When we decided to visit Brunei, I knew that we had to visit Ulu Temburong National Park in Brunei. Despite being a planner, I didn’t really find a lot of reviews of tours beforehand–and ended up listening to the advice of my Bruneian friends to wait until we were in Brunei to book a day trip to Ulu Temburong National Park. Keep reading for tips on finding the best tour for Ulu Temburong National Park, what to pack, and what to expect on visiting Brunei’s most famous national park, one of the best things to do in Brunei.
What’s contained in this guide to Ulu Temburong National Park
- What to expect from a tour in Ulu Temburong National Park
- Cost of a one day tour to Ulu Temburong National Park
- Our experience in Ulu Temburong National Park
- What to pack for Ulu Temburong National Park
Why go to Ulu Temburong National Park?
- Brunei has done something amazing: it has perfectly preserved its virgin rainforest. These efforts promoting sustainable tourism in Brunei truly make Brunei special as few countries have tried so hard to preserve their natural environments. (80% of Brunei is virgin rainforest.) That said, much of Ulu Temburong is not open to the public, but the route there and the hike is worth it.
- Adventure travelers will love the 60m high canopy walk in Ulu Temburong, which is NOT for people afraid of heights.
- Experiencing the traditional longboat ride upstream up a river. Definitely a unique experience.
- Having your toes nibbled on by little fish in a waterfall straight of a movie
What to expect from a one day trip to Ulu Temburong National Park from Bandar Seri Begawan
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If you’re in Bandar Seri Begawan, you’ll need to take a local water taxi to Bangar through some of the most astonishingly beautiful virgin rainforest that you’ll see in Borneo. All tours that you book will pre-book your ticket for you on the water taxi and arrange all transport, however once you arrive in Bangar, it’s best to have your tour booked as it’s a bit of a drive from the water taxi terminal to the river.
There is no road to Ulu Temburong National Park. You can only access it by boat, which makes the journey so much more magical. It’s easy to imagine going back in time when you’re sitting in a traditional longboat. The river towards Ulu Temburong is fairly shallow and flows against the river, so the boat ride may be a bit bumpier than you might be accustomed to.
If you’re lucky, the riverbed might be too dry and you’ll need to push the boat over the rocks. (It’s an experience that is well-remembered by my friends who found it actually very charming, so if you wear pants, your pants might get a bit wet.) Along the way, you might pass locals fishing. The locals still get a lot of their food from the rainforest and it’s incredible to see people living off the land in such a sustainable way. The local tribes truly respect the rainforest–and its nature here.
Once you reach Ulu Temburong, you’ll need to sign in and sign away all your rights to sue if you have an accident while in the park. From there, you’ll cross a rope bridge across the river below and hike uphill towards the canopy walk.
En route to the canopy bridge, you’ll see many species of plants. (There’s only one trail as most of the park is limited to biologists to ensure that the human footprint is minimal.) The hike is fairly steep with a lot of stairs, so be sure to wear a good pair of sneakers as I’ve heard that the steps can be quite slippery after a rain.
The canopy walk in Ulu Temburong is the reason why people flock to Ulu Temburong and it is NOT for those who afraid of heights. Even for me (an amateur climber who suffers from mild vertigo), it was a struggle at points. However, you can see how far you can get up–and notify your guide accordingly. Just take it slowly, have your camera attached very tightly to you, and wear clothes that you don’t mind sweating in… The infrastructure for the canopy walk was built in cooperation with one of the oil companies with the same infrastructure as a rig. Don’t worry; it’s stable!
The top of the canopy walk was incredible although I was quite nervous about taking out my camera as well as my phone. The netting is set up in a way to minimize falling, however I was nervous about my phone falling to the ground. I saw others happily filming, but I’d say bring something that attaches the electronics you’ll use to your wrist.
After the canopy walk, you may have lunch at the main lodge or head back for an adventurous outing (we did white water rafting) prior to lunch. Most tours take their guides to a small waterfall for a dip in a pool near the park with the kind of fish that nibble on your dead skin (not piranhas). Your guide might tell you about the little fish that eat the dead skin, so don’t jump in too deeply. We watched a pair pose directly underneath the waterfall for a photo without knowing about the fish prior to screaming PIRANHAS. I don’t recommend getting too deep in the pool although it’s definitely refreshing to dip into.
Cost of a one day tour of Ulu Temburong National Park from BSB
I ALWAYS book my tours ahead, but my Bruneian friends mentioned to me that it was best to wait to get better prices. They were right 100%. We did The Best of Temburong tour with Freme, which is one of Brunei’s most well known tour operators, as recommended by my friends. At the time, the tour cost $150 Bruneian dollars per person although we paid only $124 per person as we booked it in person and in cash. This was about $184 USD for two of us, inclusive of transportation, activities, and lunch, which was pricey, but worth it to me.
The tour requires at least two people to go, so if you’re traveling solo, it’s best to book your Ulu Temburong tour ahead to ensure that they have time to find another person to ensure that your tour isn’t cancelled. Our tour was just the two of us, so it made it easy enough to go on short notice for the next day.
There are cheaper packages, but my husband insisted on white water rafting on the way back. I wasn’t that into the white water rafting and I would have skipped it in favor of the Iban longhouse instead as we did the course faster than most people do it, which left us a bunch of time just sitting around.
If you want to spend more time in Ulu Temburong…
As mentioned previously, most of Ulu Temburong is closed to the public. You can stay overnight at Ulu Ulu Resort (which is a bit pricey), however it might be better to give yourself a couple days to learn more about Iban and Murut cultures in Brunei by staying in Bangar.
If you stay overnight at Ulu Ulu, you can do jungle trekking, night walks, and the standard activities otherwise. It costs about B$330 ($246 USD) per person for two days and one night with activities, so it might be worth if you don’t have an opportunity visit some of the other incredible climates in Borneo. As we visited Bako National Park and the Kinabatangan River Valley regions in Malaysia, I wasn’t tempted.
What to pack for a Ulu Temburong day trip
Have you heard of Ulu Temburong National Park in Brunei?