Located on the South East Asian island of Borneo, the small country of Brunei is far from cheap. Money and oil are what make Brunei tick. Many people use Brunei as a quick stopover en route to somewhere else, but it is worth spending a few days exploring the country and its attractions. Although it will cost significantly more than other countries in South East Asia, there are ways to lessen the financial blows and maintain somewhat of a reasonable budget when visiting Brunei.
Budget Accommodation in Brunei
You will not find an abundance of backpacker hostels in Brunei, unlike neighbouring countries. It is the domain of fancy hotels. You can expect to spend a decent chunk of your money on your sleeping arrangements, but there are still some ways to make savings. The capital of Bandar Seri Begawan does have a place with dormitory rooms, as well as a handful of guest houses. With a bit of negotiation in places, you can often pay less than the actual quoted rack rates. Advance preparation can go a long way in Brunei, with some of the best deals on accommodation being found online; book in advance to save the most money.
Transport in Brunei on a Budget
Public transport is obviously cheaper than taking taxis. One of the most cost effective ways to explore Brunei, however, is by renting your own hire car. Petrol is cheap in this oil rich country, so you can enjoy the convenience of being able to go exactly where you want to go, when you want to go there, at a reasonable cost. Brunei drives on the left hand side of the road, and an International Driving License is needed to drive in the country. In the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan, walking around is a great option.
Eating in Brunei on a Budget
People from Brunei love to eat, so there is a plethora of great food places to choose from. Whilst you will find expensive and top end restaurants, markets, food courts, and hawker stalls are a great choice if you are trying to keep costs down. You will find that many locals frequent such places, and the food is filling and tasty. If your accommodation offers breakfast, make sure that you fill up in the morning to keep you going for longer.
Sightseeing in Brunei on a Budget
At most of the paid attractions you will have to just accept any entrance fees. If you are a student or a senior citizen though, it is worth asking about any concessions. The good news is, however, that many of the top sights are completely free. The Royal Regalia Museum, a popular sight in the capital, is free to enter. You can learn all about the Sultan and Brunei’s royalty, and marvel in awe at all the opulent and decorative adornments and other items. There is also no charge to look around the Brunei Museum or the Malay Technology Museum.
The important and grand Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, with its towering minaret and artificial lake, and the large Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque, with its elaborate interior, both offer free admission. The water villages of Kampong Ayer can be strolled around and the sights enjoyed for no payment. The Sultan’s Palace, Istana Nural Iman, can be admired from the outside. Outside of the capital city, the Temburong area is rich in pristine jungles, Tasek Merimbun is a large and usual colour lake, and the rides at Jerudong Park Playground are inexpensive.
Brunei can be a great place for a few days, and it really doesn’t have to cost the earth.