Handicrafts and Souvenirs

October 23, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Shopping

Brunei is especially rich in its own style of traditional crafts, ensuring that any of your buys at one of the nation’s many handicrafts centres and shops will be unique items to be treasured for years to come. Some examples include the resplendent gold or silver-threaded material known as Jong Sarat and collector textiles called Kain Tenunan, both of which can be purchased from the Arts and Handicraft Training Centre at Kota Batu and also at the Brunei International Airport. Handmade with an ancient method passed down for generations, Jong Sarat is often worn during weddings or other formal occasions. Aside from traditional cloths, other items that reflect the rich craftsmanship of Brunei are brassware and silverware, replica canons, the traditional dagger known as the kris, gongs, basketry and other unique items.

Some of the best places in Brunei to find traditional handicrafts can be found at the shops and centres listed below:

NAME LOCATION
Asnika Gadong Complex, Gadong
FSAA Enterprise Bumiputera Commercial Complex, Bandar Seri Begawan
Galleri Izyan Yayasan SHHB Complex Bandar Seri Begawan / Jalan Sultan Omar Ali, Seria
Handy Handicraft / Sunju Enterprise Centerpoint, Gadong / Yayasan SHHB Complex, Bandar Seri Begawan
Impression Gifts & Souvenir Bangunan Haji Abdul Rahman, Bandar Seri Begawan
Jerudong Park Playground Souvenir Shop Jerudong
Ridah Handicrafts Kiulap, Airport Lama, Kampong Tasek Meradun
Mustaqim Enterprise Bangunan Haji Hassanin 2, Gadong
Malya Associates Airport Departure Hall
Hitara Enterprise Jalan Kiarong
Mesa Gifts & Souvenirs Gadong Complex
Sahabaz (Brunei) Sdn Bhd Pusat Bunut, Jalan Tutong, Bandar Seri Begawan
The Arts and Handicraft Centre Jalan Residency, Bandar Seri Begawan

Shopping in Brunei

October 23, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Shopping

Bruneians love to shop, and shopping is one of everyone’s favourite leisure time activities. These days, with shopping complexes popping up throughout the nation’s four districts, shopping opportunities in Brunei are beginning to draw an international audience as well.
Shoppers are generally spoilt for choice in Brunei. From traditional markets and tiny boutique shops to huge shopping complexes, visitors and locals alike will find opportunities to indulge their shopping fancy. Offering a wide variety of goods at incredibly competitive prices, shoppers can pick up anything ranging from market trinkets sold at 50 cents to chandeliers and antique furniture priced at a few thousand dollars.

There are many unique treasures that can be found in Brunei, including earthenware ornaments, gilded curios, exotic furniture designs, Chinese urns, brocade tablecloths, mats and door hangings, Indian finery, Thai haute couture, the latest electronics – all of these and more can be found tucked away in some corner of a dusty shop or glittering department store.

It is easy to shop in the Sultanate because all major credit cards (American Express, VISA, Diner’s Club and MasterCard) are widely accepted.

Other Activities

October 23, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Sports and Recreation

Brunei offers a wide range of sports and recreational opportunities. Among these are golf, bowling, squash, tennis, swimming, badminton, kite-flying, snooker, soccer, aerobics, and countless others. For traditional sporting activities, the Hassanal Bolkiah National Complex in Bandar Seri Begawan features a well-maintained athletic field as well as track, football stadium, tennis courts, squash courts, jogging tracks and swimming pool.

Bowling
The Empire Hotel and Country Club Bowling Lane is an 8-lane 10-pin bowling centre that provides challenging hours of fun and entertainment. Operating hours are 10:00am to 10:00 pm daily and prices are B$5 per game per person.

The Utama Bowling Alley is located on Jalan Tutong near Soon Lee Megamart in Bandar Seri Begawan. It opens daily from 9am to 11pm. Charges per game are B$4 on weekdays and B$5 on weekends.

