Making up only 1 percent of the island of Borneo and with less than 500,000 residents, Brunei is often overshadowed by its much larger island neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia. Ignoring tiny Brunei comes at a cost, however, as the slim nation contains some of the world’s oldest rainforests.
The rainforests of Brunei have been largely preserved thanks to a strict “no cut” policy the government implemented in the 1990s to combat deforestation. As a result, ancient tropical rainforests span more than 70 percent of Brunei’s terrain, and ecotourism has become a new focus for the nation as it attempts to diversify its extremely oil-dependent economy.
Just minutes from Ulu Temburong National Park—the country’s first national park, regularly referred to as the “Green Jewel of Brunei”—the Sumbiling Eco Village capitalizes on these long-term preservation efforts and has become one of the country’s premier eco-destinations. Sumbiling is managed in conjunction with the local Iban community, located on the banks of the Sungai Temburong River. It allows visitors a chance to explore the lush, green jungles that have come to define life in this wildly untouched slice of Borneo.