Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bandar Seri Begawan; the Capital and Largest Cities of Brunei

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Bandar Seri Begawan (Jawi: بندر سري بڬاوان ; Malay: ˌbanda səˌri bəˈɡawan) (Arabic: بندر سري بكاوان) (Urdu: بندر سری بگاوان) (Punjabi: بندر سری بیگوان) with an estimated population of 140,000 (as of 2010), is the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Brunei. The urban area has a population of 296,500 people. 


Habitation on the banks of the Brunei River can be traced back to the 8th century where there had been settlements similar to those in Kt, located on areas close to the present site of the Brunei Museum. 

Omar Ali Saifuddien
Seri Begawan was named after the Sultan's late father Omar Ali Saifuddien on 5 October 1970, its original name being Bandar Brunei or Brunei Town. Begawan is a name given to Bruneian monarchs who have abdicated, originally coming from the Sanskrit word for "god": भगवान bhagavān. Seri also comes from the honorific Sanskrit word Sri. Bandar, comes from Persian بندر via Indian languages and originally means "port" or "haven". In Malay bandar has taken on the meaning of "town". 

On 1 August 2007, the sultan of Brunei gave consent for the extension of Bandar Seri Begawan from 12.87 km2 (4.97 sq mi) to 100.36 km2 (38.75 sq mi). 


Bandar Seri Begawan is located at 4°53'25"N, 114°56'32"E, on the northern bank of the Brunei River. 

Bandar Seri Begawan and Brunei River

Bandar Seri Begawan features a tropical rainforest climate with no real dry season. In fact, the city sees heavy precipitation throughout the course of the year with the driest month (March) on average having 120 mm (4.7 in) of rain per year. October through December are the rainiest months of the year in the city, when precipitation is seen roughly two out of every three days. As is common to cities with a tropical rainforest climate, average temperatures are relatively constant throughout the course of the year, with average highs temperatures of around 32 °C (90 °F) and average low temperatures of 23 °C (73 °F).
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Masjid, BSB

The population of Bandar Seri Begawan is around 140,000 and the metropolitan area is 278,000 as for August 2010. The majority of Bruneians are ethnic Malays, with Chinese being the most significant minority group. Aboriginal groups such as the Iban also exist and are loosely classified as Bumiputera. Large numbers of transitory workers are to be found within Brunei, the majority being from Indonesia, the Philippines and the Indian subcontinent. 

Places of interest

  • The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque - Built in 1958, it features a golden dome and an interior of Italian marble walls, carpeting and an elevator. It also has tunnels, which are used by the sultan on journeys through the town. This mosque is considered by some one of the world's most beautiful mosques.
Jame'asr Hassanil Bolkiah Masjid, BSB
  • Jame'asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque - This mosque is the largest mosque in Brunei. It was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary the sultan's reign. It is locally known as the Kiarong mosque. 
Historical sites 
  • The Royal Ceremonial Hall or Lapau Located in Jalan Kianggeh the Lapau (Royal Ceremonial Hall) is used for royal traditional ceremonies. It was here that the sultan Hassanal Bolkiah was crowned on 1 August 1968. The interior of the Lapau and sultan's throne are decorated in exquisite gold. Within the precincts of the Lapau is the Dewan Majlis where the legislative assembly used to sit. Official permission is required by visitors to enter this building. With the completion of the new legislative council building in Jalan Mabohai, the Lapau will soon become a symbol of the sultanate's constitutional history.
The tomb of late Sultan Syarif Ali, BSB
  • Late sultan Bolkiah's tomb in Kota Batu 
  • Late sultan Sharif Ali's tomb in Kota Batu 
  • The Royal Mausoleum (Makam Di-Raja) 
Located away from on the banks of Sungei Brunei behind the department store Soon Lee Megamart at Mile One, Jalan Tutong, the Royal Mausoleum and the graveyard have been used by succeeding generations of sultans. Inside the Mausoleum itself are the remains of the last four sultans, Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddin (1950–1967), who died in 1986, Ahmad Tajuddin Ibnu Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam (1924–1950), Muhammad Jamalul Alam Ibnu Sultan Hashim (1906–1924), and Hashim Jalilul Alam Putera Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin II (1885–1906). Other members of the royal families from those times are also buried there. 
Brunei Museum (Muzium Brunei) in BSB
  • Brunei Museum (Muzium Brunei) - Located on an archeological site at Kota Batu about 5 km (3.1 mi) from Bandar Seri Begawan, this museum is the largest in the country. It was first established in 1965 and occupied its present site since 1970. Officially opened in 1972, the museum focuses on Islamic history, natural history, Brunei artifacts and customs, ceramics and the oil industry of Brunei. The museum is reachable by public transport (Bus No. 39). Its exhibition galleries consist of the following: 
Islamic Art Gallery: The gallery displays a magnificent collection of Islamic art belonging to the sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah and is the main highlight. The collection comprises a wide range of objects covering the artistic production of various Islamic regions from the transitional and early Islamic periods to the 19th century. 
Islamic Art Gallery in Brunei Museum, BSB
The History and Technology of Brunei Darussalam's Petroleum Gallery: The state's main industry is presented in this gallery, covering descriptive narratives on the origin and formation of oil, process of drilling, refining, the history of the petroleum industry in Brunei and a map depicting current oil fields. 

