Brunei Public Transportation-City Bus Service details, routes

While I was planning my trip to Brunei, finding information on public transportation was very difficult.  I figured out there are some bus services in Brunei, but couldn’t locate any official website, Google maps won’t show bus options and I had to rely on very limited information available in some private websites about availability of bus routes in Brunei.
After my short trip to Brunei, I could get first hand experience about Brunei’s bus network and how to use them for commute within Brunei- particularly within the area between Brunei airport and Bandar Seri Bhegawan, the city centre so to speak, around which most key tourist attractions are located.

Below is a quick summary, details follow in subsequent paragraphs
  • There is No Metro, very few Taxis and a limited bus network. Unless you’ve adventurous to explore public transport or wish to save on money, most tourists prefer to avail transportation arranged by their hotels/hosts or tour operators for commute during their Brunei visit.
  • Brunei is a rich country. Almost every resident seem to own a car, so they don’t have much need for buses
  • Yes, Bus network is available in Brunei and you can indeed explore Brunei to a fair extent using buses and not having to spend a lot on Taxi.
  • Buses seem to operate between 6 AM and 6 PM ONLY, so late evening outing means you might have to walk back to hotel or spend on taxi. Wikipedia says Bus No 1 and 20 operate late into night.
  • There is no published time table. Plan up to 30 minutes to get a bus of your preference.
  • Bus fare is 1 Brunei Dollar irrespective of where you get down. You pay in cash to driver and get a ticket.
  • Buses operate on various lines- Central Line, Western Line, Southern Line etc. Almost all of them pass through city centre and travel in various directions, mostly running in a loop manner
  • Taxis are not easy to spot. Doesn’t look like you can hail them off the road like you would do on various cities around the world. Except in Airport, some very popular hotels etc, finding a taxi is tough- you will need phone numbers to call n book, or book on app.
Now our detailed experience exploring Brunei using only public transport...
Soon after getting out of Brunei Airport, we went to information desk and asked if there’re buses we can take to reach the city. The lady had no specific information and could only say “Please go and check outside

Outside we saw a board that said Buses. Also a sign indicating buses ply between 6 AM and 6 PM only. There was no sign of any time table or what all destinations we can reach or when is the next bus and so on.
We waited for 10 minutes, as there was no sign of a bus, we started walking. As I had known about this bus problem is Brunei, I had selected hotel within few kms from airport, so that I can simply walk if required. Spoke to few people around and no one had any clue about bus availability and timing. After some 10-15 minutes of waiting, we started walking- as it was about 5.15-5.20 in the evening and display said last bus is till 6 PM only. As we walked towards the main road, we saw a bus arriving. It took the upper ramp to go to departures. Which I thought is fair- it would drop passengers at departures and then would come to ground floor to pick up arrival passengers. Few more minutes, drive came down the ramp and advised us to wait near the Bus board using hand symbols. We walked back and waited for another 10 minutes and there was no sign of this bus. Disappointed, we decided to resume walking again.

This time once we reached main road we saw 2 more buses entering airport area- couldn’t figure out if they are government buses or private tour buses and if it would be worth going back n waiting.

That evening was walked a few kms around the hotel to visit Times Square Mall and nearby- didn’t see a single bus or taxi.

Next day we went to a bus stop near our hotel and a bus came in promptly. I had no idea where exactly it was headed, but had a sense that all buses would go to city centre in Bandar Seri Begawan. We got in, said ‘Bandar” when asked where to- It was the city centre and if we get anywhere close, we could walk the last few kms if needed to visit the famous mosque, Brunei river and other attractions. The bus took us to a spot 750 meters from the popular Omar Ali Saiffuddien Mosque, where we decided to get down, as I wasn’t sure if it will go further closer to the mosque or away from it.

Eastern line 36E Bus route map

Bus Ticket is a tiny piece of paper- just this! I couldn't make much sense of it- probably the worst bus ticket in the world I have seen.

Interior of Brunei city bus (mini bus actually)- fairly comfortable
Brunei is a small country, rich with oil and not really dependent on tourism like its neighbors Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand. Thus they don’t have a need to provide more n more tourist friendly facilities. Most residents are well off with their own cars, so need for public transport is very minimum. The buses we traveled was never overcrowded, despite peak hours and even roads were all empty- for 9 kms Google map showed an estimate of 13 minutes- nearly impossible in any capital city during peak hours.

Below is a quick details on Brunei Bus routes I could gather
#
Line
Colour
Route (Main stops)
1
Eastern Line
Dark Blue
Airport, Delima Dua, Muara, Tasek Lama, BSB
2
Central Line
Green
Airport
3
Southern Line
Gray

4
Western Line
Purple

5
Northern Line

Airport, Jerudong, BSB
6
Circle Line

James Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque, Gadong Market, The Mall, BSB




Only Eastern, Northern and Central lines go to Brunei International Airport. All lines pass through BSB or Bandar Seri Begawan, where there's a bus depot. If not anywhere else, you can reach here and then change the bus. This website has a map of Brunei's city bus network, though not very readable.

There're bus numbers also, I guess depending on number there will be a minor variation in the route taken. Residents will find it useful as they can board a particular bus number that would go interior closest to their homes. If you're visiting only main spots and not particular about specific route taken then I think you can ignore the numbers and just board based on the line.

Couldn't locate any official website listing all bus routes, numbers etc. Brunei's transport ministry website doesn't list bus routes and number details.

Finding a Taxi
I could hardly spot any taxis on the roads. At airport a few were waiting but at other places they were not easy to find. You may take help from your hotel staff to get you a taxi or look for signs like below
For intercity commute- such as Brunei and Miri (Malaysia, some 150 kms from BSB) buses are available
Major Brunei tourist spots and bus number/Route to reach
#
Attraction
Bus details
1
Omar Ali Saiffuddien Mosque
Reach BSB (Bandar Seri Begawan) using any route, the popular mask is walkable from city centre
2
Kampong Ayer (Water village)
Reach BSB, Walk to Jalan Residency jetty and board a boat
3
Ulu Temburong National Park
No public transport, need to book tours, 125 BND onwards
3
Muara Beach
Eastern Line
4
Brunei Airport
Eastern, Northern or central line
5
Tasek Lama recreational park
Eastern Line
6
Gadong Night market
Circle Line
7
Jerudong Park Playground
Northern line
8


9


10


Thus, below are my tips for Brunei transport during your visit
  • If you prefer convenience over cost, you can book your stay with some host who will be willing to take you around or can recommend/arrange tours and transportation for you.
  • If you chose to depend entirely on public transportation your options will be limited. But it is doable with some plan B, lots of walking, patience and a bit of a luck
  • Car rentals are available for about 60 BND onwards per day, assuming you’re eligible to legally drive in Brunei. Might be better option.

Planning your stay: If you’re arriving late evening or early morning, better to plan a stay very close to airport. This will enable you to walk to hotel if cheap transportation is not available. Alternatively you can stay close to city centre in Bandar Seri Beghavan- this will let you explore many key spots on foot without needing transportation


Also read: Brunei water village visit

6 comments:

  1. Wow!!! I appreciate your blog. Thank you so much. It will help my expectation on our Brunei trip on feb 13..I have question, how about sim card or money changer there have you seen it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used TSIM Global SIM card- you can buy a local one as well. Money I withdrew via ATM in Airport (first floor, near Check in counter row D, standard chartered

      Enjoy your trip

      Delete

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