Bandar Seri Begawan

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Bandar Seri Begawan
Brunei Town
Other transcription(s)
 • Jawi بندر سري بڬاوان
From top left: Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddin Park, Lapau Diraja, Mercu Dirgahayu and Downtown Bandar Seri Begawan.
From top left: Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddin Park, Lapau Diraja, Mercu Dirgahayu and Downtown Bandar Seri Begawan.
Nickname(s): Bandar or BSB
Bandar Seri Begawan is located in Brunei
Bandar Seri Begawan
Bandar Seri Begawan
Coordinates: 4°53′25″N 114°56′32″E / 4.89028°N 114.94222°E / 4.89028; 114.94222Coordinates: 4°53′25″N 114°56′32″E / 4.89028°N 114.94222°E / 4.89028; 114.94222
Country  Brunei
District Brunei Muara
Bruneian Empire 7th-18th century
Settled by the British 19th century
Land development by the British 1906
Resettlement of the Sultanate of Brunei administration centre 1909
Municipality and granted city status 1920
 • City 100.36 km2 (38.75 sq mi)
Population (2015)
 • City 50,000
 • Density 1,395/km2 (3,610/sq mi)
 • Urban 279,924
 • Demonym Seri Begawanese / Orang Bandar
Time zone BNT (UTC+8)
Area code(s) +673 02

Bandar Seri Begawan /ˌbndə sɨˌr bɨˈɡ.ən/ BA(H)ND sə-REE bə-GOW-ən (Jawi: بندر سري بڬاوان ; Malay: [ˌbanda səˌri bəˈɡawan]) formerly known as Brunei Town, is the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Brunei. Bandar Seri Begawan has an estimated population of 20,000,[1] and including the whole Brunei-Muara District, the metro area has an estimated population of 279,924.[2]


The original name for this city was "Bandar Brunei" or "Brunei Town" in English. In 1967, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III abdicated in favour of his eldest son, Hassanal Bolkiah and took the title of "Seri Begawan".[3] Bolkiah was then made as a defence minister and in 5 October 1970, he renamed the city to honour his late father.[3][4][5][6] The word "Begawan" was also used for Bruneian monarchs who have abdicated, the word originally coming from the Sanskrit word for "god": भगवान bhagavān. Beside that, Seri Begawan was known as "blessed one" in Sanskrit.[4] Seri comes from the honorific Sanskrit word Sri, and Bandar comes from Persian via Indian languages and originally meant "harbour" or "port" or "haven".[4][6] In Malay, bandar is known as a "town" or a "city".


Human settlement in Brunei can be traced back as far as 6th and 7th century with Malay trading centre and fishing port located near the current site of this city.[4] The first settlement on the banks of the Brunei River can be traced back to the 8th century where there had been settlements similar to those in Kampong Ayer, located near the present site of the Brunei Museum with the modern city on the opposite shore.[7] During the Bruneian Empire period from 15th-17th century, the Sultanate ruled much part of Borneo including the southern part of the Philippines and its capital of Manila,[8][9] with the water settlement near the city area became the third centre of the administration after been moved twice from Kota Batu and Kampong Ayer.[4][5][6][10] When the Sultanate rule declined through the eighteenth century due to the arrival of western powers such as the Spanish, Dutch and the British, this settlement population was totally decreased from its peak of 20,000 inhabitants.[4] From 1888 until its independence in 1984, Brunei was a British protectorate and land development began in 1906 when the British resident encouraged the Sultanate citizens to moved on a reclaimed land on the western bank of the inlet.[10] In 1899, first oil well was drilled at Ayer Bekunchi near Kampung Kasat, Bandar Seri Begawan. Although the oil well was drilled as deep as 259 metres (850 feet), no oil was found in the well. Oil exploration in Brunei later shifted to Seria and Belait District in 1924.[11][12][13] Sultan Muhammad Jamalul Alam II established a new palace on the west bank in 1909 after been persuaded by the British,[5] along with the arriving of Chinese traders to boost the economy. Mosque and government buildings was also built along the western shores in 1920.[4] In the same year, the new settlement was declared as a new capital of Brunei and became a municipal area.[10]

Brunei Town under Allied attack in 1945; the attack was intended to flush out the Japanese.
Brunei Town in the 1950, with the starting of the redevelopment.

