While it may not be the most popular travel destination in South-East Asia, it was incredibly difficult to narrow it down to just 5 of the best things to do in Brunei.
Despite being one of the smallest countries, this Sultunate is home to a rich culture, colourful rainforests, exotic wildlife and the largest oil fields in South-East Asia.
Known as 'Darussalam', meaning 'abode of peace', Brunei is known for its resplendent Islamic architecture and rich history, leaving it full of attractions and activities.
We've curated a list of just 5 of the most amazing things to do while in Brunei, all will render you bewildered at the country's raw beauty and under-appreciated charm.
5. Brunei's 7-star hotel: The Empire Hotel
Real gold is used in the architecture of this hotel and the biggest suite is as large as a football field and comes with its own personal pool. This luxury hotel took 6 years to build and the lobby is a 6-storey affair.
Built by the beach, you will find numerous restaurants and even a theatre on the property. There is also a country club with a world class golf course designed by Jack Nichklaus.
Learn more about the Empire Hotel.
4. Go on a thrilling ride: Jerudong park
Back in 1994, the Sultan of Brunei funded this amusement park for the enjoyment of his people and tourists alike. The park was free for admission and Michael Jackson was hired to perform for free in 1996 in conjunction with the Sultan's birthday.
Today, it is still free for all to visit but you have to pay for rides, which works well for those who aren't fond of rides but would like to visit the biggest amusement park in South East Asia. It is largely an attraction for children, which makes it a perfect addition to the itinerary of those travelling with small kids.
3. Learn about Royal Regalia
Another free museum attraction awaits in the township of Brunei in the form of a museum. Here you will be able to learn more about the Sultan's life of opulence and extravagance, as well as read up on the history of this little-known country and its relationship with Britain.
2. Try the local food: Nasi Katok
Nasi Katok is a local dish that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world. It is basically a serving of rice, coupled with a sweet and spicy condiment called sambal. There's the option of adding a fried chicken wing to the dish but it's quite delicious on its own.
The origins of the dish comes from an urban legend which tells the tale of hungry customers knocking on the doors of food establishments late at night (vendors used to operate out of their houses), prompting food owners to whip up a simple dish to satiate their customers.
The trend caught on and now you can find nasi katok everywhere. There is also their national dish: ambuyat, a sticky confection made from sago palm trees. It's consumed with a sour sauce that might be a tad spicy to some. Roti canai, while largely known as an Indian dish, has become localised in Brunei and toasted with butter.
Another interesting dish would be the kelupis, a triangular glob of glutinous rice sometimes served with anchovies.
1. World's largest floating village: Kampung Ayer
A beautiful community of multi-colored huts on stilts. Called the "Venice of the East", you don't have to hire a private tour beforehand because you will be able to find boatmen waiting on the river banks to take you around. Housing over 13,000 residents in over 40 villages and schools, Kampung Ayer was established 500 years ago.
You will be able to find handcrafted souvenirs, ranging from weaved baskets, metal carvings and wood works. It is an experience not to be missed by those visiting this rich land steeped in culture. Admission is free and you receive an "I love Brunei" pin for visiting.
How To Get To Brunei?
There are daily direct flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Brunei on Royal Brunei Airlines. While flying direct to Brunei is often expensive, you can book a free stopover, while connecting to one of a handful of other countries they fly too such as Tokyo or Singapore.
Royal Brunei Airlines offers affordable economy and business class fares, in fairy modern planes. You can also fly on other airlines to cities in the ASEAN region and use budget carriers such as Air Asia, Jetstar and Malindo Air to fly to Brunei.
Brunei is a rather strict country that follows Sharia law. Be sure to research any potential issues if you come from the LGBT community.
A passionate traveller, mother and registered nurse. She’s been to over 140 countries prior to settling down in Melbourne. When she’s not writing for Best Five or working, she can be seen swimming, playing squash and playing the guitar.