Where to stay
- Empire Hotel and Country Club, Jerudong BG3122, Negara; +673 241 8888; www.theempirehotel.com. You’ll feel like royalty in this luxurious five-star hotel, which is Brunei’s only beach retreat. It also boasts seven onsite restaurants and a shopping arcade.
- Kiulap Plaza Hotel, Kiulap Commercial Area; +673 223 2251; www.kiulap-plaza-hotel.com. A basic but pleasant hotel strategically located between Bandar Seri Begawan and Gadong.
- Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam, Jalan Tasek 2203; +673 224 4272; www.radisson.com/bandar-seri-begawan-hotel-bn-bs8674/brnrdbd. A reputable business hotel with clean, comfortable and spacious rooms.
- Star Lodge, Lot 27192, Jalan Pulau Kubu, Kg Jerudong; +673 261 1618, starlodgebrunei.com. A value-for-money, four-star hotel that provides a free shuttle service to the city center.
Where to eat
- Aminah Arif Restaurant, Jerudong; +673 816 4155; www.aminaharif.com.bn. Try the restaurant’s signature dish, ambuyat – a thick, starchy porridge made from tapioca that is eaten with a host of savory side dishes. The proper way to eat ambuyat is to wind it around the prongs of a pair of chandas (bamboo fork), then dip it into the accompanying chili sauce.
- Dane’s Café, Unit 102, Bangunan Batu Bersurat; +673 242 8914. This non-Halal restaurant serves up all sorts of porcine delicacies, such as its popular double pork burger with crispy bacon strips.
- High Frequency Café, 1/F Unit 5, Blk B Semporna Complex; +673 242 8262; www.highfrequencycafe.com. A chic café serving up artisanal coffee and hearty brunch items like eggs benedict, and steak and eggs. We also love the quirky interiors – think retro posters and adorably mismatched chairs.
- Pasar Gadong, Jalan Gadong. A famous night market where you can try local eats like barbecued rabbit meat, kelupis (traditional glutinous rice rolls wrapped in leaves), chicken and beef skewers slathered in zingy sauces, and more.
- Restoran Harian, Jalan Gadong. This affordably-priced Singaporean/Malaysian restaurant dishes out quick and tasty nasi ayam (chicken rice) and laksa (spicy noodle soup).
- Saffron Café, 8 & 9 G/F Blk B Seri Kiulap Complex; +673 223 5888. Try the café’s saffron-infused specialties, such as the lamb shank and chicken, lamb and beef kebabs.
- Tamu Kianggeh, Jalan Sungei Kianggeh. The various food stalls at this vibrant, open-air market serve up affordable local delights like nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk) and kueh (glutinous rice snacks).
- Tamu Selera Night Market, Jln Tasek Lama corner Jln Stoney. This market offers Malaysian and Indonesian dishes at pocket-friendly prices, such as ayam penyet and satay.
- Thien Thien Restaurant, Seri Complex. Head here for authentic chicken rice that’s a favorite with locals.
- Yusbi Restaurant, Jalan Sultan. Order the mouthwatering Yusbi chicken (buttermilk chicken) with rice.
What to do
- Damuan Recreational Park, Jalan Tutong, alongside Jln Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha. This 1km-long park is home to ASEAN Square, an open-air museum displaying the work of a sculptor from each of the original six ASEAN member countries.
- Glimpse the proboscis monkey. Seek out the weird, wonderful and incredibly elusive proboscis monkey, which is endemic to Borneo. Many tour operators in the city offer river safari cruises, during which you might glimpse the monkeys in the mangroves of the Sungai Brunei (Brunei River). Alternatively, hire a local boatman at any jetty, who will take you to the swamps for around BN$20.
- Jame’asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Highway, Kampung Kiarong. This mosque was built in the 1990s to commemorate the 25th year of current sultan’s rule. It’s known locally as the Kiarong Mosque.
Kampong Ayer. Dubbed the “Venice of the East”, this cluster of 42 stilt villages is home to over 30,000 people. You’ll have to rent a water taxi to get to the village.
- National Museum, Jalan Kota Batu; +673 224 4545. Houses an interesting collection of Islamic art, including miniature Korans no larger than a matchbox.
- Royal Regalia Museum, Jalan Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin; +673 224 4545. Marvel slack-jawed at an array of priceless antiques, fancy regalia and lavish gifts belonging to Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei.
- Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Jalan McArthur. With its golden dome and marble minarets, the mosque is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive landmarks in Brunei. If you’re a non-Muslim visitor, you may enter the mosque during non-prayer times; do note, however, that you won’t be allowed to wander freely. Do make sure to see the mosque’s gilded interiors, though, which are a sight to behold.
- Tasek Lama Recreational Park, Jalan Tasek Lama. This idyllic oasis is home to several walking and jogging paths, a beautiful natural waterfall and an observation tower, which offers unobstructed views of the capital.
- Ulu Temburong National Park, Temburong. Only accessible via longboats, this remote unspoiled rainforest is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including the Rhinoceros Hornbill and Bornean Gibbon. We’d recommend visiting the park for an early-morning hike – the views across the jungle are dramatic and ethereal.
- Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Jln Kumbang Pasang; +673 223 4085. The scorching Brunei sun might be too hot to handle for some, so take shelter in the alluring architectural expanse of Yayasan Complex. It houses a variety of stalls that sell unique trinkets, traditional apparel, and even the latest electronics at surprisingly competitive prices.