5 Reasons Why I Keep Coming Back To Brunei

Where is Brunei? Is that even a place?

A small country located on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, Brunei lies in peace with small population and remains unknown to many. It was my first out-of-the-country destination and unlike many others, I did not go there for a travel vacation or leisure. I went to Brunei for a very personal reason but just like many others, I had that same concerns of traveling to this little country (eg. The Sharia Law, being non-muslim, transportation, etc) especially it was my first time and I was going solo trying to find that puzzle piece.

This won’t be an entry about the reason why I went there (you can skip the tissue paper) nor I will provide you with itinerary because I suck at that and don’t do itineraries for my own travels.

Don’t worry, I did not know about Brunei, too.

I was scared especially with all the things that I read on the internet on how strict they are in there – that you have to wear hijab (tudong) every single time. Some people say that it is not a good place to go for non-muslim. 

As stubborn as I am, I did not care. I always believe in “you’ll never know until you’re there” so to Brunei I went. The moment I walked out of that plane, I knew I was inhaling the air of peace. No chaos at the airport. Nope, not everyone is in their hijab. I knew right then that I’ll keep coming back to this small country in Southeast Asia especially when I am in search for some peace of mind.

So here are the reasons why I keep coming back to Brunei:

  1. Empty

    A post shared by Haze (@apinchofhaze) on

    A post shared by Haze (@apinchofhaze) on

    I can not speak for everyone but I came from the hustle and bustle of Manila so an empty place is a good place for me to unwind. 

    I stayed at a hotel in the center of the town of Kuala Belait. On my hotel window, you’ll see no one and I mean, not one person outside. All you’ll see is how clean the place is.

    If you’re being stressed from the corporate or city life and just want an escape where no one will bother you, go to Brunei.

    Brunei is empty. It is nowhere near to being crowded. I remember when I went out on a date with my brother and his girlfriend at the rooftop restaurant, I was just looking down. He asked me, “What are you looking at?” I said, “I am waiting for people to come out. There’s no one outside. Zero.” Readers, I am not exaggerating. It is true. I’ve been to Brunei several times and I still get amazed when I get to see people outside.

  2. Unpolluted

    A post shared by Haze (@apinchofhaze) on

    It is clean and green! You can feel it. When you get there, you’ll know that no matter how cold and hot the weather is for you, the air you’re breathing is clean. The surroundings are clean. The houses are clean no matter how many pets does a household have.

  3. Road Discipline

    A post shared by Shuk Hms (@shuksterrr) on

     Photo by Shuk of shuksterrr

    This is one thing I admire about Bruneians. They do not have traffic jams (well, they do when there’s a huge downpour), but they still give way and follow even the simplest road sign. There’s not much traffic lights, but accidents are very seldom and it’s a big news if there’s any. The population is very limited so streets are not congested with vehicles, but that’s not an excuse to be an a**shole on the roads for Bruneians. They make sure that they use their roundabouts accordingly, follow traffic lights, give way whenever they can, use signals, etc. I’ve been to places where if it’s an empty road, red light won’t count. In Brunei, everyone follows the road rules. Well, if not everyone, let’s say the majority.

  4. Sunsets

    A post shared by Haze (@apinchofhaze) on

    The nature’s creativity is just unimaginably amazing. ????

    A post shared by Haze (@apinchofhaze) on

    A post shared by Haze (@apinchofhaze) on

    A post shared by دوى شاه (@tropicalbudha) on

     Photo by Dewi of tropicalbudha

    I’ve seen a lot of beautiful sunsets back in the Philippines. I love sunsets and I knew we got great ones way back home so I was shocked and suddenly fell in love with Brunei’s sunsets paired with lovely trees along empty roads or the quiet shore.

  5. People of Brunei

    A post shared by Shuk Hms (@shuksterrr) on

     Photo by Shuk of shuksterrr

    A post shared by Haze (@apinchofhaze) on

    People of Brunei are one of the most “chill” people I’ve met. Some say they are one of the laziest but I am in no position to talk about that as I haven’t seen them at work. Bruneians are so laid back. They are okay sitting at the backyard jamming on some music with friends. You can also bring them to parties. Bruneians are respectful for whatever religion you belong or do not belong to. They understand the diversity that this world has and they are willing to help. It is actually a thing in Brunei to pick up and drop off friends as public transportation is not accessible. In addition to this, most people in Brunei speak and understand English so it is not much of a challenge to communicate with them.

