with people biking around. I learned that even the Sultan is also biking there together with the normal people.


Here are some quick facts about the places that we were able to explore:

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque









This mosque is a symbol of Brunei and its best known landmark. It was one of the first spots our host took us to on a night time drive by of the capital. Built in 1958, it was named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei, late father of the current Sultan, who motioned its construction. 

It is the tallest building in Bandar Seri Begawan at 52m, and we’ve heard that no other building is allowed to exceed its height.

Not unlike the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, the Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Brunei is also surrounded by water. With a dome made of pure gold, it is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in Asia.




It's edifice is indeed a sight to behold in the day and looks magnificent during night time. 



Istana Nurul Iman




It is where the Sultan of Brunei lives. Istana Nurul Iman, known in English as Palace of the Light of Faith, is the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. Due to Brunei being an absolute monarchy it is also the seat of government. It is considered to be the world’s largest residential palace by Guinness World Records, beating out other palaces such as Buckingham Palace, The Palace of Versailles and The Forbidden City. It apparently has 1,788 rooms including 257 bathrooms, a 5,000 capacity banquet hall, a 1,500 capacity mosque and a 110-car garage. 

Just a note. Istana Nurul Iman is a private family residence hence it is closed to the public. However, if you’re lucky enough to be in Brunei during Hari Raya Aidilfitri (the festival at the end of Ramadan) you will have the opportunity to visit the palace over a three-day period along with an estimated 110,000 others. The Sultan hosts an open house where he and his wife greet people in person with a handshake, and also treat them with a celebratory buffet meal and even a gift – cake for adults, cash for kids! So watch out for this event!


Royal Regalia Museum 

The history of the Bruneian Royal Family can be seen here. This museum is home to the regalia of the royal family of Brunei, as well as many gifts, artefacts and images.

The museum is free of entrance. Just remove your shoes before entering and sign on the guest book and surrender your things. Camera is only allowed at the entrance.

It was a really informative museum with seemingly never-ending hallways and corridors detailing many aspects of the Sultan’s life. We are glad we took the time to visit. The main hall houses a life-size exhibit showcasing the chariots and weaponry used in the Sultan’s Silver and Golden Jubilee celebrations. Another exhibits highlights gifts to the Sultan from other countries made of gold, silver, jade, ivory and more. 

Indeed a great place to learn more about the Sultan.



Kampong Ayer: Water Village


Kampong Ayer literally means water village. This area of settlement is made up of 42 villages connected by 18 miles of footbridges, and is currently home to 30,000 people which is almost eight percent (8%) of the population of Brunei. People have inhabited this water village for more than one thousand (1,000) years. 



It was also dubbed as Venice of the East by Italian explorer Antonio Pigafetta and Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. ( A little of History, lol.)



Kampong Ayer was actually the administrative centre and seat of government of Brunei. With a basic infrastructure, each house receives clean water and electricity. Other amenities include telephone lines, sanitation, rubbish disposal, shops, restaurants, schools, mosques, a police station, petrol stations, and our favourite – the fire station. 



You can catch a ride across the river from the mainland to Kampong Ayer for only B$1 and you can also rent it out in order to roam around the water village.


Jame Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque



This is the largest mosque in Brunei by capacity. It can accommodate four thousand five hundred (4,500) worshippers. Built in 1994 by the 29th Sultan of Brunei, the current Sultan, to commemorate his twenty fifth (25th) year on the throne. 
It has 29 lavish gold domes, and is complete with beautifully landscaped gardens, and a lovely interior.

Indeed another astonishing Brunei landmark and breathtakingly beautiful. It’s free to enter, however during our visit, there is an event held so we decided not to enter.


Empire Hotel and Country Club 







The Empire Hotel and Country Club is Brunei’s only six star beach resort. It is complete with Swarovski chandeliers, an 18-hole golf course, nine pools, wall-to-wall marble, private beach, an eight-lane bowling alley, ballrooms, nine food and beverage outfits, a private cinema and tennis, badminton, squash and basketball courts and more!



Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Bridge (RIPAHS Bridge)

The Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha Bridge is the second-longest single-pylon cable-stayed bridge in the world. Named after Queen Saleha, the queen consort, it was opened at the end of 2107 so is relatively new. The bridge total length of over six hundred 600 meters topped with a huge Islamic dome. It has already become a prominent part of the Bandar Seri Begawan skyline. 

We were able to have a quick stop over and a photo opportunity in the bridge and also we got a good view of the bridge during our boat ride around Kampong Ayer.



Here is our Itinerary:

Booked Airfare via Cebu Pacific:

MNL - BWN

ETD Feb 9 - 8:20PM
ETA Feb 9 - 10:40PM

BWN - MNL
ETD Feb 12 - 11:25 PM
ETA Feb 13 - 01:25 AM


Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Accommodation:
BK Hostel:

Address is Lot 48, 1st Floor, Jalan Omar Ali Saiffudien, Bandar Seri Begawan. (Right to next Guardian Pharmacy)

Going to Airport:

You can ride either of the following Bus: Bus 23, 24 and 38

Check the number of buses in the terminal which will stop at the airport or better asked the bus driver to be sure.


Places to visit:


Day One
  • Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque 
  • Lunch at Wywy restaurant. We went to Aiko Sushi Restaurant an eat-all-you-can restaurant but it is reserved for an event. 
  • Pantai Serasa (Serasa Beach) 
  • Mangrove Paradise Resort
  • Sungai Kebun Bridge
  • Jubilee Park
  • Istana Nurul Iman (Palace) 
  • The Empire Hotel and Country Club 
  • Jerudong - Jerudong Park
  • Rimba Central Garden
  • Tasek Lama
  • The Mall
  • Gadong - Gadong Pasar Malam (Night Market)
Day Two:
  • Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque
  • The Yayasan Complex - Eco - Corridor Park 
  • Kampong Ayer Water Village 
  • Royal Regalia Museum

We were able to visit all the mentioned places.


We rented a car for one day to visit the far places and then roam around the other day within the city. Bus is not advisable since it will eat up your time if you are staying for a little time. Grab cars is not available while taxi is normally in the airports.

15 comments:

  1. I love this because I get to see another place in the world that I would have never saw or thought about before. It looks so peaceful and calming there.
    Kita Bryant

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  2. What an interesting and beautiful place! I'm going to have to put Brunei on my bucket list.

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  3. What a pretty area to visit. I just love your photos. I need to get here one day for sure.

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  4. Never heard of Brunei before. Sounds like an interesting place and from your pictures something we would enjoy.

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  5. It looks like a beautiful place to visit. I love the architecture!

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  6. Honestly, I have never been to Brunei but my friends who are currently working there said that it was really a great and a must place to see.

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  7. Wow, Brunei is so beautiful. I would love to visit the rainforests there and explore.

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  8. Your photos make me want to go wherever THAT is! I love them. Thanks for sharing about Brunei. Haven't heard of it before!

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  9. What a beautiful post! It's great to know more about Brunei. I love discovering new places, sometimes only reading about them!

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  10. I am hoping that one day I get to that part of the world especially Brunei. All the photos really want to make me go.

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  11. I have a friend who had been to Brunei and was amazed by what she saw. I hope I get to explore Brunei someday too. - Lynndee

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  12. This is so interesting! Brunei is so rich with culture and beautiful places. I'd love to visit!

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  13. I have never even heard of this location! Now I have to visit. You have some amazing pics!

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  14. It looks like a beautiful place, and your photos are amazing.

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  15. I have never heard of Brunei before but it sounds like an amazing place! I will have to add Brunei to my travel bucket list!

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