15 hour stopover in Brunei
Booking international flights when travelling with children can always be tricky, there is so much to consider. From Australia, you cannot go too far off the beaten track without having a stopover, particularly if you are also considering safety ratings of airlines, time zones, layovers and cost. On this occasion travelling to Kuala Lumpur gifted us a Dreamliner experience on Royal Brunei Airlines which was economy comfort like no other AND a 15 hour stopover in Brunei.
Where is Brunei and what is Brunei known for?
Brunei is a small country on the island of Borneo. Borneo is made up of Brunei, as well as parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, in South East Asia. Brunei is known for its oil production and is one of the richest countries in South East Asia. To tourists it is known for the sandy beaches, rivers, forests and there being no taxes.
A taste of Brunei
With a 15 hour stopover in Brunei we were never going to have a lot of time to “experience Brunei”, we did however get a great taste of Brunei, one that has us very keen to return!
Brunei from the sky
Flying into Brunei International Airport, we were blessed with clear skies where we were able to spot some sights to note from the sky. It was spectacular!
In 2020, the Bruneians were relieved with the opening of the Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Bridge. It is more commonly known as the Temburong Bridge, the 26-kilometre bridge is the longest in Southeast Asia. Temburong Bridge allows locals and visitors to travel from one part of the country to the other by road, rather than by sea which is what was happening before then. Incredible right?! Equally as amazing is that to construct the bridge they had to cross an unexplored rainforest and were committed to causing minimal impact to the area so went to great measures to construct it using unique ‘propping up’ techniques.
Rivers of Brunei
Flying in we were able to see waterways spreading in all directions surrounded by lush green forests. The four main rivers in Brunei are Belait River, Tutong River, Temburong River and Brunei River.
Mosques in Brunei
There are a number of mosques to visit in Brunei. Although we only managed to view one from the outside (read on) we were fortunate enough to see them from the sky. They colours and structures are a sight to behold.
Arrival in Brunei
The boys couldn’t believe the International Airport was so small. It is hard to fathom sometimes the size of Australia but visiting smaller countries like Brunei has opened their eyes up to the size of other countries around the world and it created some great conversation!
We transitioned through the airport relatively easily, however, we have few little tips and tricks for anyone arriving in Brunei for a holiday or an overnight stopover.
- You can complete the arrival card online before arriving – we would recommend this to eliminate this step at the airport.
- Take cash with you or have some other cash (USD or MYR) as (at the time of writing) there was no functioning ATM and cash is required. They are very much a cash country.
- Download the Dart app which is similar to Uber or Grab in case there is not a taxi there waiting. We did manage to get a taxi but he was literally the only taxi at the airport and was waiting for someone else to arrive but zipped out to take us to help us out. The taxi cost us $25 Brunei each way.
Accommodation in Brunei
Due to our stopover in Brunei being so short and our time was limited, we wanted to stay in the city as close to the waterfront as possible in the hope that we could wander on foot and see some sights. We decided to stay at The Brunei Hotel which was a great choice! Perfectly located within easy walking distance of waterways, the waterfront, Jalan Roberts, Yayasan Food Street and Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque.
The Brunei Hotel was the perfect location for our stay. With two connecting rooms we were able to move within our space freely and securely. We had two bathrooms and four single beds to get us through the night. Air conditioning and free filtered water was available to all hotel guests throughout our stay. The beds were comfortable and rooms were clean. Not that we used it but there was also a restaurant downstairs which was open for all meals throughout the day. You could book accommodation with or without breakfast, as well.
Quick walking tour of Brunei city
Once we unpacked and set beds up at The Brunei Hotel we were ready to hit the pavement! We wandered directly to the waterfront. It was dark by the time we got out so streets were dark but well lit with street lights. The waterfront was quiet with just a few people walking and a number of people doing their daily exercise running. The boys were in disbelief that people would run in such hot weather!
We made our way to Jalan Roberts to see the coloured building but the darkness didn’t make them worth visiting. That said, on the way we came across some magnificent street art (seen in the Insta post below). From there we made our way across to Yayasan Food Street which had a real festival vibe which from what I can understand it has all the time! There were loads of food stalls open and a number of tables and chairs for people to sit communally to eat. We were invited to join a couple at their table which we did.
After dinner, we walked across to the stunning Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. The water surrounding it was still so it created a beautiful reflection of colours.
By this stage, the boys were well tired, they were four hours past their bed time in Australia, so we headed back to The Brunei Hotel for bed.
In the morning, our taxi driver who we had asked to return for our airport return trip from the day before was ready and waiting for us. He was so incredibly kind and helpful to us the day before and exactly the same at 6:15am! He took us on the scenic route to the airport and gave us a guided tour along the way pointing out buildings, schools, the soccer stadium and other sights of interest.
Upon arrival at the airport, we walked to the airport mosque for a look before checking in, then having some breakfast in the café. When it was time to go, we were all a little sad to be leaving behind such a beautiful country without seeing enough of it. The whole way to KL, I was scheming how and when we would get back there to see more!
- The people to be super friendly, welcoming and helpful!
- Brunei is really clean and well cared for and maintained.
- Road rules are adhered to.
- It is safe. We felt so safe walking around at night.
- Alcohol can’t be bought at shops or restaurants.
- It is such a civilised country it is hard not to love Brunei on first impressions!