Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tips in Traveling Brunei

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Each year, I try to the best of my savings ability to go out of the country to explore. I get the local travels whenever I can over the weekends here as flights could get really cheap and I would be able to find cheaper accommodation. But when it comes to out of the country trips, I have got to have enough buddies with me and be on the financial lookout. Good thing there was a “seat sale” last January. 

We have had a four-day weekend over the last week of the month so we have a few days to plan out our trip for 2 countries with a stop over in between. We stretched the holidays for over 6 days to ensure that we got enough rest and relaxation. Anyway, here a snap shot or shots of our travels in Brunei and some quick tips.

We only stayed in Brunei overnight/one day because we had 2 more places to visit and of course, if you are travelling with limited finances, you have to make sure you don’t linger on expensive places. Having said that, travelling Brunei can be quite expensive for any one. Exchange rate is quite high and it’s almost the same with US Dollars. But that shouldn’t dissuade you from going there. If you want a laid back/chill place to go for a day or 2, Brunei could be your country.

There are a few places to see there but we mostly visited the mosques around the city. There are nature reserves but we did not have enough time to go around. Instead we just had a city tour. Anyway here is how our overnight/one day went savoring what Brunei can offer.

We stayed in Trader’s Inn located at Blk D, Lot 11620, Jalan Gadong, P.O. Box 357, Bandar Seri Begawan, BS8670, Brunei Darussalam and you can reach them at Tel. No. 2442828 (just add the country code for Brunei). You can also check their website at http://www.tradersinn-bn.com. There are a lot of Filipino employees in Trader’s Inn so it was quite easy to get tips and ideas of what to do in the country.

Having no concrete plans for the day that we have solely for Brunei, we asked the Filipino employees of what to do for the entire day or for the afternoon. They mentioned that they offer a city tour for BND 25 per person (which is roughly Php 875 if you’re using Php 35 as multiplier). That package would get you 5 hours to tour the city and go to most touristy spots. That day, my friends and I were the only ones who were touring, big plus since we hold the time. We decided to start our tour at 3pm because we wanted to go to the night market to eat some good cheap food.

Here are some Tips in Travelling Brunei:


1. Bring a universal adapter. You can get one at Handyman or Ace Hardware for Php 218, I got the Omni brand with that price. This is the first thing you have got to have if you are going outside the country. This is very handy, unless you get to have the same country with the same electrical outlets as the Philippines has. 

Omni Adapter


2. Get water at the hotel. Bring it along with you because you cannot really find a store that quickly for water. It was quite pricey too for a 1 liter of purified water. If you can get a refill from your hotel, that would be great but Trader’s Inn’s restaurant did not really have a water dispenser available. 

3. Visit the night market near Gadong, The Mall, it opens at 4pm and closes at 9pm. There were different food choices but mostly beef and chicken. Kind of like Banchetto here in Manila, have your dinner at the Night Market. Prices range from BND 1 to BND 5, big servings of rice and chicken though. Just go around to find the best option.

4. Get enough Brunei Dollars when you are there, moneychangers are hard to find but there is one at The Mall (in Gadong) it closes early tho.
  

5. There are bus stops and they follow this, the bus stops at bus stops, not anywhere else. 

6.  We went to The Mall in Gadong via bus for lunch and it was BND 1 one way. As you know we stayed at Trader’s Inn so the bus we took was Bus 55. The conductor was a Filipino too. 

7.  Expressways do not have pedestrian lanes – this is a weird statement I know but you’ll know why. You can cross the expressway! We asked the guy at the parking lot as to how we can go to the other side and his answer was “Just cross.” 

8.  Drivers are really disciplined in this country, when they see a pedestrian crossing, they would stop around 3 feet away from you. We did not test this in the expressway of course. Haha 

9.  When heading to mosques or going inside mosques, please, for women, ensure that you are wary of their rules. Make sure that you are fully covered, as those are there religious places. 

10. Point with your thumb in Brunei, not with your index finger. I do not have explanation for this, but just know that it is their culture. 

11. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is magnificent; do not forget to visit it.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque


12. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque is remarkable, you’ll be sure to enjoy the architecture.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque
  

13. Drop by the 7-star hotel in Brunei, The Empire. With the high ceilings and great architecture, you will be sure you’d wish you stayed there for the night.

The Empire Brunei

The Empire Brunei

The Empire Brunei

The Empire Brunei

The Empire Brunei

The Empire Brunei

The Empire Brunei

The Empire Brunei

The Empire Brunei

14. Near Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is the Water Village with from what we were told, has 7 schools and remarkable sewerage system. There are vacation houses also owned by rich people in Brunei. One trip around the village is BND 50. I am not sure though if this is one boat or per person.

Water Village Taxi


15. If you have time, visit The Mall, just to look around and perhaps have your money change. Sunset there is quite good too

The Mall, Gadong Brunei


Anyway, that’s about as much as I can give you about our trip in Brunei. This is a pre-lude to our roadtrip to Labuan. Check this link on how to get to Labuan and then Kota Kinabalu from Brunei: 

Brunei to Labuan: http://wanderinganneskie.blogspot.com/2013/04/overnight-stay-in-labuan-malaysia.html


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