Tourist Visa In Brunei: A Simple Guide

Planning to explore the hidden gem that is Brunei?

Before you start imagining strolls through lush jungles and awe-inspiring mosques, getting a tourist visa is your first step.

Fret not, we’ve simplified the maze for you right here.

Introduction to Brunei

Brunei, known in Malay as Brunei Darussalam or “The Abode of Peace”, is a small country surrounded by Malaysia and the South China Sea and made of two separate areas.

It is the only country entirely located on the island of Borneo, unlike the Indonesian or Malaysian areas like Kalimantan or Sarawak and Sabah (where Mount Kinabalu is), respectively.

The majority of the population lives in the Eastern part of the country, where the international airport and the capital of Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan, are located.

The Western part of the country only accounts for 10% of the 400,000 Bruneians. It is entirely made of lush and pristine jungle, the best preserved in Asia, and not connected to the Eastern part but surrounded by water or Malaysia.

The most famous park in Brunei is the beautiful Ulu Temburong, home to several endemic species, including the bashful Proboscis monkey, which you can also find in nearby Sabah State and Kota Kinabalu Park in East Malaysia.

A visit to the park is one of the main reasons to travel to Brunei and is worthwhile even if you don’t do anything else.

While you may have never heard of Brunei before, the country is most famous for the eccentricities and excesses of the Sultan, once the wealthiest man in the world and one of the last remaining absolute Monarchs.

Sultan Bolkiah is estimated to have accumulated a fortune amounting to $20 billion thanks to vast natural oil and gas reserves. He also regularly makes the headlines for his indulgences in custom-built high-performance cars and lavish homes.

The Royal Palace, Istana Nurul, is the world’s most enormous Palace and family residence. Open to the public only during the three days after Ramadan; the Palace is said to have almost 1,800 rooms and over 200 bathrooms.

There is a garage for one hundred luxury cars, Sultan’s favorite selection over the seven thousand car collection he is believed to have amassed.

Despite being known for his wealth and extravagances, the Sultan introduced Sharia Law, the most conservative form of Islamic Law, in 2014, to much international dismay.

Rolled out in phases, once complete Sharia Law is implemented, punishments as primitive as flogging, stoning to death, and cutting limbs will be imposed in Brunei.

In 2019, Brunei made headlines worldwide when it introduced a ban on homosexuality.

This follows stringent and primitive rules by 70 UN member states where the penalty varies from 10 years in prison to life. However, the Sultan has declared that they won’t take action on the law.

As a visitor, you can roam freely and safely, for the Sultan’s generosity with his people and the country’s limited freedom of expression makes this a peaceful country.

Things To Do In Brunei: Attractions And Places To See

Brunei appears to most as a place devoid of any interesting sights. However, this is a country where you should find beauty in the most minor things and where experiencing the place matters most rather than ticking things off a checklist.

The country has no party or dancing, for it is a strict follower of Islam, and alcohol is forbidden. As a result, when the sun sets, there is little more to do in Brunei than go on boat tours to spot fireflies or sit at a cafe with a slice of cake.

Educate Yourself At The Museum Of Brunei

The Museum of Brunei is an excellent source of information about the culture and history of the country, including the recent developments in the oil and gas industry.

The Sultanate of Brunei was a strong Empire until the 15th century when wars and disputes caused its decline.

After that, the country remained under various forms of protection from the UK until achieving complete independence in 1984.

While visiting a country’s history museum may not be everyone’s definition of the best place to see, it makes sense to start your visit to Brunei here so that you have a good understanding of this tiny country.

Some of Brunei’s attractions you will explore later will make much more sense after you can link them to the country’s fascinating past.

Get Wowed At The Royal Regalia Museum

The Museum is home to the Sultan’s life, including all the objects of his reign. Replicas of his throne, the gifts that Royals and Heads of State have given the Sultan, crowns, and gowns. Expect gold and jewels galore like you have never seen before.

The entire place is reminiscent of the Armory in Moscow’s Kremlin, where the Tsar’s riches are displayed.

The Museum is located in the downtown part of Bandar Seri Begawan near the famous Mosque, and you can’t miss its giant domed ceiling.

Entrance to the Museum is free; you must leave your belongings and cameras at the entrance.

Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum

If you’re into nautical-themed museums, then this is the place you should dock yourself. After finding a shipwreck in 1997, an expedition was formed to search for all its artifacts.

What they found in the late 15th and early 16th century ships was that over 13,000 different objects were found, primarily ceramic or glass items.

