Travellers' Essentials

Here are a number of tips and things to keep in mind when preparing for a trip to Brunei, to help you make the best of your stay here.

TRAVEL VISA

Brunei allows certain countries to visit without obtaining a visa for a maximum stay of 90, 30 or 14 days. Travellers can check if they require a visa prior to entering Brunei here, which also lists the visa fee and processing period according to a specific country.

In the case that one may need a visa, travellers can apply for it in person through Brunei’s Missions Abroad offices, which are based in a number of countries, listed in this handy directory. However, if there is no Missions Abroad office in your country, no need to fret! Complete applications can also be sent via secure courier to the nearest Missions Abroad office.

BANK

In the event that one needs to withdraw cash, ATMs can be found at any shopping centre  and will accept cards with worldwide ATM functionality, e.g. Visa Plus and Mastercard Cirrus.

Two of the most prominent banks in the country are Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) and Baiduri Bank, which support both Visa and Mastercard cards, as well as Unionpay (for Baiduri only). Other international banks that can be found are Maybank, Standard Chartered Bank, Overseas Union Bank (OUB), RHB Bank, and Bank of China.

CURRENCY

Brunei’s currency is equivalent to that of Singapore, and Singaporean dollar notes can be used in Brunei as well. BND1 is also equivalent to (depending on current rates) :-

MYR CNY KRW JPY USD GBP
3.01 5.01 821.5 80.8 0.73 0.57
TELCO

Brunei has two main telecommunication companies: DST Communications Sdn Bhd., and Progresif Cellular Sdn Bhd. Travellers can buy a data package suited to their needs at the airport, where both companies have booths at the arrival hall.

WEATHER

Sunny with a chance of showers would be the best way to describe the weather in Brunei. Clear, blue skies are pretty much a daily phenomenon, but do take note that the wettest months are from October to January and from May to July. An up-to-date, daily forecast of the weather can be found here.

OPERATING HOURS

Shops and eating establishments generally open around 9.30 am, with select cafes and convenience stores opening earlier at 7 to 8 am. The city winds down around 10 pm in the evening, with again, a select few eateries that open till late. However, everything is closed every Friday noon from 12 pm until 2 pm in consideration of Solat Jumaat (Friday Prayers).

In addition, during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan (varies every year according to the Islamic calendar), restaurants only allow food takeaway or delivery at all times during the period of fasting, which typically starts at about 4 – 5 am and ends at around 6 – 7 pm daily, until Ramadan ends.

CUSTOMS AND CULTURE

The people of Brunei are generally courteous and warm; an inherent expression of our decades-long beliefs and traditions that are still observed to this day.

Though, there are a couple of things to take note. When in Brunei, never use the index finger to point at something, as it’s considered to be a rude action. Instead, use one’s thumb. Bruneians are also quite soft-spoken (except when persuading buyers to browse their wares at the local market), so it’s best not to raise one’s voice, especially in a public space.

Dress modestly when in public areas and avoid clothing that reveals too much skin. This is also advisable since Brunei is situated so close to the equator, and prolonged exposure to the strong UV rays here may pose a future health risk.

SAFETY

Frequency of crime in Brunei is low, and safety isn’t a particularly huge issue. Even so, travelers are advised to take necessary precautions: always keep an eye on one’s belongings, ensure that the car doors are locked if you’re renting one, and be aware of one’s surroundings, especially when walking along the streets at night.

EMERGENCY

Here are the emergency numbers in Brunei:

Ambulance­— 991

Police – 993

Fire Brigade – 995

Search and Rescue — 998

MEDICAL

Brunei-Muara District, where the capital Bandar Seri Begawan is located, has one major government hospital, which is the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital (+673 222 2366) and two private hospitals: Gleneagles Hospital (+673 261 1883), and Jerudong Park Medical Centre (+673 261 1433), a specialist hospital.

There is a government health centre in most towns as well, and private clinics in any major shopping area.

EMBASSIES AND IMPORTANT CONTACTS

Brunei hosts 35 embassies and consulates. Contact details for them can be found here.


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