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The small but spectacularly rich Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam owes its wealth to the oil and gas deposits it holds in its territory, and this abundance has helped it develop into a fascinating mixture of modern luxury and centuries-old tradition. Bandar Seri Begawan perfectly captures the blend of these elements, as well as the irresistible cultural diversity, which encompasses a Malay Muslim majority, a significant Chinese minority, numerous indigenous groups and a huge array of migrant workers, mainly from Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The country has been ruled for over 600 years by a royal family that can trace its ancestry back to the prophet Muhammad, and as such, it is a devoutly Muslim country. The combination of the country's intense faith and spectacular monetary wealth has resulted in an abundance of luxurious and truly breathtaking Mosques, which together with the imposing royal palace (the largest in the world), attract travelers from around their world with their over-the-top lavishness and beauty.
Bandar Seri Begawan's numerous spectacular mosques and palaces constitute some of the city's major draws. They match elegant simplicity with over-the-top luxury that makes them a sight to behold. But BSB offers more than just lavish buildings to be admired. The city boasts some great museums and attractions, and the floating city of Kampong Ayer is well worth a visit.
Food in Brunei is heavily influence by the country's large neighbours Indonesia and Malaysia, and often features rice, noodles, fish and lots of spice. Perhaps the most recognised dish is ambuyat, a thick porridge-based dish, very popular throughout the whole country. But the country's dining scene is also very influenced by Asian cuisine, and there is an abundance of Chinese, Korean and Southeast Asian restaurants throughout Bandar Seri Begawan, as well as a wealth of stalls and street food not to be missed.
BSB has no shortage of cosy and elegant Western style coffee houses. They are a great place to relax during a long day of sightseeing to enjoy a hot beverage and some of the city's most delicious snack foods. Many places are also known for their homemade desserts, which include some exotic alternatives, such as the delectable durian cake.
The cultural environment in Brunei is highly conservative. Religious law forbids the sale or consumption of alcohol throughout the country, so there are no bars or nightclubs. Instead evening social activities are centred on shopping or dining out in one of the city’s many restaurants or cafés.
Shopping is a major pastime in Brunei. Being a dry country, much of the entertainment enjoyed by the population revolves around shopping everywhere from small boutiques to large shopping centres and enjoying an evening out with food and good company while browsing numerous stores. Some sleek and modern malls offer up-market brands, while smaller boutiques and markets house some rare gems and unique items just waiting to be taken home as unforgettable souvenirs.
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