Bandar Seri Begawan Local Customs

  • Warning - pork served
    Warning - pork served
    by DSwede
  • Local Customs
    by Willettsworld
  • Local Customs
    by Willettsworld

Most Recent Local Customs in Bandar Seri Begawan

  • Bruneian do speaks English

    by jeffLim Updated Apr 22, 2011

    I'm Bruneian so i know about my country, the customs and others. We shake hands not bowing. Brunei is a Muslim and peaceful country ever... For tourists you don't have to worry about having a holiday here.... NO WORRIES..

    Bruneian do speak english, it has been a practice long ago, we are following the MIB(Melayu Islam Beraja) custom. We take Malay as our official language but that doesn't mean we don't know english as what other are saying, ISLAM, we are Muslim country and BERAJA, we have the Sultan taht we love and we respect.

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    Pork in a Muslim country & other dining tips

    by DSwede Updated Apr 30, 2010

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    Warning - pork served

    Brunei is a Muslim country. However, there is a large population of non-Muslims, prominently of Chinese or Indian decent.

    Muslims do not eat pork, nor drink alcohol. Brunei has made a loop-hole for the former of these, but has instituted a 'dry' country policy against alcohol.

    Restaurants that serve pork dishes must publicly display the fact as to caution Muslims about dining there. One such sign is shown here, but many alternatives exist. If you are meeting people, it would be courteous to choose a restaurant keeping this in mind.

    If you are content to eat fish, chicken, beef or vegetarian, you can go anywhere. If you are searching for a bit of pork, you will most probably have to go to a Chinese style restaurant.

    On the unlikely chance that the servers don't speak English, here are some helpful words while dining:
    chicken - ayam
    beef - daging
    seafood - makanan laut
    vegetable - sayur-sayuran
    rice - nasi
    how much? - Berapa?
    where is the toilet? - di mana tandas?

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    Smoking in Brunei

    by DSwede Written Apr 30, 2010

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    I'm not a smoker so cannot say I had a problem with this, but I'm sure some may find it a bit tough to get their nicotine fix when the urge arises.

    Smoking is prohibited in many places, for example all air conditioned public areas as well as many open air places. Recreational areas, restaurants, schools, public transport, etc.

    Best to take a look around before you light up.

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    Respect for the Sultan

    by cochinjew Written Jan 31, 2008

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    Headline news indeed in this tiny sultanate
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    Sultan Hossanul Bolkiah is highly respected and in the words of one Malay ciiizen (non malays are not citizens anyway), better to say a Malay denizen, he is good to us. Nothing like the reverance Thai people have for Bhumipal Ayudej the King of Thailand. Brunei Malays know where the toast is buttered. So his birthdays are serious affairs. Fully six months before his 62nd birthday in July 2008, no one other than the Interior Minister have called together a committe to discuss matters relating to the celebration of His Exfellency, may Allah grant him long life, Hossanul Bolkiah.
    Unlike the Malay Sultans of Peninsular Malaysia, this Sultan has absolute power and money to prove it. Like his father did in December 1962, when there was an uprising against the Sultan by disgruntled Malays and Indonesians. Gurkhas were flown in and soon the rebellion was over. By the way the Gurkhas are still here, you can see their army compound in Seria.

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    No shoes in the house

    by BorneoGrrl Written Aug 28, 2007

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    When you enter someone's house, chances are you will have to take off your shoes. It's a normal custom in Asia and if you're not used to it, you have to start practicing because should you just walk into someone's house with your shoes on, it's considered rude and unclean.

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    It's a "dry" country

    by BorneoGrrl Written Aug 28, 2007

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    Brunei is a Muslim country and unlike their neighbors, Malaysia or Indonesia, they have implemented a "no alcohol" law. So, you are advised not to bring alcohol into the country or drink it in public. I guess some expatriates have brought in liquor but they are allowed to.

    Royal Brunei Airlines also does not serve alcohol onboard their flights

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    Brunei dollars versus Singapore dollars

    by victorwkf Written Jul 28, 2007

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    Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
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    In both Brunei and Singapore, both currencies can be used interchangably because their values are the same since many years ago. Therefore you can use Singapore dollars in Bandar Seri Begawan (and other parts of Brunei) if you happened to visit Singapore prior to Brunei. However, I was told some stalls do not accept Singapore coins but I did not encounter this problem when I was at Bandar Seri Begawan

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    Interesting observations at Kampong Ayer

    by victorwkf Written Jul 28, 2007

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    Cement concrete supporting a house at Kampong Ayer
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    When I was on the speed boat trip along the Brunei River visiting the various water villages of the famous Kampong Ayer, I had three interesting observations. Firstly, the structures supporting the various buildings in the water are actually made from concrete (see photo) so they are actually very strong compared to similar water villages of neighbouring countries such as Indonesia where the structures are made of wood. Secondly, I noticed that there is a huge Shell petrol station on the water (see photo), which the boatman told me is the major petrol station for the speedboats moving along the river. The petrol used is the same as those for cars. Thirdly, some of the people staying in the water villages actually have cars, and they park their cars at a big carpark just next to the river (see photo).

