Why visiting Ulu Temburong National Park (Brunei) may not be worth!

Among things to do in Brunei, a visit to Ulu Temburong National park lists at the top. It is one of the best conserved rain forests with only a small portion opened to public. Reaching there is a complicated affair involving road, boat transfer and walking. Can’t be visited on our own and we can only go there with a tour operator. Tours cost around USD 125 per person.
Representative image only
Though I had almost made up my mind to take a day tour to Ulu Temburong park, eventually I had to skip it as my trip got truncated. However, even otherwise I feel the expensive tour may not be worth. Here’s why. Do use your discretion.

The temptation was high- I may never visit Brunei again- so if we don’t go there now, it may be never again.

But then, I found the cost prohibitively high. 125 USD per person or close to INR 10000 is more than what I paid for my return ticket to Brunei from Chennai (INR 7800). It was a tough decision to spend another 20k (for 2 pax) for visiting this Ulu Temburong rainforest or use that money to travel to a new country altogether!

I checked all the photos and info available- couldn’t find anything extra ordinary that warrants such a huge spend on visiting Ulu Temburong National park.
  • I have seen rainforests, ever-green forests all over South East Asia- in India, Thailand, Vietnam, Srilanka, Indonesia and so on. Couldn’t find anything very unique about this rainforest that warrants such a high spend
  • I read that time we get at the forest is limited- 2 to 3 hours. So we have to rush back without exploring in detail or at our pace. If we had 6-8 hours- like arrive by 10 AM, return by 4 or 5 PM then the high expense would have at least made sense. You may want to wait n watch for good bird sighting, you may want to relax in waterfalls for a while, you may wish to trek longer- nothing is possible- you’ve to rush to treetop for a few and see few more things they show and then rush back to boat. I felt I can spend my money elsewhere.
  • The tree top walk and view, waterfalls fun and other rainforest experience can be had for much less elsewhere, so there is nothing so unique about this, to command a spend of 125 USD per person
Possible cartel: By not allowing individual access (you can only go there with tour operators) and not providing any public transport option, probably tour operators have cartelized the business, leaving tourists with no option but to cough up high prices set by them. I wouldn’t want to encourage that kind of practice. For example, a half day city tour with visit to water village is sold at 40 dollars- it takes just 4 dollars to do it on our own using public transportation, walking and boat ride.[details]

FYI there's an even expensive overnight stay option, which is better than the hurried day tour if you're very serious about visiting Ulu Temburong National Park.

Of course once you arrive in Brunei as tourist there isn’t a lot of things you can do- your options are very limited. Due to lack of other things to do you might end up taking the Ulu Temburong National Park trip. My trip was super short. You can use your discretion.

Nothing personal against Brunei, or its tour operators or Ulu Temburong National Park. Travel writers and bloggers often glorify destinations with fancy words, without setting right expectations or narrating ground realities, limitations and value for money aspect a budget conscious tourist should be informed of. When something is not worth our time and money, it is imperative we explain it and give our readers right information and choice to enable them take informed decisions.

Similar: Horton Plains National Park visit Srilanka-Worth it? * Hiyare rainforest reserve, Srilanka * Otway fly treetop adventure, Australia * Cloud Forest Dome, Gardens by the Bay * Green Forest, Dubai

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