Essential Hiking Safety Tips for Travelers in Brunei

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Find out why you need to stay on the marked trails and always check the conditions before you set off on foot in Brunei.

Canopy Walkway in Ulu Temburong National Park, Brunei Photo © Getty Images/raisbeckfoto

Lying on the northwestern coast of the island of Borneo and sharing a border with Malaysia, Brunei is not on many travelers' radars, but it is a great place for nature, hiking and culture.

Here are a few tips to stay safe while hiking in Brunei's tropical rainforest.

What to wear while hiking in Brunei

While it's tempting to wear as little as possible in the tropical heat, there are a few key reasons to wear appropriate clothing while hiking here.

The first reason is cultural: most locals would find this offensive if you were to wear short shorts or a revealing singlet. But the second set of reasons is about safety. You risk getting sunburnt, scratched by twigs and branches, or bitten by insects.

Here are a few packing tips for hikers in Brunei.

  • Wear light, breathable materials such as wool to wick the moisture away from your skin. Pack a broad-spectrum sunscreen, hat and sunglasses
  • When hiking in rainforest areas it's a good idea to wear long pants, wool socks and appropriate hiking footwear
  • Wearing polyester clothing in tropical locations is not a good idea
  • Pack a poncho or a waterproof rain jacket, as tropical downpours can happen suddenly without warning, and can be very heavy in Brunei
  • When selecting the best footwear, look for waterproof hiking boots that can dry quickly, and try to wear them in before you go on a long hike. Look for a shoe that has a great grip to avoid slipping on rocks or loose gravel.

Stay on the path

It goes without saying you should never leave marked trails anywhere you are in the world, and you should always let someone know where you are going, when you expect to return and when you have returned safely. Carry enough food and water for the expected trip, plus extra – you never know if you might get a bit lost, or if there's a hold-up. Also, allow for extra time in the tropical heat, take it easy, and conserve your energy.

Wildlife and insects in Brunei

Tropical rainforests attract visitors and poisonous creatures in equal numbers. Insects often don't leave a good impression on travelers. To avoid nasty bites and stings wear long trousers when hiking and sturdy footwear. Also, watch out for macaques (a type of monkey) who live in rainforests – you must never leave leftover food in your unattended backpack or lying around, as macaques are cheeky animals, and will steal any leftover food and water from you.

The National Parks offices in East Malaysia and Borneo can provide detailed information of what to expect. If you are going to do any treks in the wilderness, do not set out without checking the current conditions with a local ranger first. Bring a compass and a map and listen to any instructions or warnings rangers give you. They are looking out for your safety.

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