However, the city prosperity was almost ended when the city was captured by the Japanese in 1941, before been recaptured by the Allied forces in 1945. During the war, most infrastructure was destroyed by Japanese and Allied bombing.[14] The British began reconstructing most of its possessions in Borneo at the end of 1945 with the restoration of the law and order and the reopening of schools.[14] In 1950, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III, upon his ascension to the throne, negotiated with the British for an increase in corporate taxes, growing from 10% to 30% in 1953. A M$1.2 million (US$0.39 million) allotment to Brunei for war damages during the Japanese occupation increased from M$1 million in 1946 to M$100 million (US$32.6 million) in 1952. A five-year development plan with a total budget of M$100 million was also implemented in 1953, with infrastructure receiving the largest percentage (80%) and the rest going toward social programmes.[14] Together with the expansion of the oil and gas industry, commercialization began to transform Brunei's capital and a large number of public buildings were constructed, along with the development of a central business district in the 1970s and 1980s.[4][5] On 1 August 2007, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah gave consent for the expansion of the city from 12.87 km2 (4.97 sq mi) to 100.36 km2 (38.75 sq mi).[6]

Capital city[edit]

Istana Nurul Iman is the seat of the Brunei government and is the largest residential palace in the world according to Guinness World Records.[15] There are two prime minister offices in the city: one is located inside Istana Nurul Iman and another one is located at Jalan Kumbang Pasang.[16][17]

Local authority and city definition[edit]

The city is administered by the Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Department, a department which originally responsible to maintain the cleanliness and provide services to the municipality. The city obtained city status in 1920.[18]

With an area of 100.36 square kilometres, the city is located in the most populous district of Brunei namely Brunei-Muara District.[19] The city comprises the following Mukims (subdivisions of a district):[20]

However, 6 mukims are collectively known as Kampong Ayer or Water Village namely: Burong Pinggai Ayer, Sungai Kebun, Sungai Kedayan, Peramu, Saba, and Tamoi.


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


Brunei features a tropical rainforest climate which is relatively hot and wet.[21] The city sees heavy precipitation throughout the course of the year with the Northeast Monsoon blows from December to March, while the Southeast Monsoon around June to October.[22] In 2010, the city average temperature ranges from 24 °C (75 °F) to 35 °C (95 °F) with March being the hottest month and December being the coldest one.[23]

Climate data for Bandar Seri Begawan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33.9
Average high °C (°F) 30.4
Average low °C (°F) 23.3
Record low °C (°F) 18.4
Average rainfall mm (inches) 292.6
Average rainy days 16 12 11 16 18 16 16 16 19 21 23 21 205
Mean monthly sunshine hours 196 191 225 239 236 210 222 218 199 206 205 211 2,558
Source #1: World Meteorological Organisation[24]
Source #2: NOAA (sun and extremes 1961−1990)[25]


Ethnicity and religion[edit]

The Bruneian Census 2011 Report estimated the population of Bandar Seri Begawan is around 20,000, while the metropolitan area has around 279,924.[1][2] The majority of Bruneians are Malays, with Chinese being the most significant minority group.[2] Aboriginal groups such as the Bisaya, Belait, Dusun, Kedayan, Murut and Tutong also exist and classified as part of the Malay ethnic groups and been given the Bumiputera privileges.[1] Large numbers of foreign workers are also found within Brunei and the capital city, with the majority being from Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and the Indian subcontinent.[26][27]

Places of interest[edit]


The Ceremonial Ship beside the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque
  • 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[28]
  • Jame'asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque - This mosque is the largest mosque in Brunei. It was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the sultan's reign. It is locally known as the Kiarong mosque.
  • Ash Shaliheen Mosque - This mosque is located next to Prime Minister's Office in Bandar Seri Begawan. The mosque architecture is inspired by Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in Saudi Arabia and Spain's Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba.
  • Surau Brunei International Airport - This surau or small mosque is create just next to International Airport.

Historical sites[edit]

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dang Ayang Mausoleum
A legendary figure whom being chased away from Kampong Ayer for committing adultery. Adultery was a taboo in Bruneian society. She died in what we have known today as Pusat Bandar (Central City). However some sources says that she was a Queen of Brunei.
  • Royal Wharf

Istana Darussalam[edit]

This Istana or Palace was located near to the river. It is one of the oldest non residential palace in Brunei. This palace was where the Begawan Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III resides and where Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah was born. This historic palace is not open for public.


Located on an archaeological site at Kota Batu, Brunei museum is the largest in the country.
  • Brunei Museum (Muzium Brunei) - Located on an archaeological 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 artefacts and customs, ceramics and the oil industry of Brunei. of oil, process of drilling, refining, the history of the petroleum industry in Brunei and a map depicting current oil fields..
The Malay Technology Museum at Kota Batu.
Front exhibit, Royal Regalia Building
  • 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 armoury 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 Centre - Located at Jalan Sultan next to the Royal Regalia building is the Brunei history centre. The centre 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.
  • 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 Centre - 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 Centre conducts courses in silverware, brassware, woodcarving, songkok-making, weaving and basketry.

