You’ll find a surprising number of experiences around the Brunei River, from a sprawling water village to mangroves chock-full of proboscis monkeys.
1.1. Kampong Ayer City Tour
The 28 stilt villages that together make up Kampong Ayer preserve a lifestyle that was much preferred by locals before modern times. Today, 20,000 people still live in these houses on stilts over the Brunei River, and visitors can explore the water villages on foot or by boat.
By foot, Kampong Ayer’s innards can be easily reached from the city center. By boat, the river-based lifestyle of Kampong Ayer can be most easily seen, from the brightly painted house exteriors to the boatmen doing business with locals with someplace to go. For the lowdown on the kampong’s history and culture, visit the Kampong Ayer Cultural & Tourism Gallery located across the river from Sungai Kianggeh.
1.2. Proboscis Monkey Tour
Open-deck wooden motorized boats leave hourly from Bandar Seri Begawan’s boat jetty to visit the Brunei River’s mangrove forests. Their mission: to find the proboscis monkey in the wild, and introduce this unique animal to tourists. Proboscis monkeys often emerge to feed in early mornings and immediately before sunset – you’ll find them congregating in family packs, only very rarely alone. Heading to the mangroves and back, you’ll also see Bandar Seri Begawan landmarks like the Istana Nurul Iman and the Kampong Ayer water village.
1.3. Mangrove River Safari
You don’t need to travel far from Bandar Seri Begawan to find untouched mangrove forests. From a jetty near the city centre, you can board a boat that travels past several water villages before reaching stands of mangroves on the shores of the Brunei River. Experienced guides can explain how the mangrove channels sustain life along the river, providing homes and sustenance for Brunei’s endemic species like the mudskipper, red kingfisher, saltwater crocodile, and night heron.