But why, out of all the other jungles in Borneo you can visit, should Ulu Temburong in Brunei be the one you choose?
Let Feet Do Travel show you the incredible Brunei Jungle - Primary Rainforest Paradise!
Brunei has a lot of wealth from other sources of income (for example crude oil and natural gas production). For this reason, the government doesn't need to chop aby trees for logging or palm oil, and it is all protected. This means 70% of Brunei is rainforest.
This pristine jungle is full of thick, plentiful, sky high trees considered primary rainforest – this basically means it is untouched by man. Within this rainforest live a plethora of plant and animal species unique to Borneo. If you love raw nature, the Bornean rainforest is considered to be one of the world's top biodiversity hotspots.
Our guide, Brian, met us with a big friendly smile and talked to us with such passion about the Brunei rainforest. He taught us so much during the 20 minute car journey from Bangar Town to our camp at Sumbiling Eco Village and his enthusiasm was infectious, making us feel excited for the days we had ahead.
Upon arrival at our camp, I was super excited to see the tent we would be sleeping in – it was more like glamping than a tent and it was super comfortable and cosy; when I went to sleep that evening, I had a happy, contented smile of my face as I drifted off listening to the relaxing sound of the jungle. If there is a heaven, surely it would feel like this?
We found this statistic to be shocking, not just because of the high percentage, but having visited all parts of Borneo, to the untrained eye, it all seems dense and lush and we couldn’t help but wonder what it used to be like.
It is believed that, Borneo’s forests are being destroyed at twice the rate of the rest of the world’s rainforests. If you would like to know more of the deforestation in Borneo due to logging and the palm oil industry, have a read of this article. If you want to know how to reduce your palm oil usage, check out our post Palm Oil Free and Sustainable Palm Oil Product for men, women and travel.
Ulu Temburong National Park
The only way to reach the entrance of the National Park is by longboat, and we had a thrilling 45 minute journey whizzing up the Temburong River. Nasir (our boatman) skilfully dodged the rapids we encountered along the way and I really felt as though we were truly on an adventure.
It was ace! As the wind rushed through my hair, the happier I became. I was about to enter the jungle with a massive smile on my face.
This was primary rainforest territory and our first glance at how pristine this jungle really is.
As part of the tour, there is the option to do the Canopy Walk. If you don't have a head for heights and your friend/partner does, you can still walk through the jungle with them and enjoy the experience.
To reach the base of the canopy walk, we walked up 385 metres via 380 wooden steps, some were rather steep!
Walking through the jungle, Brian talked to us a little about the trees and the park itself. Only natural fertiliser such as teabags and leaf litter are used because the government stopped anything artificial.
If a tree falls, it isn’t removed; nature is left to reclaim it. Ants and other jungle critters begin to break it down and use it in the way nature intended.
To reach the first bridge, Sy had to walk up 15 sets of ladders en-caged in a narrow scaffolding-like tower which loomed high into the treetops; it’s no wonder around a third of visitors who reach this point choose not to continue.
Just one look at that structure told me this was way above what I could do with my fear of heights, so I sent Sy on his way with the camera and a smile (I wondered if he would still be wearing the latter when he returned!).
For safety, only five people are allowed on the first tower and only two people are allowed on the bridge at any one time.
The views were breath taking; it was such a beautiful sunny day with a gorgeous blue sky and in the distance he could see Malaysia.
Sy had to climb a ladder for another 8m to the reach the 2nd tower, walk yet another 15m, climb another ladder 8m up to reach the last tower. This final tower also had a viewing deck which meant climbing yet another 8m to the top.
He was now 68 metres off the ground and higher than the treetops.
Jungle day spa
During our daytrip we had a jungle fish pedicure, massage and facial, but you may be wondering how?
For the fish pedicure, we walked for a few minutes in our walking sandals through a rocky stream to a small waterfall.
Brian said he used to push his bravery boundary and stand closer and closer to the waterfall because that’s where most of the fish hangout. He soon stopped when one bit his nipple!
We changed into our bathers and braved the clear and very fresh (some may say darn cold!) water, and swam over to where the falls were cascading.
There was a small rock underneath the falls where we were able to sit, allowing the power of the water to jet over our shoulders and back – the best jungle massage you can imagine.
The journey back was a challenge; the rain pounded down onto our faces like the hardest shower or vigorous facial and I could hardly see ahead of me it was so heavy. I have no idea how Nasir was able to see enough to power through the rapids and return us safely to camp. It’s a miracle we didn’t capsize with the speed we were going and amount of water that was starting to flood our boat!
