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The Day I Met and Shook Hands with HM Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and His Royal Family

Brunei Budget Travel Guide for First Timers Itinerary

The best time to visit Brunei is during the celebration of Hari Raya!


Every Hari Raya celebration, the Istana Nurul Iman (which is the official residence of Brunei’s royal family) opens its doors for the public for three days starting from the 2nd day of Hari Raya. Guests could enter the palace from 10:00 AM to 12:00 NN and from 2:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon. This gives a chance for the public to meet and shake hands with HM Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and the members of the royal family and to convey their Hari Raya greetings to His Majesty and to the royal family.

This is one of the main reasons why we planned this trip to Brunei Darussalam during the celebration of Hari Raya 2018.

At around 7:30 AM, we arrived at the Palace and lined up to get inside. The line is well-organized and there are people who assist every visitor.

Brunei Budget Travel Guide for First Timers Itinerary
At the gates of Istana Nurul Iman

After some security checks and filling out a form, we were then ushered to a banquet where we had sumptuous breakfast.

Brunei Budget Travel Guide for First Timers Itinerary
Here's my plate. I love the Beef Rendang! Yummmm!

After having our breakfast, we lined up again and entered the holding area. At this point, male and female guests are separated - men on left and women on the right side of the hall.

For security reasons, picture taking is only allowed up to this point.

Brunei Budget Travel Guide for First Timers Itinerary
The very beautiful holding area inside the palace

After waiting for about 2 hours inside the holding area, we were then called to line up again. This time, we were ushered to where HM Sultan Bolkiah and his royal family are waiting to greet the guests. Male guests were able to greet and shake hands with HM Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and some of the male members of the royal family, while the women met his wife, Queen Saleha and other members of the royal family.

It was a quick "meet and greet" with Sultan Bolkiha but certainly a very memorable experience for me. It's not everyday that you'll be given a chance to meet the royal family of Brunei and I am so happy to be given this rare opportunity.

Hari Raya in Brunei meeting Sultan Bolkiah and the Royal Family
I am so happy meeting the Sultan of Brunei

Hari Raya in Brunei meeting Sultan Bolkiah and the Royal Family
Outside the reception hall of Istana Nurul Iman

Before exiting, guests were given a gift and a greeting card from the Sultan.

Hari Raya in Brunei meeting Sultan Bolkiah and the Royal Family
Every visitor gets a gift from the Sultan

Meeting HM Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and the royal family is indeed an experience I will cherish in this Brunei trip. Be sure to plan your travel to Brunei during the celebration of Hari Raya to get a chance to enter the royal palace and meet the royal family.


Hari Raya in Brunei meeting Sultan Bolkiah and the Royal Family
At the gates of the palace, after meeting the Sultan

HOW TO GET TO ISTANA NURUL IMAN?

  • From the bus station at the city center in Bandar Seri Begawan, just take a shuttle bus going to Jalan Istana. The bus will take you directly to the gates of the Istana Nurul Iman. Fare is $1 BND and travel time is less than 10 minutes.

TIPS AND REMINDERS:

  • The palace opens to the public for 3 days starting from the 2nd day of Hari Raya. Be sure to plan your trip on these days.
  • Meeting the royal family is from 10:00 AM to 12:00 NN and from 2:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon. Be at the palace as early as possible. More than 40,000 visitors visit the palace every day during the 3-day event.
  • Dress appropriately for the event. Men should be in business attire and women should wear skirt below the knee. Bruneians really dress up in their smartest attire during the event. Be sure to be on your best semi-formal attire because it is important as it shows your respect to the culture.

FLIGHTS TO BRUNEI


You could get to Brunei via Bandar Seri Begawan from Manila and other major cities in Southeast Asia. From Manila, Philippines, local airlines such Cebu Pacific Air and Air Asia Philippines, and other international airlines such as Royal Brunei, Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines have flights to Bandar Seri Begawan - the capital city of Brunei.

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Pinoy Adventurista is one of the Top Travel Blogs in the Philippines and the World. In 2013, he visited all the 81 provinces in the Philippines.