These are just few reasons on why I keep coming back and why I love Brunei. I know the country may not be for me to live in now as there’s not much to do but for me, it’s always a place to go back to when all you want to do is breathe some fresh air and enjoy the nature with a group of good people.

Do you have a place that you always go back to? Tell me about it!

  1. This looks absolutely lovely, and I will admit to not knowing much about it! The sunsets are lovely, that’s a reason for me to visit anywhere honestly. But I did love your note about people following road signs and no traffic jams, sounds super tranquil!

  2. I am glad to have read this. It is nice to learn why you keep going back but I am glad I read about how strict it is because I wanted to go there after Philippines with my family but now I think it is too strict for us when we have a young son. Thanks for clearing some stuff up

    1. Hi Natasha,
      I’m from the US and have been living in Brunei for 4 years. You would have no worries living here with your son. It’s the most peaceful place, perfect for families.
      There aren’t many restrictions at all, just alcohol etc. The people are super warm and friendly, and they are tolerant of other religions.
      Come visit!

  3. I’m a Bruneian who loves to go to Pinas at least once a year to unwind… I love the traffic… and to tell u the truth.. I tend to stay up late at night listening to the sound pollutions from the roads, it calms me… yes, I know I’m weird…

    1. That’s cool! I don’t find it weird. People do find somethings they don’t have. It’s opposite for me i love peaceful places like in Brunei. I always go to Pantai Muara every dayoff just to take a walk. That was before when i was still working in there.

  4. To tell you the truth I had no idea how Brunei was but I really like how empty you say it is as I don’t like crowded destinations. Also, the beaches look amazing. I would love to visit.

  5. I worked and lived in Brunei Darussalam for 4 years and agree with most of your observations. The one I cannot agree with is the one about road discipline. Bruneians and some ex pats living there are some of the worst drivers I have had the misfortune to experience anywhere in the world. Examples are jumping red lights, speeding, poor vehicle maintenance, failure to use seat belts for adults or children, irresponsible parking (especially for Friday midday prayers), poor lane and roundabout discipline. Having said that I am looking forward to returning to visit friends. My wife is a Filipina so we also spend a great deal of time in the Philippines. Both countries have their attractions.

    1. Oh no. Sorry to know that. I don’t know how expats drive but for the Bruneians that I know, they are very disciplined on the road.

    2. Yes, some drivers (local or foreign) are simply too inconsiderate to other road users. The case of road-rage pop-up every now and then. Queue jumping and taking over on the side during traffic jams annoys me the most. And like you, irresponsible parking at mosque area is terrible. I’m a Muslim and I myself am embarrassed about that. These ignorant behaviors make driving a bit stressful in Brunei at times.

  6. Brunei is such a beautiful place. We met a guy from Brunei while at Malaysia and he told us to visit Brunei but we didn’t have enough holidays. From your pictures, it feels like we should have the taken the extra time off.

  7. Amazing ramarks but there are more surprise for you to visit again especially Tutong, Temburong and Jerudong in your next trip to explore the Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures.

  8. I m Bruneian.On the road motorists would give you way if you just wave to them.Zebra crossing is well respected n pedestrians can used it safely unlike Philippines zebra crossing is a death trap!
    Brunei is very safe…drug free violence free n that’s why people laid back.Islam is the official religion but not all wear veils it’s an option.Most speak English as it is a compulsory subject in school n most studied in UK n hold degree from UK universities.
    Our monarch are well loved n a humble man.
    Brunei is the abode of peace n truly a place to escape to if you need to have peace n quiet n unpolluted air to recharge your battery!

  9. Come to Brunei to during the event seasons. Coming up Palace Hari Raya meet and greets the Royal Family..that could be around 28th June-30th June… And a rare and once in life probably.. 50th Sultan’s Enthrone Celebration event from 21st Sept til 12 Oct.. But big event where the Sultan carry around the town still not sure..could be 21st Sept

  10. I know about Brunei as my dad used to go there often for work and I have only heard good things about it. I never quite considered it for travel, but I think now I should…your post paints a beautiful picture of the place 🙂

  11. We have this joke in Brunei that if there are more than 10 cars at one location, it qualifies as a traffic jam! *LOL* But honestly, our traffic is a joke to our friends from the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangkok and any other major world cities. I grew up in Kuala Belait in the 70s and yes, it has always been quiet and empty. Bandar Seri Begawan is where the crowd is at but again, it is nowhere close to our neighboring bustling cities. There is no nightlife/pubs/clubs and booze is banned from sale or open consumption. Brunei is definitely not a party place, people best head to Bali or Boracay for that. But we Bruneians are ok with that, we can do without the social ills that come from those type of entertainment. Maybe it seems we don’t try hard to promote Brunei but we do welcome everyone to come and see for themselves rather than believe how foreign media has painted us.

