A perfect blend of old and new, the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque combines the Mughal and Italian architectural styles and shows off exactly what Brunei lavishness is all about, with marble, chandeliers and luxurious carpets imported from around the world. It is also the tallest structure in BSB, the sultan forbidding any building to exceed its height. It is a beautiful building and the centre of cultural life in the city.
This amazing agglomeration of stilt villages in the middle of the Brunei river dates back at least one thousand years and is home to as many as 30,000 residents. A city unto itself, Kampong Ayerm once dubbed the "Venice of the East," has its own schools, mosques and infrastructure, and a visit here is a truly unique experience.
Istana Nurul Iman is the official residence of the sultan of Brunei, and is reportedly the largest residential palace in the world, over four times the size of the Versailles Palace, with some truly staggering numbers: 1,788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, a banquet hall for 5,000 guests, a mosque for1,500 people, a 110-car garage, a stable for 200 ponies, 5 swimming pools, 564 chandeliers, 51,000 light bulbs, 44 stairwells, and 18 elevators. It is best viewed from a water taxi, as it cannot be entered except during a special yearly festival.
Located about 3 km from the city centre, and built in honour of the current sultan of Brunei, this mosque, the largest in the country, consistently astonishes visitors with its luxurious design and decor. The 29 golden domes arethe standout features, signifying this sultan as the 29th ruler of his dynasty.
This fantastic recreational complex houses a golf course, a polo club, and many other types of entertainment. Visitors can swim in the swimming pool or go horseback riding, enjoy some fine dining, or spend the evening at the Jerudong Park Playground seeking thrills on the many rides of on the go-kart track.
This museum is dedicated to the treasure and important symbols of the royal family, and is appropriately luxurious. The displays showcase everything from gold-plated swords and adorned thrones to numerous gifts received from visiting heads of state to the crown jewels and ceremonial chariot used in official ceremonies.
For a genuine Brunei dining experience, there is no better pace than Tamu Selera. It is a hawker centre where hundreds of carts and stalls set up in a breezy park under tents to sell their products. They offer all sorts of local dishes and Indonesian and Malaysian specialties at very affordable prices. The atmosphere and value for money can't be beat.
Though it is located in Gadong, some distance from central BSB, is it widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in the area, and is well worth the trip. The food is rich in flavour and surprisingly varied, with local options heavy in seasoning, featuring thick peanut sauce and plenty of spice.
Ambuyat is a thick porridge-based food, Brunei's national dish, and Aminah Arif is one of the best places to get it. There are several locations throughout the city as it is a favourite among locals. The servings are very generous, so make sure you have a healthy appetite before making your way there.
This large international chain of cafes has several locations in Bandar Seri Begawan, this one being the most central. It carries the brand's simple but elegant ambiance and serves up delicious coffee, tea and snacks. You can also purchase some their own roasts to take home with you.
This popular serves wonderful coffee drinks made from home-grown beans, as well as great snacks, including waffles, pasta, sandwiches and a rich array of desserts. Conveniently located right in downtown BSB, opposite the Royal Wharf on Jalan MacArthur, it is frequented by locals and visitors alike.
Bello Cafe prides itself on its a cozy, loungy vibe and simple yet delicious cafe food and drinks. Their burgers and fries are well known, but their desserts are the standout feature. The apple pie or cranberry pie with vanilla ice cream are great choices, or if you're feeling a bit more adventurous, try the durian cake.
This 8-storey structure contains a sleek shopping centre, a large food court, a supermarket and plenty of stores ranging from clothing and cosmetics to household items and accessories, as well as the most popular cineplex in the country. The complex also houses a luxury hotel, meaning it really does have everything travelers need.
Hua Ho is one of Brunei's best department stores, with nine locations now spread throughout the country. The numerous stores contain large supermarkets and several floors of clothes, accessories, household items, toys, and much more. It may not be the most luxurious, but it is certainly one of the most convenient and complete shopping options in BSB.
The Arts & Handicrafts Training Centre offers all kinds of decorative items in different types of wood and metal, ranging from hand woven-cloths to swords and ornamental cannons (modeled after Brunei's famous ceremonial cannons). The items sold are created by the centre's students and trainees.
If you're looking for English-language books in BSB, there is no better place than Paul & Elizabeth Book Services. They carry the city's best selection of paperback options and coffee table books on Brunei, as well as travel guides and maps of the whole country. The store also houses an internet cafe.
Located about 8 km north of the city, Brunei International Airport (BWN) is the primary airport in the country and the hub of Royal Brunei Airlines, serving mainly flights to and from major cities in the Southeast Asia and Pacific regions. The easiest way to get to the city from the airport is by taxi, which takes about 20 minutes. Some of the larger hotels offer complimentary shuttle services. Alternatively, upon arrival travelers can walk to the end of the parking area (turning right after exiting the terminal) and take a Purple bus to the city (lines 23, 36 and 38).
Public buses are the cheapest way to get around BSB, but they can be chaotic and difficult to use. They do not run on regular intervals and service ends very early, usually at about 6pm. They are usually medium-sized, clean and comfortable purple vans. All services begin and end at the terminal on Jalan Cator, can be hailed just about anywhere, and stopped anywhere to get off. Routes and destinations can be viewed on a board on the front window of the bus. Another good option are water taxis, which can be hailed at almost any dock and are an inexpensive and fun way to get around.
Taxis in BSB are very difficult to find as there are so few of them. You can try hailing one on the street, but your best bet is to inquire at hotels or have them call a driver for you. Some taxis are metered, but most drivers will try to agree on a fare directly with the passengers. Note that fares increase 50% after 10pm. Below are two numbers you can try calling for service.
Please note that although some liberties are granted to non-Muslims in Brunei, strict cultural and legal norms are in place and must be respected. A Shariacriminal code has been enacted, which allows corporal punishment and even death for certain offences. Brunei is a dry country, though non-Muslims are permitted to import some alcohol, and food should not be consumed in public during the fasting hours of Ramadan. Some offences, like adultery, possession of pornography, homosexual acts and public criticism of the Royal Family are severely punished. For safety's sake, please make sure you respect and abide by the laws and culture of the country when visiting.