TOURIST ATTRACTION

 

New taglines for tourism promotion - `The Green Heart of Borneo, Brunei - A Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures' have been used to describe Brunei.

Neat, catchy, modern but peace abounds. Brunei Darussalam or `The Abode of Peace' which lives up to its name as its tranquillity is apparent, even to the casual visitor.

Yet the country is current in infrastructure with wide roads, the latest cars and contemporary architecture dotting its city, Bandar Seri Begawan.

Brunei Darussalam has 161 km of pristine coastline, filled with palm-lined beaches and blue waters.

No wonder it has been called the `Pearl and Tropical Paradise of the East'. Brunei also has vast tracts of virgin, uninhabited rainforest. This is mostly in the Temburong District. For this reason, Temburong is known as the `Green Jewel' of Brunei.

There are four districts in Brunei - Brunei-Muara, Tutong, Belait and Temburong. The capita), Bandar Seri Begawan, is located in Brunei-Muara, the smallest of the four districts.

Around 60,000 people live in this capital, which remains remarkably quiet even at the height of rush hour, save for the occasional minor traffic clog around schools at times.

The excellent museums, resplendent mosques and scenic spots in the country will awe the visitor.

Most are located in and around the capital. Further out, tourist attractions tend to be more nature-inclined with lakes, forested hills and seashores being the predominant features.

Brunei-Muara District  
 
Kampong Ayer

Kampong Ayer Stretching for several miles along the banks of the Brunei River, Kampong Ayer, Brunei's famed water village, is a fascinating glimpse into Brunei's past.

Built entirely of stilt houses and wooden walkways, this cluster of 42 villages housing more than 30,000 inhabitants is the world's largest water village. Some people refer to it as the 'Venice of the East'.

Kampong Ayer retains much of the historical features of the 16th century when Ferdinand Magellan's chronicler first discovered it.

The traditional lifestyle of its inhabitants-fishermen, river traders (or padian as they are called in the Malay language) and artisans making and selling traditional handicrafts (silverware, brassware, woodcarving and cloth weaving) - has remained unchanged since then.

Today Kampong Ayer is an almost self-sufficient community being equipped with modern facilities such as schools, shops, markets, mosques, clinics, police stations and fire brigades. All are connected by a maze of stilted platforms and walkways.

Kampong Ayer is a national heritage and efforts are being made to preserve this lifestyle so that the legacy of the 'water' people of Brunei will be retained, not only as a tourist attraction, but also for the future generation of Brunei.

Visitors can have a personal experience of this heritage by taking one of the many water taxis that ply daily between the water taxi jetty in front of the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah in the centre of town and the water village itself.

Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah

The Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Foundation Complex is both a foundation initiated by His Majesty the Sultan to generate revenue for the welfare of the Bruneian people and an upmarket shopping centre.

Opened in July 1996, Yayasan (as it is called in short) sports traditional Malay and modern architecture and is a prominent landmark in the heart of the capital.

The paved open-air foyer decked with landscaping offers a splendid view of the magnificent Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque at one end and Kampung Ayer at the other end.

Framed by blue skies or the brilliance of the evening sun, this is where most people come to enjoy the view and a breath of fresh air.

Inside, Hua Ho is the anchor tenant surrounded by innumerable shiny stores offering branded and non branded goods of all kinds, restaurants and cyber cafés.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

This is one of the most magnificent mosques in Southeast Asia. Built in 1958 as a symbol of the Sultanate's faith, the mosque which bears the name of the Sultan who built it, features resplendent marble and granite floors, stained glass and chandeliers from all over the world.

Outside, the mosque is surrounded by a serene manmade lagoon where a 16th century
mahligai or royal barge reposes. The view is especially captivating at night when the lights are on.

The Mosque is open for visits in the day but visitors are asked to dress conservatively when entering the building.

The Royal Regalia Museum

Built to commemorate the 1992 Silver Jubilee of His Majesty's ascension to the throne, this ornate building with a distinctively gilded dome holds a veritable collection of precious ceremonial regalia.