  12. I have never traveled to Asia before or even really heard of this county until recently! I love that it is free of tourists and pollution and the ease of driving is amazing! Even in my town in Floridia people drive crazy so I always admire when people do a good job keeping to the rules of the road!

  13. Brunei’s one of the countries in Southeast Asia that I haven’t visited yet. It looks lovely. I especially like your sunset pictures. How was the food there?

  14. I as Bruneian welcomes tourists, foreign workers or labours to Brunei.

    To Haze, you should visit the location on the list below

    -Jerudong Park
    -Belalong Ulu camp
    -Kota Batu
    -One of multiple wasai within Brunei
    -Jog spot tasik lama

    Those are some locations I remember.. Yet there are lots more i haven’t explored..

    As for Brunei festive

    On the febuary and july would be the best month for visit.. Since its the national day and His Majesty birthday.. For additional festive would be during ramadhan and hari raya..it would be full of colours during hari raya..

    Oh some people commented about Friday drivers..
    It is common on Friday noon around 12-1.40/45 the road would be full and some drivers park irresponsibly due to one of our religious duties that can only be performed at the mosque. Its just only for few hours.. During that time about 99% of shops will be closed.

    If i remember other location i will post it..

  15. Hai haze.. i am bruneian. Good to know that u really amaze about Brunei. Myself didn’t even know how beautiful sunset at Kuala Belait.. lol. Keep in touch if you visit Brunei again. I am willing to give a tour around Brunei for you.

  16. Those are some great reasons! It sounds like a very authentic place, little tourist crowds, but amazing locals and I think that is the perfect combination for a place to fall in love with.

  17. I can see why you love it so much. I think the perfect recipe for a place to fall in love with is little to no tourists and lots of friendly locals! You have me convinced!

  18. I always end up back in Tokyo. A few hours, a day or a week it doesn’t matter. I recently flew Royal Brunei but only got to see the airport on my way to London. Thinking about taking my mum to Brunei for her 60th as a surprise. Do you think it’s a good place to do that for??

  19. I’d been in Brunei for several years and that was where I gave birth to my youngest daughter. Life in there is so simple even if we only have B$10.00 in our pocket life still goes on. Empire Hotel- their 7 star hotel is nice place to visit as well, they also have Muara beach. It is also good to experience the open house in Istana every Hari Raya wherein you can see the Royal family. 🙂

  20. I too love the sunsets there in Brunei. I worked there for 2 years and was located in Muara. I also have some sunset pictures before. I just love it there. Peaceful, that’s true. I am considering to plan a visit on my vacation after going home to Philippines.

  21. So interesting, thankyou for shedding some light on a country I didn’t really know anything about. Those sunsets looks spectacular – the sky looks like it’s on fire! Love that the people are so laid back and friednly too, probably not the stereotype I would have assumed. And I love destinations which allow me to escape the crowds, so the fact that it’s not chaotic and relatively empty is a huge draw for me. Would love to visit Brunei! Thanks for the insight 🙂

    1. Try it, Meg! This article is more like a product of an “escapist” than a “traveler” but we all need to take a break some time, don’t we?

  22. Best place I’ved worked and lived in.
    Best people and friends who i call my brothers and call me the same.
    Best food ever.
    Thats why saya rindu Brunei. Kalau ada chance, Saya mahu tinggal di Brunei FOREVER!!!

  23. What a beautiful place. I love these hidden places that people don’t really know about. I definately want to add this to my go to list. I love your pictures.
    I’ve heard of Brunei once before when doing some Facebook ads and only realized it was a country then.

  24. Im very opposite of you Haze. I visit the Philippines and its provinces at least once a year, and one time, just for the weekend! I have of lot of places in the Philippines to cover. A Filipino friend said that Ive been to most places in the Phillipines more than a local should! Hahaha!

    1. Where are you from? I love the Philippines, too! And I think yeah, you might have explored more of the Philippines that I probably did. Such a shame but I will soon discover our own gems. 🙂

      1. Im from Brunei but I consider myself as 6% Filipino (having traveled and exploring a lot of places in the Philippines, just recently on a 3 weeks backpacking tour of Visayas and Luzon!). Im happy to travel solo most of the times there since I found it very easy to mingle around with the locals and make my way around. Things are cheap and people generally speak English so I wont get lost that easily. Hook me up if you plan to travel the any part of the country. Brunei or Philippines ie ehhehe

  25. Brrunei is indeed a wonderful place. I worked there for 6 years. You only get to know the real inner beauty of Brunei if you actually live there.