Badminton
One of the nation’s most popular pastimes, badminton is a highly-attended sporting event in Brunei. Courts are available at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, the Youth Centre in Bandar Seri Begawan and at Mumong Sports Complex at Kuala Belait. A nominal entry fee is charged.

Horseback Riding

The Trijaya Equestrian Park offers first-rate facilities including the world’s largest indoor arena that can accommodate up to 50 horses at a time. With horses imported from Argentina, TJEP caters to all ages and abilities, offering lessons for beginners and trail rides and tandem rides through well-planned tracks leading through dense jungle to nearby beaches and Jerudong Park. Children can enjoy the novelty of being driven through the park by carriage and adults can enjoy polo lessons in a truly one-of-a-kind setting in Asia.

Tennis
For tennis fans, the courts available at the Youth and Welfare Complex on Jalan Berakas and at the Brunei Tennis Centre offer a choice of clay, synthetic grass and cement playing surfaces.

Swimming
Visitors may dive into the public swimming pools at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Bandar Seri Begawan, and at the Mumong Sports Complex in Kuala Belait. Nominal fees are charged.

Squash
For a moderate fee, squash courts are available for hire at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium. Bookings can be made at the Stadium. The courts are available daily except for Friday and Sunday.

Diving, Sailing and Water Sports

October 23, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Sports and Recreation

Sun worshipers and water sports enthusiasts will find Brunei to be an attractive new destination in the region with its deserted sun-kissed beaches, warm waters and gentle breezes.

Scuba diving devotees will be thrilled with the crystal-clear waters which hide such undiscovered treasures as beautiful coral reefs and old sunken shipwrecks. Brunei waters are brimming with colourful marine life and are a superb location for reef diving that is beginning to attract international attention. They are especially famous for shipwreck dives which enable divers to glimpse the relics of bygone days when Brunei served as a major shipping and commercial centre for the region.

If you’d prefer something a little bit more off the beaten track, take a boat tour to a secluded mangrove island and explore to your heart’s content. Other deserted beaches and beautiful bodies of water surrounded by rainforest and bamboo groves are easily found throughout in Brunei.

Full facilities are available for a wide range of water sports including sailing, water-skiing, windsurfing and snorkelling, Kayaks and windsurfing equipment can be hired at an hourly rate from the Royal Brunei National Windsurfing Association located at Serasa Beach.

Golf

October 23, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Sports and Recreation

One of Brunei’s most unexpected luxuries is its assortment of world-class championship-quality golf courses. Taking advantage of the stunning landscape of Borneo’s northern shores, Brunei’s golf courses offer more than just your average round of 18 holes. Teeing off from a beautifully manicured vantage point overlooking the South China Sea and surrounded by virgin rainforests, you’ll quickly discover that golf in Brunei is one of the nation’s unforgettable undiscovered treasures. Some courses even offer the truly unique luxury of floodlit night golfing for cooler evening play.

Golf enthusiasts and beginners alike will delight in the nation’s surprisingly wide ranging variety of courses with varying levels of challenge and onsite golf professionals to help hone your game. There are over five beautiful golf courses in the country, though some of these are exclusive to members and their guests. Still, all visitors can take a swing at some of the courses for which travel agents can arrange inbound golf tours.


The Empire Country Club

Those looking to unwind on the greens will find this course to be one of Brunei’s true unexpected treasures. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, this majestic 18-hole championship golf course has been called one of Asia’s best and even offers night golf as a way to beat the tropical heat in style.

Royal Brunei Golf & Country Club
Near Jerudong Park, this club caters to the most exclusive of golf aficionados — advanced bookings are required. The course has been described by its designer, Ronald Fream, as the “Augusta National of Asia”. It is considered one of the best courses in Asia, and is among the most exclusive in the world.

Mentiri Golf Club
Located in the Brunei Muara district, this is an international standard 18-hole, par 72 course cradled in lush, landscaped grounds. Greens fees are B$60 on weekdays and B$120 on weekends.

