"BSB - Don't expect the Middle East" Top 5 Page for this destination Bandar Seri Begawan by Willettsworld

Bandar Seri Begawan Travel Guide: 324 reviews and 1,122 photos

Bandar Seri Begawan, also known as BSB or just Bandar, is the capital of the Sultanate of Brunei. We all know who the Sultan of Brunei is - the richest monarch in the world thanks to all the oil resources it has. But don't expect to see everyone driving around in Mercedes and architecture plucked from the Middle East. It's the exact opposite in fact. It's like Malaysia but with nodding-donkey oil wells, pipes everywhere and very strict Islamic beliefs - alcohol isn't sold here except in only a few high-end hotels and there's no nightlife - and this is a capital city!

The history of Bandar Seri Begawan goes back to the 7th century, where there existed a settlement, not unlike those found in Kampong Ayer, near where the Brunei Museum is located today. It was originally called Bandar Brunei. The word "Bandar" means "harbour" in Persian, but is translated as "town" in Malay (although in Indonesian, it retains the meaning of "harbour"). Begawan is a word to honour Bruneian sultans who have abdicated, and comes from Sanskrit meaning "god".

Tourism is here but don't expect to find many western tourists. The only western people I saw work here. There's a few interesting places to visit in the city such as the Kampong Ayer (water village) which is home to hundreds of wooden stilt houses which can be explored by chartering a boat; the excellent Brunei Museum; the beautiful Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque which is best viewed at night (giving you at least something to do at night); the Royal Regalia Museum and a rather nice small Chinese Temple. I stayed at a youth hostel in the city centre that doubled as a sports centre complete with outdoor swimming pool. I came here on a rather convoluted journey from Miri that involved five buses and a river crossing. Brunei and BSB is a little strange but I was happy to visit and mark it off as a country I've visited.

  • Last visit to Bandar Seri Begawan: Mar 2009
  • Intro Written Aug 31, 2010
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Reviews (27)

Comments (2)

  • BillNJ's Profile Photo
    Dec 4, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    BSB sounds a little dull with just about everything closing before 9:30 pm. However, if I'm ever there, I'll be sure to check out Babu's with the cute waitresses thanks to your tip. Cheers!

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    You have been there! Great! Thanks for your superb pictures and stories.... ><><><

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