What you need to know
Bandar Seri Begawan , formerly known as Brunei Town, is the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Brunei.
The original name for this city was “Bandar Brunei” or “Brunei Town” in English. In 1967, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III abdicated in favour of his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah and took the title of “Seri Begawan”. Omar was then made the defense minister and on 5 October 1970, the city was renamed to honor him. The word “Begawan” was also used for Bruneian monarchs who have abdicated, the word originally coming from the Sanskrit word for “god”: भगवान् bhagavān. Besides that, Seri Begawan was known as “blessed one” in Sanskrit. Seri comes from the honorific Sanskrit word श्री Sri, and Bandar comes from Persian via Indian languages and originally meant “harbour” or “port” or “haven”. In Malay, the word bandar means “town” or a “city”.
Area: 100.4 km²
The Bruneian Dollar is the currency of Brunei Darussalam. The currency code for Dollars is BND. It is normally abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or alternatively B$ to distinguish it from other dollar-dominated currencies. It is divided into 100 sen (Malay) or cents (English).
Bandar Seri Begawan’s climate is classified as tropical. The rainfall in Bandar Seri Begawan is significant, with precipitation even during the driest month. The Köppen-Geiger climate classification is Af. The average temperature in Bandar Seri Begawan is 27.6 °C. The rainfall here averages 3147 mm. Precipitation is the lowest in March, with an average of 162 mm. In November, the precipitation reaches its peak, with an average of 371 mm. At an average temperature of 28.1 °C, May is the hottest month of the year. At 27.0 °C on average, January is the coldest month of the year.
The official language of Brunei is Standard Malay. The local dialect, Melayu Brunei (Brunei Malay), is the most widely spoken language. English is widely used as a business and official language and it is spoken by a majority of the population in Brunei. The Chinese minority in Brunei speak a number of Chinese varieties. Arabic is the religious language of Muslims. Therefore, Arabic is taught in schools, particularly religious schools, and also in institutes of higher learning.
Brunei is a very safe place to visit. Crime does occur, but is much less common than in many other Asian destinations. Locals are very helpful and will usually assist you if you ask for help. If you do get in trouble, the police can be bureaucratic and inefficient – only call them if you can’t resolve the situation yourself.
The city produces furniture, textiles, handicrafts, and timber.
You can hail a few water taxis at almost any dock but the most popular place to find one is at a stand behind the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah mall or at the canal market. They are great fun to ride in.
Public buses are the cheapest way to travel in the city even though they do not operate at frequent intervals (usually 20-minute intervals) and end service quite early (at about 6 pm). All of them begin and end service at the bus terminal at Jalan Cator.
The buses are actually in the form of purple-colored large vans which can seat about 20 people at the most, and are generally clean and comfortable to ride. Main bus routes include bus service 01 (Circle Line) and 20 (Business Centres Line). The detailed routes of the bus services are written on a board placed on the front window of the buses and are also drawn on the information board at the Jalan Cator terminal.
Try asking the counter tickets for a tour van to drive you around Brunei and bring you to the places. Discuss the price first before you agree to board the van.