Recognised as the smallest district amongst the 4 districts of the Kingdom of Brunei, the Muara district is the opposite when it comes to all the exciting tourist spots and attractions available for its tourists, both man-made and natural.
Add the fact that this district is where the capital is located, expect plenty of diverse interaction with the Bruneian people.
3 days is not enough to fully experience Muara, but in what time you have, there will be no shortage of enjoyment. The abundance of cultural and historical landmarks in this small district is staggering – at the forefront are the Brunei History Centre, the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque and the official home of the Sultan: the Istana Nurul Imana or known as the Palace of the Light of Faith. After an educational tour around the district, find fresh fruits and eats at the Tamu Kianggeh or the Kianggeh Market or you could visit the different malls or restaurants in the area. Peace is also easy to obtain here with the numerous recreational parks around the district; notably, the Tasek Lama Recreational Park. Lastly, beach-lovers have something for themselves as well as the Muara Beach and the Serasa Beach are some of the beauties of the district’s coastlines.
Thankfully, the Brunei International Airport is in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan – and the capital is part of the Muara district. Just take a flight with an arrival at the said airport – it is the most convenient and cost-efficient alternative for tourists from far countries. Nearer countries can take sea transportation that will arrive at the main port at Muara – a town named after the district. For those in the same landmass, bus services and the Pan Borneo Highway will be your guide to reach the district.
The district of Muara might have high-end establishments that accept plastic, but cash is still the most favored form of payment to transactions. Thankfully, the sources of such cash in the form of the national currency, the Brunei Dollar (BND), are abundant in the district. Banks are teeming especially in places with heavy traffic of people. Money changers are also available, but only in the capital. Most of them are unregistered, so it can be a bit risky. ATMs are also strategically placed at arrival and departure areas in the district. Another nugget of knowledge that may come in handy, the Brunei dollar is tied to the Singapore dollar, so that means you can use the Singapore dollar there.
Brunei is a humid, tropical country – the same is evident in the Muara district, which means you’ll face only two seasons: dry and wet and peace in between. June to August is summer or dry season and is also the high season for tourists. Temperatures and humidity are at its peak and the throngs of people add up to it. It is quite fun though, beaches are lively, and most tourist spots are beautifully emphasised. The downside: expensive costs. September to December, on the other hand, is the low season and at the same time, the wet season. Regular rains and downpours can ruin your plans. The only relief is the extremely affordable prices. January to May would be that peace in between. Temperatures and humidity are manageable, along with the crowds. February and March are the months with little to no chances of rain, making it a great time for all-out touring.
Brunei’s a small country, so no need to travel by air. Roads in Brunei are also of international standard. Self-driven or chauffeur-driven cars are also provided by major hotels or can be availed at the airport. Taxis are also limited. Either you manage to grab one by the road in places where they wait, or you can arrange with your hotels to supply you one or link you up through mobile phone numbers. Taxis in Brunei have no metres, make sure to negotiate the fare before boarding. Ride booking apps have a conflicted relationship with the government – despite efforts, the strict driving regulations made this modern form of transportation nonexistent in the country. Luckily, public buses that go through towns, cities, and suburbs are abundant, especially in the capital. Water taxis can be found by the Brunei River and would also require a bit of negotiation before boarding – the ride is fun though.
The taste buds of the residents of the Muara district are unique and diverse. But the commonality that can be found is their preference for the rich flavour of coconut milk. Coconut milk can be considered as the most popular ingredient to identify in a Bruneian menu. These menus can be found all around the numerous restaurants and food stalls that are eager to know your verdict of their dish. The two most popular dishes are the Beef Rendang: slow cooked beef in lemongrass and coconut sauce – a masterpiece of aroma and taste, and Nasi Lemak: a rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves – a breakfast staple that will surely tingle your senses. Expect such surprises in the cuisine plates waiting for you in Muara.
Being the most established and developed of all the districts, Muara’s beauty makes up for its lack in size. It would be a mortal sin to miss experiencing the sights and spectacles of this phenomenal district. So, what are you waiting for? Get a ticket to Bandar Seri Begawan, now.