Brunei Destination Guide
Brunei is a tiny sovereign state located on the South China Sea and bordering East Malaysia on the northern part of the island of Borneo. The country is actually divided into two parts, with the strip of land in between forming part of the district of Limbang, which belongs to the Malaysian state of Sarawak. This is the result of Brunei being the last remnant of a much larger empire, which extended across the water to the Philippines before finally succumbing to European colonial interests.
No Brunei Travel Guide should avoid mentioning the country's royal family. Although the current Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is of a more sober disposition, not all of his family follow suit. Azim, the third Prince of Brunei in line to the throne, is a paparazzi favourite due to his lavish lifestyle and propensity to host legendary, celebrity-studded parties. He might take after his uncle, Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the harem-owning playboy brother of the Sultan, whose spending habits of $50 million per month had to be infamously curtailed in court. The family does not attract much criticism locally, as Brunei citizens do not have to pay any tax. To feel like part of the lavishly-spending royals, stay at the Empire Hotel – Brunei's most exclusive resort.
Despite being in a similar position in terms of wealth to Dubai, Brunei generally does not flash its wealth. This Muslim country prefers to keep things simple, which is reflected in its capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, where your flight to Brunei is likely to arrive. The sights here include the two main mosques; the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, at the centre of an artificial lagoon and with a 44-metre minaret making it the tallest building in the city; and the Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, which is on the somewhat grandiose side. Brunei Museum is also worth a visit to appreciate the beautiful Islamic Art Gallery, as well as an intricate model of the Dome of the Rock, made entirely out of mother of pearl and abalone. Picturesque Kampong Ayer water villages and a boat trip to Bangar town are some of the other local highlights.
What Brunei lacks in size, it makes up for in its natural attractions. The major part of any visitor's Brunei holidays are likely to be spent in one of the country's stunning nature reserves and national parks, the most famous being Ulu Temburong National Park. Brunei tours take visitors to the treetop canopy walk, which can be reached via a long boat. Ironically, Brunei has been able to keep its stunning rainforests pristine due to being located on top of abundant oil fields, the country's primary resource and source of its staggering wealth.