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Brunei Attractions

What to see in Brunei

Brunei’s not an ultra-modern stronghold nor is it a fundamental Muslim-dominated emirate. Though stilt villages still dominate its capital city (Bandar Seri Begawan), Brunei is not a backwater oil rig. In fact there are plenty of spaceship-like mosques, museums and a myriad of monuments to keep you occupied for a few days in and around the micro-nation. Most of Brunei’s sightseeing attractions are located within the Bandar Seri Begawan city limits including the Royal Regalia Museum, Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Brunei Museum and Kampong Ayer. Nevertheless there are a few well-worth-a-visit sights several kilometres away from the capital – including the ostentatious Empire Hotel & Country Club, Batang Duri River in Temburong and the Oil & Gas Discovery Centre in Seria.

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Arts & Handicrafts Centre

Within walking distance from town, the Arts & Handicrafts Centre was built to encourage local craftwork. The structure sits on the waterfront facing the Brunei Museum and there’s a collection of silverwork and weaving; you can purchase handicrafts and souvenirs here but just be aware that most items come with a high price tag.

  • Opening Hours: 07:45 – 12:15, 13:30 – 16:30 Monday – Thursday & Saturday; 08:30 – 14:30 Friday & Sunday
  • Location: Jalan Kota Baru
  • Tel: +673 224 0676

Brunei Museum

Overlooking Sungai Brunei, the Brunei Museum is located approximately five kilometres east of central Bandar Seri Begawan. The Islamic Art Gallery is particularly interesting as it has some stunning exhibits including rare Islamic manuscripts and artefacts dating back to the ninth and tenth centuries.

  • Opening Hours: 09:30 – 17:00 Sunday – Thursday; 09:00 – 11:30, 14:30 – 16:30 Friday
  • Location: Jalan Kota Batu
  • Tel: +673 222 3235
  • Price Range: Free of charge
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Empire Hotel & Country Club

We’re not expecting you to spring for a night at this whooping US$1.1 billion venture, but do make your way down to explore the gorgeous resort. Originally commissioned by the extravagant former finance minister and brother of the sultan, Prince Jefri, as lodging for his guests, this opulent and fanciful establishment was transformed into an upscale resort to recover some of its cost. Featuring camel-shaped lamps made from Baccarat crystals topped with solid gold accruements and gold-plated power points, it is home to the world’s most opulent indoor swimming pool.

  • Location: Muara-Tutong Highway, Kampung Jerudong
  • Tel: +673 241 8888
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Istana Nurul Iman

Three times larger than the Palace of Versailles and out sizing Buckingham Palace by four times, Istana Nurul Iman is the largest residential palace in the world. This US$350 million structure has 1788 rooms and 257 bathrooms; designed by Filipino architect Leandro Locsin, the palace is only open to the public three days in a year during Hari Raya but if you want to catch a glimpse of it at any other time of the year, then check it out from Taman Persiaran Damuan.

  • Location: Jalan Tutong
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Jalan Labi

The best place to see a sample of Brunei’s longhouse communities. Located in the interior, within a section of primary rainforest, Jalan Labi is a little out of the way but it’s a good stopover. There are walking trails through the forest and there’s a Forestry Museum here that has exhibits detailing the history of logging and conservation in the area.

  • Location: Tutong & Belait district
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Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Erected in 1992 to commemorate the 25-year reign of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is the largest mosque in the country. The mosque is a jaw-dropping sight with four main minarets and two golden domes – its landscape is a mixture of artfully landscaped gardens and fountains.

  • Opening Hours: 08:00 – 12:00, 14:00 – 15:00, 17:00 – 18:00, 20:00 – 21:00 Saturday – Wednesday
  • Location: Jalan Hassan Bolkiah, Gadong
  • Tel: +673 223 8741
  • Price Range: Free of charge
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Kampong Ayer

Made up of 28 water villages, Kampong Ayer is considered the largest water village in the world; locals refer to it as the ‘Venice of East’ but there’s really no comparison. It’s spread out on either side of the Sungai Brunei and the rickety shacks are connected to one another by a series of wooden planks.

  • Location: Bandar Seri Begawan
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Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Built in 1958, the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque sits near the Sungai Kedayan and is the tallest building in central Bandar Seri Begawan. Featuring a 44-metre high minaret, the interior of this house of worship is elegant with Italian marble flooring, stained-glass windows and a 3.5 million-piece Venetian mosaic inside the main dome.

  • Opening Hours: 08:00 – 12:00, 14:00 – 15:00, 17:00 – 18:00, 20:00 – 21:00 Saturday – Wednesday
  • Location: Bandar Seri Begawan
  • Tel: +673 222 2623
  • Price Range: Free of charge
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Oil & Gas Discovery Centre (Seria)

An educational attraction opposite the town centre, the newly-built Oil & Gas Discovery Centre will appeal to science buffs. It’s a flashy complex with an exhibition hall, gallery, theatre, education centre and a playground with a skate park.

  • Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00 Tuesday – Thursday; 10:00 – 12:00, 14:00 – 18:00 Friday; 10:00 – 18:00 Saturday & Sunday
  • Location: Jalan Tengah
  • Tel: +673 337 7200
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Royal Regalia Museum

Featuring a collection of artefacts gifted to members of the royal family ranging from a huge gilded cart and an abalone-shell chest to priceless gold and jewels, the Royal Regalia Museum is basically homage to the members of Brunei royalty and a surprisingly must-visit stopover.

  • Opening Hours: 08:30 – 16:30 Sunday – Thursday; 09:00 – 11:00 Friday
  • Location: Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan
  • Tel: + 673 222 8358
  • Price Range: Free of charge
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