Brunei Darussalam is a country where Islam is not just the state religion, but a way of life. However, the people of Brunei are also ethnically and religiously diverse. Some of the most popular attractions are the country’s beautiful mosques and visitors are required to follow the proper etiquette if they wish to visit. Modest attire that covers arms and knees is advised, while women will be given robes and shawls they can wear before entering a place or worship. You must also remove your shoes before entering the mosque and place them on the shoe racks provided.
If you are planning a visit, it’s worth remembering that mosques are usually closed to visitors on Thursday and Friday, as well as during daily allocated prayer times. It’s considered impolite to pass in front of Muslims while they are praying, and it is advisable to remain quiet while touring the mosque. Non-Muslims are not encouraged to touch the Holy Al-Quran.
As a courtesy, please ask for permission before taking photographs of locals, landmarks or government buildings (especially inside areas such as museums or mosques).
In Brunei, if you need to gesture or point in Brunei, you should point with the thumb of your right hand instead of your index finger. It is also customary to lightly touch hands and bring them to your chest when you meet someone. However, please note that many Muslim women do not shake hands with the opposite sex due to religious custom, so don’t be offended.
Bruneians are generally kind and generous people and they love to offer food as a symbol of their hospitality. It is polite to accept even a little food when offered, but if you must refuse it’s customary to lightly touch the plate with your right hand.
Every Friday between 12 noon and 2pm, all businesses — offices, shops, restaurants, banks and tourist attractions — are closed to give way for the weekly Friday prayers for Muslims.
Holy month of Ramadhan
If you plan on visiting Brunei during the holy month of Ramadhan, you are advised to refrain from eating and drinking in public during daylight hours, as Muslims will be fasting during this time. Some restaurants may be open for business, however dining in is not permitted, only takeaways.