Social Profile

Food & Drink : European food is served in hotel restaurants, along with Malaysian, Chinese and Indian dishes. Local food is similar to Malay cuisine with fresh fish and rice, often quite spicy. Alcohol is prohibited.

Shopping : Special purchases include handworked silverware, brassware and bronzeware such as jugs, trays, gongs, boxes, napkin rings, spoons and bracelets; and fine handwoven sarongs, baskets and mats of pandan leaves. Shopping centres at Bandar Seri Begawan, Seria and Kuala Belait offer local products and imported items. The ‘Tamu’ Night Market in Bandar Seri Begawan is open from early morning to late at night and sells many fruits, spices, poultry and vegetables, as well as antiques. Food is available there at the lowest prices in town. Shopping hours : Mon-Sat 0800-2100.

Special Events : Most festivals are religious celebrations or mark the anniversaries of important historical events. For a complete list of special events, contact Brunei Tourism (see Contact Addresses section). The following is a selection of special events celebrated annually in Brunei: Jan 22-24 Chinese New Year. Feb 23 National Day Celebrations. Nov 14-16 Hari Raya Haji (End of Ramadan).

Social Conventions :
Shoes should be removed when entering Muslim homes and institutions and visitors should not pass in front of a person at prayer or touch the Koran, the Muslim holy book. Traditionally, a Bruneian shakes hands lightly, bringing his hands to his chest. However, any physical contact between members of opposite sexes is avoided. Non-Muslims should not be found in the company of a Muslim member of the opposite sex in private: sexual contact, or even compromising behaviour, between non-Muslims and Muslims is punishable by deportation. There are many honorific titles in Brunei: Awang (abbreviated to Awg), for instance, is generally used in the same way as the English ‘Mr’; Dayang (Dyg) is equivalent to ‘Ms’ or ‘Mrs’. Food may be served without cutlery: eat using the right hand only. Avoid giving or receiving with the left hand or pointing the soles of one’s feet towards companions. Gifts (particularly food) should only be passed with the right hand, although it is acceptable to use the left hand under the right wrist for support. It is also considered impolite to point with the index finger (the right thumb should be used instead) or to beckon someone with your fingers (the whole hand should be waved instead, with the palm facing downwards). The right fist should never be smacked into the left palm, and children (or adults) should not be patted on the head. It is widely regarded as discourteous to refuse refreshment when it is offered by a host, or to eat or drink in public places, especially during Ramadan when Muslims are fasting. Dress is informal except for special occasions. Women should ensure that their head, knees and arms are covered. Tipping : Most hotels and restaurants add 10 per cent to the bill.

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Information provided by Brunei Tourism Board.


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