Grand Mosques and Verdant Forests

The romantic adventure island of Borneo is not only home to East Malaysia's fabulous Sabah and Sarawak, but also the separate country of Brunei.

the Sultanate of Brunei is a sparkling jewel, most well-known as one of the South-East Asia's wealthiest countries, with a very high standard of living for its citizens: education and healthcare are free; houses, cars and even pilgrimages to Mecca are subsidised; there's no tax on personal income and the average per capita income is among the highest in the world.

Brunei's culture is very similar to the Malay cultures, heavily influenced by the Hinduism and Islam. The capital of Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan, or 'BSB' features an impressive display of modern architecture.

Its most impressive site is the Sultans official residence, Istana Nurul Iman Palace. Bigger than Buckingham Palace or the Vatican, it is the largest residential palace in the world and the worlds largest residence of any type: it's more than half-a-kilometre long and has a total of 1788 rooms.

A visit to Ulu Temburong National Park is a definite highlight for nature lovers, with 50,000 hectares of virgin jungle, which is so dense that the only way to access it is by temuai or long boat.

In Bandar Seri Begawan visit the Tamu (open) Night Market, which starts early in the morning and goes on till late in the night; it's great for antiques and the cheapest food in town. You can also find exotic furniture, kris, a traditional Brunei dagger and fine handwoven mats and baskets.

Insiders' Tips

  1. Visit Omar Saifuddin Mosque The mosque is particularly stunning at night with green lights illuminating the dome and casting a lovely reflection.
  2. A Royal Experience: The Royal Regalia building, houses priceless collections dating back several centuries, including a sword that is reputed to be handed down from Sultan Sharif Ali, the third Sultan of Brunei.
  3. Go a Little Further: Take a drive through the beautiful countryside of Brunei, passing Malay villages and water buffalos. Get introduced to jungle medicinal plants, vegetables and local fruit trees.

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