Priceless collections such as jewel-encrusted crowns, a royal chariot, gold and silver armoury, a replica throne and gifts that His Majesty has received plus a full documentation of the history of the Constitution of Brunei Darussalam are all exhibited here.

The building, located at Jalan Sultan, tel: 2238-358/360, is open to the public everyday of the week except Fridays when opening hours are shorter. Visitors are advised to remove their shoes prior to entering the building.

Brunei History Centre

Established in 1982, this centre, located just beside the Royal Regalia Museum holds documents of Brunei's historical events and the full genealogy and origins of the Sultans of Brunei and the Royal Family.

Taman Tasek

A forest reserve and recreational park in the middle of the city. Only in Brunei would an urbanite be able to commune with nature with just a 15-minute walk from the heart of the capital. Taman Tasek has a natural waterfall in the middle of a lush forest.

Brunei Shell, as part of their community work, has also installed an eight-metre high wall for those interested in climbing.

Lapau and Dewan Majlis

Another magnificent building is the Royal Ceremonial Hall or Lapau where His Majesty the Sultan was crowned in 1968.Traditional royal ceremonies are often held here.

Another splendid building is the Dewan Majlis or Parliament House which is adjoined to the Lapau.

Tamu Kianggeh

The Kianggeh Tamu is also known to the locals as the Amah's Market, and for good reason. Everyday, before the crack of dawn, this community market situated on the banks of the Kianggeh River opposite the Chinese Temple, is filled with all sorts of local fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and handicraft - just the kind of things an amah would want to pick up for the kitchen. Most of the produce sold here would be finished by early evening.

The Arts and Handicraft Training Centre

This centre, which also holds classes for those interested in a career making handicraft, displays brocades called 'jong sarat, hand-woven baskets, silverware, brassware, woodcarvings and snake-like daggers called 'keris'.

The Brunei Arts and Handicraft Training Centre is located at Jalan Residency, Bandar Seri Begawan, Tel: 2240676/391/399

The Art Gallery

The Art Gallery, located next to the Arts and Handicraft Training Centre at Jalan Residency, tel: 2223-205/2222741 provides the services of promoting and educating the public about art. Brunei's best artists periodically perform, sell or exhibit their work here.

Visitors wishing to come to the Art Gallery by bus can take the Central Line Bus No: 11 and the Eastern Line Bus No: 2 or 39.

The Brunei Museum

Located up the hill of Kota Batu is the Brunei Museum which houses a collection of archaeological artefacts, natural history subjects, Brunei Malay culture exhibits, centuries-old Chinese porcelain, ceramics and jade (discovered during the course of an offshore pipeline survey), Islamic artefacts and exhibits of the development and discovery of oil.

First established in 1965, the building has occupied this site at Jalan Kota Batu,
tel: 2244-545/6, about 6.5 km from the capital, since 1970.

The Malay Technology Museum

Again at Jalan Kota Batu, tel: 2244-545, the Malay Technology Museum displays the
traditional technologies of the Water Village, its people and the traditional technologies of the inland people from the late 19th to mid 20th century.

Displaying three dimensional mock-ups of boat making, house-building, metalworking and gold smiting, the exhibits serve to provide an insight into the past lifestyle of the Brunei Malays.

The Mausoleum of Sultan Bolkiah

One of Brunei's greatest Sultans was the fifth Sultan of Brunei known as Sultan Bolkiah or Nakhoda Ragam which means 'captain of great manner and activity'.

It was under his rule  that Brunei's sovereignty extended over the whole of the coastal kingdom of Borneo and the  islands of the Philippines. His tomb, which lies within a mausoleum at a quiet alcove of greenery off Jalan Kota Batu, commemorates that golden age of the nation.

The House of Twelve Roofs

This quaint piece of British architecture - once the home of the British Resident when the British Residential System was introduced in Brunei in1906- has exhibits that examine the long relationship between Brunei and the United Kingdom since the 19th century.