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    Brunei River (Sungai Brunei)

    by victorwkf Written Jul 28, 2007

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    Brunei River (Sungai Brunei)
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    Like many other cities around the world, Bandar Seri Begawan is situated next to a river called the Brunei River (Sungai Brunei in Malay) which is the life line of the city. Even till today, there are about 30 water villages on this river (which make up the famous Kampong Ayer) and speedboats and other boats still move along the river almost every minute. This river is also a vital link to the Temburong area of Brunei (east of the city), which is cut off from the rest of the country by land so travelling there is only possible by boats leaving from Bandar Seri Begawan. A trip to Bandar Seri Begawan will not be complete without taking a boat ride on the Brunei River and exploring Kampong Ayer (see my Kampong Ayer tips and photos).

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    Architecture of Brunei

    by victorwkf Written Jul 26, 2007

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    Architecture at Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
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    To me, the most beautiful thing about Brunei is the architecture of the various buildings, especially the mosques, palaces, government buildings etc which all have a very strong Islamic and Malay influence. Also, many of these buildings then to be very grand and impressive, considering Brunei is one of the richest countries in the world. Take your time to walk around Bandar Seri Begawan and admire the impressive architecture of the buildings.

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    Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah & his birthday

    by victorwkf Written Jul 24, 2007

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    Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei
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    Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is the current Sultan (king) of Brunei. Essentially, Brunei is still a kingdom where the Sultan (king) still holds the power. In fact, Sultan Bolkiah has been the Sultan since the 1960s and one of the longest rulers in the world. He used to be the richest man in the world, and still is one of the richest men in the world. You will know more about Sultan Bolkiah if you visit the Royal Regalia Museum at Bandar Seri Begawan, where there are lots of photos and information about him and his family.

    The birthday of the Sultan is on 15th July. If you are at Bandar Seri Begawan during this period, you will see lots of banners and beautiful lights along the streets celebrating his birthday (see photos). During the day itself, there will be grand celebrations at Bandar Seri Begawan and the week following that is lined with various activities, including carnivals and roadside shops along many roads in Bandar Seri Begawan (these roads will be closed to traffic).

    Another country which I have visited where the Sultan still holds power is Oman (Sultan Qaboos in this case). Please visit my VT Oman pages if you are interested.

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  • SLLiew's Profile Photo

    Respect local customs

    by SLLiew Updated Feb 27, 2007

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    Brunei is generallyh a conservatic society embracingl Islamic values.

    Eating pork, drinking alcohol and contact with the saliva of dogs are "haram" or disallowed under teachings of Islam. Over 70% of Bruneians are Muslims.

    Also do NOT offer your gift using your left hand.

    Pointing using your index finger is considered rude.

    Remember to remove your shoes when visiting a mosque. Dress conservatively too to respect that this is a holy place of worship. If not sure, alwyas ask you local Bruneian guide.

    But I am sure the locals will understand that a visiting tourist may not be aware of local culture and any intrasigences will be tolerated with a smile.

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    Easy local phrases in Brunei

    by SLLiew Written Jan 30, 2007

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    Local school

    Malay or Bahasa Melayu is the official language of Brunei and spoken by all.

    Although in most places, you can get away with English, learning and using the following simple Malay phrases is fun and great way to get to know the local Bruneians better.

    The Malay spoken in Brunei is similar to that spoken in Malaysia and fairly close to Jakarta and Indonesia.

    "Selamat Pagi" = Good morning
    "Selamat Petang" = Good afternoon
    "Selamat Malam" = Good night
    "Selamat Tinggal" = Good bye (if you are leaving the place)
    "Selamat Jalan" = Good bye (to others who are leaving the place)

    "Terima kasih"=Thank you
    "Sama sama"= You are welcome (response to Terima kasih)

    "Di mana tandas" = Where is the toilet
    "Di mana teksi" = Where is the taxi
    "Di mana hotel" = Where is the hotel

    "Berapa"= How much
    "Mahal"= Expensive

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    Brunei Currency - Dollar

    by SLLiew Written Oct 5, 2006

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    Brunei Dollar Exchange rate, US$ 1 = BND 1.7

    It is accepted at par value in Singapore with the Singapore dollar per an exchange agreement.

    Currency bill showing potrait of HM Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

    Coins in circulation: 1 sen, 5 sen, 10 sen, 20 sen, 50 sen
    One dollar coin is no longer in circulation.

    Bill denominations:
    1 dollar - blue (polymer)
    5 dollar - green (polymer)
    10 dollar - red (polymer)
    25 dollar - purple and beige
    50 dollar - purple, light blue, light blue and bronze (polymer)
    100 dollar - gold (polymer)
    500 dollar - orange
    1,000 dollar
    10,000 dollar

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  • How to Act Decent in a Muslim Nation

    by tHe_boRNEaN Written Dec 23, 2005

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    Being a Muslim nation, Brunei appreciates travellers who appreciate the customs of Islam. Where you may have been unnoticed wearing a bikini, people will pass you off as gross and indecent in Brunei. So please, research on clothing before your trip. While strolling in the streets, its OK for men to wear short-sleeved shirts and trousers, but it is advisable for ladies to wear long trousers. In mosques, ladies must cover their legs and arrms, while men are alright with short sleeved shirts and long trousers. Remember-no shoes allowed in a mosque, and never touch the al-Koran. At the beach, try to avoid wearing bikinis and cover up as much as is possible ( I think a one-piece swimsuit should be OK). Men have not much problems. Muslims shake hands lightly and bring their hands to their chest. And by the way, while in a mosque, don't point the soles of your feet at others, and don't walk in front of people in prayer as this is a serious offence.

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