Day 5: City Tour Around Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

Greetings from one of the worlds smallest and also wealthiest countries, tucked away on the north coast of Borneo – Brunei!

Brunei Walking Tour

Brunei Walking Tour

This seldom-often-traveled nation is famous for its Sultan and head of state, General Haji Sir Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah. Although anyone would consider the entire island of Borneo to be rich with natural resources and abounding with fresh fruits of this earth, Brunei received an even more world-wide valuable practical resource: crude oil and natural gas.

It was just yesterday when I’ve decided to take the ferry to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu. I was surprised as soon as I exited the ferry terminal by how quiet this country is – far away from the typical Asian country with loads of people and touts hustling to sell a ride in their cab. Instead there were a few taxi around and you could seldom find people walking in their streets.

So few that while we’re doing our DIY walking tour around the city – I sometimes thought that the roads are all mine. Haha! Or just maybe we’re that poor since everyone here got their own ride while we don’t.

I own this road in Brunei!

I own this road in Brunei!

The city was quite the opposite of characteristic Asian cities, lacking all roaring traffic, masses of humanity, and clouds of pollution. Instead it was marked by pleasant greenery and quiet neighborhoods. Drivers even halted out of nowhere to let humans cross the street (opposite to what we have in the Philippines). Though Bandar Seri Begawan is the capital and largest city of Brunei, it had such a unique feeling – possibly the quietest and most peaceful capital in Asia.

So off we went with our walking tour.

Jubilee Park

Brunei Jubilee Park

Brunei Jubilee Park

Jubilee Park, Bandar Seri Begawan

Jubilee Park, Bandar Seri Begawan

Brunei Jubilee Park  Playground

Brunei Jubilee Park Playground

Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Bolkiah Mosque

Bolkiah Mosque

Considered as one of the grandest monuments to Islam in the whole region built in 1992 to celebrate the 25th year of the current sultan’s reign, the magnificent Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is the brainchild of His Majesty the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah

Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Brunei Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Brunei Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

The fine artistry of the structure’s basic design as well as the interiors shows the meticulous attention to details and reveals the depth of the love that inspired the vision to build this splendid symbol of devotion to Islam.

Jame'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

The stunning edifice with its artfully landscaped gardens and fountains that add to the serene ambience, is a memorable place to visit and certainly a must for visitors

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Visiting Hours:
Sunday to Wednesday: 8am to 12noon, 2pm to 3pm & 5pm to 6pm
The mosque is closed to non-Muslims on Thursdays. It is open on Saturday provided that there is no official function the following day. DSC_0669

Royal Regalia Museum

Royal Regalia

Royal Regalia

The Royal Regalia Museum which was built in 1992 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of His Majesty’s the Sultan of Brunei accession to the throne in 1967. The museum houses a collection of royal paraphernalia and also an exhibition on the constitution of the nation.

Brunei Royal Museum

Brunei Royal Museum

Witness its central feature, a spectacular new circular gallery topped with a mosaic-tiled dome sitting in the cup of the original crescent-shaped building.

Royal Regalia Brunei

Royal Regalia Brunei

When called upon to present a gift to the sultan of Brunei, you must inevitably confront the question: what do you give a man who has everything? Here you’ll see how various heads of state and royalty have solved this conundrum. (Sadly, picture taking’s not allowed where the royal presents sit)

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Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Considered as one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asia Pacific, it is a place of worship for the Muslim community, a major landmark and a tourist attraction of Brunei.

Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

One of the most iconic symbols of the city is the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, a truly spectacular structure covered in an Islamic dome of gold.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Named after Omar Ali Saifuddien III, the 28th Sultan of Brunei who also initiated its construction, the mosque serves as a symbol of the Islamic faith in Brunei and dominates the skyline of Bandar Seri Begawan. The building was completed in 1958 and is an example of modern Islamic architecture.

Brunei Saifuddien Mosque

Brunei Saifuddien Mosque

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Built in an artificial lagoon on the banks of the Brunei River at Kampong Ayer- the “village in the water”, the mosque has marble minarets and golden domes, a courtyard and is surrounded by a large number of trees and floral gardens.

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Though I was only in Brunei for a single day, I had a luxurious time wandering around and seeing a few of the famous existing sights.  The incredible views from Brunei in such a brief time and the uniquely peaceful culture they have is something that will truly be memorable, something that made me felt like I was Royalty of some exotic fairy tale.