Between 1905 and 1906, an agreement was signed between the two countries for the establishment of a British Resident in Brunei, the stabilising factor in this country at a time when Brunei was vulnerable. In 1906, Malcolm McArthur became the first British Resident.

Today, the building shows historical photographs of the lives of individuals and those involving the state politically, economically and socially.

Regarded as one of the oldest surviving buildings in Brunei, The House of Twelve Roofs is situated on Jalan Residency, tel: 2244-545/2244-181. '

The Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

Grand and opulent, with shimmering golden domes and intricately ornamental minarets set in
a landscape of gardens and fountains, this mosque is arguably the most magnificent in Brunei today.

The Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is also known as the Kiarong Mosque because
of its location.

The Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Silver Jubilee Park and Recreation Area Built in 2002 in tribute to His Majesty the Sultan's 56th Birthday, this beautiful six-hectare-large Silver Jubilee Park and Recreation Area in Kampong Pusar Ulak, Mukim Kianggeh, is situated not far from the centre of town.

Land marked by lush landscaping and an imposing structure featuring columns and fountains leading out to a tranquil pier, this park is a contribution of the citizens of the Brunei-Muara District, various Government Departments and the private sector in commemoration of the Sultan's 25 years of splendid rule.

Istana Nurul Iman

Three kilometres west of Bandar Seri Begawan's city centre lies the Istana Nurul Iman, the residence of His Majesty The Sultan.

It is the largest residential palace in the world with golden domes and sweeping rooflines that can be seen from the long road of Jalan Tutong.

The palace is open to the public during Hari Raya, when locals and tourists alike have the opportunity to greet His Majesty and members of the royal family.

Taman Persiaran Damuan

The best view of Istana Nurul Iman is from the Taman Persiaran Damuan, a leafy, scenic park along the river bank off Jalan Tutong.

It has walkways, a well-equipped playground and features six outdoor sculptures by Asean artists, on the theme of Unity in Diversity. Persiaran Damuan is popular for jogging and has several food stalls in the evenings.

The Wasai Kendal

Located in Mukim Kilanas about 1.5km off Jalan Tutong, the Wasai Kendal or Kendal Waterfall, is a retreat famous for its wide trails, cool crystal waters, picturesque pools and beautiful blooms.

Taman Mini Perayaan Kampong Parit

Located nearby is another leafy park with miniature model houses of rural Brunei and Kampong Ayer, complete with stilts standing over a small river.

Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium

The venue of the 1999 SEA Games, this high-tech stadium with an advanced Sports Medicine and Research Centre, is located in Berakas, an area about 5km from the city centre.

Next to the outdoor stadium are the 6,000-seat Indoor Stadium, the International Swimming Complex, the International Tennis Centre and the Practice Track & Field Complex.

More sports complexes such as a squash centre, a hockey centre and a multi purpose hall are also nearby.

International Convention Centre (ICC)

The ICC, which is situated on a hill nearby, overlooks the stadium and regularly hosts political addresses, international conferences, gala events, concerts, and jazz and classical music evenings.

Jerudong Park

Jerudong Park is the famous four-in-one state-of-theart entertainment, golf, horse riding and exclusive club catering to the well-to-do in Brunei Darussalam.

Comprising the Royal Brunei Golf & Country Club, Trijaya Jerudong Equestrian Park, Jerudong Park Polo Club and Jerudong Park Playground, the first three parks used to be exclusive only to members, but today, all four are open to visitors.

The Jerudong Park Polo Club is where His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei flexes his skill on the polo fields.

When time allows him, it is not uncommon to see visiting clubs, foreign dignitaries or other members of the Royal Family join him in a game on one of the three magnificent fields in this park.

Close by lies the Clubhouse which hosts an exclusive clientele through its luxurious decor, collection of equestrian art, personal photographs and many special facilities such as the European-styled magnificent Banquet Hall, restaurant, a private four-lane computerised bowling alley, a covered pool featuring a sunken bar and a magnificent pavilion providing shelter from the tropical sun, a fully computerized gym where workouts can be tracked, two full-sized private squash courts (where Jahangir Khan once played), a full-sized Riley billiard table set in a parlour, a 'chip n putt' eight-hole golf course and a private beach.

