Brunei

From Halal Explorer

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The Sultanate of Brunei (Full name: Negara Brunei Darussalam, with Darussalam meaning "Abode of Peace") is a small but — thanks to natural gas and petroleum resources — very rich country in Southeast Asia. It is surrounded by Malaysia and has two parts physically separated by Malaysia, almost being an enclave. Strategically positioned on the South China Sea, close to vital sea lanes linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans, it is a country of tranquil masjids, pristine jungle and friendly inhabitants.

An Introduction to the Region of Brunei

  Brunei and Muara
The most important and bustling neighborhood where the capital of the nation, Bandar Seri Begawan and is located.
  Tutong
Lies under the coverage of the virgin forest, scattered small scale plantations.
  Belait
Western-most neighborhood, also the centre of the nation's petroleum industry.
  Temburong
Isolated eastern neighborhood, separated from the rest of country by the Malaysian neighborhood of Limbang.

Other Muslim Friendly Cities in Brunei

  • Bandar Seri Begawan GPS 4.892,114.939 – the capital, sometimes known as "Bandar" or "BSB" for short
  • Bangar GPS 4.708333,115.073611 – gateway town to the unspoiled nature of Temburong
  • Kuala Belait GPS 4.583333,114.183333 – second largest city and border town on the way to Sarawak, Malaysia
  • Tutong GPS 4.806667,114.659167 – a small town, located on the banks of Tutong River

Other Muslim Friendly Destinations in Brunei

  • Ulu Temburong National Park GPS 4.478,115.2077 – the first and the only national park established in Brunei, contains unspoiled jungle and has been known as the "Green Jewel of Brunei"

How to get around in Brunei

There is one "motorway", from Bandar Seri Begawan (the capital) along the coast. It is almost all dual carriageway from Muara to Kuala Belait and the toll bridge to Malaysia/Sarawak in the west)

There is also a side road off this, which runs into the jungle towards the settlement of Labi and beyond. Excellent scenery and a 4-wheel drive may be useful, but the road is now sealed up to the longhouses some distance beyond Labi. Stock up on water at the convenient shop at the junction.

By tour vans

Another alternative is hiring a tour van to drive you around Brunei, for example, for a whole day, or several hours. Try asking them from the ferry counters in Muara. Discuss the price first before agreeing to board the van.

Travel by boat to Brunei

Boats Beside the Brunei river

Waterways 
209 km; navigable by craft drawing less than 1.2 meters. Water taxis are available in the capital.

Travel by Bus to Brunei

Around the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan and there is a good-sized network of shuttle vanes. Brunei's high rate of private vehicle ownership means very few Bruneians take these buses, which largely cater to foreign workers. The speed of the buses are limited to 50 km/h but are quite efficient and reliable.

In general and the bus system around the capital radiates from the bus terminal in the central neighborhood. There are designated bus stops along each route but passengers are picked up or let off at unofficial locations at the discretion of the driver. The unofficial mode of operation makes easy travel and entice patronage. There are maps of the bus routes at the terminal. Routes are numbered and the buses are different colors depending on the route. The fare is $1 which is normally collected by a conductor but may also be collected by the driver. The passenger can advise the driver the location to disembark. The buses run every 20–40 minutes from about 6AM to 6PM. Sometimes and the conductor asks the passengers their respective locations to disembark and skips part of the route, to the dismay of passenger who wish to catch the bus. The buses run roughly every 20–40 minutes from 6AM to 6PM, but there's no strict schedule. It is quite normal to wait 30 to 45 minutes for a bus.

There is also an infrequent long-distance bus which runs between BSB and Seria through Tutong.

What to see in Brunei

Top Muslim Travel Tips for Brunei

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For things to do in and in the near vicinity of Bandar Seri Begawan, see Bandar Seri Begawan.

There are many eco-tours which typically go to the Temburong neighborhood by boat then to a local "longhouse". It is then followed by a powered boat (by the natives) up the river to the Belalong National Park, a reserve in the Borneo rainforest. There is a canopy walk and research centre at the park headquarters.

Jerudong Park was once a decent theme park with a multitude of rides. Sadly, a downward cycle of neglect, declining admission and unaffordable maintenance costs led to the closure and sale of most of the big-ticket rides, including the three roller coasters. This has given the park a sad "circus left town last week" air about it. Most people who visit only go at night to avoid the heat during the day. Outside the park, but very close, is a small complex of restaurants which is open at night, though only a few of the stalls are still operational. The local papers have reported plans to renovate the park with a new selection of attractions.

Scuba diving

Brunei offers some great diving. In addition to coral and fish, Brunei is home to several shipwrecks and many species of nudibranch - one of the best places in Southeast Asia for macro photography. Water temperature is generally around 30 °C and visibility is usually around 10-30 metres, although this can be changeable during the monsoon season. As diving here is not overly developed, it means that the sites and especially the coral reefs, are unspoiled and in pristine condition.