Royal Brunei Airline Golf Club
Probably the first course you’ll see in Brunei, this 18-hole public course designed by Max Wexler lies just five minutes from the Brunei International Airport and twenty minutes drive from the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan. It is characterised by a generally flat layout with manmade lakes spread out over the course, adding to its beauty.

Panaga Golf Club
Located in Seria district, this is another of Brunei’s well-equipped and lushly-maintained public courses available for visitors and popular with locals.

Facts and Figures

October 23, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Country Overview

OFFICIAL NAME: Negara Brunei Darussalam (The Country of Brunei, Abode of Peace)

FLAG:
Yellow with two diagonal bands: white (top band, double-width) and black (starting from the upper hoist side). The national emblem is superimposed in red at the flag’s centre. The emblem includes the following components:
Swallow-tailed flag, representing Royalty
The Royal umbrella
Winged column, symbolizing the protection of justice, tranquillity, prosperity and peace
Two upraised hands, signifying the Government’s pledge to promote welfare, peace and prosperity
An upturned crescent, symbol of Islam, the national religion of Brunei
Embodied within the crescent in yellow Arabic script is the nation’s motto, which can be roughly translated: Always in Service by God’s Guidance
A scroll beneath the crest with Arabic script reading “Brunei Darussalam” or “Brunei, the Abode of Peace”

LOCATION:
Located on the northern shore of the Island of Borneo, between longitudes 114’04″ and 114’23″ East and latitudes 4’00″ and 5’05″ North. Brunei, although occupying less than 1% of Borneo’s land area, is the only sovereign country on the island, which it shares with the Indonesian provinces of West, East, South and Central Kalimantan and the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

LAND AREA: 5,765 sq. km.

POPULATION: 372,360 (2005 est.)

DENSITY: 65 persons/sq. km.

CAPITAL CITY: Bandar Seri Begawan

POPULATION: 236,200 (district)

ETHNIC GROUPS: Malay: 67%; Chinese: 15%, indigenous tribes: 6%; other: 12%

LANGUAGE:
Bahasa Melayu (Malay) is the official language, but English is widely spoken. Mandarin, Chinese dialects and native languages of Borneo are also spoken by segments of the population.

RELIGIONS:
Islam (official): 67%; Buddhism: 13%; Christianity: 10%; indigenous beliefs and other: 10%

NATIONAL PHILOSOPHY:
Since gaining independence from the British in 1984, Brunei has adopted the national philosophy of the Malay Islamic Monarchy (Melayu Islam Beraja), a system that encompasses strong Malay cultural influences, stressing the importance of Islam in daily life and governance, and respect for the monarchy as represented by His Majesty The Sultan. It is a philosophy of tolerance, which allows other cultures to follow individual traditions and to practice other religions.

CLIMATE:
Temperate equatorial climate year round, characterized by temperatures ranging between 23 to 32 degrees Celsius, and an average annual rainfall of 320 cm. There is no distinct rainy season, though the period from November to March tends to bring heavier rains.

BORDERS:
Bounded on all sides by the Malaysian state of Sarawak, except for a 161 km long stretch of coastline along the South China Sea to the north.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS:
4 Districts: Brunei-Muara (housing the capital city), Tutong, Belait, and Temburong

HEAD OF STATE:
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. His Majesty is the 29th ruler of his line, which began with Sultan Muhammad in 1405.

SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT:

Independent sovereign constitutional Sultanate, with His Majesty The Sultan as the supreme executive authority. His Majesty is advised by an appointed Council of Cabinet Ministers, Religious Council, Privy Council, a Council of Succession and a Legislative Council.

ECONOMY:
With a total GDP of around US$6.5 billion and a per capita GDP of around US$18.3 thousand (2002), Brunei’s resource-rich (oil & natural gas) economy affords its population high living standards, resulting in positive social indicators such as high literacy rates, longer life expectancy, and low unemployment and crime rates. The government provides for all medical services and subsidizes rice and housing.

