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.
Know Before You Go
Sumbling Eco Village is located in Brunei's Temburong District, an exclave separated by Malaysia and Brunei Bay. As a result, the best way to reach the district (and avoid four overland immigration checkpoints) is by taking the speed boat from Bandar Seri Begawan and Bangar, which makes the run regularly from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. One way fares are $6 and the journey takes 45 minutes.