Tranquil and serene are the perfect words to describe one of Brunei’s hidden gems: the Luagan Lalak Forest Recreation Park.
The park’s name is derived from the local Malay word ‘luagan’ which means a large non-flowing water body.
Whereas ‘lalak‘, was believed to be an error in either spelling and pronunciation of the Malay word ‘dalak‘ – a snakehead fish common in Brunei waters.
What to expect
As you enter the 270-hectare park – which is part of the Labi Hills forest reserve — you will notice the black water covered by a field of sedges, a grass-like plant with triangular stems and flowers.
Technically, Luagan Lalak is a swamp — an alluvial freshwater swap, to be exact — with an unique ecosystem that hosts small fish, birds and insects.
There are three gazebos built across the reflective waters of Luagan Lalak, and as you walk along the wooden walkway, it feels as though you’re walking on the water’s mirror-like surface.
“This is a popular spot as visitors love to take pictures at the staircase overlooking the picturesque lake; they say it makes them feel like they’re in a completely different world,” says one villager.
“As soon as you step into the area, your worries just melt away – that is how captivating the place is.”
Forestry officer, Liyana Yahya, recommends that people visit the park during both dry and wet seasons to experience changing tides of Luagan Lalak.
“During drier months, the park will look like a pond with reeds, water lilies and ferns shaped in small clusters of islands… But during the wet season, everything will be completely submerged.”
When to go
It’s best to come on a clear day if you want to experience the famous sunrise, as the morning fog rolling across the trees can obscure a good view of the sun — but leave Bandar by 4.45am in order to catch the sunrise at 6am.
Around the park, there are footpaths and a 200-metre bridge that spans the lake, making for spectacular views. There are also gazebos, benches and a barbecue pit for visitors to enjoy. Restroom facilities are across the road from the entrance to the forest reserve.
As of May this year, Luagan Lalak has received more than 81,000 visitors since 2001.
How to get there
From Bandar Seri Begawan, it’s about 100km to Luagan Lalak. If you’re coming from the capital, drive for an hour along the highway until to you reach Sungai Liang. Here, you will see a left-hand exit for Jalan Labi – another 25 kilometres down this road and you will reach the park. Unfortunately, it is not accessible by public transport and you need a car to get there.
Leave no footprints, don’t litter, and enjoy the peaceful tranquility that Luagan Lalak has to offer.