Useful information for new arrivals

Culture & Etiquette

Brunei Darussalam is a welcoming and tolerant country, and Bruneians are well accustomed to interacting with foreigners in both business and informal settings. However, certain rules of cultural etiquette should be observed. The Sultanate is an Muslim state, so public displays of affection between the genders should be avoided, and the consumption and sale of alcohol is strictly forbidden. Pointing is done with an extended thumb rather than forefinger. In business settings it is recommended to refer to people by their honorific titles, such as dato, pehin and pengiran.


Bahasa Melayu is the official language of Brunei Darussalam, but English is widely spoken and understood throughout the country. The Sultanate has a sizeable community from China, and it is not uncommon to hear Chinese dialects, such as Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese.


Brunei Darussalam has a well-developed telecommunications sector served by a large number of mobile phone shops. Pay-as-you-go SIM cards and top-up credit for the two domestic brands, DST and Progresif Cellular, are widely available. Foreigners should bring their passport or photo identification when purchasing a SIM card. Texting is a popular means of communication for both business and social use. The majority of hotels are equipped with Wi-Fi, and there are several internet cafés in Bandar Seri Begawan. The country calling code for Brunei Darussalam is +673.


The local currency, the Brunei dollar, has been pegged to the Singapore dollar for more than 40 years, and the two currencies can be used interchangeably. At the time of print, BN$1 was equal to £0.51 or $0.73. ATMs are widely available across Brunei Darussalam’s urban centres and credit cards are usually accepted. Outward-bound travellers are advised to change their currency before leaving, as moneychangers abroad may not accept the currency.


In Brunei Darussalam the standard British 220/240-V, three-pin plug is in use. Equipment with a 110-V plug will require an adapter.

Business Hours

Government offices are open from 7.45am to 12.15pm and 1.30pm to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday, as well as on Saturday. The private sector generally works Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, with businesses closed between 12pm and 2pm on Fridays to accommodate prayers. Visitors should bear in mind that shorter working hours are observed during the month of Ramadan. Smaller shops close at 6pm, while bigger stores, shopping malls and restaurants stay open until around 10pm.


Visitors should be prepared for a hot and humid climate with occasional showers throughout the year. As most offices are heavily air conditioned, warm layers are advisable when indoors. Both genders, but especially women, are recommended to dress modestly. For men, Western dress is common, especially in business settings, while local women tend to wear traditional batik dresses covering the arms and legs, and usually a headscarf.


Most Bruneians own their own cars and there is very little public transport. The capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, has a bus service, but it has very limited connections. Taxis can be found but are expensive. Taxi fares are arranged at a fixed rate, so it is best to agree on a price beforehand. A 50% surcharge is in place after 11pm. Visitors to the Sultanate are advised to hire a car on arrival. Fees start at around BN$700 ($498) per month. Holders of foreign licences can drive for up to 90 days. For longer stays, a foreign licence must be changed to a local driver’s licence at the Land Transport Department offices.


EU passport holders and US citizens receive a 90-day visa. Visas can easily be renewed by road trips across the border to Sabah or Sarawak, no more than 45 minutes from Bandar Seri Begawan. Passports must be valid for at least six months upon arrival.


You have reached the limit of premium articles you can view for free. 

Choose from the options below to purchase print or digital editions of our Reports. You can also purchase a website subscription giving you unlimited access to all of our Reports online for 12 months.

If you have already purchased this Report or have a website subscription, please login to continue.

Previous article from this chapter and report
A good night’s sleep:
Next chapter from this report
Table of Contents, from The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2016

Articles from this chapter

This chapter includes the following articles.
Cover of The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2016

The Report

This article is from the The Guide chapter of The Report: Brunei Darussalam 2016 . Explore other chapters from this report.

Covid-19 Economic Impact Assessments

Stay updated on how some of the world’s most promising markets are being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and what actions governments and private businesses are taking to mitigate challenges and ensure their long-term growth story continues.

Register now and also receive a complimentary 2-month licence to the OBG Research Terminal.

Register Here×

Product successfully added to shopping cart