Last month, I asked my readers whether it was totally crazy or totally awesome to fly to Brunei for a few days. I even wrote a post about 5 reasons to go to Brunei for a long weekend.
It turned out that it was an awesome plan. I had a fabulous time in Brunei. It is a destination made for 2-3 day stopovers. I saw a lot and had a great taste of Brunei in this time frame without feeling like I was missing out by not staying longer. What is totally crazy is that most people who were on my full flight to Brunei did not leave the airport. They missed out!
Here is my five step plan to have the perfect Brunei Stopover.
A stopover is much more pleasant if it gets off to a good start! I flew in on Royal Brunei‘s new dreamliner plane which was just awesome. Great entertainment, more space and cool buttons that shaded the window so it looked like night outside when the glare was annoying!
The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is not the easiest city to get around thanks to a lack of taxis (which are expensive if you do get one) and public transport that stops at 6pm and isn’t reliable. On the upside, there are great footpaths and the downtown area is compact and very walkable. This means the best bet is to stay in the downtown area of Bandar Seri Begawan.
There are not many hotel choices in this area. We checked out the Brunei Hotel, Jubilee Hotel, the Raddison and the Terrace Hotel. All are well located. We decided on the Terrace Hotel as it was by far the cheapest but still nice and clean and with everything you want. The best part was that it was opposite a night food market.
If you want a special treat and a hotel that is an attraction in itself, also check out the Empire Hotel and Country Club.
Clicking on any of these links will show you the latest prices and more information about these hotels.
It is not the most exciting capital city in the world, but it is very nice. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the downtown area checking it out. There is half a day of activities in my guide to the top things to do in Bandar Seri Begawan.
There is not only great food in Brunei, but it is very cheap. Most meals I ate only cost B$1 which is less than US$1. We mostly ate at markets. The night market, Taman Salera, was across the road from our hotel and a great place to eat amongst the trees.
After checking out the sites in Bandar Seri Begawan, venture into the rainforest and Ulu Temburong National Park.
Brunei has some of the best rainforests in Borneo – over 70% of their primary rainforests still remain. A trip here is a must do. Not only are the rainforests amazing, but it is an attraction in itself just getting to Ulu Temburong National Park – it takes a public speed boat ride, a car drive and then a long boat ride to get here. All this only take a couple of hours so it is accessible on a day trip from Bandar Seri Begawan. However, do yourself a massive favour and spend two days checking out the National Park and surrounding jungle – you will be glad you did!
Accommodation and taxis are not cheap in Brunei, although I did get a good hotel room for just over US$50 a night. However, food is very cheap and most attractions are free. Rainforest tours are very reasonably priced.
For anyone who might be wondering, alcohol is not sold in Brunei. However, if you are 17 or over and not Muslim, you are allowed to bring 2 bottles of spirits or wine and up to 12 cans of beer into Brunei with you. You need to declare this on entry – I had to fill in two forms about it. It was all straight forward and easy to do. You have to drink it in private.
I did this trip alone and with friends. However, I would quite happily take my kids to Brunei. The people are friendly, everything is nice and clean and (best of all compared to most of SE Asia) nice wide footpaths making it easy for little kids to walk around as well as pram friendly.
I loved my Brunei stopover. It was a great place to go for a short trip. I enjoyed everything I did and the mix of rainforest and city sights worked well. 3 days was the perfect amount of time to come here.
Are you tempted to visit the sultanate of Brunei?
You may also enjoy reading our guide to Kuching.
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