But why, out of all the other jungles you can visit, should Ulu Temburong in Brunei be the one you choose?
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?
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 and I was about to enter the jungle with a big smile on my face.
As part of the tour, there is the option to do the Canopy Walk, however if you don’t like 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 as the government stopped anything artificial. If a tree falls, it isn’t removed; nature is left to reclaim it so the ants and other jungle critters begin to break it down and use it in the way nature intended.
For safety, only five people are allowed on the first tower and only two people are allowed on the bridge at any one time.
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.
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 with the odd wooden handrail fashioned together to help you (if you are lucky!). Sy was in his element; he absolutely loves raw nature and back in the UK has been on several survival courses where he has been required to spend weeks in the forest building his own shelter. This trek was made for him… me, not so much, but that was purely down to how clumsy and awkward I am! Thank goodness for Brian and Sy helping me up the leafy trail, down the stoney path and over the gentle rivers. 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.
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, and 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, we recommend you check bus, boat and train schedules ahead of time with 12Go Asia website. You can also book your tickets in advance online (as we did) to save time and hassle.
Where to stay in Bandar Seri Bagawan before your jungle experience
There are a few places to stay in Brunei to cover all budgets, all can be booked via Booking.com which we use to get the best rates. If you want 5* luxury then head to the Empire Hotel & Country Club, there is also a Radisson Hotel and for smaller budgets, Brunei Hotel. We stayed at the Jubilee Hotel via Booking.com which was a short 10 minute walk from the waterfront and had air conditioning, a wardrobe, fridge and TV. KH Soon and the Youth Hostel are low budget options and you can stay in a homestay at Kampong Water Village for an authentic experience.
Booking a jungle trip with Borneo Guide
The team in the office of Borneo Guide are excellent and will help you to book the trip that you want and need for the time you have available. They were also able to give us hugely helpful tips on the rest of Brunei so why not pay them a visit or drop them an email, you will find them 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.
You can now book hotels 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 us!
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!
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