Do and don't in Brunei

Are you living in Brunei? We need you to share your experience of the local customs :)

Is it difficult to adjust to the local customs in Brunei?

Could you please share with us a list of the do's and don't's in Brunei?



I don't believe it is difficult to adjust to our customs because they are so simple.

On the top of my head,

DONT: foreigners are often advised to not show too much skin outside their no nude sunbathing on the beach!=D   [because MIB (Melayu Islam Beraja) is the national philosophy,[which is acronym for Malay(the majority race), Islam(the majority's religion) and Monarchy (the gment system)]

DO: DO becareful when crossing the road since everybody drives everywhere in Brunei :lol: Similar to Uk, we drive on the left side, so if you are unfamiliar with this, please look both ways before crossing

DONT: Swear a lot in public. It's common sense. Nobody likes a potty mouth.

DO: interact with the locals, have a chat; most of us speak English (well, my generation anyway). Then again, Brunei Malay and Malay language in general are not difficult to learn;)

hmmm what else?

I've got nothing else:P But if you have any more questions, ask away!

Hi all,

I think Atiqah summarize what you allowed to DO.

To be honest i really cannot see a a lot of restrictions , and most of them are for the common sense and according the people education here in Brunei.

Most of the Brunei people are well educated it is a fact and local customs fit also with the way of life of the local people.

By my side i really feel comfortable here in Brunei


huhuhuhu...i'm not living in brunei but i think brunei have a same custom with Malaysia right?

give way to pedestrians when driving .locals dont generally look & expect the right of way when crossing the road

expect drivers to drive carelessly so dont get mad

just say hello to any local they are friendly

fuel is cheap so do everyone a favor and fill up ur tank and not just small amount at a time, it clogs up the traffic at fuel stations when people just buy small amounts per visit

avoid living near large schools and large places of worhship
that is built near the main roads,because traffic will be an issue

always wear ur safety belt when driving even though traffic rules are relaxed here,simply for ur safety

on the road people run red lights here! so be careful when starting out on green light to go

don't beep ur horns unless its an emergency or warning of danger
Brunei is a small town where people seem to know each other,

its not cool to beep here at anything like some countries

customs officers are generaly very nice people so give them a big smile and your passage while be much faster

Brunei is still a police state after the last rebellion,some rebels are still in prison without trail till this day.
it is common knowledge phones are tapped!so one knows what not to do when it comes to telephone communications,either voice or data.
generally its taboo to openly talk about the Sultan(we refer to him as 'His Majesty")&his family in public in any aspect,u will draw negative attention!
always pull to the left of the road &stop when His entourage comes up from behind,police bikes will signal u to do so or else!

avoid big excited hand waves if you see HIs Majesty drive is a conservative kingdom.

avoid certain routes where royalty frequent like clockwork,because u will be stuck in a traffic jam.

As you can see from this posting, Brunei is NOT a free country.
For people from the West it will be a culture shock.
Free speech does not exist. You must be very careful what you say.
Criticising anything governmental or relating to schools, public officials etc will get you into trouble.
The secret police do snoop and report.
The newspapers only publish what they think the Sultan wants to hear. So the reality of the situation never gets out.
I have heard from many locals that they are very unhappy with the government but love the Sultan, but nobody dares to say or do anything.
The TV service is pathetic (Astro satellite) and the internet is the 156th worst in the world.
The use of English is terrible (as seen by the posts here)and you will see signs like "Mens at work" or "Man at works" or "Mans at work" or "Car for Sales".
Most signage in official places is only in Malay so keep guessing!!
Yet, it is paradise to live here if you can adapt.

wpshark tq for the comments!
i guess u now know why my name is 'oiltownblues" Lol!
if people notice i generally comment on the road aspect in Brunei is because i sincerely care for road safety,coming from another country where traffic police dont compromise.the 6 degrees of seperation apply here more so than ever for a country of only 30 odd thousand people who have multiplied successfully to over 300thousand in a relatively short time.what i'm trying to say is its almost one big family in Brunei where daily people greet each other in public becauses they know them!now back to the issue of road safety,traffic police have a dilemma when it comes to upholding traffic laws,example if it was his unlucky day that he stopped a vehicle for traffic violations,the driver may be a person of prominence!then u can read between the lines what the ending would be for the copper!thats how it is here.respect for customs overrides road safety!15 years ago a foreigner can be pulled over & abused physically just for over taking a prominant local of high standing,those days are over never the less i'm trying to say"respect local customs and behaviour"

DO drive a better car and of 2 or less digits on ur car number plate,(if u can buy one!)most cases it is a sign of high family standing.(general locals can identify family by car number plates,that how small the town is,traffic police wont bother u,these are facts not ridicule with due respect to the locals.
DO show respect & give way to Haji's on the road(men who have been to Mecca & wear a white cap on their heads)simply by custom they are of higher authority & tend to relax on road safety!once again this is not to ridicule but for customs and safety sake that we give way.i hope some of these guidelines can save your life & get out of unnessary trouble with the law.