Brunei Traditional Culture Gallery: Brunei's material culture is presented in this gallery. The objects displayed in the gallery shows the customs and the culture of the people from the birth till marriage. There is also a fine collection of brassware, and especially canons for which the country is traditionally renowned. 

Natural History Gallery: The gallery exhibits a wide range of natural history subjects and especially the fauna of Brunei. Some of the exhibits are presented in the form of diorama techniques to form a realistic form of their natural habitat. 

The Malay Technology Museum, BSB
Malay Technology Museum - The museum was officially opened in 1988. 
  • The Royal Regalia Building - Located at Jalan Sultan, this museum is devoted to the sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. The main gallery displays the coronation and Silver Jubilee Chariots, gold and silver ceremonial armory and traditional jewellery encrusted coronation crowns. A collection of documents that chronicles the sultan's life up to the coronation together with the constitutional history gallery is also housed in the same building. 
  • The Brunei History Center - Located at Jalan Sultan next to the Royal Regalia building is the Brunei history center. The center was opened in 1982 with a brief to research the history of Brunei. Much of that work has been establishing the genealogy and history of the sultans and royal family. The public display has a wealth of information on these subjects including replicas and brass rubbings of tombs. A flow chart giving the entire lineage of the Brunei sultans can be found at the entrance.
Bubongan Duabelas (House of 12 Roofs), BSB
  • Brunei Stamp Gallery - The recently opened Brunei Stamp Gallery is located inside the post office building in Jalan Sultan. 
  • Bubongan Duabelas - The name which translates to the House of Twelve Roofs is located in Jalan Residency. It was built in 1906 and was formerly the official residence of British residents and high commissioners in Brunei. It is one of the oldest surviving building in Bandar Seri Begawan. It now serves as a gallery that exhibits the long standing relationship between the sultanate and the United Kingdom 
  • The Arts and Handicrafts Center - Located at Jalan Residency it was opened in 1980. Brunei's fine arts and crafts date back to centuries and are part of the nation's proud heritage. The Arts and Handicrafts Center conducts courses in silverware, brassware, woodcarving, songkok-making, weaving and basketry.
Istana Nurul Iman, Bandar Seri Begawan
Istana Nurul Iman: 

The Istana Nurul Iman palace is the residence of the sultan of Brunei. The palace is located on a leafy, riverside sprawl of hills on the banks of the Brunei River directly south of Bandar Seri Begawan, a few miles outside the city center. Istana Nurul Iman is believed to be the world's largest residential palace of any type. Its name is taken from Arabic, meaning Palace of the Light of Faith. The palace was designed by Leandro V. Locsin, and built by the Filipino firm, Ayala International. 

Kampong Ayer 

The city incorporates nearby Kampong Ayer, 'water village', which has houses on stilts and stretches about 8 km (5.0 mi) along the Brunei river (Sungei Brunei). It is a well preserved national heritage site, the largest of its kind in the world with approximately 30,000 residents. The Kampong is over 1,000 years old. The name Venice of the East was coined by Antonio Pigafetta in honor of the water village he encountered at Kota Batu (just east of city's central business district). Pigafetta was on Magellan's voyages in 1521. 

Kampong Ayer, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Self-contained, the water village is equipped with schools, police stations, clinics, a waterborne fire brigade and mosques. Kampong Ayer existed since the 10th century AD, and is actually a cluster of villages, each with their own village leader (head of the villages), or Ketua Kampong. The villages are connected by a complex web of walkways and bridges. Kampong Ayer's historical importance lies in the fact that the sultanate's civilization started here with fishing as one of the main livelihoods of the villages. There was a concentration of skilled craftsmen producing handicrafts from brass, silver and wood, hence granting the water village a status of commercial and social importance. 

The skills of these craftsmen can be viewed at The Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery. The construction of the gallery was started in August 2007 and it was completed in June 2009 with an enclosed area of 565 m2 (6,080 sq ft). Some unique treasures of the Kampong Ayer over its illustrious history are exhibited in 5 mini-galleries within the building. 

