Located on the island of Borneo, Brunei is one of the smallest nations in ASEAN covering 5,765 square kilometers. It is an oil rich sultanate that obtained independence in 1984. The country is a sovereign, independent, democratic Islamic Monarchy. It offers tourists grand mosques, river cruises, and virgin rainforests that cover 70% of the country.
The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is dominated by the picturesque Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. The Istana Nurul Iman is the most impressive site in Brunei for it is the world’s largest residential palace. The sculptures nearby celebrate ASEAN unity.
The Kampong Ayer, the capital’s largest water village, described as the “Venice of the East”, is in existence for more than a thousand years. It is the world’s largest village on stilts with some 13,162 (Source: Preliminary Report of the Population and Housing Census 2011 Brunei Darussalam, Department of Economic Planning and Development) people living in generally comfortable circumstances across a collection of 39 villages. The Kampong Ayer still mesmerizes Brunei’s foreign visitors and the settlement has become of the country’s major tourist attractions. The Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery was established to provide tourists a glimpse of Kampong Ayer’s celebrated past. The Gallery also has observation tower offering a panoramic view of the water village and the capital city.
Mosque at Dusk
The Royal Regalia Building is home to a collection of ceremonial jewels. Brunei History Centre has a display on the history of the Sultans. The Royal Ceremonial Hall, Lapau is where traditional royal ceremonies are normally held. Tasek Lama Recreational Park has natural waterfalls, gardens and a lake. The market, Tamu, located on the banks of the Kianggeh River, is open daily and offers variety of local produce.
Easy access to the rainforest and waterfalls is possible at Wasai Kandal. Jerudong Theme park is an adventure theme park open to the public. The nearby polo complex is one of the world’s largest. The Arts and Handicraft Centre in Kota Batu has weaving and silverware displays. The Brunei Museum is located on the Brunei River and has both cultural and natural history displays. The Malay Technology Museum provides an insight into the past lifestyles of the people. The Jame ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque in the Gadong area is Brunei’s largest mosque. The Bukit Shahbandar Forestry Park provides over 70 forests, ponds, trails and observation towers. Meragang, Serasa and Muara Beaches are popular recreational areas.
Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park in Tutong Disrict is a wildlife sanctuary, a conservation spot for flora and fauna, a recreational center, and a venue for research and education. The park is listed in the ASEAN Heritage Parks and Reserves. The centerpiece is a freshwater lake, which supports a variety of flora and fauna and in the middle of the lake is an island that can be accessed by an elevated wooden walkway. The Park is a popular spot for nature lovers.
The Belait District, particularly Seria, is the heart of the oil and gas industry in Brunei. The Oil and Gas Discovery Centre aims to create awareness of the petroleum industry and stimulate interest in science and technology. The Billionth Barrel Monument is a monument built to commemorate the one billionth barrel of cruide oil that was pumped from the Seria Field in 1991.
Temburong District contains dense forests and patches of land utilized for hill rice. The isolated Rainforest Centre at Kuala Belalong is a focus for learning about the lowland tropical forests. Ulu Temburong National Park, the nation’s first, provides access to the rainforest and has recreational and accommodation facilities.