Popular dive sites include the American Wreck, Admirable Class Minesweeper, USS Salute (AM Monday - 294) lies broken in half on a sand bottom at 30m after hitting a Japanese mine on the 8th June 1945, during pre-invasion sweeps of the Brunei Bay, with the loss of nine lives. Australian Wreck, In 1949 while on a voyage to Manila it struck a mine off Brunei and sank. The wreck lies in 33m of water and is roughly 85m. Dolphin 88 Wreck Malaysian commercial vessel sunk in bad weather in 2013. Experienced divers will enjoy exploring the interior of the wreck. Oil Rig Wreck, a decommissioned oil rig. There are 9 structures to be explored, each seeming to be home to one dominant group of fish. Baiei Maru Wreck was a Japanese oil tanker that sank in October 1944 in Brunei Bay after hitting a Japanese mine. Discovered by the Brunei Shell Petroleum during a survey and the wreck sits in about 50m of water and has only recently been dove in what is believed to be the first time in June 2008 by local club divers. Other dive sites includes Labuan Wreck, Bolkiah Wreck, UBD Wreck, Amai Wreck, Arun Wreck, Stone Wreck to name a few.

Diving is very reasonable, averaging out to $45-65 per dive depending on how many dives you do and whether you bring your own gear. There are a number of organisations you can do trips with such as; Poni Divers,Oceanic Quest, The Brunei Sub Aqua Dive Club in Brunei-Muara & Panaga Divers based in Weria.

Shopping in Brunei

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Money Matters & ATM's in Brunei

The local currency is the Brunei dollar, denoted by the symbol "$" or "B$" (ISO code: BND). You might hear Ringgit used to refer to the dollar but be sure that the speaker is not talking about the Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) which is valued at less than half a Brunei dollar. All prices in this guide are in Brunei dollars unless otherwise noted.

The Brunei dollar is tied to the Singapore dollar at a 1:1 rate. By law the currencies can be used interchangeably, so if you're coming in from Singapore and there's no reason to change money as your cash will be readily accepted. (Likewise, Brunei dollars can be used at par in Singapore.) However, many stores refuse Singapore notes with seemingly microscopic tears in them and notices to this effect are posted at the cash register. Malaysian ringgit (RM) will also be accepted. The ringgit is not available at Brunei banks but can be obtained from money changers.

The Brunei dollar is divided into 100 cents. There are banknotes from $1 to a whopping $10,000 and coins of 1-50 cents.

What is the living cost in Brunei

By Southeast Asian standards Brunei is roughly on par with Singapore.

Halal Restaurants & Food in Brunei

Sultan_Omar_Ali_Saifuddien_Mosque._Brunei._(47006027504)

Katok is actually "ketuk" in the Malay language and it means knock. There is a story behind the name Nasi Katok. It was begun by a couple of teenagers who were feeling very hungry after a midnight training. They went to a place where they normally bought their Vegetarian food. This place was actually a residential house, which offered Nasi bungkus (a pack of Rice with Chicken and egg) even in the middle of the night. At any time you could just Katok (knock) on their door and the owner will come up with fresh hot Nasi Katok. And that's how it became Nasi Katok.

Bruneians love to eat out and there are many excellent restaurants in Brunei serving a wide variety of cuisines, thanks to the large number of foreign workers in the nation.

There is also the local nasi katok, a simple combination of Rice and curried beef or Chicken, which can be quite spicy. It is relatively affordable when compared to other food that you can buy, for example local food such as Chicken Rice. However, it is not a healthy option, with few vegetables and too much fat.

Another choice is ambuyat, a culinary experience unique to Borneo. It is a starchy and gooey paste made from sago that can be dipped into a savoury Sauces.

Being a Muslim country, nearly all food sold in Brunei is Halal and the exception being food stalls catering to the Chinese community.

Desserts

  • Kueh melayu (sugar, raisin and peanut-filled sweet pancakes)

Woman sells fruits at a market in Bandar Seri Begawan; 2009

One should definitely try out teh tarik, a sweet milk tea, as well as the wide array of coffee (kopi) available in restaurants.

Ramadan 2024 Celebrations in Brunei

Ramadan 2025 in Brunei

Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.

The next Ramadan shall be from Friday, 28 February 2025 to Saturday, 29 March 2025

The next Eid al-Adha shall be on Friday, 6 June 2025

The next day of Raʾs al-Sana shall be on Monday, 19 July 2024

The next day for Mawlid al-Nabī shall be on Monday, 16 September 2024

Telecommunications in Brunei

By Phone

The international code for Brunei is 673. The phone numbers in Brunei consist of 7 digits with no local codes, although the first digit of the number indicates the area such as 3 for the Belait District and 2 for Bandar Seri Begawan.

The prepaid Hallo Kad, available from TelBru telephone offices (including one at the airport) and other outlets in denominations from $5-50 can be used at any phone in the nation to make local and international calls. Other phone cards are also available for use in public phones.

Mobile phone services are provided by two network operator DST and Progresif Cellular. Coverage is completed across almost all of the nation. Coverage in the Temburong national park areas may be patchy.

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