11 Best Sights in Brunei

Brunei Museum

On the banks of the Brunei River, the national museum captures key features of Brunei's character: its artistic heritage, natural history, and traditional customs and industry. The Islamic Art Gallery features illuminated manuscripts and Korans, as well as ancient glass and pottery. The Traditional Culture Gallery explores Brunei's place in the region's history, with commentary on traditional rituals and examples of ceremonial objects. Other wings focus on Brunei's impressive biodiversity and the country's oil and gas industry. The museum has been undergoing extensive renovations since early 2014, so check before visiting.

Jalan Kota Batu, Bandar Seri Begawan, BB3910, Brunei
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free, Sat.–Thurs. 8–5, Fri. 8–11:30 and 2–5

Istana Nurul Iman

This royal "Palace of Light" is the largest in the world, with 1,788 rooms. It measures more than 2 million square feet, including 257 bathrooms, a 110-space garage, five swimming pools, and air-conditioned stables, and cost about US$400 million to build. The public is not allowed to glimpse its sumptuous interior except for three days during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holiday at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month. Otherwise, the palace is best taken in from the river, particularly when illuminated at night.

Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Commissioned by the current Sultan in 1992, this magnificent mosque features 29 minarets—Hassanal Bolkiah is Brunei's 29th Sultan—all clad in 24-carat gold and covered with delicately crafted rare stone and hand-painted tilework. Inside, the mosque is equally astounding, its enormity reinforced by soaring ceilings, vast prayer halls, and exquisite tilework.

Bandar Seri Begawan, BE 3119, Brunei
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Mon.–Wed. and Sat. 8–noon, Fri. 5–6 pm, Sun. 10:30–noon, 2–3 and 5–6

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Jerudong Park

This recreational complex includes the Royal Brunei Golf Course and the Jerudong Park Polo Club, where Brunei's elite meet and socialize. Polo is a sport close to the Sultan’s heart, and he owns a string of thoroughbred polo ponies. For a minimal fee, visitors can anjoy the club pool, open every day from 8:30 am until 10 pm (showers and changing areas are available, but bring your own towels and toiletries). Horseback riding on the beach is available from 3 pm to 6 pm on Sunday. At the club's restaurant, you can enjoy a superb lunch or dinner—and a prince or princess might just be dining at the next table. Nearby the newly revamped Jerudong Park Playground is a theme park built by the Sultan as a gift to Brunei's citizens. It's open evenings (except Monday and Wednesday), but is at it's busiest, and has the largest number of rides in operation, on Saturday.

Muara–Tutong Hwy., Kampong Jerudong, BG3122NBD, Brunei
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Playground $20, Playground Tues. 5–10 pm; Thurs. 4.30–10:30 pm, Fri. 3–10:30 pm, Sat. 10 am–11 pm, Sun. 10 am–10.30 pm

Kampong Ayer

Home to 30,000 people spread over more than two dozen settlements along the Brunei River, Kampong Ayer (Water Village) was dubbed "Venice of the East" by early European traders. People have lived in these water villages for more than 600 years, close to the sea where they make their living. The modern face of life in Kampong Ayer includes schools, clinics, and even fire stations, all floating on stilts just inches above the water's surface. Hire a water taxi to tour the area in late afternoon or early evening, or see it via the boardwalks west of the Yayasan Complex that connect the settlements.

Malay Technology Museum

Part of the Brunei Museum, the technologies venerated here are traditional skills used for generations in pre-petroleum Brunei. Galleries introduce life of the indigenous water-village people of Brunei and their activities, including smithing of gold and other metals, fishing, specialized farming techniques, and stilt architecture.

Simpang 482, Kampung Kota Batu, BB3910, Brunei
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free, Sun.–Thu. 9–5, Fri. 9–11.30 and 2.30–5, Sat. 1–5

Mausoleum of Sultan Bolkiah V

Dubbed "The Singing Admiral" for his seafaring prowess, Sultan Bolkiah V reigned from the 1480s to 1520s, a golden age, when Brunei's realm stretched across much of Borneo and overseas to Manila in the Philippines. Carvings on this mausoleum—echoed on the National Museum façade—show Chinese, Javanese, Arab, and Hindu influences, and the tomb overlooks the river, flowing toward the seas Bolkiah V loved to explore.

Kota Batu, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Royal Regalia Museum

This exquisite domed building houses the Brunei crown jewels and other symbols of office used during coronation ceremonies, including the royal chariot. Galleries also display precious gold and silver armory, as well as gifts received by the royal family. The collection was assembled to mark the 25th anniversary of the current Sultan’s accession to the throne and opened in 1992.

Jalan Sultan, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free, Sat.–Thurs. 8–5, Fri. 8–11:30 am and 2–5

Sultan Omar Ali Saidfuddien Mosque

Opened in 1958, this mosque in the heart of the city on the Kedayan River was commissioned and named for Brunei's 28th Sultan, father of the current ruler. The gleaming white building is replete with the finest Italian marble, gold mosaics, and stained glass, facing an artificial lagoon featuring a replica of a 16th-century mahligai (royal barge). The mosque's 144-foot minaret is the tallest structure in Bandar Seri Begawan; ask permission to ride the elevator—or climb the spiral stairs, if you prefer—to its top to enjoy the panoramic view.

Jalan McArthur, Bandar Seri Begawan, BS8711, Brunei
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free, Sat.–Wed. 8–noon and 1–3:30, Fri. 4:30–5 pm; grounds open daily

Tasek Recreational Park

Also known as Taman Peranginan Tasek, this lush forest reserve is just a 15-minute walk from the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan. The park, a favorite with local joggers, has picnic areas, walking trails, and an inviting waterfall that's most impressive during rainy season, roughly September through January. The potbellied, flabby-nosed proboscis monkey, a species found only on the island of Borneo, may be spotted in trees during early morning and late afternoons.

Jalan Tasek Lama, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free

Ulu Temburong National Park

Brunei’s first national park, inaugurated in 1988, occupies almost 40% of Temburong province. This region has seen little logging or other human exploitation, and it is considered the best-preserved lowland tropical rain forest on Borneo. No orangutan live here, but there are large numbers of Borneo gibbon, who can be heard calling through the dense foliage, especially in the mornings. The park has no roads; access is by powered longboat, with several operators offering trips from the capital across Brunei Bay. The boat journey takes visitors to the welcome center, and from there you can choose from a number of trails and boardwalks through the thick forest. A canopy walkway rises 200 feet from ground level into the tree tops, where the majority of the jungle creatures and birds live. Enjoy the blooms of rare tiger orchids and other epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants without harming the host) that thrive high above the jungle floor.

Jalan Batang Duri, Batang Duri, Brunei
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free