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Brunei Darussalam is regarded as one of the wealthiest countries in the world due to its overflowing oil reserves. But what else does this sultanate have to offer travelers? Well, unlike any other Southeast Asian country Brunie does not have tons of tourist attractions. What it does have is an abundance of local life and culture from the tropics, such as water villages, Islamic mosques, and lush rainforest. So for certain people like naturalists and mosque explorer, it might be something of a paradise.
On that note here’s a list of top places you must consider while planning your itinerary.
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is the major landmark in Brunei. It has 28 domes which symbolize the 28th Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III. The dome of the mosque is made of pure gold, which is in stark contrast to the water villages of Kampong Ayer which surround the mosque.
Non-Muslims are allowed to enter the mosque at specific posted times. Knees and shoulders must be covered so robes are conveniently provided for tourists to borrow.
James Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is the largest mosque in Brunei and it has 29 golden domes which showcase a modern Islamic architecture. It is also locally known as the Kiarong Mosque and was built to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Sultan’s reign.
Istana Nurul Iman is the official the residence of the sultan of Brunei and the largest residential palace in the world. It is located a few kilometers outside Bandar Seri Begawan, on the banks of the Brunei River. If you would like to admire the palace from the inside, you can only do so three days of the year, after Ramadan. But if you want to catch a glimpse of it at any other time of the year, then check it out from Taman Persiaran Damuan.
Royal Regalia Museum features a collection of artifacts gifted to members of the royal family ranging from a huge gilded cart and an abalone-shell chest to priceless gold and jewels, the Royal Regalia Museum is basically homage to the members of Brunei royalty and a surprisingly must-visit stopover.
Photo: Sarah Anderson
Kampong Ayer (Water Village) is considered as the largest water village in the world and the locals even refer it as the ‘Venice of the East’ – a prehistoric village built on stilts! It’s spread out on either side of the Sungai Brunei and the rickety shacks are connected to one another by a series of wooden planks. It gives a fascinating insight into locals live in the stilted houses above the water. You can take a speedboat ride around the villages and even pay a visit to go inside one of the local’s houses.
The Billionth Barrel Monument was built in 1991 to commemorate the production of the billionth barrel of oil produced in the onshore oil field in Seria. In the same place where the monument is located, you can also see the nodding donkeys, the instruments that are used to pump oil.
Oil and Gas Discovery Center is an educational attraction that showcases the captivating world of science and engineering as it applies to the petroleum industry – to make people and visitors to understand and appreciate the oil and gas industry which has been the strong supporter of Brunei Darussalam’s economy.
Agro-Technology Park is a high-tech business-oriented park. This is a new innovation in the field of agro-economy which further supports the Brunei Halal Brand and serves as a catalyst for Agriculture and Agrifood innovations.
If you are a nature lover then this a place to go. The entry to the Ulu Temburong National Park is only by longboat through deep rivers, as no roads lead to the park. The area encompasses unspoiled forest with a canopy viewing walkway. This walkway is built with steel towers supporting the cable way, rises to a height of 50 meters (160 ft) above the forest floor overlooking the highest tree canopy and provides vistas of the forests. There are overnight treks available where you can enjoy the sounds of nature while camping out with a tour group. If you wish you can stay for several days which will give you a better understanding of jungle life, including canopy walkways and river rafting.
Happy travels everyone!