There is a short yet exciting movie about the ship and the process of retrieving the artifacts. Downstairs is the replica of the ship, and upstairs, some more information on Brunei’s exports, such as camphor, spices, and textiles.

Like the Royal Regalia Museum, entrance is free, but you cannot take pictures inside.

It is suggested that you read up a bit more on early Asian trade before visiting to understand the importance of this find, as the information is lacking a bit.

One more thing about a visit to this Museum is that it is roughly a 1.5-2 km walk from the nearest bus stop, so it’s best to get here by taxi, which can be organized through your hotel.

It’s best to hire one for half a day if you visit all the Bandar Seri Begawan sites.

Marvel At The Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddien

You cannot visit Brunei and not see its most famous tourist attraction: Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddien.

It is also an impossible-to-miss landmark in Brunei since it sits tall and surrounded by a lake right in the center of the capital city, and it is the tallest building at 52m high.

The Mosque, built in honor of the Sultan’s late father, the 28th Sultan of Brunei, in 1958, is made of solid gold and fine marble from Italy and was inspired by India’s Mughal architecture, as you’ll find in Lahore, Dhaka, or Chennai and of course the Taj Mahal.

The Mosque was the first official and enormous Mosque built in the capital.

Before that, there used to be a much smaller wooden mosque in the same area, but it could not hold more than 500 people, so massive prayers for marked dates were held out in the open.

The crescent lake between the Mosque and the water village, Kampong Ayer, gives it a heavenly aura. Watch out for monitor lizards cooling down in the water to avoid being surprised when taking a picture.

The large and colorful barge in front of the Mosque is a replica of the 16th-century Royal Barge and was built almost a decade after the Mosque’s completion. The barge used to stage Al-Quran reading competitions.

Although the Mosque is open to visitors and entrance is free, this is a functioning house of prayer in an active Muslim country, so practice respect at all times. If you are not Muslim, you may not be allowed inside at times of prayer on special dates like Ramadan or Eid Al Fitr.

Women should expect to cover their heads; men may be turned away if wearing short sleeves, vests, or shorts. There is an elevator going to the top of one of the minarets for the city’s best views.

Visit Kampong Ayer And Spot Proboscis Monkeys

One of the most exciting things to do in Brunei is rent a boat from the harbor to motor through the world’s largest water village with 30,000 people and the mangrove area around it. It would help if you did this at night and during the day, as the experiences are different.

Kampong Ayer, the water village, is a mere few minutes from the shore in the central area and can be accessed by simply renting the boat and skipper for a few dollars.

It would help to negotiate with the boatman before getting on the boat.

These are not tourist boats, and very few people visit Brunei, but rather the same boats the locals use to get around.

Some may not have a roof to protect from the sun, so pick the right one or bring a hat. The sun in Brunei is brutal.

People are friendly, and you can respectfully peek inside people’s homes and see how a village is entirely above the waterworks.

Contrary to what you may see in more impoverished parts of Asia, Kampong Ayer is a developed and wealthy part of Brunei.

Some of the newer houses are as good, if not better, than the ones on land and can go for as much as $100,000. It is fascinating to see how so many people live on stilts.

A stroll along the Kampong Ayer bridges and paths is one of the most fascinating things to do in Brunei.

What Is A Brunei Tourist Visa?

There are different kinds of visas for different sorts of purposes of visit. The most common type of Brunei visa is a tourist visa. It is a permit issued for foreigners looking forward to visiting the country for tourism.

A Brunei tourist visa will allow you to stay in the country for about three months, depending on the requirement.

Another advantage to a tourist visa to Brunei is that it can even be extended by applying to the Diplomatic Section of the Department of Immigration and National Registration.

How To Get A Tourist Visa For Brunei Darussalam?

The process of applying for a tourist visa to Brunei is mainly online. Before applying for a visa, you must ensure what kind of visa you require.

In order to apply for a visa, you will have to visit the official embassy website.

The step-by-step procedure of how to apply for a Brunei tourist visa from India is given as follows:

  1. Download and print the Brunei tourist visa application form from the official Brunei embassy website.
  2. Fill out the form thoroughly with all the proper details.
  3. Attach one photograph to the visa application form.
  4. Proof of accommodation – hotel bookings, invitation letter, etc
  5. Submit the form to the Embassy along with all the supporting documents.

The application form and supporting documents can be submitted to the Embassy personally, through an acquaintance, or via a visa agency.

After the submission and the visa application form are received, the Embassy will process the documents, and the passport will be provided with the visa stamp for Brunei.

If you opt for the delivery process, the passport will be mailed back to you at your registered address. Otherwise, you can collect the stamped passport yourself.