Government, construction, services, retail and some light manufacturing are the other major sectors in Brunei’s economy. The government is currently working towards economic diversification — in which tourism plays an important role — as well as encouraging foreign investment and developing education and human resources. These measures are designed to prepare the nation for the challenges of the future when the oil and gas reserves will have been depleted and new sources of income will be needed to maintain the current high standards of living enjoyed by Bruneians.

TOURISM INFRASTRUCTURE:
With over 2,500 rooms spread among 30 establishments ranging from guesthouses to the super luxurious “7-star” Empire Hotel and Country Club, and with a dozen or so active inbound tour operators, Brunei has a well-established, yet underutilized tourism infrastructure attracting an increasing number of regional and international visitors.

TOURISM ARRIVALS:

Brunei recorded approximately 1 million foreign visitors in 2003, the vast majority arriving from Malaysia through land entry points. Based on estimates derived from hotel occupancy rates and on market intelligence gathered from inbound operators, Brunei Tourism estimates the number of bona fide leisure and business tourists to be around 100,000 in 2003, with a 3-day average length of stay. Most of these tourists originated from the short- and medium-haul markets, though a significant portion originated from long-haul markets, mainly UK and Germany. Brunei Tourism’s objective is to increase international tourist arrivals by a minimum average rate of 7% yearly, as well as to increase average length of stay and expenditure.

INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORT LINKAGES:
Brunei enjoys a convenient location at the heart of Southeast Asia and is well-connected to destinations worldwide.

Air:
Royal Brunei Airlines, the nation’s flagship carrier, flies non-stop or direct to most major Asia-Pacific destinations and the Middle East, as well as to Europe via London and Frankfurt. Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Dragonair and Philippines Airlines serve Bandar Seri Begawan and offer one-stop connections to the rest of the world through their hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Manila.

Sea:
Ferries link Brunei with the Malaysian island of Labuan off the coast of Sabah, and to the Malaysian towns of Limbang and Lawas in Sarawak.

Road:
An extensive overland road network also connects Brunei to Sarawak and Sabah, while the Indonesian province of Kalimantan can be reached by road, air or boat via Sarawak or Sabah.

HEALTH, SAFETY AND SECURITY:
Brunei is free from malaria and other tropical diseases, is outside the typhoon belt, has no volcanoes, and is not prone to earthquakes or other major natural disasters. The country also enjoys government stability and economic prosperity, resulting in a very low crime rate.

Do’s and Dont’s

October 21, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Visitor Info

Bruneians are generally very tolerant and will understand that visitors are not familiar with all of their customs and Islamic traditions. Nonetheless, keeping these few things in mind will go far in showing the Bruneian people that you respect and appreciate their culture, enriching your experience:

  • Tourists should observe the local dress code and dress modestly. Clothing comfortable for hot weather is acceptable, except when visiting places of worship or for social and business functions.
  • Bruneians shake hands by lightly touching the hands and then bringing the hand to the chest. Some people do not to shake hands with members of the opposite sex.
  • You should not point with your finger; instead, use the thumb of your right hand with the four fingers folded beneath it.
  • When visiting a mosque, all visitors should remove their shoes. Women should cover their heads and not have their knees or arms exposed. You should not pass in front of a person in prayer or touch the Koran.
  • Gifts (particularly food) should only be passed with the right hand, although it is acceptable to use the left hand to support the right wrist.
  • It is polite to accept even just a little food and drink when offered. When refusing anything offered, it is polite to touch the plate lightly with the right hand.
  • During the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, Muslims do not take food from sunrise to sundown. It would be inconsiderate to eat or drink in their presence during this period.
  • In deference to the Muslim majority, alcohol is not sold in Brunei, but private consumption by non-Muslims is allowed. Non-Muslim tourists are allowed a generous duty-free allowance of 2 bottles of alcohol (wine, spirits, etc) and 12 cans of beer per entry, and may consume alcohol with sensible discretion in hotels and some restaurants.

