• Lebanon!

    Lebanon: House in Byblos. Go Now!

    Lebanon
    This country is home to a wide range of people from conservative Muslims and Christians to liberals who embrace the changing world. Explore Lebanon!

  • Bangladesh!

    Bangladesh: Traditional houses. Go Now!

    Bangladesh
    This low-lying country has historic ties to India and Pakistan, but today maintains a wholly unique culture. Explore Bangladesh!

  • Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    Indonesia
    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

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    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    Mongolia
    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

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    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    Kyrgyzstan
    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Social Life in Brunei

Behavior

Like dress (see below), the greatest things to keep in mind in terms of behavior are based on Islam, many of which are focused on dietary restrictions. Islamic law forbids pork products and alcohol; however there is little worry about adhering to these rules in Brunei since neither is widely available anywhere in the country. Pork is available in restaurants catered to the ethnic Chinese, but not elsewhere; if in the presence of Muslims don't order pork. Alcohol is also available in limited areas, but again, don't drink around Muslims and never go out in public after having had a drink as Brunei is much more conservative than Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Also, when in the presence of the Chinese, remember that they can be very proud people and insulting them or putting a person down in anyway can be very offensive as the person will feel "shamed." In much the same way, the Chinese will rarely give you critical advice or insult you in fear of "shaming" you; this is especially true in business. Turning down a business offer in the wrong way may, unknowingly be an insult and could force your contact to feel so shamed that he will actually quit his job; if all hope is lost on a deal, allow your Chinese counterpart to gracefully exit the situation so he can save "face." However, the opposite is also becoming more common and if you do (intentionally or unintentionally) insult another, that person may defend his honor by insulting you and will pursue a shouting match.

Dress

The traditional dress in Brunei is still very much alive, although some western-styled clothing has made an entrance. The dress is truly based on the people's Islamic faith, which requests conservative dress, especially among women as all women are expected to cover their hair. Both men and women are also expected to have their shoulders and knees covered at all times.

For many women the traditional dress is the baju kurang, which is similar to a dress, which is often times very colorful. The men traditionally wore the baju burung, which consists of a simple long-sleeved shirt and pants or a sampin, which is similar to a sarong worn in place of pants. While both of these traditional outfits, and others, are still commonly worn in Brunei, there is a slow movement to western-styled clothing. This shift, however, is taking place slowly and is primarily being undertaken by the younger generation.

As a visitor to Brunei, you are not expected to wear local traditional clothing, but it is required that you cover up. Everyone, including visitors, is expected to cover their knees and shoulders at a minimum. Many people will cover their elbows as well and women are encouraged to cover their hair at all times in public, but this is not required. Despite the strict dress code, few of these rules are actual laws so there is some leeway in what you can wear while in Brunei and some people do wear shorts today. However, in order to show respect to the people and their culture, it is recommended that you cover up at all times and to save your swim wear for nearby Malaysia.

This page was last updated: November, 2013