Around May or June 2011, Cebu Pacific’s Php11 seat sale prompted me to look for another adventure outside of the Philippines. I noticed that discounted tickets going to the more popular destinations such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, were sold out immediately (i.e. 1-2 hours after promo start). However, there were available discounted tickets for other destinations including Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB) in Brunei. My roundtrip ticket cost me only P1,030 without check-in luggage. It was a real steal indeed! 🙂
I am posting this blog entry ahead of my other travels as this trip was my most recent trip (happened only a few months ago).
Manila to BSB flights depart from NAIA at 11:40pm and arrive at Brunei International Airport the following day at 1:40am.
After passing through the immigration check-in, I changed some US Dollars to Brunei Dollars. It is quite expensive in Brunei as 1 B$ is equivalent to around Php34 to Php35 – the same exchange rate for Singapore Dollars.
While Brunei’s airport is open 24 hours, the same cannot be said of its public buses which stop operations at 6pm. There are taxis, however, waiting at the airport’s arrival section at a very expensive flat rate of B$30.
Because I didn’t want to spend a lot on taxi, I tried to follow what a blogger (Nina Fuentes of Just Wandering Blog [http://justwandering.org/2010/destination/brunei-travel-tips] did – sleep in the airport. I even shot a similar photo found in her blog.
Though the idea of sleeping in the airport may sound easy to pull-off, it was rather difficult for me to do specially I was dead tired (I still went to work that day) and it was so cold in the airport. The end result: I approached one of the taxi drivers and bargained if he could do B$20. As I never planned NOT to sleep in the airport upon arrival, I did not make any hotel reservation to from the time of my arrival until the normal check-in time of 12noon. I asked the driver to bring me to the newly-renovated The Brunei Hotel. Technically, I needed only a room for a half-day stay. Too bad, the hotel does not provide that so I paid the rate equivalent to a one day stay. 😦 On the other hand, though expensive I still appreciated staying in the hotel because I was able to rest well, have a hot shower, and eat a lot during breakfast. 🙂
Come lunchtime, BSB’s local version of KFC was good in terms of taste, serving size, and price.
In the afternoon of the same day, I transferred to Pusat Belia Youth Hostel, probably the cheapest accommodation available for only B$10/night (just don’t expect the luxuries you can get from hotels such as toiletries, linens, breakfast, etc.). Reservations can be made by email to email@example.com.
After checking-in at Pusat Belia, I met a couple (a Filipina and a Canadian) who also just checked-in at the hostel. They offered to tag me along with them on their city tour that day for free! So they rented a taxi cab for 3 to 4 hours and went to different tour sites and government buildings in BSB.
We also went to the Sultan of Brunei’s Palace locally called Istana Nurul Iman. Unfortunately, the royal family only allows the public to enter the palace during the end of Ramadan. It would have been nice to go inside the largest of the Sultan of Brunei’s palaces just to see how really big and grand it really is.
The Philippines’ Jollibee is very visible and popular even among locals in BSB with its outlets outnumbering McDonald’s lone store in the capital of Brunei.
There really is not much to see in BSB and touring the city can be done in one full day. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed my short stay in BSB. I would still want to come back again to go inside the Sultan’s Palace, and make a trip outside of Brunei’s capital along with a trip of nearby Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. 🙂
Below is my expenses list in BSB.