How to spend the day in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Like many countries in South East Asia, Brunei is one of those places that seems to have been developing rather quickly – particularly in the past five years or so. And it seems that every time I visit my family who still lives there, there are brand new and exciting things to do. But perhaps due to the country’s small population and unfortunate press, many of these things rarely seem to be shared outside of being ‘Bruneian inside knowledge’. So I thought I’d write a sort of update to my post Hidden Gems in Brunei (of which I’d definitely suggest reading as a start before continuing with this!)
As a celebration of the current Sultan’s Silver Jubilee, central Bandar Seri Begawan has been developed to home a rather lovely new park, aptly titled ‘Jubilee Park’. The park spans a large amount of previously derelict space along the waterfront, a mere stone’s throw from the Yayasan Complex, and neighbours the stunning Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque. The park is a lovely addition to Brunei’s capital and is a great place for a family day out! Most days there are bicycles, golf carts or vehicles of sorts to rent so it’s also a great way to get moving! The park has been really well thought out as a whole and has been paved in a way that is great for running! However, as the park is quite new, there isn’t much shade so I’d suggest visiting in the morning or after 4 pm to avoid the heat of the day!
Aside from the park, if you’re interested in any of Brunei’s museums (of which there are a few), most are within Bandar. Favourites include The Royal Regalia Museum and for a grounding in the country, The Brunei Museum. But the museums aren’t really the highlight so are probably something worth saving for a rainy day!
Another key thing to do in Bandar Seri Begawan is to visit the famed Kampung Ayer, which is the famous water village. You can either book a tour in advance or wander down to the waterfront and negotiate with one of the many boat drivers. These boat trips typically also include a waterside visit to the palace (although obviously, you won’t get too close for security reasons), potentially some Borneo wildlife (more than often you’ll see Proboscis monkeys) and a visit to a home in the village. As the village is very much still residential, I wouldn’t suggest walking around it on your own accord – definitely, go as part of an arranged visit.
If you fancy something local to eat, I’d suggest trying Raja’s Catering (for Indian style food) or if you’re out in the evening, grab some food from one of the night market stalls that tend to pop up!
Less than 20-minutes from central Bandar Seri Begawan is the Gadong Night Market, which is probably the most famous night market Brunei has to offer! In the morning, the market offers an array of fresh fruit and meats, but by evening, it’s the perfect place to grab some local food for dinner! From Satay to an assortment of Kueh, wander around the market and take it all in! This is definitely not like the night markets you may have seen in other parts of Asia, as it’s one of the many places that Bruneians buy food from! If you’re in Brunei during Ramadan, the market is heaving, as many families buy food to eat at home when they break fast. Just remember that it can be disrespectful to eat in public during Ramadan, so keep that in mind.
Have you been to Brunei? Have you seen any of the places I’ve listed on either my Hidden Gems guide or this one?