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  • Overview

    Despite its modest size, the sultanate of Brunei Darussalam hasa wealth of natural resources and worthwhile tourist attractions.It's also one of Asia's safest and most environmentally pristinecountries. Travellers will find much of value within itsborders.

    Culturally speaking, Brunei's identity flows from its Malaymajority and deeply entrenched Islamic traditions, bound togetherby the sultanate's uninterrupted 600-year royal heritage. Itscitizens enjoy one of the world's highest standards of living,receiving free healthcare, housing and education from the Sultan,who is the sole beneficiary of the country's oil reserves.

    Essentially, the country is divided into two halves. Most of itspopulation lives in the larger western territory, where the moderncapital, Bandar Seri Begawan, is located. The rest of Brunei'speople are residents of the mostly rural and mountainous easternregion. Adventurous travellers will relish its virginrainforest.

    Travellers should also visit the country's architecturaltreasures, such as the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, thefascinating traditional water villages, and the Sultan's palace,Istana Nurul Iman, which is the world's largest palace still inuse. BSB has some worthwhile beaches, too, most notablyJerudong.

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    English Pronounciation

    Brunei has a distinctly tropical climate, with year-round hotweather and high humidity. Uniquely for the region, Brunei has twomonsoon seasons, and experiences heavy rainfall from October toFebruary and from May to June. Rain showers tend to be heavy butshort-lived.

    Rainfall drops to nearly nothing over March and April, whendrought conditions characterise the coastal areas. Temperatureshave been known to rise extremely high, making this anuncomfortable time to visit. Conditions can also be uncomfortablyhot and humid from September to January.

    The best time to visit is from June to September, thoughtravellers should avoid visiting Brunei during Ramadan, as manybusinesses are closed.

    Bandar Seri Begawan International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated five miles (8km) north-west ofthe city centre.
    Time: GMT +8
    Transfer Between Terminals: The airport has one terminal.
    Getting to the city: The journey to the city should take 15 to 25 minutes. Travellerswon't find many taxis in Brunei, so they will have to call one inadvance. They should also arrange fares prior to their trip. For a more positive experience, visitors should insist on payingthe official rates, or risk having drivers charge them up to 30percent more. They can contact taxi companies at the followingnumbers: PPP: +673 222 214 / +673 226 853 Visitors can also travel into Bandar Seri Begawan by bus. Purplebuses #23, 24, 36, 38 and 57 run from Brunei Airport to Bandar SeriBegawan bus station every 30 minutes. The trip should take around30 minutes. Passengers will find all public transport bus routes atthe departures hall, which is at the south end of the mainterminal. Buses are cheaper than taxis, though less frequent orconvenient.
    Car Rental: There are no car rental offices at the airport, meaningtravellers will need to pre-arrange a pickup by calling theirpreferred provider: Avis: 238-238; Budget: 229-388; Elsie: 227-237;and Roseraya: 241-442.
    Fascilities: Luggage lockers can be found on the arrivals level. Otheramenities include banks, bureaux de change, ATMs, bars andrestaurants, tourist information, and shops, includingduty-free.
    Parking Long and short-term parking is available.
    Money:

    The Brunei Dollar (BND) is the official currency, and it'sdivided into 100 cents. The currency is pegged to the SingaporeanDollar, which is accepted as legal tender throughout Brunei.

    All major credit cards are accepted in shops, restaurants andlarger hotels. Cash is best advised for smaller establishments andwhen transacting in remote areas. ATMs are widespread, especiallyat major banks that are concentrated along Jalan Sultan in thecapital. Money can also be converted at the informal moneychangersthat operate from booths at most transport hubs. If travellerschoose to use this channel, they should ensure that they shoparound for the best rate.

    Language:

    The official language of the Sultanate is Malay althoughEnglish is spoken widely and is the medium of instruction insecondary and tertiary education.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 220 - 240 volts, 50Hz. Plugs areof the three-pin, rectangular blade type, commonly referred to asthe British three-pin plug.

    Entry Requirements:

    US passport holders require a passport valid for at least sixmonths after arrival, but a visa is not necessary for stays of upto 90 days.

    UK passport holders require a passport valid for at least sixmonths after arrival, but a visa is not necessary for stays of upto 90 days.

    Canadian passport holders require a passport valid for at leastsix months after arrival, but a visa is not necessary for stays ofup to 14 days.

    Australian passport holders require a passport valid at leastsix months after arrival, and a visa. Visas can be obtained onarrival for a stay of up to 30 days.

    South African passport holders require a passport valid for atleast six months after arrival. A visa is required.