    1. No traffic as we know it in the Philippines. The roads are very well designed and maintained. Your 40 liters (costing P700) gets you as far as 400 kms. In Las Piñas, 40 liters cost P1,500 and gets you only as far as 200kms or less due to heavy traffic and bad road condition. In effect, petrol costs us 4 times to drive the same distance in the Philippines.
    2. No floods as we know it in the Philippines. The floods they have are ankle-deep. That’s already a flood for them.
    3. No earthquake. Notice that the columns of their buildings are slim and their walls are not reinforced with steel bars.
    4. No personal income taxes or other government deductions whatsoever. Your salary is yours to keep.
    5. Free hospitalization, doctors’ fees and medicines for kids.
    6. People are patient in queuing.
    7. A very safe place.
    8. Power is so cheap that you can leave the aircon on when you go out so that the house is refreshingly cool when you get back. Cooking gas is so cheap you can leave it on forever. And it is piped in.
    9. Bruneians are very religious and family oriented. Work comes third place.
    10. Bruneians are very respectful and tolerant.
    11. If you live there long enough, you will fall in love with the people. And they will love you back regardless of your religion. The downside of this is that you become arrached to the country and the prople that it will affect you emotionally when you need to go back to your own country for good.

    1. 12. Their wifi is fast (fiber optic).
      13. No one carries guns. In fact, it is illegal to even posses a spent bullet.
      14. Have you ever shaken the hand of royalty? In Brunei, you can shake his majesty’s hand, yes the sultan of Brunei, on his birthday and during the end of Ramadan (or the queen’s if you are female).
      15. Want to see nice cars? This is the place. Even a gasoline boy or a janitor can afford a Toyota Vios. If you’re lucky, you could probably see his majesty’s car collection.
      16. Experience 6-star accommodation at The Empire Hotel. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg. And it would be worth it. You rent a room and you can all squeeze in the room. They do not limit how many people occupy the room. And everyone can use the spa, swimming pools and other hotel facilities.

  26. Can’t say I knew much about Brunei either, so thanks for sharing. I’m sure that coming from Manila, the open space was warmly welcomed! I do share your love for good drivers. It is one of my pet peeves, and it really annoys me, especially since I tend to do a lot of road trips. It just makes it nicer for everyone if you just follow the basic road signs and rules. It’s not that difficult people!

  27. Awesome things about Brunei. Never been there . Once we had a plan to fly from malaysia, that had to be cancelled . After seeing your photos, I guess we need to try once again.

  28. Brunei looks fantastic–I would love to visit sometime! Those sunset photos are amazing! I can’t believe the beautiful colors and scenes you captured. The people sound wonderful too and great locals always make a trip that much more special!

  29. Hi Haze! It’s so lovely to hear when tourists talk about out country (I’m Bruneian). If you’re ever wondering about where to visit, and you don’t have a tour guide, you should check out this page on Facebook called Sutera, or go on their instagram page called Sutera.co ! They provide information about Brunei, particularly for the tourists ????

  30. Hi Haze,

    Thanks for the flagging, you tell people for the whole world about Brunei.

    Indeed, we are small country and small population, to those been working in Brunei especially working in Oil and Gas Industry they are loved to stay here for so many reason i.e no tax, cheap for leaving, quite place, etc etc.

    To those out there plan visit to Brunei, you are welcome.

  31. Hi Haze! I first encountered Trisha’s page through a photo of you that went viral. I read your first post and that was it. Until you appeared on the comment section on Trisha’s page again.

    Anyways, I’ve never actually been to Brunei except for that one time I had a stopover on my first flight to Saudi Arabia. I was so scared, I wanted to evaporate. Perhaps, I’ll write about the experience.

    If there is any place I want to visit again, it would be the West Lake in Hangzhou, China. Been there three or four times and would still love to go back given the chance.

    The best luck in your nomadic lifestyle. I’ll keep coming back for more travel stories.

    1. Hi Noel!

      That is so thoughtful of you! Thank you so much! Brunei is beautiful and peaceful!

      I would love to go to China, too! Is is difficult to get a visa?

      1. Hi Haze I too love Brunei for the same reasons you do. So peaceful so beautiful i am not scared there at all. I dont wear a hijab no need. I am Australian. I have beautiful friends there. I just came back from 5th trip there last week and can’t wait to go back! ???????????? thankyou for your blog ????????.

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