Where the hack is Brunei, you might ask? You’re excused as he country is one of the smaller ones, hence exactly knowing where it is might not be everyone’s geography forte. So let us put our teacher’s voice on and tell you that Brunei is a tiny sultan state on the island of Borneo in South East Asia. Borneo itself is the third largest island on the planet and shares its land mass between three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.
The majority of people who fly into Brunei would arrive by Royal Brunei Airlines, the country’s only airline. And by doing that you can’t fail to notice that Brunei is a very religious, Muslim country. Why is that you might ask? Well, before each flight Royal Brunei Airlines plays the prayer tape and you’re treated with a few minutes reading from the Quran – in Arabic that is. Quite the experience.
But let’s move on as we’re actually here to write about Brunei International Airport (BWN) – لاڤڠن تربڠ انتارابڠسا بروني. The airport is – well, you probably guessed it, tiny. And just because Brunei is a oil rich, wealthy country doesn’t mean the airport is all Dubai-ed up. Quite the contrary, it’s really small, offers few facilities, dining options or shops. But don’t be disheartened if you’re going there, there are a few things you can do. However, there are two things you must totally forget about: smoke a cigarette and find a place that serves alcohol (Update: Peter, an avid reader of our blog has just let us know that there in fact is a place where you can light up a cigarette: according to him its located next door to a small variety store in the general hall close to the exit. Thanks Peter!).
We were also glad to hear that the airport is currently going through a modernisation project and is also being extended with a new arrival terminal. According to the airport’s news website work has started in 2011 and is scheduled to be finished in the next year or so.
Here are our top suggestions from when we visited the airport:
- Check out the interesting selection of Japanese chocolates from the Royce’ chocolate shop in the Departure Hall (potato chips in chocolate & caramel flavour anyone?)
- Buy some card games (i.e. UNO) or some kids toys to kill some time at the souvenir shop in the Arrival Hall
- Bring your kids a stuffed Proboscis monkey from the newsagent shop in the Departure Hall
- When you’re in transit and have at least 3 hours, your best option here is to jump on one of the city tours specially designed for transit passengers. For example, there’s one geared towards passengers flying from Melbourne to Brunei and on to Dubai. The tour lasts for 2 hours and will give you a great sense of what Brunei is all about. It costs B$25 and departs at 6pm local time. You’re then brought back by 8pm in time for your onward flight to Dubai.
- Browse the seven or eight small stores with everything from souvenirs, arts and crafts to chocolate and duty free articles. Our favourite was Rahman’s Enterprize with an eclectic selection of card games, books, magazines and plenty of weird things that are great to look at.
- Have a reflexology massage at “The Healing Touch”. Massages start from B$29.
- If you’re eligible, get into the SkyLounge upstairs
- Check your emails in the Coffee Beans store upstairs
|Airport Name||Brunei International Airport|
[Photo from LateDeparture – all rights reserved]