    Irish nationals require a passport valid for at least six monthsafter arrival, but no visa is necessary for a stay of up to 90days.

    US passport holders require a passport valid for at least sixmonths after arrival, but a visa is not necessary for stays of upto 90 days.

    New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for at least sixmonths after arrival, but no visa is necessary for a stay of up to30 days.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Travellers must have all documents necessary for their nextdestination, return air tickets and sufficient funds for theirstay. Passports must be valid at least six months beyond theirarrival date. Visa requirements vary from country to country.

    Travel Health:

    Travellers arriving from infected areas are required to produceproof of a yellow fever vaccination, and vaccinations may berecommended for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, though these are notrequired. Health concerns will depend on whether or not visitorsare traveling to the remote areas of the Sultanate.

    Tap water is safe to drink in Bandar Seri Begawan and in thelarge towns, and world-class medical facilities are available.However, travellers who explore the remote wilderness should drinkbottled water only. They should also consider additionalvaccinations for typhoid, tetanus, rabies and Japaneseencephalitis, depending on the duration of their stay, and theirplanned activities. Dengue fever outbreaks and other mosquito-bornediseases are common. Visitors should take precautions againstmosquito bites, such as using insect repellent at all times.

    Parts of the country experience a frequent smoke haze, typicallyfrom July to October. The conditions may cause respiratoryproblems. Visitors are strongly advised to take out comprehensivemedical insurance that includes the option of emergencyrepatriation.

    Tipping:

    A 10 percent service charge is normally included in all hotel,taxi, bar and restaurant bills, and further tipping is notnecessary.

    Safety Information:

    Brunei ranks as one of the safest countries in the world.Violent crime against people or property is virtually unheard ofand penalties for such offences are severe. However, there areoccasional incidents of petty crime against travellers, andtourists should take care of their belongings. Protests and streetdemonstrations should be avoided. Although the risk ofindiscriminate terrorist attacks exists globally, Brunei isconsidered to have a low terrorism risk.

    Local Customs:

    Visitors should observe local manners and avoid showing thesoles of their feet, which is considered rude. One implication ofthis etiquette to avoid crossing their legs when they sit.

    They should also use their right hand when pointing or passingan item. If they need to gesticulate, they should use their righthand with the other fingers remaining closed. They can greetbusiness associates with a handshake, though not if they're fromthe opposite sex.

    When making small talk, foreigners should be cautious aboutcommenting on local issues, especially those relating to the royalfamily.

    Business:

    Business people dress smartly for meetings; a suit and tie isexpected. Office hours are typically Monday to Thursday 8am to 5pm,and Saturdays 8am to 12pm. Shortened office hours operate duringthe fasting month of Ramadan. Business associates greet members ofthe same sex with a handshake.

    Communications:

    The international country dialling code for Brunei is +673. Theoutgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g.0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use e.g. 2 forBandar Seri Begawan. High-speed internet access is widely availablein the main towns and large hotels.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers over the age of 17 may import the following intoBrunei without having to pay customs duty: 2 bottles of alcoholicspirit (maximum total of 2 litres) and 12 cans of beer/lager (bynon-Muslims and for personal consumption only); 60ml of perfume and250ml eau de toilette. Duty is charged on all tobacco products. Itis strictly prohibited to import firearms, drugs and pornography.The penalty for trafficking drugs is death while possession of anyquantity of drugs carries a mandatory 20-year jail sentence. Allmedication must be declared and relevant prescriptions presented.Curiously there is also a strict ban on entering the country inpossession of amulets or lucky charms made from bullets.

    Useful Contacts:

    Brunei Tourism Website: https://bruneitourism.com/

    Brunei Embassies:

    Brunei Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 2371838

    Brunei Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7581 0521

    Brunei Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 234 5656

    Brunei Embassy, London, United Kingdom (also responsible forIreland): +44 20 7581 0521

    Foreign Embassies in Brunei :

    United States Embassy, Brunei: +673 2 384 616

    British Embassy, Brunei: +673 2 222 231

    Canadian Embassy, Brunei: + 673 2 220 043

    South African High Commission, Kuala, Malaysia (also responsiblefor Brunei): + 60 3 2170 2400

    Australian High Comission, Brunei: +673 2 229 435

    Embassy of Ireland, Singapore (also responsible for Brunei): +656238 7616

    New Zealand Consulate, Brunei: +673 222 5880

    Brunei Emergency Numbers : Emergencies: 993 (Police); 991 (Ambulance); 995(Fire)
    Brunei