Brunei Darussalam - Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures for Tourists
Introduction to Brunei
Brunei Darussalam is a small country located on the northern shores of the third largest island in the world, an island called Borneo. Brunei is the only sovereign country on the island, neighbouring East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak and also the Indonesian state, Kalimantan. Brunei's estimated population at the time of writing is around 400,000, and the main race that inhibits the country being Malay. The main language being spoken here is Bahasa Melayu or Malay, but English is also widely spoken among the locals here which makes the language barrier a little bit less of an issue. Islam is the official religion for this country, but other religions such as Christianity or Buddhism also exist in Brunei. Although Islam is the official religion and is being taken highly seriously here, Brunei is not an extremist state.Terrorist activities in this country are non-existent and the general community in Brunei are civilized and well educated. People of different race and religion live around each other in harmony here, with each of them gladly conforming to each other's cultural way of life. Brunei is one of the safest and most peaceful country in the world and you do not want to miss out on an opportunity to visit the country sometime in the future.
Tourists Attraction Spots
Here I will be listing down the attraction spots for tourists and they are not ranked in any particular order.
The Water Village
The Water Village of Brunei or the "Kampong Ayer" was dubbed as the "Venice of the East" by the famous traveler Antonio Pigafetta in his visit to Brunei. Kampong Ayer is situated right in the middle of the country's capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan. It is built entirely on stilt house and wooden walkways, offering a place to live in to more than 30,000 inhabitants which makes it the world's largest water village up to date.
The government has done a very good job in maintaining the village while still keeping the same historical features. Today, it is a well maintained and self-sufficient village equipped with the necessary facilities such as schools, markets, mosque and so on. The village is considered to be a national heritage and efforts are being made by the relevant authorities to retain the legacy of the people here, not just to attract tourists to the country, but also for the future generation of the kingdom.
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and the Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
Two of the country's most magnificent mosque. The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien mosque stands tall right in the heart of the city center and it features granite floors, chandeliers and amazing marble from all over the world. The mosque is surrounded by a beautiful lagoon, resembling 16th centure designs.
The Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is a famous tourist spot and is considered to be one of the largest mosque in the region. It stands at six hectare of land not far away from the city center and it is a grand display, with golden domes and rich marbles as it's foundation. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains, a visit to this mosque is a must for tourists in the country as no words can truly describe how beautiful the place is.
Visits to both mosques are open during the day except when there is any religious activity in process but visitors will need to dress politely before entering the building.
The Royal Regalia Museum
Like the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, this museum is also located at the heart of the city center. This museum houses all the priceless collections of His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei. Examples of these collections includes a royal chariot, replica of His Majesty's throne, jewel-encrusted crowns of the Royal family, and a collection of gold and silver armouries. The history of the country's constitution is also exhibited here. If you are a keen admirer of expensive jeweleries and priceless artifacts, do stop by the museum to get an up-close and personal experience with them.
Istana Nurul Iman
Just on the outskirts of the city center lies the largest residential palace in the world, the residence of His Majesty The Sultan. With golden domes and majestic rooflines decorating the palace, it's beauty rivals no other. The palace will be opened to the locals and tourists during the Hari Raya festival and those who wish to visit the palace can take up this opportunity to do so, while also getting the chance to personally greet His Majesty and the other members of the royal family.
Jerudong Park is the country's famous entertainment center. It comprises of four state-of-the-art entertainment facilities, the Royal Brunei Golf and Country Club, Jerudong Park Polo Club, Trijaya Jerudong Equestrian Park and the Jerudong Park Playground.
Off these four, the Jerudong Park Playground has been a favourite spot for tourists from all over the world. It is a 57-hectare wonderland that is filled with well-maintained lawns, a musical fountain and lots of exciting rides such as the Pusing Lagi - a 5G force rollercoaster, the Water Log Ride - a wet but fun and exhilariting ride, the Go Kart racetrack - to test your driving skills and pit it against other competitors, the good ol' Bumpercars and one of the latest addition to the playground, the Bumperboat, which works just like the bumpercar but being on water rather than land. There are more rides being offered by the playground and I'm not going to spoil it here. You just have to visit the place and find out for yourself cause I guarantee you a visit to the park will be the most fun night of your life.
They are closed on certain days of the week so to make sure that there is no risk involved, it is advisable to contact their office first at 2611894 extension 106 or 2612290, or even better, call their hotline number 8777719 to find out more about the park.
Brunei also offers a lot of outdoor activities to tourists. Water sports enthusiasts will be glad to find out that Brunei offers a lot of options for water based sports. This include, but are not limited to, scuba diving, sailing, water-skiing, snorkerlling and kayaking. Brunei is lucky to blessed with a marvellous collection marine life which has grabbed attention from all around the globe. For all these water-sports activities, tourists can visit the Serasa Water Sports Complex or make the trip down to Temburong for a really good time.
Those who aren't keen on getting wet, no need to worry, Brunei also offers a lot of other outdoor activities that will let you stay dry. Examples of them are Horse Riding, which can be found at Trijaya Jerudong Equestrian Park or they can opt to go for hiking or cycling at the Bukit Shahbandar Forest Recreation Park. If you are looking to just unwind yourself in nature, there are plenty of choices to choose from as well, from the Batu Apoi Forest Reserve in Temburong to the Anduki Recreational Park in Kuala Belait, just pick any of them and relaxation is guaranteed.
Golf enthusiasists no need to worry cause you're in for a treat! Golfers can find at least five course to play on and they will surely find great pleasure and satisfaction in playing at one of our world-class and championship quality course. Some courses even offer a unique floodlit night golfing experience to avoid the day heat and I promise you this, you will not be disappointed.
One very well known fact about Bruneians is that they love to shop and that's a good thing for tourists as well! Shopping complexes are emerging at a very fast rate these days and tourists won't need to worry about the shortage of items to buy from the country. Lots of choices are available in Brunei and I will be listing down a few well known complexes in the country.
The Mall Gadong
The biggest mall in the state is situated in a very large shopping complex area in Gadong. It offers quite a lot of varying choices to tourists visiting the country and you can find various traditional goods and gifts as souvenirs to take back home. Visitors who are more tech oriented can also find cheap and tax-free electronic goods, making shopping in the country a bargain deal. With more than 10,000 visitors every week, The Mall is a fast paced shopping complex and if you are looking for a rather relaxed shopping environment, this complex may not suit you at all.
Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah
The Yayasan is located in the main city itself, Bandar Seri Begawan, nearby the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. It is a two block shopping complex that also offers a lot of choices to shoppers. A supermarket and a department store, owned by a local tycoon giant, Hua Ho, makes up half of the complex and the other half consists of independent vendors. The Yayasan is a spacious shopping complex, which makes it a rather uncrowded place so if you are looking for a slow and relaxing shopping environment, this complex is definitely the perfectly choice for you.
There are a lot more shopping places in the country but I won't be listing them down here as that would be up to you to uncover the treasures of Brunei. If you're worriedo about not having enough cash on hand for a huge shopping spree, don't worry! Brunei generally accepts major credit cards such as Amex, Visa and Mastercard so just shop away and enjoy!
There is a lot more to Brunei than what I have mentioned here but I will leave them out as a pleasant surprise for tourists to find out when they visit the country. One thing is for sure, a trip to the quiet Kingdom of Unexpected Treasure will definitely be a memorable one.