The water in our boat was so deep, we found a catfish by our feet! We quickly threw it back into the water, “That’s my fish!!!” yelled Nasir. It turned out he had been fishing when we were swimming and that was his dinner. Sorry Nasir!
What better way to support Earth Hour at 8.30pm on 25 March than in the jungle? We ate dinner by candlelight and it felt as though half the jungle wanted to join us! No real surprise, the food was delicious!
The guys at Sumbiling Village lit candles in support of Earth Hour and recorded a video for their Facebook page. The whole of Temburong District joined in this event and we were plunged into darkness which included switching off all generators.
When Earth Hour was over and, just as it started to rain again, Sy went on a Night Walk with some of the guys who worked at the camp and absolutely loved it! At one point, he was stood knee deep on a flooded jungle path taking photos of a frog but he didn’t mind; the boy in him was out to play during this jungle adventure.
Most of the jungle trekking we have done in the past has been on raised boardwalks or stoney paths – but not in Brunei! This is true jungle territory and the only paths are ones carved out by the footsteps of locals. Lucily there was the odd wooden handrail fashioned together to help you (but not everywhere!)
I won’t lie, I felt a little foolish because one of our local guides (Api) was walking through in a pair of flip flops without a care in the world.
We were told stories of life here in the jungle and it’s clear how much the guides love it here; one of them feels the need to visit as often as he can; sometimes he will take a walk through these leafy trails just to get his daily fix.
Now that you know what Brunei’s jungle has to offer, I hope you put it top of your list when you are thinking about visiting a rainforest.
If the Bornean rainforest is thought to be one the world's top biodiversity hotspots, then you should visit the part which has the highest percentage of pristine jungle.
Virgin rainforests are becoming harder to find, so I suggest you get there quickly. This is Brunei’s hidden gem and I would hate to see it affected if the country’s offshore oil and gas reserves begin to wane!
How to get to Brunei
Flying: Royal Brunei Airlines is the national carrier and fly worldwide. Air Asia and MASwings also fly from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and other main cities throughout Borneo.
By land: If you have visited Mulu Caves and are in Miri, it’s only 30 minutes drive from the Brunei border and you can either get a bus from Pujut Bus Terminal at 8.15am or 3.45pm for RM50 or hire a private taxi to pick you up and drop you off door to door for RM70. We chose the latter and would recommend Paul on +673 878 2521 (mobile) or +6013 833 2231 (landline).
If you are travelling around the rest of Asia, visit our Train Tickets page to check bus, boat and train schedules ahead of time. Save hassle by booking in advance - that's what we did!
Where to stay in Bandar Seri Bagawan before your jungle experience
There are a few places to stay in Brunei to cover all budgets.
5* luxury - Empire Hotel & Country Club, or Radisson Hotel.
Smaller budget: Brunei Hotel
Low budget: KH Soon and the Youth Hostel
Homestay: Kampong Water Village for an authentic experience
We stayed at the Jubilee Hotel which was a short 10 minute walk from the waterfront and had air conditioning, a wardrobe, fridge and TV.
Book your Brunei hotel through our website as we have an affiliate partnership with Booking.com. Click here to visit our Hotel Booking Page then search as normal. There is no extra cost to you but you will be helping Feet Do Travel website to continue running.
Booking a jungle trip with Borneo Guide
The team at Borneo Guide are excellent. They will help you book the trip you want for the time you have available. They gave hugely helpful tips on the rest of Brunei so if you are in Brunei, pop in to see them. You will find Borneo Guide extremely helpful, friendly and more than accommodating.
When to visit
The seasons in the Brunei rainforest run quarterly so January-March and July - September will be dry and April – June then October – December will be rain.
What to wear in the jungle
- Take a rain jacket/poncho with you as it’s not called a “rainforest” for nothing.
- Take water with you as the jungle is hot and humid.
- Wear quick-drying clothes; it doesn’t have to be walking shorts/trousers, sportswear, running gear or board shorts are all perfect for the jungle.
- Non-slip walking boots or sandals should ideally be worn – flip flops are not conducive to this type of activity.
Have you ever thought of visiting Brunei’s jungle? What do you think of it now you have read our experience? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below … we want to know!
Brunei - The Green Heart of Borneo
Mulu Canopy Walk - In the face of FEAR!
Critters & Caves at Mulu National Park
8 Amazing Adventures in Borneo
Derawan and Sangalaki - Borneo's Hidden Gem?
Indonesian Orangutan Adventure
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