Persiaran Damuan, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Parks and trails: 
  • The Waterfront 
This latest addition to the beautiful Bandar Seri Begawan is strategically overlooking the historical Kg. Ayer. The approximately 1.8-hectare (4.4-acre) site took almost three years to be completed and was officially opened to the public on 28 May 2011. The Waterfront is accessible to everyone as it is open 24 hours where public can enjoy sightseeing and take a break at the outdoor cafes offering varieties of drinks and dishes. 
  • Persiaran Damuan 
This narrow strip of landscaped park between Jalan Tutong and the Sungei Brunei was created in 1986 as a "Square". It has a permanent display of the work of a sculptor from each of the original ASEAN countries. The 1 km (0.62 mi)-long park has pleasant walkways bordered by shrubs and the mangrove fringed Pulau Ranggu where two species of monkeys live, including the notable Proboscis Monkey only found in Borneo. The park also offers some of the best views of the Istana Nurul Iman. 
Jalan Tasek Lama Park, Bandar Seri Begawan
  • Jalan Tasek Lama
Located just a few minutes walk from the city center, this is a popular trekking trail for the local residents of Bandar Seri Begawan. There are well made walkaways through the small park which has benches and picnic spots as well as a waterfall and ponds with water lilies. 
  • Bukit Subok Recreational Park 
The park offers a great view of the Kampong Ayer and downtown Bandar Seri Begawan. There is a well maintained wooden walkaway with viewing huts along the way. These huts provide a good vantage points of Kampong Ayer and its surroundings. 
Kiangeh, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Bandar Seri Begawan city

Bandar Seri Begawan city comprises the following mukims: 
  • Kianggeh 
  • Burong Pinggai Ayer 
  • Sungai Kebun 
  • Sungai Kedayan 
  • Peramu 
  • Saba 
  • Tamoi 
  • Berakas A 
  • Berakas B 
  • Gadong A 
  • Gadong B 
  • Kilanas 
  • Kota Batu 
  • Lumapas 
  • Sengkurong 
Out of these, the following Mukims are collectively known as Kampong Ayer or Water Village: Burong Pinggai Ayer, Sungai Kebun, Sungai Kedayan, Peramu, Saba, Tamoi. 
Main Bus Station, Bandar Seri Begawan


The capital is connected to Bus of Bandar Seri Begawan the western part of the country by road. To get to the eastern part of Brunei (Temburong) it is necessary to travel through Sarawak which is in Malaysia, via the town of Limbang which is accessed by the Kuala Lurah Bus terminal. To get to Bandar Seri Begawan from the west, access is via Miri town in Sarawak via the Sungai Tujuh Bus terminal and then along the coastal highway. 

The main bus station in the city is located in Jalan Cator underneath a multi-story car park. There are six bus routes servicing Bandar Seri Begawan area; the Central Line, Circle Line, Eastern Line, Southern Line, Western Line and Northern Line. The buses operate from 6.30 am till 6.00pm except for Bus No. 1 and 20 which have extended to the night. All bus routes begin and terminate their journey at the main bus terminal. Buses heading to other towns in Brunei such as Tutong, Seria and Kuala Belait also depart from the main bus terminal and Taxicab. 

Brunei International Airport, BSB

Brunei International Airport serves the whole country. It is 11 km (6.8 mi) from the town centre and can be reached in 10 minutes via the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Highway. Airlines flying into the airport include Royal Brunei Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia, Cebu Pacific and Thai Airways International. 

A water taxi service known as 'penambang' is used for transportation between downtown Bandar Seri Begawan and Kampong Ayer. Water taxis are the most common means of negotiating the waterways of Kampung Ayer. They can be hailed from the numerous "docking parts" along the banks of the Brunei River. Fares are negotiable. Regular water taxi and boat services depart for Temburong between 7:45 am and 4 pm daily, and also serve the Malaysian towns of Limbang, Lawas, Sundar and Labuan. A speedboat is used for passengers traveling to Penamdang Ferry Service and from Bangar and Limbang.
the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, BSB

The city produces furniture, textiles, handicrafts, and timber. Royal Brunei Airlines, the national airline, has its head office in the RBA Plaza in the city. 


All levels of education are available in Bandar Seri Begawan from kindergarten to the tertiary level. The Universiti Brunei Darussalam, established on 28 October 1985, only a year after the sultanate regained full independence, is located 4.5 km (2.8 mi) from the city center. It is the oldest and also the largest university in Brunei in terms of student enrollment and curriculum offered. The Sultanate's second university, Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali, is also located in Bandar Seri Begawan's suburb of Gadong. It was established on 1 January 2007 as an Islamic university. 

Pusat Tingkatan Enam Berakas, BSBS
Higher educational institutes in Bandar Seri Begawan include Maktab Sains Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan (Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan College of Science), Institute Teknologi of Brunei (Brunei Institute of Technology), Maktab Jururawat Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah (the only nursing college in Brunei), Maktab Teknik Sultan Saiful Rijal (Sultan Saiful Rijal Technical College), Pusat Tingkatan Enam Katok and Pusat Tingkatan Enam Meragang (Meragang Sixth Form Centre). Schools in the capital include Chung Hwa Middle School, St. George's School, St. Andrew's School, International School Brunei (ISB), Jerudong International School, Kolej Universiti Perguruan Ugama Seri Begawan, and Institut Tahfiz Al Quran Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (ITQSHHB).

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