Study Trip

A Visit to Brunei

Friday, 27 April to Tuesday, 1 May 2018
Leader: Khun Kanitha Kasina-Ubol, General Manager of the Siam Society



In 1521 the Italian historian Antonio Pigafetta visited the Sultanate of Brunei. He described the Sultanate as a rich, hospitable and powerful kingdom with an established Islamic Monarchy and strong regional influence in the Java and Borneo archipelago.

Today, almost five centuries later, a modern-day visitor would find much in common with that description by Pigafetta. Brunei is a wealthy country, a well-established Islamic Monarchy true to its traditions, and a country which plays an important role in the affairs of its region.

Brunei is situated on the north west end of the island of Borneo, about 442 kilometres north of the equator. The country has a total area of 5,769 square kilometres and has a common border with Sarawak, one of the constituent states making up the Federation of Malaysia.

The country is mainly jungle with tropical forests covering about 70 per cent of the area. Brunei is divided into four districts-Brunei /Maura, Tutong, Belait and Temburong. The coastline extends for about 161 kilometres along the South China Sea.

Brunei’s climate has high temperatures throughout the year, ranging from 20°C to 35°C. Humidity averages between 67 per cent and 91 per cent.

The indigenous people of Brunei are mainly Malay and that language is the official one of the State. English is widely spoken and is also used in the education system. In 1988 the country’s estimated population is around 227,000. Malays make up around 155,000, and the Chinese 41,000. Other indigenous peoples make up 11,500. There are over 20,000 expatriates from Europe and elsewhere working in Brunei including guest workers from other South East Asian countries, notably Malaysia and The Philippines.

Brunei is proud of its strong Islamic tradition. Some argue that this dates from as early as the 7th century, although modern scholarship place the coming of Islam to Brunei around the 13th century. The country follows the Shafeite form of Islam and His Majesty The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan is head of the faith in Brunei. Religious freedom is part of the Brunei Constitution and other faiths are practiced by a small minority.

The Brunei Sultanate rose to prominence in the 15th and 16th centuries when the country extended throughout Borneo and as far north as The Philippines.

This golden age centred on two remarkable rulers, Sultan Bolkiah and Sultan Hassan. Under their rule the Royal Court developed a splendour and ritual on a par with that of anywhere in the world and the territorial and religious influence of the country reached its peak.

However, the thrust of European influence within the region in the 17th and 18th centuries saw a marked decline in the power and territory of Brunei, a process which was hastened in the 19th century. The British influence was predominant and Brunei lost much of its remaining territory to Sarawak under its white raja, James Brooke.

In 1847, the close relationship between Britain and Brunei was first formalized with a treaty for the improvement of trade relations and for both states to co-operate in the suppression of piracy.

In 1888, North Borneo became a British protectorate and Brunei became a British protected state. In 1906, Brunei accepted a further measure of British control with executive power going to a British Resident whose duty was to advise the ruler on all matters, except those concerning local customs and religion.

Brunei was to remain under this Residency agreement until 1959, when a lager measure of domestic internal rule was granted by Constitutional agreement of that year. In 1971, full internal sovereignty was resumed and in 1984 the country resumed full political sovereignty, with responsibility for its own external affairs and defence.

Three key points need to be remembered about this stage in Brunei’s history.

- Brunei was never a colony and, unlike its neighbours in South East Asia, it did not experience a complete loss of sovereignty. In any event, the British rule in Malaya was through the local sultans and consequently differed from the British colonial administration elsewhere.

- During the whole period there was continuity within the ruling family. It is one of the world’s oldest dynasties and loyalty to the Sultan remained the cornerstone of Bruneian politics during the protectorate period.

- The involvement with Britain saw close links develop between the two countries. The Brunei of the 1980s, with its mixture of Islamic culture, sophisticated economic development and English Common Law framework, was deeply influenced by this period.

In 1929, commercial production of oil in Seria commenced and this event was to prove critical in development of modern Brunei. Oil production was interrupted by the Second World War when Brunei was occupied by the Japanese for three and a half years. In the post-war period, both oil and liquefied natural gas production have proved to be the foundations of the nation’s prosperity.

(From: Brunei Darussalam in profile Published in 1988 by The Government of Brunei Darussalam)

Under the leadership of Khun Kanitha Kasina-Ubol, General Manager of The Siam Society, the society will arrange a study trip for members to visit Brunei Darussalam from Friday, 27 April to Tuesday, 1 May 2018.


The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Friday, 27 April 2018 : Bangkok – Bandar Seri Begawan

11.30 a.m. Meet and check in at Row U , Suvarnabhumi Airport, Entrance Gate 10
1.30 p.m. Depart Bangkok to Bandar Seri Begawan by BI514, Royal Brunei Airlines.
5.15 p.m. Arrive Bandar Seri Begawan International Airport, transfer to hotel for check in at Hotel Radisson.
Evening : Dinner at local restaurant.
After dinner visit the Gadong night local market where you can taste some local delicacies and see the various type of vegetables and fruits.
  Overnight at Hotel Radisson.

Day 2: Saturday, 28 April 2018 : Ulu Temburong National Park


After breakfast, proceed to visit Ulu Temburong National Park, located in the heart of a 500-sq-km area of pristine rainforest covering most of southern Temburong. To protect nature, only about 1 sq km. of the park is accessible to tourists and only admitted as part of guided-tour packages. The park contains unspoiled jungle and is known as the "Green Jewel of Brunei", described as "the finest example of the sultanate's successful forest protection policy"

Today's trip will be by taking a water taxi from Bandar Seri Begawan through rivers, channels and mangrove islands to Bangar Temburong region, with a welcome by local resident in a long house for refreshment and cultural activities and take minibus to the Rainforest Lodge in time for morning tea, and an introduction and safety briefing.