It is also essential to note that genuine documents must be provided as there are chances that the visa may get rejected with incorrect documents or unverifiable information. The visa refusal may affect your future visa applications.

Eligibility Criteria For A Brunei Tourist Visa

While applying for a tourist visa to Brunei, there are certain factors that you need to consider to be able to obtain the visa. The eligibility criteria for the permit are mentioned as follows:

You must possess proof of the purpose of the visit

  • If you are visiting your acquaintances, you must have an invitation letter from the resident in Brunei.
  • You must visit for tourism only or visit acquaintances and not search for or take up any employment.

You must meet the health requirements

  • You must be healthy enough to travel to Brunei.
  • You must perform a medical test before traveling to the country and provide relevant documentary proof.
  • You must be within the age limit to be able to apply for a work permit.

You must meet the character requirements

  • You must be of good character and have genuine intentions behind working in Brunei.
  • You need to provide relevant documentary proof for the same (if asked) in the form of a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC).

You must have sufficient funds

  • You must possess or have access to sufficient funds to cover your stay and other expenses in Brunei.
  • A Bank statement or any equivalent document is to be submitted as proof.

Documents Required For A Tourist Visa In Brunei

Different kinds of documents are required for the issuance of the Brunei visa. The Brunei tourist visa requirements are given as follows:

  • Passport with a validity of at least six months
  • Filled out the visa application form
  • One/Two colored photographs as per the specifications
  • Covering letter specifying all the essential details
  • Confirmed return and onward flight tickets
  • Proof of accommodation – hotel reservation, invitation letter
  • Copy of Income Tax Returns
  • Proof of financial support
  • Salary slip for the past six months
  • Bank account statement for the past six months (if self-employed or unemployed)
  • Identification proof – a copy of the Adhaar card, PAN card, etc.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Copy of leave sanctioned letter from the employer (from institute if a student)
  • Other additional documents if requested by the consular.

What Is The Processing Time For A Brunei Tourist Visa?

When the documents are submitted, the Embassy or the consulate takes time to process and verify the documents to provide a visa stamp on the passport.

The time taken for the Brunei Darussalam visa process is about 7 working days. This period may vary depending on the verification time required for visa documents or if there are any complications in the process.

Brunei Tourist Visa Fees

The tourist visa fees for Brunei depend on various factors, such as the type of visa, the number of entries, service charges, and others. The fee will differ and is generally to be paid to the Embassy after filling out the visa application form.

  • Single entry Normal (1 month) – BND 1500, Valid for 3 months.

What To Do When You Get The Visa?

After obtaining the visa, you need to ensure that your actions do not get the visa canceled. Some rules and regulations are to be followed to do so. Some pointers can be found in the following:

Before you travel

  1. Make a note of the visa expiry date, as well as the number of entries permitted. You must stay in the country during this period.
  2. It would help if you traveled to Brunei within the validity of your visa.
  3. Ensure you carry a copy of your passport and other travel documents while in the country.
  4. Issue health insurance and travel Insurance from a certified company.

At the Border

  1. Get your documents checked and your passport verified.
  2. Obtain the entry stamp on your passport.
  3. Consult the airport authorities for any assistance required.
  4. Check your visa copy for other guidelines and rules to be followed.

When you enter Brunei

  1. Ensure not to get involved in any employment. You can, however, do volunteer work.
  2. The tourist-prohibited areas must be stayed out of.
  3. Make sure you don’t overstay and apply for a visa extension in time.

Other Things To Consider When Planning Your Trip To Brunei

Brunei is a unique country, so some things you would expect from its neighbors or other countries in Asia do not apply. It is best to pay attention to some of the travel tips to Brunei below.

You Should Dress Conservatively

Sharia Law was imposed a few years ago in Brunei, and as a result, most women cover their heads, and locals will wear long sleeves and long trousers despite the weather calling for shorts.

You are best respecting the local customs and wearing long trousers too but, as a woman, you are not expected to cover up. Bring a scarf in case you can visit the mosques.

You Can Use Singapore Dollars

Although Brunei has its currency, both Singapore dollars and Brunei dollars are accepted, and your Brunei dollars will also be helpful in Singapore, so if you are visiting the tiny Red Dot city after or before Brunei, keep your dollars and use them there.

Conclusion

So, we’ve unraveled the mystery of getting a tourist visa for Brunei. From crucial documents to pro tips, we’ve set you up for a hassle-free entry into this Southeast Asian paradise. Ready to pack your bags?

Safe Journeys!

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