Istana Nurul Iman[edit]

The Istana Nurul Iman palace is the residence of the sultan of Brunei. It is located 3 km southwest of the city centre. 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 Corporation, mixing Malay and Islamic elements in the building architecture.[29] It contains 1,788 rooms, with 257 bathrooms, and a banquet hall that can accommodate up to 5,000 guests. The palace only opens to public during the yearly three-day Hari Raya Adilfitri celebration.[30]

Kampong Ayer[edit]

Main article: Kampong Ayer
Kampong Ayer.

The city's suburb incorporates nearby Kampong Ayer (water village), in which houses were built on stilts and stretches about 8 km (5.0 mi) along the Brunei river. It was founded 1,000 years ago.[31] The village is considered the largest stilt settlement in the world with approximately 30,000 residents and 2,000 houses.[32] "Venice of the East" was coined by Antonio Pigafetta in honour of the water village he encountered at Kota Batu (just east of city's central business district). Pigafetta was on Ferdinand Magellan's last voyages when he visited Brunei in 1521.[33]

Parks and trails[edit]

  • 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.
Brunei Darussalam's sculpture at Persiaran Damuan.
  • Jalan Tasek Lama
Located just a few minutes walk from the city centre, 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.


The main bus station is located at Jalan Cator.
Water taxis awaiting passengers near Jalan MacArthur.


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 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. Royal Brunei Airlines, the national airline, has its head office in the RBA Plaza in the city.[34][35]


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 travelling to Penamdang Ferry Service and from Bangar and Limbang.


The city produces furniture,[36] textiles, handicrafts, and timber.[37][38]


Brunei are known to its shophouses design. These are the shopping areas:

  • Gadong Central is where many shopping complexes, shops and restaurants are located (e.g., The Mall Gadong, Western fast food restaurants and Ayamku, the local fast food chain). There is also a night market called Pasar Malam Gadong.
  • Rimba, a medium-sized mall with Giant supermarket.
  • Tungku-link Commercial Complex, various shophouses and local and Korean restaurants, textiles shops, carpet.
  • Beribi Complex
  • Kiulap Commercial Precinct in Kiarong, Kiulap Mall, private colleges, banks and various restaurants from local, Pakistani and Korean restaurants.
  • Abdul Razak Complex and Seri Complex in Jalan Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha, Kiarong

Traditional markets[edit]

  • Tamu Kianggeh, The open market brings together numerous small entrepreneurs selling local vegetables, fruits, live chickens and fish, potted plants, assorted food and beverages.
  • Pasar Malam (Night Market), located a few metres away from The Mall Gadong, brings together numerous small entrepreneurs just like in Tamu Kianggeh however its more into selling foods such as Sate, Soto, national dishes like Nasi Katok and Ambuyat, fruits and beverages. During the day, it is where local botanist selling their potted plants.


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 centre.[39] It is the oldest and also the largest university in Brunei in terms of student enrolment 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[40] as an Islamic university.
  • Kolej Universiti Perguruan Ugama Seri Begawan (Seri Begawan University School of Religious Teaching)

Higher educational institutes in Bandar Seri Begawan:

Secondary schools in the capital:

International relations[edit]

Several countries have set up their embassies, commissions or consulates in Bandar Seri Begawan, including Australia,[41] Bangladesh,[42] Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burma,[43] Cambodia, Canada,[44] Chile, China,[45] Finland,[46] France,[47] Germany,[48] India,[49] Indonesia,[50] Japan,[51] Laos, Malaysia,[52] Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia,[53] Singapore,[54] South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand,[55] United Kingdom,[56] United States[57] and Vietnam.[58][59]


Recently, there is a planning to develop Bandar Seri Begawan to look more Urban, various redevelopment take places in the city. BSB Municipal department execute their BSB Masterplan with support of both locals and government.

Sister city[edit]

Bandar Seri Begawan currently has only two sister cities:


The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque facade 
Kampong Ayer 
Memorial depicting 60 in Arabic, to commemorate the His Majesty the Sultan's 60th birthday 
Tomb of the late Sultan Sharif Ali, also known as Sultan Berkat, the third Sultan of Brunei, who ruled 1426-1432 
Street scenery, Jalan Sultan 
Outside view of the Royal Regalia Building 
Sungai Brunei (Brunei river) 
Street in Gadong, the main shopping centre of Bandar Seri Begawan 


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