Health

October 21, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Visitor Info

Brunei is free from malaria and other tropical diseases, and the nation’s healthcare system ranks among the best in Asia. The Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital in the capital is equipped with highly modern medical facilities, and a number of private clinics operate within other districts.

NAME ADDRESS CONTACT NUMBER
Amir’s Clinic 1st Floor, Unit 5 PAP Hajah Norain Shopping Complex, Bandar Seri Begawan 222 8002
Borneo Clinic Simpang 27, 1 Bangunan PIF, Jalan Gadong, Bandar Seri Begawan 242 4301
CY Lim Clinic Unit 16, Block J, Ground Floor, Abdul Razak Complex, Gadong 244 9488
Dr Haji Asri Clinic No. 2, Simpang 161, Jalan Pasir Berakas 242 2788
Dr Lim Medical Clinic 1st Floor, Block D, Complex Abdul Razak, Gadong 242 2788
Dr Prema Clinic Unit D, Bangunan Pengiran Haji Mohd Daud, Bandar Seri Begawan 242 1727
El-Shifa Clinic No. 6, 1st Floor, Block B, Abdul Razak Complex, Gadong 242 8715
Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) Jerudong 261 1433
Jerudong Park Polo Medical Centre Jerudong 261 0717
JP Sports Medical Centre Jerudong 261 0692
Lee Clinic & Dispensary Unit C-1, Ground Floor, Abdul Razak Complex, Bandar Seri Begawan 242 8428
Lim’s Clinic & Dispensary 2.26 Level 2, Block C, Bangunan Yayasan SHHB, Bandar Seri Begawan 222 2181
Luke Tan Clinic 47A, 1st Floor, Jalan Bunga Melor, Kuala Belait 322 5601
Riverview Medical Centre Riverview Hotel, Km. 1, Jalan Gadong, Bandar Seri Begawan 223 8018 ext 8816
Th’ng Medical Centre 77, 1st Floor, Jalan Bunga Melor, Seria 322 3524
TK Chan Clinic Unit 9, Ground Floor, Block C, Kiarong Complex, Bandar Seri Begawan 242 2141
Yong Clinic & Dispensary Block 1, Room 1, PAP Hajah Norain Complex, Bandar Seri Begawan 222 0284

Business Hours

October 21, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Visitor Info

Government offices are open Monday to Thursday as well as Saturday from 7:45am to 12:15pm and from 1:30pm to 4:30pm. They are closed on Fridays and Sundays.

Private offices are generally open from 8am to 5pm on weekdays and from 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.

Banks typically operate from 9am to 3pm on weekdays and 9am to 11am on Saturdays.

Most shopping centres are open daily from 10am to 9.30pm.

Visitors should note that during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, most offices and businesses will operate on abbreviated daily schedules.

Language

October 21, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Visitor Info

Bahasa Melayu (Malay) is the official language, but English is widely spoken. Mandarin, Chinese dialects and native languages of Borneo are also spoken by segments of the population.

Any small effort to demonstrate your enthusiasm for learning Brunei’s culture will be most appreciated by the Bruneians, who have a deep respect for their centuries-rich Malay culture. While no Bruneian expects a visitor to have mastered the Malay language and most speak at least conversational English, a few useful words and phrases will help make your stay even more enjoyable.

ENGLISH MALAY
Good morning Selamat Pagi
Good afternoon Selamat Petang
Good night Selamat Malam
Thank you Terimah Kasih
You’re welcome Sama-sama
What is your name? Siapa Nama Awda?
My name is … Nama saya …
Excuse me Maafkan saya
Yes Ya
No Tidak
How much? Berapa?
Where is the toilet? Di mana tandas?
I want to go … Saya mahu pergi ke …
Turn right Belok ke kanan
Turn left Belok ke kiri
Go straight Jalan terus

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