Brunei is a Muslim country and woman are advised to dress modestly. As I didn't know I was going to visit Brunei (I thought I would only make a very short stop-over in Brunei on my flight to Sabah) I was wearing the totally wrong type of clothing! Eeks! I had no chance to change into some descent clothing because everything was locked up in my suitcase and on its way to Sabah :-(
I was wearing shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt; not the most appropriate clothing for Brunei. I didn't get any comments on my clothing though and I didn't run into any problems. But be prepared to be stared at so now and then. And of course be prepared to feel a bit 'different' than anyone else you meet in Brunei. When I visited the mosque I could borrow a robe to cover myself. See the picture: me in action getting some appropriate clothing :-)
Being a strict muslim country, the women need to cover-up everwhere except the lower arms, head and neck..... You can wear shorts and go bare-shuldered.... but you will get alot of stares and verbal harrasment.
Oh, one thing I find really annoying in the official bruneian guides is that they tell visitors to be polite and considerate as that is the Bruneian way of life. Sounds like they are insinuating that other cultures are barbaric. Don't be offended, as there is stereotype in this part of the world that westerners are uncouth and ill-manered. It has been labelled "budaya kuning".
The area around the bus station and Brunei Hotel has a lot of very good Indian restaurants. The owners cater to the Indian migrant workers in Brunei. Authentic and very good value for the money.
Taman Bandaraya - A night market just beyond the Royal Regalia Museum off Jalan Tutong. Malay food sold at night.
Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Complex, many fast-food restaurants: McDonalds, KFC, Jollibee. Haunt of young Bruneians.
On the top floor of the Yayasan Complex and visible from Jalan McArthur, internet access: Rates are B$3 per hour, and one hour free. If you do not need these full two hours you can come back the following day and use the remaining time.
In Jerudong Park there are quite a lot of food stalls. It is well frequented by Bruneians, if for no other reason than there is not too much to do at night. It is open until quite late. The drawback is that you need your own transport, as there are no buses after 6 pm. Taxis are pretty expensive.
SOME HELP WITH LOCAL DISHES
Roti Prata A kind of fried bread served with dahl (lentils) and sambal (crushed chili pepper) or fish/chicken curry. You can also order it with eggs inside. Then it is called: roti (bread) telur (egg).
Nasi Lemak: rice boiled in cocnutmilk served with anchovy sambal, peanuts, eggs and cucumbers.
Lontong Cubes of rice served with sayur lodeh, a vegetable curry made with coconut milk and tumeric.
Mee Goreng Fried noodles. Tumeric powder is used to give the dish a nice orange colour.
Nasi Goreng Fried Rice.
Soto A thick soup usually consisting of chicken or beef.
All these dishes are highly recommended. If you are staying for a few days only it is difficult to make a choice
These little houses on stilts can fool you. When you go inside you see refrigerators, air conditioners and all matter of modern appliances. As I said before, the sultan is VERY RICH due to OIL. He gives his subjects eveything. It was the people who turned down his offer of modern housing.
Brunei is a rather conservative islamic country. It is more conservative than Malaysia for example. It is not possible to buy alcohol in Brunei. The social conventions which apply to islamic countries in general apply to Brunei too. During the Ramadan period you should not eat or drink in public places during the day time. Restaurants are typically closed for lunch during the Ramadan period.
Ladies should take a shawl to cover their heads upon entering mosques, there are many beautiful temples to see. Also, men should take a clean pair of socks as you will be removing your shoes often.
As usual, pleasant smiles will be returned in kind.
LINK TO CONTINUED BRUNEI TRAVELOGUE [CLICK HERE]
It's customary to remove one's shoes when going into homes, mosques and visiting the Royal Regalia building.
This independent sovereign sultanate is ruled by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzadin Waddaulah.
More Regions in Brunei