Not far away is the Royal Brunei Golf & Country Club with a Par 72, 18-hole championship, 6,165m buggy only course.

Designed by none other than Ronald Fream, it is considered a 'thinker's course' with its tight fairways and varying slopes. The golf course is consistently maintained to the high standards demanded by the USA PGA.

For golfers who prefer night playing, powerful floodlights provide daytime visibility for a satisfying game.

The Jerudong Park Playground is a beautiful, 57-hectare wonderland that took four years to complete.

Filled with manicured lawns, a musical fountain and 39 hair raising rides such as the' Sky Tower'-a rotating platform that rises 78m to offer a 360-degree panoramic view of Jerudong; 'Pusing Lagi' - a 5G force rollercoaster; 'Giant Drop'- a 48m dead drop at 4G forces, ' Log Flume Ride'- a wet exhilarating ride with a reverse drop, 'Top Spin' - a two-tiered platform that flips in two different directions and many others, Jerudong Park is the place to be for a night of fun.

Other features include a Roller Blade Skating Rink, a Supa-Kart (Go Kart), a Video Arcade, a Shooting Gallery, Baby Dodgems and a French Carousel for the younger ones and of course
the famous Jerudong Park Amphitheatre where Jacky Cheung, Siti Nurhaliza, Westlife, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and of late Academy Fantasia have performed.

Jerudong Park Playground charges a modest fee for the use of its rides. The buggy for visitors to roam the park is also for hire. Opening hours for the rides are generally from 5pm till midnight.

For more information on Jerudong Park and its individual facilities, call: 261 2044 for Jerudong Park Playground, call: 261 1353 for the Royal Brunei Golf and Country Club, call: 261 1582 for the Jerudong Park Polo Club, call: 261 2500 or just log on to their website at: www.jppolo.com or www.jerudong-park.com
 
Bukit Shahbandar Forest Recreation Park

This is a 70-hectare stretch of rolling verdant hills designated for hiking, cycling and fishing. An ideal getaway to work up a good sweat, this hilly area is usually crowded with fitness enthusiasts in the evenings. Entrance is free.

The Empire Hotel and Country Club The most magnificent hotel in Brunei, this 6-star establishment features a Jack Nicklaus golf course, a theatre and cinema complex, a selection of restaurants, a range of accommodation choices, a sports complex, water sports facilities and many other world class features.

The Camels of Hussyn Rahman Enterprise

In 2001, Hj Hussin Bin Hj Rahman, an enterprising Bruneian, saw the potential of camels in Brunei and brought in 20 animals for the purpose of "akikah" - a Muslim rite required of every Muslim to offer an animal sacrifice once in his lifetime.

With thoughts to expand the camel business further, he brought in another two camels in 2003, this time for the purpose of providing fun rides for the enjoyment of the public.

Since their arrival, Silver and Blossom -the two trained riding camels - have been the 'stars' of numerous funfairs, Radio Televisyen Brunei and the Agricultural Expo. In between these events, Silver and Blossom offer rides to the public back at the farm.

The farm is located at: Lot 161, Spg 502, Kampung Betumpu Tapak, Jalan Bengkurong Masin, tel: 2681-417/2655-532 (Head Off) with rides available from 9am - 11am and 2pm - 4pm from Mondays to Saturdays and from 9am -11 am on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Muara Beach & Serasa Beach

Muara beach is known for its pristine coastline while Serasa is known for its water sports such as jet skiing, kayaking and wind surfing.

The purpose-built Serasa Water sports Complex has facilities for international level competitive events such as sailing, water-skiing and others.

The Serasa Water Sports Complex hosted the water sports events during the 20th SEA Games in Brunei Darussalam.

Bukit Tempayan Pisang

Bukit Tempayan Pisang is a 500m-high hill in Muara. The summit gives a panoramic view of the coast and Muara town.

