1. Sultan’s Palace
Translating to ‘Palace of the Light of Faith’, Istana Nurul Iman is officially the world’s largest royal residence. With incredible 1,788 rooms and more than 250 bathrooms, the Sultan’s Palace is a sight to behold. The elegant building blends both traditional Malay and contemporary Islamic styles. A series of vaulted roofs and golden domes decorate the exterior surrounded by manicured gardens. The best place to get a photo is either from the Brunei River or Taman Persiaran Damuan Park.
2. Ulu Temburong National Park
The revered Green Jewel of Brunei, Ulu Temburong sits nestled deep in the recesses of the country’s eastern exclave. A veritable mecca for ecotourists and wildlife lovers, it’s been hailed across the globe as a fine example of state-sponsored conservation. In all, it covers a whopping 550 square kilometers of primeval rainforest, and hosts the exotic likes of rhinoceros hornbills and swinging gibbon colonies.
Visitors who make their way here can enjoy safaris on specially constructed rope bridges in the canopies, which offer a unique perspective atop the old growth jungle.
3. Brunei Museum
Culture-lovers should visit the Brunei Museum to learn about the Sultanate’s natural history and indigenous culture. The free museum takes a little effort to reach almost five kilometers (3.1 miles) from Bandar Seri Begawan, but it’s worth the journey to absorb more of the nation’s past.
4. Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque
From a distance, Brunei’s most important mosque appears to be floating on a pool. Stand closer and the elegant, gold-domed structure gleams under the tropical sun. The adjacent lagoon creates a mirror image of the grand structure. Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, named after the nation’s 28th Sultan, consistently ranks among the most beautiful places to visit in Brunei. Stroll around the exterior and see the replica of a 16th-century royal barge. Inside, the floors use Italian marble, British chandeliers and Saudi Arabian carpets. Brunei’s gem is an architectural masterpiece of Southeast Asia.
5. Gadong Night Market
Opened every evening from 4 PM, Gadong Night Markets' stalls sell local dishes including grilled fish and chicken. Because Bandar Seri Begawan gets so few tourists, the night market retains an authentic flair. If you want to soak up a bit of the Bruneian culture and taste regional cuisine, head to Gadong. Try nasi katok (steamed rice and Bruneian-style fried chicken with a spicy sauce) in this night market.
6. Kampong Ayer
Sat smack bang in the middle of the winding Brunei River as it weaves through the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan, this standalone area of the city can be seen as a destination in its own right.
Also known as the water village is simply formed completely by homes that jut just above the channels on stilts. Many are connected with rickety boardwalks, and play host to happy local families who love showing unexpected visitors around.
Jerudong is a flash place of neon signs and in-your-face attractions, located just on the edge of the ocean and directly west of central Bandar Seri Begawan. Although now largely contiguous with the capital, the suburb has its own distinct character; largely thanks to the brightly-lit casinos and flamboyant gaming halls that line up along the streets by the bucket load.
The go-getter vibe is carried on by one mind-boggling roundabout shaped like a giant diamond ring, not to mention the countless theme parks and manmade beaches, where loop-de-loops meet babbling water fountains and country clubs.
8. Muara Beach
Brunei’s best beach is approximately 30 minutes by car from Bandar Seri Begawan. The clean stretch of coastline and adjacent parks has several benches for picnics, a jogging trail and a prime position to see Borneo’s famous sunset. Why not combine a day at the beach with a sunset picnic? But remember to respect local customs and leave the speedos and bikinis in the hotel.