18 September 2010:
If you happen to be in Miri, Sarawak, you should not miss visiting Brunei, because it is very nearby. By road under normal driving and traffic, you should you should reach the capital city of Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan within 2 hours with total distance of about 150 kms. But there are some formalities at the border crossing which could be quite tricky for the first timers, nevertheless it is a breeze if you know how. I will share my experience crossing Malaysia/Brunei border by road in this post.
The roads are all the way paved and some stretch are 4-lane highway and with fast car you will enjoy the speed of your machine. If you have time, you could enjoy the green tropical sceneries at one side and the South China Sea breeze on the other side. You will see most towns in Brunei along this journey like Kuala Belait, Seria, Jerudong are all beach towns.
First stage is from Miri to Sungai Tujuh checkpoint. The checkpoint is about 30 kms from Miri city center. To reach this border checkpoint, you have two options. First you could drive north to Lutong along the coastal road and before reaching Kuala Baram, turn right following the direction to Sungai Tujuh. Alternatively from Miri you could reach the checkpoint via Tudan or Permyjaya. Either way, follow the roadsign leading to Sungai Tujuh checkpoint or Kuala Belait. No mention of Bandar Seri Begawan yet at this point in time.
Maneuvouring thru checkpoint is a bit tricky. First you must pass Malaysia Immigration checkpoint. No need for you and passengers to get off from the car. Just drive thru and at the counter hand over all the international passports to the clerk inside the booth. Malaysians do not need visa to enter Brunei, international passports will do. Other nationalities please check with your own consulates. After passports stamped and returned, you will drive thru a winding road passing thru Brunei police station. By now you are already in the Brunei side of the border already. Do not stop at the police station. Just drive up along the winding road and you will reach Brunei Immigration checkpoint. Again, just drive thru and hand over the passports to a clerk at the counter. Here she will stamp the entry visa in your passports which allows you to stay in Brunei for up to one month on social visit pass. Then you will come to Custom checkpoint. Since you are bringing Malaysian car into Brunei, they will ask you to fill up a car pass. Get the form from them and fill up vehicle particulars. All info requested about the vehicles can be found in the car grant or title issued by JPJ Malaysia. So it is strongly recommended that you carry along a copy of such car grant. Pull over to a waiting bay to fill up the form.
Brunei is such a rich country that no fees whatsoever required. By the way the vehicle pass is valid for one month, which means you can use the same pass many times to enter Brunei. Thats why you see some drivers just drive thru and hand over their old car pass for stamping by the Custom official — because they already filled up once. Once you are done with the Brunei Custom, you are already on the way to Bandar Seri Begawan, some 127 kms from the checkpoints. On Brunei roads you will see majority big cars with Brunei plate numbers which starts with B or K refering to districts in Brunei. You can easily be mistaken with Kedah or Selangor plate number which also starts with K and B respectively, but the difference is bigger font size. You will pass by towns like Kuala Belait, Jerudong and Tutong before you reach BBS. After BBS is Muara, the town at the furthest end of the highway.
After a while you will come to a toll plaza at which every car passing thru must pay 3 Brunei Dollar. Take note that there is no proper rest area along the highway. As you are passing villages you may stop at the road-side restaurants or shops for a break. Observe speed limit as police patrol cars in latest Chevrolet Cruze are watching you.
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