The Brooketon Coalmine

The Brooketon Coalmine which can be accessed from Bukit Tempayan Pisang dates back to 1888 when coal was mined in Brunei. In its heyday, 650,000 tonnes of coal were brought out to the surface.

The coalmine is of course now abandoned along with its railway, mineshafts and tunnels. People who like to explore dark places should visit for a hair-raising experience.

Pulau Selirong

It takes 45 minutes to get to Pulau Selirong from Muara. Pulau Selirong or Mosquito Island is a 2,566-hectare island filled with mangrove swamps and wildlife.

There is 2km of wooden walkways built to offer close-up views of the scuttling life forms that thrive in this unique ecosystem. There is also an observation tower, toilet facilities and rest huts.

Belait District
 

 

The Silver Jubilee Park

Built to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of His Majesty's accession to the throne, it is a beautiful site along Jalan Maulana, just 1 km from KB town.

The 2,679-hectare park faces the beach and features exhibition huts and a 'Pintu Gerbang' (official decorative entrance) that symbolises the MIB (Malay Islamic Monarchy) concept of Brunei. There is also a kids playground.

Bukit Teraja Bukit

Teraja is one of the highest hills in the Labi area. Climbers get a fine view over the Baram valley to the north and Gunung Mulu to the south.

The path to the peak is well marked and maintained and takes under two hours at brisk pace. The upper end of the open clearing - also known as `clear of the wind' - has a picnic spot with benches and a small brook.

There are several species of pitcher plants, characteristic of higher forest zones. Animals commonly seen here include barking deer, bearded pigs, squirrels, tree shrews and macaques.

The Anduki Recreational Park

It was opened in 1992 to commemorate His Majesty the Sultan's Silver Jubilee year and is sponsored by Brunei Shell Petroleum. Developed from an abandoned sandpit to a marvellous park with blue lagoon and landscaped flowers, it is an ideal place to have family outings and picnics.

Sungai Liang Forest Recreational Park

This is one of the very few lowland forests in Southeast Asia where parts of the virgin jungle have been turned into a park with well-marked nature trails.

There are sheltered platforms to enjoy the surrounding view. Good for picnic and jogging.

The Billionth Barrel Monument

It was built to commemorate the billionth barrel of oil produced by the Seria Oil Field and is situated near the seawell at the S1 site, the first well that was dug about 70 years ago.

Designed by local architect for Brunei Shell Petroleum, the monument features a tall arched entrance between two rows of trees and a tiled floor that symbolises the nation's strong Islamic faith.

Istana Mengalela

Situated along Jalan Maulana lies the residence of His Majesty the Sultan when he visits the Belait district. Covered all in white, the palace looks immaculate.

Seria
 

Known as the oil town of Brunei due the first discovery of oil in the area. Several "nodding donkeys" can be seen along the road that never fails to amuse passers-by, especially kids.

The Oil and Gas Discovery Centre (OGDC)

Set up by the Brunei Shell Petroleum in September 2002, it is the latest landmark in Seria aimed at educating the public about science, technology and the environment.

Apart from seven galleries that showcase 150 exhibits covering the multifacets of science, the OGDC also has a challenging outdoor setting, among these a giant chessboard, a skateboarding ring, a jogging track and a walkway that leads directly to the Billionth Barrel Monument.

The OGDC is opened for visits from Tuesday to Sundays. There are also video shows on weekends at the Theatre (11 am, fpm, 3pm). Admission fees are B$1 for children below age 12, B$2 for teens up to 17 and B$5 for adults.

Tamu Seria

It is a famous community market situated between Jalan Bolkiah and Jalan Nakhoda Manis Seria operating only on Saturdays (6am to 11am). The market sells fresh vegetables and fruits and edibles such as 'ikan salai' or barbequed fish.

Wasai Wong Kadir

The Wong Kadir Waterfall or wasai is what visitors will find at the end of an arduous uphill jungle trek that is worth the workout.

The Sungai Mau Recreation Park

A lovely recreational spot situated along Sungai Liang and Labi Road.

Luagan Lalak Recreational Park

About 25 km away lies the famous Luagan Lalak Recreational Park, a 270-hectare site of lush, green hills.

