Country: Brunei Darussalam
Date: 23 November 2010
[First visit to Brunei – Yes]
There is not a lot to detain you in Brunei, but if you are travelling overland in Malaysian Borneo you have to pass through it anyway, so you might as well stop for a look.
[Map of Brunei Darussalam]
Like Malaysia, the boundaries of Brunei was influenced from its days of the British. Also like Malaysia, Brunei has two separated land masses. The land between the two areas of Brunei is the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. If you are going overland from Sabah to Sarawak there is no road around Brunei, so you have to pass through 8 border crossings to get the other state. If you are not flying between Sabah and Sarawak you are better off getting a ferry. From Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) there is a ferry to the island of Labuan, which takes 3 hours. From there you can then get a ferry to Brunei, which takes 1 hour.
Before I arrived I checked up about visa requirements. If you are from the UK, Germany, New Zealand or the US you don’t need one. Other countries get a 14 day visa upon arrival. Upon arrival at customs I got told this visa will cost me B$20 ($15 USD). As I was spending less than 3 days this was then reduced to B$5.
I got my passport back to discover they had defiled a whole page with stamps. I might have been thrilled about this once upon a time, but now I see this page and think, damn you, I’m one page closer to having to get new pages sewn into my passport. A whole page for 2 days is excessive. I would have told them this, but I know better than to engage in commentary with customs officals.
[Brunei passport stamp – take up a whole page why don’t you!]
Perhaps Brunei’s biggest tourist attraction is stamps. Passport stamps. If you like passport stamps then you’ll love Brunei.