Brunei Darussalam is a tiny country on the island of Borneo. When planning my trip in Malaysian Borneo, I decided that I’d actually really like to visit this tiny nation. Brunei is known for it’s oil wealth, so I realised that I wouldn’t be able to stay long on a backpackers budget. Here’s Brunei’s location, thanks to Google Maps…
Getting to Bandar Seri Begawan from Kota Kinabalu
There are a few different ways to get to Bandar Seri Begawan from Kota Kinabalu. I chose to get the bus. The price is 100RM and is ideal for travellers wanting to collect passport stamps as there are a number of border crossings. The border crossings are: Sabah – Sarawak – Brunei – Sarawak – Brunei which gives you 8 passport stamps in one journey. There’s one bus per day from Kota Kinabalu to BSB and it leaves at 8am every day.
Other travel options include flying or getting a boat. I met another backpacker in BSB who got the boat from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan then from Labuan to Bandar Seri Begawan.
Bandar Seri Begawan
For a capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan is pretty small, with around 400,000 people. One of the first things I noticed about the city was how clean and well-kept everything looked. Children’s playgrounds were in good condition, lawns were tidy and there was no litter on the streets.
The bus terminates close to the main local bus terminal. The manager of the bus company greeted us as we got off the bus and gave us information about the local area, including how we could get to our accommodation. We were staying in the Gadong area, opposite the Gadong Mall, so we got the number 01 bus. The journey took around 20 minutes due to rush hour traffic. We arrived at our accommodation, Easybox, to find that it was aptly named. The room was a box room.
We headed to the Pasar Malam (night market) which was less than 10 minutes walk from the Gadong Mall. It was possible to buy cheap food at the market. We then went to the Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, the largest mosque in Brunei. By this point, it was dark so the mosque was lit up and it looked incredible.
The following day, we had time in the morning to look around the city a little more. We went to the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque and to the Kianggeh market. We also viewed the water village from the other side of the river.
Fortunately, leaving Bandar Seri Begawan was much easier than entering. The bus collected us at the same drop-off point. The bus was running later than usual on account of it being Friday and the afternoon prayers taking place. The bus left around 2pm and we were in Miri by 5.30pm.
Like entering, it’s also possible to leave Brunei by plane, depending on your next destination.
Will I go back to Brunei?
Good question. I never say never but I’m not in any particular rush to go back. BSB is nice enough, and the people were friendly, but it’s a lot more expensive than neighbouring Malaysia. Maybe in a few years I’ll find myself back there, but there’s so many other places I want to visit first.
If I do return, I’d like to visit Ulu Tembourong National Park, the Royal Regalia Museum and The Brunei History Centre.