Brunei is a typical country of the Islamic world with virtually no night life and strict standards of conduct in public places. Most tourists come here just to get acquainted with the traditions of the East and its history. The metropolitan area of Brunei Muara is often visited because of its cultural identity, the Western Tutong and Bela are renowned centers of Brunei oil and gas industry, and the Eastern Temburong district is widely known for its pristine rainforests.
Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital and only major city in the country, is located on the northern bank of the Brunei-Sung river. This is a very neat, clean and modern city with wide roads and modern high-rise public buildings, many mosques and markets. And at the same time, the national character can be seen everywhere here, as the majority of houses are made in the typical oriental style, with parks and gardens framed by numerous religious buildings, palaces, and banking facilities. Modern venues are combined with numerous old buildings, reminiscent of the country’s history before the era of oil boom.
The main attraction of the city is the magnificent palace of the Sultan, Istana Nurul-Iman. It is the largest residential palace in the world, situated in a picturesque location on the coastal strip 4 kilometers west of the city center. The palace stands as a graceful blending of Islamic architecture, local traditions and cutting-edge design. The marble for the construction of the palace was brought from Italy, the granite originated from Shanghai, and the chandeliers were transported from England. Here one will also see the world’s largest private collection of cars, among which there are rare and unique copies, many of which were created by the world’s top manufacturers and exist in a single copy. In accordance with the tradition, the palace is open to the public at the end of Ramadan.
Another main attraction of the capital is a colossal mosque, Omar Ali Saifuddin, one of the most impressive and beautiful modern mosques in the East. This huge building with golden domes and intricately curved design is decorated with beautiful mosaics, a 44-meter high minaret and numerous architectural decorative elements, standing on the shore of the artificial lagoon. The interior of the mosque is also very luxurious.
The traditional Brunei Museum is famous for its Art Gallery of Islamic Art, and the exhibits include old copies of the Koran from India, Iran, Egypt and Turkey, a luxurious collection of weapons, numerous ethnographic collections, sunken vessels, and exhibits from the history of the oil industry. Near the museum, there stands the Mausoleum of Sultan Bolkiah, who reigned so successfully that the country reached its highest peak.
Another attraction of the capital is a wonderful Jerudong Park, which is a huge green area, turned into a sports and entertainment complex under the personal patronage of the Sultan. It is characterized by first-class stadiums, a luxurious lawn, a golf course, a world-class playground for croquet, a go-kart track and other sports facilities. The Tasek Recreation Park is one of the oldest parks in the city not far from the Royal ceremonial hall. This is a beautiful landscaped park with over 200 varieties of trees and shrubs, as well as a natural waterfall and a lake.
Kampung Ayer area is very popular with tourists due to its old and very colorful architecture and a historic collection of 28 traditional villages constructed by local residents near the Sung-Brunei river.
The eastern region is a major environmental area of the country, filled with wet evergreen forests, rivers and marshes, which give shelter to millions of living beings. Bela district is the center of oil and gas industry. The third largest in the country, Tutong District is the most sparsely populated area of Brunei. This territory is the most diverse in ethnic composition, which allows to get acquainted with the distinctive local tribes and their customs.