Singapore Airlines

Bandar Seri Begawan
Southeast Asia

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

At first glance on a map, Brunei is no more than a dot, a tear-shaped drop of land falling between the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. For most visitors, the capital Bandar Seri Begawan serves as no more than a pitstop, a place to refuel, or a staging point from which to explore the thickly-clad interior jungles of Borneo, or the pristine coral reefs that form a cocoon around the northern beaches.

But to pass through in such a fleeting, transitory moment is to do the city – and the 600-year-old sultanate – a serious injustice. Like the bright crimson rambutan fruit that’s piled high at every market stall in summer, the city has a skin that needs to be pulled back to be best savoured.

A whistle-stop tour would see you miss the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, a stunning tribute to the nation’s deep-rooted Islamic faith – built on an artificial lake, the gold-domed landmark dominates daily life. Rush through and you’d also miss its ceremonial halls, royal palace and the “floating” water village, or Kampong Ayer, a cluster of more than 40 connected hamlets built on an 8km-long stretch of the Brunei river. Home to more than 39,000 locals, and with houses, schools, shops, mosques, a hospital – even a police station on stilts – it has to be seen to be believed. It definitely pays to stay longer here than you think.

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What to do

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What to do in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei - Proboscis monkeys  

Proboscis monkeys in the wild

What to do in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei - Kampong Ayer  

Taxi boat tours to Kampong Ayer



Join locals at their national pastime. Bandar Seri Begawan’s success was built on the profits from the country’s oil fields, the l...


The Billionth Barrel Monument

See where all that money came from. The Billionth Barrel Monument may be a kitsch nod to the sultanate’s overwhelming debt to thei...


Royal Regalia Museum

Buy a gift for the sultan. Well, not quite, but you can get an inside look into what you could buy for Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah or ...


Where to stay

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Where to eat

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Where to eat in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei - Lim Ah Siaw

Lim Ah Siaw

Just because it’s located in the midst of a down-at-heel pork market shouldn’t put you off eating at this low-key, Chinese-style speakeasy. It’s dubbed the most sinful place to eat in the country,¬ but that doesn’t mean non-Muslims don’t enjoy their fill. Load up on BBQ pork, pork buns, crispy braised pork and pork dumplings.

Insider's Tip: Those in the know love it, but it pays to be sensitive to those that choose not to dine here for religious reasons.

Where to eat in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei - Aminah Arif

Aminah Arif

Like a bowl of gloopy, starchy porridge, but with a dash of stretchy tapioca, Brunei’s national dish is ambuyat. National fervour for the dish can reach boiling point - everyone has a personal favourite to try - but it’s an acquired taste for visitors. If you’re the adventurous type, make a beeline for this chain, which claims their recipe has been passed down generations. There are plenty of other rice and noodle dishes on offer, too.

Insider's Tip: Ambuyat is a communal dining experience - portions are big enough for two or three hungry diners - so make sure you don’t come alone.

Where to eat in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei - Gadong Night Market

Gadong Night Market

There’s something about this street food market that gets locals in a sweat. Maybe it’s the fiery, chilli-marinated meats sizzling on the barbecue, steaming pots of curry, or the zingy sticks of satay grilled at break-neck speeds. Either way, watching the vendors work their culinary magic from 6-11.30pm each night is half the fun. There’s no seating, so if you don’t mind eating on the hop, look no further.

Insider's Tip: It’s the cheapest place to dine in the city, so make sure you take plenty of loose change to pick and choose from the various stalls. Feeling brave? Try the grilled cow lung to get things rolling.

Where to eat in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei - Pantai


As you’d expect from the ritzy, glitzy Empire Hotel, its signature restaurant is the classiest in town. The concept is a restaurant inside a restaurant, giving you two distinct dining experiences to choose from. The decadent Pantai offers up a mammoth seafood buffet, while Pantai – Zen Pavilion specialises in delectable Japanese cuisine and Teppanyaki cooked at your table. Definitely make an advance reservation.

Insider Tip: With both inside and outside seating, make sure you reserve a table on the terrace to get the most from those tropical sunsets.


City Info

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