It was 2016 when I visited Brunei and it was my birthday. I considered this as my short birthday trip (paid by mom, thanks mom!). My mom has always wanted to visit her friend in Brunei so, my sister and I accompany her for 4 days short trip.
Brunei is a very small country and not so much to see as a tourist. We managed to tour around Brunei for only 4 days. Even though Brunei is our neighboring country, the flight tickets that we bought was quite expensive as it cost us RM320/pax from Kuala Lumpur to Brunei. RM1000 is enough for you to bring, covering the food and transportation costs for 3 people if you are going for 4 days.
We stayed 3 nights at a Jubilee Hotel in Bandar Seri Bagawan which cost less than RM300 per night (booked through agoda.com) and booked a local tour through TripAdvisor. I can’t remember which tour that we took but it was only for 2 days and cost about RM120/pax. For me, the price was okay because I was too lazy to study in detail on how to go around. Let me tell you my story in one post.
THE ARRIVAL & EMPIRE HOTEL AND COUNTRY CLUB VISIT (15/4/2016)
As we arrived, we were greeted by my mom’s friend and she drove us to her home for lunch. She then took us to one of the most expensive hotels in Brunei that can cost from RM1000 per night. It was the Empire Hotel and Country Club. The hotel located near the beach and was designed like a palace (for the interior). I was told that some of the interiors were made out of real gold (well, don’t be surprised as this is common in Brunei). No doubt that it’s the most expensive hotel in Brunei. It is own by the Sultan (the King) of Brunei.
Since I am not a very big fan of luxury hotels or so, I was not that excited about my visit to the hotel except for the sunset by the beach that I look forward to. We then went back to our hotel and had our dinner at a restaurant nearby.
THE WATER VILLAGE AND MOSQUE TOUR (16/4/2016)
We started our tour at 9.00 a.m after breakfast and the driver came to the hotel to pick us up with a bunch of other tourists. There were 9 of us in total and everyone was from different parts of the world such as Germany, Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia.
First, we stop at Masjid Jame ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah. Before we enter the mosque we were told that certain parts of the mosque were made out of gold from the previous Sultan of Brunei. The Islamic carving was so beautiful but we were not allowed to take photos otherwise, I will be able to show it to you. For non-muslim that wanted to visit mosques in Brunei, they would need to wear proper attire and no short skirts/pants were allowed.
Next, we went to a must-visit place in Brunei which was the water village. To access the water village, we need to ride a boat (it’s like a taxi for them) for 15 minutes. We were then greeted by the ‘Ketua kampung’, the head of the village and welcome us to the community house, where they bring foreigners and visitors for short briefing about the history of the water village.
We were welcomed with a few traditional desserts which were called kuih cincin, penyaram, jelurut and others. I was so surprised by the water village houses as most of them were fully air-conditioned, had their chandelier and own garage to put their boats. Super cool! Why not boat instead of a car? We were told that the villagers were not poor, they were just protecting their culture and their grandparents had lived there since ages ago. Even though they were offered a free home for the family by the government, they wish to stay in the village for as long as they live.
Anyway, we went back to town after the visit and had dinner at this quite expensive restaurant that serves us all the traditional Malay food (I’m sorry I have forgotten the name). As we are used to the Malay dishes because we are Malaysian, we think that it was quite expensive for the Asam Pedas, ulam-ulaman and chicken curry to costs us about RM200 plus for 3 pax. We can get it cheaper in Malaysia but maybe due to the currency differences, I think the price was slightly expensive.
LOCAL MARKETS AND MUSEUM TOUR (17/4/2016)
For today, our tour was around Brunei. We went from one mosque to another and walked around the local markets such as the Gadong night market. We also visited the Royal Regalia Museum which tells the story about the water village before the urban water village was built and the history of their Sultan. If you like nature sightseeing, the 1-day tour will be enough but if you want to see the whole Brunei, you can take the 2 days tour at TripAdvisor.
Tomorrow would be our flight back home and we will be flying off in the afternoon. Overall, I can say Brunei is an Islamic and peaceful country. There was not a lot of traffic as compared to Kuala Lumpur and they have reminders to salawat along their highways. From what I can see, they proudly use Arabic and Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) for their signboards.
It’s a short story for this one. Feel free to read my other posts! Thank you!