After that, we will take traditional longboats to Ulu Temburong National Park, travelling upstream through the rapids of the Temburong River. Once we arrive at the National Park Center, we will stroll along the elevated pathways to claim the Canopy Walkway with its amazing panoramic rainforest views. Enjoy a riverside lunch of traditional Malay dishes. Free time to relax, go swimming or rafting. After that, we will take longboat to the Rainforest Lodge for afternoon tea and to freshen up before take a water taxi back through the mangrove islands to Bandar Seri Begawan.
Evening: Arrive back at Bandar Seri Begawan.
- Dinner at local restaurant
- Overnight at Hotel Radisson.

Day 3: Sunday, 29 April 2018 : Explore Bandar Seri Begawan

Morning: After breakfast, Explore the Capital city of Brunei.
Visit Sir Omar Ali Saiffuddien Mosque completed in 1958, Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddien named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei (the late father of the current sultan), the Brunei Museum, The museum has exhibits of Islamic art, as well as having interesting ethnographic and natural history collections.
The Royal Regalia Centre houses a vast collection of the Regalia displayed during Royal ceremonies steeped in tradition, including two elaborately decorated royal carriages used during the Coronation and Silver Jubilee of His Majesty as well as galleries of ornate gifts from all over the world.
Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bokaih ated royal mar Ali Saifuddien -range a study trip for members to visit Brunei Darussalam from ...tions of the nation'. .was toMosque, built in 1992 to celebrate the 25th year of the current sultan's reign, Brunei's largest Mosque, Maritime Museum, on display are some of the more than 13,000 artifacts excavated from a shipwreck discovered by divers in 1997.  The ship is believed to have set sail from China sometime in the late 15th or early 16th centuries before being struck by stormy weather as it approached Brunei.
Kotu Batu Archaeological Park, a first-of-its-kind project in Brunei to serve as a site for archaeological investigation and research and highlight on history of the Sultanate in Brunei’s history from 14th to mid-17th Century and visit tomb of Sultan Bolkiah who was the fifth Sultan of Brunei, ruled Brunei from 1485 to 1524. His reign marked the Golden Age of Brunei
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant
Late  Afternoon Take a boat ride by local “Water Taxi” around Brunei River to visit Kampong Ayer, literally means 'Water Village' (Malay: Kampung Air), Kampong Ayer consists of 42 contiguous stilt villages built along the banks of the Sungai Brunei (Brunei River). A century ago, half of Brunei's population lived here, and even today many Bruneians still prefer the lifestyle of the water village to residency on dry land. The village has its own schools, mosques, police stations and fire brigade. This village is considered the largest stilt settlement in Asia. When Venetian scholar Antonio Pigafetta visited Kampong Ayer in 1521, he dubbed it the 'Venice of the East'.
- Dinner at local restaurant.
- Overnight at Hotel Radisson.

Day 4: Monday, 30 April 2018 : Day trip to visit some of Brunei Handicrafts

Morning :

After breakfast, scenic drive to the country side of Brunei passing to visit to a cottage industry factory producing the “Kain Songsarat” or Brunei traditional golden tread weaved cloth, which has been preserved through the centuries, known to be the best quality in the region.  The earliest recorded mentioned Magellan visited Brunei sometime during this period and his official chronicler, Antonia Pigafetta, reported seeing beautiful examples of Brunei handicrafts in particular the woven cloth.

After that continue to visit the Seria Oil Town, where on shore oil was first discovered in Brunei in 1929 and has been the backbone of the nation’s economy since then. Visit the Oil & Gas Discovery Centre (OGDC) where we will be introduced to the world of science and engineering and visit the prolific Seria Oil Field, see long rows of drilling machines pumping oil from more than 350 wells.
Noon Lunch at local restaurant.


Drive back to Bandar Seri Begawan.
- Dinner at own arrangement
- Overnight at Hotel Radisson.

Day 5: Tuesday, 1 May : Bandar Seri Begawan – Bangkok

8.30 a.m. After breakfast, transfer to Bandar Seri Bagawan Airport.
10.55 a.m. Depart Bandar Seri Bagawan to Bangkok by BI 513, Royal Brunei Airlines.
12.40 p.m. Arrive Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.


Bt. 52,000 (Bt. 55,000 for non-members). Single room surcharge Bt. 9,500. A deposit of Bt. 20,000 and photocopy of passport must accompany the booking. Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. Payment in full is required 45 days before the start of the trip (i.e. by Friday, 16 March 2018)

Please pay by cash or cheque payable to ‘The Siam Society’. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges. Alternatively you can deposit/transfer the money to the Siam Society travel account at the Thai Military Bank, Asoke Branch saving account no. 053-2-18000-7.  Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us. In case the tour has to be cancelled due to insufficient participants, a full refund of the deposit will be made.


The contribution includes meals as mentioned in program, airfare ticket, accommodation for two persons per room, entrance fees, transfer and sightseeing coach, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. It excludes visa fee to Brunei(if any), personal expenses, personal beverages, etc.

Members should be aware that alcoholic beverages are not on sale in Brunei, though personal imports are allowed.  Look on the Internet for up to date details.

To comply with payment and cancellation policies set forth by tour agencies, and to facilitate smooth working condition between the Siam Society and the tour agencies, please read carefully the revised cancellation policies stated below:

Cancellation charge:

45 days before the start of the trip:                             Deposit forfeited
45-30 days before the start of the trip                         50% of the tour cost
Less than 30 days or cancellation without notice:          No refund

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary. Seats are limited. Please book your place as soon as possible. For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert or Khun Supanut.