Royal Regalia Museum

Royal Regalia Museum

This travelogue is part of a travel series for my birthday trip to Kota Kinabalu & Brunie, if you haven’t read the previous posts, here’s the link http://bit.ly/KKBruneiDay2http://bit.ly/KKBruneiTrip

 

Borneo Travel Itinerary: A Birthday Trip to Kota Kinabalu and Brunei

This year which also happens to be my birth year – year of the Wooden Horse, I decided to set my travel soles on my birthday to a place that’s not so often visited, a place whom I could compare myself to – simple, not that into elegant & fancy fashion statements & accessories like that of a city, but a suburb with a hidden beauty inside. Perhaps more of the countryside part of the town.

Every year on my birthday it seems that this foot wanders into the mountainous side of the world – 2 years ago I spent in trekking the province of Bukidnon, and last year I hiked Mt Pulag in a freezing zero degree temperature.

Mt Pulag Philippines

Mt Pulag Philippines

Zipline in Bukidnon

Zipline in Bukidnon

And this year, it will be a trip to Kota Kinabalu crossing the boarders to Brunei.

About Borneo

Borneo is the third largest island in the Malay archipelago. This landmass is shared by Sabah and Sarawak states of Malaysia, Brunei, and Kalimantan provinces of Indonesia.

Just ignore the text.. This is just one of the nicest maps that includes Brunei & Kota Kinabalu in one map :)

Just ignore the text.. This is just one of the nicest maps that includes Brunei & Kota Kinabalu in one map 🙂

There were many awesome nature trips, outdoor tours and places to travel in Borneo. Six days wasn’t exactly enough to experience everything Borneo offered.

Overview: Kota Kinabalu and Brunei Itinerary

  • Day 1 (January 29, evening): Departure from the Philippines
  • Day 2 (January 30 *Happy Birthday to me!): early morning arrival to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia – then nature trekking to Mt Kinabalu Park & Poring Hot Springs
  • Day 3 (January 31 *Happy Chinese New Year!): Went on an Island Hopping adventure at Taman Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, then a walking tour around Kota Kinabalu city center
  • Day 4 (February 1): Crossed Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
  • Day 5 (February 2): City tour around Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei , late night flight back home

Day 1

I started my trip with a flight from my hometown in General Santos to Manila, where I was even accompanied by my family to the airport (thanks much!). Then followed with a flight from Manila to Kota Kinabalu via Cebu Pacific air, a promo fare that I purchased for only 700 Pesos.

My sweet, big loving family!

My sweet, big loving family!

A Birthday on top of the Clouds

One thing that I really looked forward to is that this will be my first trip outside the country on my birthday – not just that I’m also excited to have my birth date stamped on my passport. Haha!

  • January 30, 1:00am – Arrival at Kota Kinabalu International Airport – Terminal 2
    • Pass Malaysian Immigration
      • Free Visa on Arrival for Philippine passport holders

Getting out of Kota Kinabalu Airport Guide

  • Flights from the Philippines – whether with Cebu Pacific or Air Asia, arrive in the evening, during which the buses are no longer available. The only option, therefore, is to take the taxi, which costs RM 30 (around 420 pesos), to sleep in the airport, or to sleep at a nearby hotel within walking distance.

Being a budget traveller, guess which option we took? At first we thought it might be better to just sleep at the airport however since their terminal 2 is a small airport, sleeping might be difficult – luckily we found out a nearby budget backpacker hotel – Borneo BeacHouse (Backpackers) which have a dormitory type room for only 380Php (forgot the amount in MYR).

Borneo BeachHouse Backpackers: A Buget Hotel near the Kota Kinabalu Airport

From the airport, the hotel’s within just walking distance, around 10 minutes. The Marketing Manager, Nick, had also been very kind & accommodating in replying to all my queries via email. They’re also providing affordable tours around Kota Kinabalu in case you need one. I availed their Poring Hot Spring & Kota Kinabalu Park tour (190MYR) and 3 Island Hopping (90MYR).

Birthday Luck

Guess I was feeling lucky on my birthday, apart from a surprise when I saw my face on one of travel tips corner of the inflight travel magazine of Cebu Pacific, Smile Magazine, I even won their inflight games!

Surprised to see myself again at the Travel Tips corner of this month's issue of Cebu Pacific's Smile Mag.. Glad that it's for the month of January, my fave month!

Surprised to see myself again at the Travel Tips corner of this month’s issue of Cebu Pacific’s Smile Mag.. Glad that it’s for the month of January, my fave month!

Got myself an early birthday present for my first flight of the year. Thanks Cebu Pacific #CebuPacificInflightGame

Not just that, to our luck when we arrived during the night at Borneo BeachHouse Backpackers, it turned out there were no more vacant beds in their female dormitory (the one we originally reserved) so admitting it’s their fault, they just provided us with a free room upgrade to a private room. Better I guess! =)

So off we slept at around 2am in preparation for the morning’s tour.

I’ll be posting the remaining travelogue of our travel tomorrow so stay tune!