An alluvial freshwater swamp fills up during the rainy season but dries up to become a valley of swishing sedges in the dry season.

The effect is striking and most people admire the scene by strolling along the 200m walkway that meanders along the lake.
 

Tutong District  
 
Pantai Seri Kenangan

Located within five minutes from the town centre is a narrow split of land with the South China Sea on the side and Tutong River on the other.

Pantai Seri Kenangan or the `beach of beautiful memories' is a popular haunt for weekenders. Shutters or `Pondok' are built along the coastal way for picnickers.

There is a restaurant at the riverside opposite the playground, where you can savour the scenic view of the Tutong River while dining.

Sungai Basong Recreational Park

Just five minutes from Tutong town centre, this is one of the most popular spots in the district for picnickers and joggers, the park features 'Rumah Budaya' (cultural village) which showcases the five ethnic groups in the district - namely the Tutong, Kedayan, Iban, Dusun and the Chinese community.

The exhibitions also help to project the rich diverse cultures and the cultural identity of the different ethnic groups such as the Kedayan, Murut and Dusun people found in Tutong.

The 'Rumah Budaya' was constructed in 2001 at the cost of B$800,000 and is the only cultural house in the country.

Tasek Merimbun

About 27 km inland from Tutong is Brunei's scenic Tasek Merimbun or Lake Merimbun, an unusual `S'-shaped black water lake which has been earmarked as an Asean National Heritage Site.

Actually a flooded segment of a tributary of the Tutong River, this 120-hectare site surrounded by swamps and sedges, has gravestones that dates back to the 15th century.

History has it that this was once the burial ground of early Borneo tribes, notably the Dusun people.

Tasek Merimbun is also the nature lover's delight offering views of bird, plant and insect life. Altogether, the lake covers 7,800 hectares of lake wetland, peat swamp forest, fresh water forest and a lowland mixed Dipterocarp forest.

A tiny island in the centre features a pavilion that provides visitors a place to picnic or just admire the view.
 

Temburong District  
 
Batang Duri

About 17km from Bangar, the main town of Temburong - the most forested district - is Batang Duri, an Iban settlement cum park with a longhouse (traditional extended family house) where shifting cultivation is still practiced.

Batang Duri provides visitors with a rare insight into Iban culture and lifestyle.

Taman Batang Duri

This is a landscaped park with a mini zoo that houses civets, monkeys, otters, birds, honey bears, mongoose and crocodiles.

Kuala Belalong Forest Reserve

This forest reserve features 2,000 breath-taking steps that lead to the summit. It affords a panoramic view of the majestic mountains, the rushing river and the surrounding forestland below.

Batu Apoi Forest Reserve & the Ulu Temburong National Park

The Batu Apoi Forest Reserve is an endless spread of thick virgin jungle and inside lies 50,000 hectares of parkland that has seen very little human impact.

Called the Ulu Temburong National Park, this tract features steep, swampy terrain and thick impenetrable jungle land. Because there are no roads that lead here, the only access is only by boat or' temuai'.

A trail from the forest takes visitors to the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre, a research facility set up for the study of the abundant ecological treasures found in these parts. However, charting the difficult terrain to get there requires the help of a guide.

This forest features a seven-kilometre walkway, tree houses about 30 meters high and hanging bridges intended for nature 66 observation of the surrounding mountains and the river and forest below.

The Kuala Belalong Mini Park

Situated at the Temburong Civic Centre Padang, this park which was opened in 1993, has a waterfall, a pond, a landscaped garden and huts similar to those in Kuala Belalong.

However, these are not used for accommodation but for exhibiting pictures of His Majesty's Temburong visits and findings made at the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre.

Peradayan Forest Recreation Park

For an eco-tour that comprises caves and strange rock formations, this park would be the ideal place. Spreading over 1,070 hectares, it is declared as a conservation forest by the Forestry Department. The peaks of Bukit Patoi (310m) and Bukit Peradayan (410m) are contained.--Courtesy of Brunei Year Book