this morn just got out runned by a Haji on a faster SUV on the way to town(just when u tell people they'r tail gated to push me off the road by a bigger SUV on the way home.thats life here & no one raises a sweat! don't get mad & break into road rage,its not cool here,remember the driver could be a member of the family.

car wash operators under the tent style is plenty here so are the free scratches & unexplained dents after u get ur car back,they go for $4 dollars for an outside job to $8dollars inside out,but if u value ur car then go for the proper car washes that are operated inside a building under some branded car wash product name,they start [at]$18 for all round cleaning.
for the most part only people who dont have a maid(most families have maids&they wash the car almost daily..BOO HOO)go for these car washing stations

I guess this topic is little by little going off-topic. Can we please concentrate on the initial topic. Or you may start a new thread ;)

Food is possibly the worst in the word - owing to NO investment. Even in poor third world countries you have decent joints to eat.

People cannot speak English properly, they have their own style of Bru-linglish.

Driving is very very dangerous - last year there was a massive increase in road fatalities. This is partially due to incompetent and lazy police officers not doing their job properly.

Taking about lazy, most local Malays are lazy, you can see them sat around the Kampong Ayer area going dark in the sun. On the other extreme the Chinese Bruneians are sly so be careful.

Never go shopping for clothes or any electricals - almost everything is FAKE.

Woa Girl, those are some sweeping generalities.
How do you relate food with investment?
We have found the food very good in local joints down the road as well as in restaurants. The only problem is that you cannot have a glass of wine with it!
I agree that the level of English is poor but then again this is NOT and English speaking country. What is the level of Malay like amoung the expats?
Then again the level of English in the UK is pretty pathetic too.
Yes the driving is probably of the worst in the world and the police are nowhere to be seen except for roadblocks at the same places everytime where they just wave cars through - ticking boxes.
To make statements about laziness and slyness is a bit extreme.
NOT everyrhing is fake. There are some good bargains to be had. But piracy is rife and movies are available on DVD within days of release.

The local Chinese meaning yellow I.C (identification Card) like you say "sly" had to work hard for their status unlike other races that are closer to local indegeniuos population(even they don't get automatic citizenship for being an indegeniuos person how about that!)

Can one blame a local Chinese for being sly now?
There are plans to rid of all non indegeniuos people from holding citizenship ie islamizing the state.
I feel sorry for the Chinese why they bother when they can do just as well in other places.never forget it was the Chinese who participated in defending the sultan during the last uprising by locals of another family member apposed to the sultan.

In hind sight many feel betrayed!

From my years here I can tell local Chinese from one who isnt. Simply because they seem to express their status.sad

A  "don't" in Brunei is for western visitors and alike is to show the face of a western colonizer! What that means is to show that your more superior as a former really puts the locals off! They may not show their hatred in your face but their policies express it! Something called MiB! In short pro Islamic values and positive discrimination for malay Muslims.Mmmh

I've been to the drinking places( yes they exist) where westerners behave as the stereotype describes.we are lucky that thet don't have religious zealots (not yet) who make it an excuse to put pressure on the government to curb the activities of westerners behaving badly.

The good news is the streets and every public place is safe! I've never felt threatened or unsafe in any way in the presence of any stranger local or foreigner!

Sadly it's more the case of western foreigners breaking the law when it comes to patience against  the relaxed life style.
Example: road rage! Fuel rage!(lol) have we forgotten we don't live here?

Brunei is unique,it is going to go though a major transition when the sultan passes his throne to his son.alot of the anybody who thinks he is somebody are all trying hard to do the suck up

There are not many places in the world where I can say the same thing.

One begins to appreciate the positive side to the little naggings here.

I can assure you none of us "westerners" as you say turn up here and look down on you and say we are more superior. We come here and respect your values, traditions and morals. The latter of which seems to vary from person to person.

Former president jimmy Carter once lamented "the hardest thing for Americans to understand is that they are no better than other people" well thank you for being the exception to the rule!

hi i am australian i'm wondering if i can visit my male indonesian friend there and stay with him in Brunei

There is a 14 day visa upon arrival for social visits and such,with a small fee.

Thank you but I have read that couples can not stay together unless married it is a jail offence and can't stand close to him after dark is that true.we don't want to take risk of ending up in jail

If both of you don't look local then from my experience you should have no problem from the religious police.

It depends on the neighborhood where you will be staying,most won't bother reporting unless you and your friend create unecessary attention that is unbecoming.but then again this is also true anywhere.

Just be sensible when overseas,Brunei is a friendly country to visitors,just say hello and you"ll be surprised.

ma fiancee works in brunei.with all his complains,i fink the place is worse.the phone system are so terrible,most of the time we cant get hold of eachother.he asked if am allowed to visit him after him working der for 10months and they say no cos we are not married yet.dat is ridiculous.sosad:

New topic