If you’re looking to travel on a budget, Brunei might not be the best option. When traveling in Brunei is compared to other places like Vietnam, it is more expensive. You’ll pay more for things like accommodation and won’t be able to get by on just $15 a day.
Surprisingly, Brunei is quite affordable. You can get a meal for $1 and a bus ride in Bandar Seri Begawan costs only 80 cents per journey. Also, there are numerous free activities and attractions to participate in, and even buying data for your phone won’t break the bank!
One of my long-term objectives with Never Ending Footsteps is to produce a comprehensive breakdown of how much money I spent in every nation I’ve visited. With 65 more countries to go, I’m looking forward to focusing my efforts on Brunei.
What you get with this article
As I do every month, this budget breakdown covers my expenses for accommodation, transportation, activities, food, and other items while traveling.
Since flight prices vary depending on your location of origin, I have not included the cost of flights to and from Brunei in this total. Most people arriving in Brunei fly into Kuala Lumpur first; from there Air Asia runs regular flights Bandar Seri Begawan for about $51 USD.
Because the majority of my readers are from the United States, I’ve listed my costs in US dollars and converted to Brunei dollars. The Brunei dollar is linked to the Singapore dollar and can be used interchangeably across both countries. I don’t accept comps, freebies, or press trips on this site, so everything listed here was paid for with my own money. Finally, these figures are what I paid while traveling with my partner in Brunei. That means my accommodation expenses and the cost of my boat tour have been reduced by half to show how much I contributed.
The cost of accomodation in Brunei
We stayed at the Taman Mawar Guesthouse in Brunei and I can’t recommend it enough. The owner, Maya, made our trip. She picked us up from the airport, gave us rides into and out of town, bought us lunch, and introduced us to the local night market. If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t have enjoyed our time in Brunei as much.
The guesthouse is located a bit outside of the city center, but provides access to a clean and spacious room with its own private bathroom. You will also have full use of the kitchen, living area, and washing machine during your stay. The Capital Residence Suites is the best option for those on a mid-range budget who are looking to stay within walking distance of all attractions in Bandar Seri Begawan. The cost for a double room is $64 per night. For lodging on a tight budget, Poni Homestay has dorm beds available for $20 nightly.
The cost of Transportation in Brunei
Free transportation is one of the many reasons why I enjoyed my time in Brunei. Not only was there a free airport transfer, but Maya also drove us around wherever we wanted to go. In addition, locals were always willing to give visitors a ride if they needed it. You can find numerous accounts online from other travelers who had similar experiences. If you’re ever fortunate enough to have someone offer you a ride, remember to give them a tip of $3.66 as token of your appreciation (they might not accept it though).
While public transportation in Brunei isn’t the best, it’s still manageable and inexpensive. There are no trains, but buses run everywhere except at night. Taxis are relatively rare and more expensive than other forms of transport, so they should only be used as a last resort. Still, for daytime explorations, the bus is cheap at 1 BND ($0.71) per journey.
If you’re comfortable driving on the left-hand side of the road, hiring a vehicle in Brunei might be an option. Bruneians are polite and the roads calm in comparison to other countries in Southeast Asia, so I wouldn’t worry too much about driving there. The price of petrol is around 0.50 BND ($0.37) per litre, and car rental starts at 55 BND ($40) per day. During my four days in Brunei, I spent a total of 5 BND ($3.66) on transportation. This includes two bus trips from Bandar Seri Begawan’s centre to my lodging and a thank you gift for a local who gave us a ride.
The cost of food in Brunei
Thanks to Gadong Night Market, I found eating out in Brunei to be very affordable. Maya introduced us to it on our first night, and we went back every evening for skewered meat and smoothies. We would also grab some chicken and rice to put in our fridge for breakfast the next day. Since the cost of most food items ranges from $1 to $5 BND (0.73 to 3.66 USD), it made for some incredible cheap dinners. On one day, we ate lunch at Seri Damai Restaurant in Bandar Seri Begawan, a Pakistani restaurant, and my lamb saag dish with garlic naan and lassi cost me only 11 BND ($8).We had a really terrible breakfast at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf one morning since it was the only restaurant that was open and serving meals. For the sake of the worst eggs Benedict I’ve ever eaten plus a cup of tea, I paid $6.80 BND (about $5.00). nTrying ambuyat is one of the activities I strongly suggest to guests to Brunei! Maya served us dinner, but from looking at the menu online, it appears like a set meal costs $26 BND ($19.00), which is reasonable if you have a group of people to share with. I saw an average of $13 per day spent on food in Brunei
The cost of activities in Brunei is $3,800 per Person
Fortunately, the majority of activities in Brunei are free to do. You won’t have to pay to visit the Royal Regalia Museum, and exploring mosques is completely free. Walking around Kampong Ayer without having to pay for a tour or guide is possible. I splurged on one thing while I was there: a boat trip along the river for 90 minutes cost us $22 in total, including our driver and boat. We spent half of our time in Brunei spotting proboscis monkeys beside the river, and the other half exploring Kampong Ayer, a floating village. If you’re looking for activities to splurge on while you’re in the country, consider diving—Brunei has surprisingly good dive sites with plenty of WWII wrecks to explore and healthy coral growth thanks to its location on the edge of the Coral Triangle. The best reviews go to Poni Divers, and a full-day on the water costs 153 BND ($112). Day-tripping around Ulu Temburong National Park is something you can only do through a guided tour, which is why it’s such a popular activity. It’s rather pricey at 153 BND ($112), so I’d recommend doing this trip only if you don’t plan on seeing any more of Malaysian/Indonesian Borneo. Across the island, the jungle is just as breathtaking, but it isn’t quite as expensive to visit as it is in Brunei.