Sarah’s recent travels to Brunei caught the eye and attention of all of us back home after watching her Instagram stories. Many of us had never heard of this place before but after hearing and seeing what a beautiful part of the world Sarah was in and the smiling faces of the locals, we just had to find out more about this amazing place.

Welcome to the Abode of Peace, our beautiful country Brunei Darussalam!

By Siti Rauufah Omarali, Brunei (Brunei netball team manager) 

Whether you are here for a day of transit, 3 days business trip or a NETFIT Netball coach from Australia conducting classes, here are the top 5 useful tips while you are exploring Brunei : –

  1. Get a local to show you around

The best thing about Brunei is the people. They are friendly and often seen helping a tourist around! Brunei’s tourist attractions and many local hotspots are spread apart and sometimes can be found in the middle of a rural area hence Brunei is known as the land of unexpected treasures. Getting a local to drive you ensures you maximise your time and get the best deals – Brunei is very small and everyone knows everyone!

How to meet a local? Couchsurfing is quite common now in Brunei and you can bet your host will love to show you around! You can even simply google and search for tour guide services on the net! The Dart App works similar to Uber which can help you get around with a local driver.

Please make sure you get a local sim card or have roaming services as it is very helpful to have internet services while you are travelling in Brunei!

  1. Eat, eat and eat!

Food is love! And Brunei has a LOT of love to offer! We have amazing local delicacies to choose from. Tourists love visiting the Gadong food market where you can find food for only a dollar.

Here’s a list of restaurants that are local favorites : –

  • Kaizen sushi (Japanese) in Bandar near the Water village.
  • Jazz Bar and Grill (Western) in Kiulap
  • High Frequency (Cafe/ Western)
  • Rack and Brew (Western)
  • I Say Yatta (Japanese fast food) in kiulap or Serusop
  • Neptunes Seafood Restaurant in Jerudong
  • Pondok Sari Wangi (Indonesian/local) at Jerudong park
  • Aminah Arif (local cuisine) in Kiulap famous for tourist to taste ‘Ambuyat’ which is a favourite Bruneian local dish
  • Roasted Sip for coffee
  • GeoEats is a new eatery that serves dishes from around the world. They are a home based restaurant and quite unique

For more information regarding each eatery just simply google or pop over to Instagram. Many of the restaurants you see around Brunei are equally just as good! All you have to worry about is time and space in your stomach for all the food options!

  1. Do at least 1 Nature and Wildlife tour

No Brunei trip is complete without going to visit the Water Village. It is one of the largest functioning water settlement in the world with its own school, mosque, fire station, floating petrol station for the boats and a lot of history! No bookings needed – just pop on over to the waterfront, it is usually around 10 Brunei dollars, put on a lifejacket and you’re set to go! If you are lucky you get to see crocodiles and a few proboscis monkeys.

If you are here for more than 3- 4 days, make sure you dedicate a whole day to visit our beautiful Forest Reserve at Ulu- ulu Temburong which is only 45 minutes by boat. It is a must- see whilst you are here in Brunei.

For a simple and quick nature visit, head on over to Tasek Lama in the city centre. In your sports attire, you can go hiking in the forest (with a local guide of course), or just simply jog around the area. It is a nature park in the middle of the city that even has a natural Waterfall. If you are there at around 6 in the morning, sometimes you will find the older Chinese community conducting a Taiichi class in front of the waterfall. It is beautiful and very relaxing!

Gardens to visit are the Rimba Garden central with a beautiful restaurant (The Veranda serving local food) and a new addition the beautiful Garden at Subok (ask your local guide about this).

Many don’t know this but Brunei is also one of the best places to go diving! We have one of the world’s best wreck dive sites! Contact Oceanic Quest for more information.

  1. Affordable Souvenirs

Happy Star souvenir shop and Aewon store.

You can get your loved one’s affordable souvenirs at Happy Star shop opposite the Gadong mall. There are also plenty of options at the Aewon shop in Yayasan (in the city centre) or their old branch in Kiarong. Pay a visit to to the Arts and Handicraft centre to find souvenirs/ gifts unique to Brunei.

  1. Empire hotel

Saved the best for last! This is often the local’s favorite spot for a quick vacation to relax. The beautiful 5 stars beach resort offers a country club, a man-made lagoon area, an outdoor swimming pool and plenty more activities for you to do! If you are not staying here, you can use the outside pool for $25 (pay at reception). The best thing about empire is around 6.30pm you will see quite a number of locals arriving to catch the beautiful sunset! Rooms starts from about 180 Brunei dollars. I can’t do it justice, you need to see it for yourself!

Bruneians love seeing tourists around! Most of us are avid- travelers and often we are seen striking up a conversation with tourists and sharing stories about our travels. Brunei might not be attractive at first glance but give it a chance – go explore, meet a local, eat our food – the humility of our country and the slow-paced life will certainly leave you with a sense of peace and hopefully a lasting memory. We are indeed a land of Unexpected treasures! And I am very proud of my people and my beautiful country.