One of the worst things you can do in a foreign country is make a social mistake that deems you, in the eyes of residents, nothing more than an ignorant tourist. While some mistakes may only slightly offend your host or the person you area dealing with, some may result in incredibly embarrassing situations, severe anger, or public outrage.
The country of Brunei is located on the shores of the Island of Borneo and is the only sovereign country located on the island. The official name, Negara Brunei Darussalam, loosely translates to “The Country of Brunei, Abode of Peace.”
The country is mainly comprised of Malay and Chinese citizens, with some indigenous tribes and other ethnic groups scattered throughout. While Bahasa Melayu (or Malay) is the official language, you’ll find that the English language is spoken quite fluently throughout the country. The official religion of Brunei is Islam, though you will find Buddhists, Christians, and a number of other beliefs as well.
As with any foreign country, there are a few things you should keep in mind when visiting Brunei. While most locals are tolerant of tourists not being familiar with their customs, it is better to show respect by at least attempting to act properly while visiting. Keep the following in mind.
Dress Codes in Brunei
The dress code in Brunei is modest, at best. Your best bet is to take note of the dress worn by the locals in the area you are visiting and dress accordingly. While the weather can be very warm, it is not acceptable to dress too casually when attending religious or business events.
Regardless of your ethnicity, anyone visiting a mosque should remove his or her shoes upon arrival. Women should have their heads, knees, and arms covered at all time. While in the mosque, make sure that you never touch the Koran or pass in front of a person who is kneeling in prayer – instead go around or behind the person.
Different ethnic groups have different traditions when it comes to introducing ones self and shaking hands. In Brunei it is customary to lightly touch hands and then bring your hand to your chest. While it is not forbidden, you may notice that some people refuse to shake hands with those of the opposite sex. Do not take this personally.
Americans tend to point or gesture with one finger. If you need to gesture in Brunei you should point with the thumb of your right hand. The other fingers of that same hand should be folded under the thumb while gesturing.
Food and Drink in Brunei
During Ramadan, those of the Islamic faith fast during the day, from sunrise until sundown. While you are not required to fast while visiting, it is considered polite to refrain from eating or drinking in front of those observing Ramadan. Instead wait until you are in the privacy of your hotel or restaurant.
Even if you are not hungry or thirsty it is considered polite to accept at least a small taste if something is offered to you. If you want to refuse something, you should lightly touch it with your right hand while doing so as a sign of thanks and respect.
If you are given a gift of food be sure to pass it with your right hand only. If needed you can use your left hand to support your right hand, but should never take or pass anything with the left hand as the dominant hand.
Because the Muslim population makes up the majority of the country you will not find alcohol for sale in Brunei. The government does, however, allow for the private consumption of alcohol by those not of the Muslim faith. Visitors are allowed to bring up to 2 bottles of alcohol and 12 cans of beer per entry. The alcohol is duty-free and can be consumed privately in your hotel room.
Monetary Exchange in Brunei
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the currency in Brunei before you leave. Doing so will make it easier for you to communicate while in the country and will lessen the chances of you being taken advantage of.
Money in Brunei is known as the Brunei Dollar and is similar to the US dollar in notes: $1, $5, $10, $50, $100, etc. Coins are available in 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent increments. The current exchange rate of the Brunei Dollar (BND) to the US Dollar (USD) is approximately 1 USD to 1.65 BND.
There are dozens of incredible places to stay and things to see within the country of Brunei. Use a little bit of common sense combined with education and research and you’re guaranteed to have the most unforgettable trip of your lifetime! — source asiahotels.com