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Discovering Brunei Darussalam in Two Days

Discovering Brunei Darussalam in Two Days

Brunei is one of the closest countries to the Philippines, but for some reason, I didn’t plan on visiting it until this year. Perhaps it’s because of its proximity that I always take it for granted for farther destinations. Perhaps it’s the fact that it will always be there which triggered the thought of further delaying a much deserved visit from me. But all is good now as I have finally stepped foot in this tiny but uber rich state.

Getting Around
Getting to Brunei from the Philippines can be done by flying with local airlines. The trip lasts for under two hours from Manila. I took Cebu Pacific’s 8:45 PM flight and arrived at Bandar Seri Begawan close to 11 PM. As I arrived late, I hired a taxi to take me to my accommodation. I paid BND 20 (that’s around Php 800) for the roughly 15-minute trip downtown. It was truly expensive as I traveled alone. But I had no choice so I adjusted my expenses during the next few days.

Local buses also ply the city center and the surrounding area and towns. However, these are not round the clock so it’s always good to plan your itinerary around the local transportation’s schedule. Most buses park at the Bandar Seri Begawan terminal which is located close to the waterfront along Jalan McArthur. Jalan in English means street. Do take note that the buses are numbered with their corresponding destinations. Bus no. 36 ply to and from the airport while Bus no. 45 can bring you to the Istana Nurul Iman which is the Sultan’s royal residence. The city center, meanwhile, is compact and can be explored on foot.

Kindly refer to the table above for the bus numbering and route designations. Please be advised that the local bus transport is not 24 hours. I noticed that the route timing and schedule are posted near the driver’s seat. So better take a peek when you are in a local bus. The bus fare is only BND 1 for destinations within the city proper. The schedule usually runs between 6 AM to 6 PM. Taxis are also available but expect to pay higher prices. 

Sites to See
Since I was unable to visit any spots outside of the capital, I made sure I explored most of the city center sights. Bandar Seri Begawan’s downtown is modest, peaceful and quiet. No matter what time of the day, the city has a laid back appeal. So relaxing was the atmosphere that it is now suddenly included in my list of places to bring my almost senior parents for vacation. It’s a perfect destination for sleepy daydreaming and romantic, slow strolls. 🙂

Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque
Now this was what made me excited visiting the country (the other one was seeing the Royal Family, but that’s another story for later). A friend sent me a post card of this last year. I heard that it looked even more splendid at night. So I visited her twice in the day and one during dusk. And yep, this Masjid (temple) definitely did not disappoint.

Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is an Islamic mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei is considered as one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asia-Pacific. It is a major tourist attraction and a historical landmark. #Brunei #TheMermaidTravels

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To give you a brief background, it was named after Omar Ali Saifuddien III, the 28th Sultan of Brunei. The mosque dominates the city center skyline and I noticed that it was the tallest structure as well. I was informed that no other building shall be built taller than the mosque. The mosque is built in a man-made lagoon adorned with gold-colored domes, marble minarets and is surrounded by gardens and spacious yards.

The Royal Barge Replica
Adjacent to Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is where the 16th royal barge replica is located. Make sure to visit at night when both the mosque and barge are beautifully lit up. It is a great spot for photography enthusiasts.

Royal Regalia Museum
I spent about an hour admiring the artefacts under the care of this museum. It opened in 1992 and houses the Sultan’s and the Royal Families regalia. The latter may refer to royal emblems, insignia or clothing or ornaments used by royalty in special occasions such as coronation. Entrance here is free and the building is air-conditioned and well-maintained. I had a great time inside as I found the museum to be quite informative.

Brunei History Center
It was closed during my trip since it was a public holiday. This building is right on the road along the direction of the Regalia Museum.

The Clock Tower
This clock tower stands in the middle of a rotunda and is the starting point where distances are measured in Brunei. The structure is not that high so you might miss it if you are walking fast and is preoccupied. Just like what happened to me. 😀

Waterfront | Kampong Ayer | Water Village

Teng Yun Temple
Located in Jalan Kianggeh, this temple was built in 1960 and is also referred to as Hall of Flying Clouds. It is an eye-catching monument in the midst of higher and modern buildings. 

A couple of days is more than enough to explore downtown Bandar Seri Bagawan, Brunei’s capital. Don’t expect a nightlife! The days are long and afternoons are lazy. If you are looking for a bustling, active city, then this Muslim country is not for you. After slower days I was already yearning for the city life so I proceeded to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia due to its proximity. 

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