• Claire

A Day Trip To Brunei! | One of the Smallest and Richest Countries in the World!

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

Brunei is a small country situated on the island of Borneo in South East Asia. This tiny sovereign state has one of the world's highest standards of living due to its bountiful oil and gas reserves. We spent less than 12 hours in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan exploring what this rich little country has to offer.

When planning my trip to Borneo I realised I had a few extra days to play with in between arriving from China and beginning the Mt Kinabalu trek. I had read about Brunei in my Lonely Planet guide and was intrigued about this small country and wanted to visit!

As it would take a day each way to reach Brunei by boat from Kota Kinabalu I decided it would be worth it to pay a little bit extra and fly to/from Brunei directly in a day. Flights were only $120 each return and I thought that would be worth it to tick another country off my bucket list!

The view taking off from Kota Kinabalu

So my friend and I left Kota Kinabalu at 8:50am on a Royal Brunei Airlines flight bound for Brunei's capital Bandar Seri Begawan. The flight was the emptiest plane I've ever been on and was so short that the seatbelt sign didn't even get turned off - it felt like as soon as the plane took off we were landing again.

On arrival in Brunei we had to pay $20 BND ($19.30 AUD) each for a visa. Back home we had obtained $50BND each from a currency converter - so that was our budget each for the day!

We caught a public bus out of the airport and into the city for $1 each. The first thing that I noticed was that unlike every other South East Asian city I had been to, Brunei Darussalam was super quiet and chilled out. We arrived in the city centre and headed towards the harbour to Kampong Ayer.

Kampong Ayer is a water village in Brunei's capital. Over 10% of Brunei's population lives in stilted houses over the water. We paid a local guy $30BND to give us a tour in his boat around the water villages. There were schools, restaurants and even petrol stations built on the water here. Unfortunately though, there was heaps of rubbish in the water as the locals seem to throw their rubbish out of their houses and straight into the water.

Kampong Ayer - Bandar Seri Begawan

Kampong Ayer - Bandar Seri Begawan

We grabbed lunch at a local cafe called 'Piccolo Cafe' which, out of all places, served Vegemite sandwiches!

When then visited the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque which was really beautiful and impressive but we weren't able to go inside as we arrived after visiting hours had ended.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque - Brunei

After visiting the mosque we decided to head back to the airport for a couple of reasons (1) we were getting a LOT of attention even though we were both wearing clothes that covered our shoulders and legs - locals calling out to us and staring - so much so that we felt uncomfortable, (2) it was boiling hot and about to storm and (3) we had run out of money - Brunei is expensive!

Overall, I was really glad I took the opportunity to visit Brunei but I would probably struggle to fill more than a day in the capital city!