The Sultanate of Brunei is known for mosques, virgin rainforest and the world’s largest floating village. Here are our top 20 attractions in Brunei for tourists staying in Bandar Seri Begawan on a stopover to those exploring the best of the country.
The Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan is the most striking image of Brunei. An artificial lagoon-cum-reflecting pool surrounds the mosque which overlooks the Brunei River and Kampong Ayer. This is one of the most Instagramable attractions in Brunei.
Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
The second of Brunei’s grand mosques sits a few kilometres from the city centre. With the title as the country’s largest mosque, it’s a favourite stop on short itineraries to Bandar Seri Begawan. But because of its size, you might have difficulties finding the perfect photograph!
Always featured among the top attractions in Brunei, Kampong Ayer provides an experience found nowhere else on the planet. The historical floating village consists of more than 40 smaller settlements connected with a maze-like network of wooden boardwalks. A total of 13,000 residents live inside Kampong Ayer who have their own schools, mosques and shops. Speedboats cost approximately B$1 to ferry residents and tourists to the world’s largest stilted village.
Bandar Seri Begawan Waterfront
Hugging the banks of the Brunei River, The Waterfront is an ideal place for a pleasant evening stroll. Apart from views of the river and Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, this is our favourite place to get photographs of Kampong Ayer.
Brunei’s best beach is approximately 30 minutes by car from Bandar Seri Begawan. The clean stretch of coastline and adjacent parks has several benches for picnics, a jogging trail and a prime position to see Borneo’s famous sunset. Why not combine a day at the beach with a sunset picnic? But remember to respect local customs and leave the speedos and bikinis in the hotel.
Istana Nurul Iman
With almost 1,800 rooms, the Istana Nurul Iman is officially the world’s largest house. The Sultan’s palace lies a short drive from Bandar Seri Begawan’s city centre. Featuring as a favourite stop for day trippers, appreciating the vast size and splendour gives you an idea of the Sultan’s wealth. Tourists can’t go inside apart from during Hari Raya. Take photographs from the nearby river or park.
Taman Persiaran Damuan Park
We recommend this park as one of the top attractions in Brunei for every visitor to the country. Stretching along the Brunei River, the park is a haven for locals and families in the evening. The island in the centre houses monkeys including the endemic and endangered Proboscis Monkeys.
Gadong Night Market
Every evening at 4pm, Gadong Night Markets officially opens. Stalls sell local dishes including grilled fish and chicken. Because Bandar Seri Begawan gets so few tourists, the night market retains an authentic flair. If you want to soak up a bit of the Bruneian culture and taste regional cuisine, head to Gadong. Try nasi katok (steamed rice and Bruneian-style fried chicken with a spicy sauce).
Royal Regalia Museum
After seeing the palace, head to the Royal Regalia Museum and see his collection of gifts. From a giant chariot used in his silver jubilee to countless jewels and gold, the free museums offer a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of a Sultan.
Twelve Roofs House
The former High Commissioner’s house is one of Brunei’s oldest buildings. Dating back to 1906, the colonial structure has deep ties to imperial Britain. After gaining their independence in 1984, the Twelve Roofs House has since become a museum. Inside, you’ll learn about the friendly relationship between Britain and Brunei and the Queen and the Sultan. We suggest visiting to appreciate the style of architecture and learn more about the evolution of modern-day Brunei.
Billionth Barrel Monument
The monument in Seria near the border with Sarawak commemorates Brunei’s production of its billionth barrel of oil. Offshore oil drives Brunei’s economy making it one of the wealthiest nations in Southeast Asia. Stop by for half an hour when passing between Miri and Brunei’s capital. But unless you have a car, it might not be worth the effort to travel from Bandar Seri Begawan specifically to see this monument.
Tamu Kianggeh Market
Located near the Brunei River, Tamu Kianggeh sells fruit, veggies and fish. Other stalls have locally-made handicraft and souvenirs catering towards the stopover tourists in Bandar Seri Begawan. This is also our favourite place in the city to buy fresh tropical fruit.