Brunei – This is where the exotic story of Borneo Begins…
Brunei Darussalam is a land with architectural Islamic grandeur and lush virgin rainforest and is situated just 443km north of the equator. Modern Brunei is 5,765 sq km in land area and is wedged between the Malaysian Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak.
In the sixth-century, Chinese explorers and traders knew Brunei as “Puni” or “Poli” and by 1405; Islam had taken deep root in Brunei with the Monarch embracing Islam and ruled as Sultan Muhammad. By the 15th and 16th century, Brunei’s sovereignty was at its peak and it controlled the whole of Borneo and parts of the Philippines. The empire of Brunei had boundless amount of wealth, derived from International commerce and this created a strong impression on early European explorers like Antonio Pigafetta. But its territories were whittled away piece by piece; first by the Europeans then by the Sulu Kings.
With Brunei’s small size, this means that its nature, culture, heritage and contemporary Asian attractions are all within easy reach. With some 70% of its land area covered in luxuriant and pristine tropical rainforests rich in exotic flora and fauna, Brunei is a paradise for nature lovers and for ecotourism in general. Adding to Brunei’s unique appeal is its rich Malay culture, blended with all the respectful traditions of Islam, and its legendary 600-year royal heritage which continues until today.
Brunei is also a haven for the inquisitive as Brunei reveals the crystal-clear waters of South China Sea which towers the waterfalls in Primary rainforests, endangered species and the indigenous groups; the islands native people and their traditional way of living. Here, rainfall and humidity are high with temperatures averaging 28 degrees Celsius throughout the year, yet Brunei rests outside the tropical typhoon and earthquake belts.
Brunei is comprised of 4 districts – Temburong, Tutong, Belait and Brunei-Muara. The nation’s riverfront capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is in the Brunei-Muara district. More than two-thirds of Brunei’s land area is covered by pristine rainforest, which is home to many varieties of flora and fauna that can only be found on the island of Borneo. Brunei is a haven for eco-tourism as over half of Brunei is unspoiled rainforest and a large proportion of which is located in the Temburong District.
Bruneians are predominantly Malay, though significant Chinese and indigenous populations add to the cultural mix. Bahasa Melayu is the official language, although English is widely spoken and understood.
Brunei – Destination Facts
Time: GMT + 8
Climate: Equatorial, with temperatures ranging from 20 to 35 degree Celsius throughout the year
Population: Approximately 372,360 (2005 est. – source; Brunei Tourism)
Airport: The Brunei International Airport is located approximately 11km (15 minutes drive) from the heart of Brunei’s Capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.
Customs: No duty is charged to visitors with 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 227 grams of tobacco, two bottles of liquor or 12 cans of beer (importation of which is permissible by non-Muslims only and 0.33 litres of perfume.
Visa:German, Malaysia, Singapore, British Nationals with the right of the abode in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Korea, Oman, United Arab Emirates nationals and nationals holding passports from the European Union Countries are exempted from the requirement to obtain a visa for visits not exceeding 30 days.
For nationals of Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Maldives, Norway, The Philippines, Thailand and The Principality of Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Peru; visas are waived for 14 days visits.
American passport holders can enter Brunei for three months without visa.
Nationals of Australia are issued visas on arrival at Brunei International airport for visits not exceeding 14 days.
All other nationals entering Brunei Darussalam must have visa obtainable from any Brunei Darussalam diplomatic missions abroad. These visas are normally issued for a two week stay but can be extended in Brunei. Visitors must have onward ticket or sufficient funds to support themselves while in the country.
Airport Tax: Passengers leaving for destinations within the BIMP-EAGA region pay a departure tax of B$5.00 and B$12.00 for other destinations.
Currency: The value of the Brunei dollars (which is divided into 100 cent) is on par with Singapore dollars.
There is no restriction on the import or export of money. Banks, hotels and many department stores will readily cash traveller’s cheques and other commercial banks operate teller machines.
Credit Cards: Hotel, department stores and other major establishments generally accept all internationally known credit cards.
Language: Malay is Brunei’s official language but English is widely used. Mandarin and a number of other local dialects are also spoken.
Religion: Brunei’s official religion is Islam, although other religions are also practiced.
Clothing: Light clothing is advisable, as the climate is generally warm and humid. Women are asked to dress modestly in keeping with local custom.