Brunei, officially Brunei Darussalam is a small sovereign sultanate found on the north coast of the island of Borneo in South East Asia. It is completely surrounded by the state of Sarawak, Malaysia, apart from its coastline which faces the South China Sea. It is the only sovereign state completely on the island of Borneo; the remainder of the island's territory being divided between the nations of Malaysia and Indonesia. Its capital is Bandar Seri Begawan.
Being relatively small as compared to its neighbours the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the other South East Asian nations, Brunei's population and density is quite low, with the total land area of 2,226 square miles covered only by 415,717 inhabitants; although surprisingly, the country is one of the richer nations in the world, recording a nominal Gross Domestic Product of almost $18 million. Human development index here is also very high, and citizens are treated fairly amidst the country's traditional ways.
When it comes to tourism, Brunei mainly relies on its heritage: opulent architecture, wealth of traditions, religious beliefs, abundance of natural resources, and of course, positive and industrious people.
What to see & do
Brunei divides its tourism sector into four main sub-sectors: People and Culture, Contemporary Asia, Heritage, and Nature. These four sub-sectors represent the highlights of Brunei's tourism; and for the traveller – this means that it is easier to track and create a travel itinerary.
People and Culture – Brunei is a beautiful mix of Malay and Borneo culture which has created a rather exciting and exotic mix for the wanderer. The culture is mainly derived from the Old Malay World, a territory covered by the Malay Archipelago, while also being inspired by Bornean tradition – sultans, datus, rajahs, the monarchy, down to the social stratification and roles of each and every citizen. Moreover, ethnic villages and tribes are scattered in the sovereignty of Brunei, introducing tourists to a whole new world of cultures. This makes a wonderful backdrop for a traveller’s trip: getting to know the country through the people and its cultures while witnessing splendour unfold.
Contemporary Asia – As traditional as Brunei can get, it never forgets the fact that embracing the new era – embracing Contemporary Asia – is a must to ensure stability and forwardness of the nation. In the recent years, the country has built various establishments alongside their temples and intricately-created houses and architecture to make the country more hip and trendy. Shopping centres and complexes are scattered in the city centres, and unique items can also be found. If lucky, travellers may chance upon handicrafts and hand-made items created by the locals at a very cheap price. Moreover, efforts to create family friendly museums are on its way.
Heritage – Brunei is very proud to have the world's oldest reigning monarchy and centuries of royal heritage. The Sultan of Brunei is the only remaining Malay Islamic Monarch in the world, with a family line that dates back over 600 years to 1405 when the first Sultan ascended the throne. This has made the country a lover of splendour, of grace, and of beauty, apart from being a peace-loving nation.
Nature – Throughout Brunei, rainforests as well as beaches can be discovered by a traveller who happens to be a lover of untouched beauties and unspoiled natural wonders. Brunei is home to some of Asia's better nature reserves and field study centres, such as the world famous Ulu Temburong National Park and the Kuala Belalong Field Study Centre – both of which offering an exciting array of ecotourism and adventure activities. More so, the country is blessed with a coastline stretching and facing the South China Sea, providing with white, brown, and black sand beaches for all tourists to enjoy.
How to get around within Brunei
The country has various modes of transportation for tourists to take advantage of. Cars can be rented for use within the vicinity of Bandar Seri Begawan along the coast, and driving is on the left side. Taxis are seldom here. With 10 waiting on the airport and eight in the Belait district, hailing a cab is quite impossible, especially during arrivals of domestic and international passengers. Travellers may call for one through the local taxi stand, although there's only a slim chance of getting one. Tour vans are also present, and they can provide comfortable touring and driving around especially when travelling as a group. Buses have an extensive network in Brunei, so travellers are better off this way.
How to get there
To get to Brunei, the main international airport is the Brunei International Airport, served by airlines such as the Royal Brunei Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, and others. Cheap flights can be booked using Skyscanner. Skyscanner is an online source of the cheapest flights from over 600 airlines including the above-mentioned.
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