A backpacker’s guide to Brussels

One of the many well-kept heritage buildings in Brussels.

Not that it’s recommended, but if you’re an adventurous backpacker who decides to go to Brussels and have not booked any train tickets, you can walk up to the ticket counter and ask nicely.

There will probably be tickets available. The train to Brussels passes through several cities including Ghent.

It will be a bit of a culture shock when you arrive in Brussels. Firstly, there are no motorcycles on the road except for a few super-bikes.

It is totally different compared to many Asian cities. Secondly, the taxis are all Mercedes.

Public transportation, especially the tram,  is very efficient in Brussels.

While the Mercedes is a symbol of luxury in Malaysia, in Brussels it is used for public transportation.

But the most shocking thing is that certain areas have immigrant communities and some of them are decidedly unfriendly. Not to sound racist, but you will not feel safe in these areas.

What to do on your first day in Brussels – go out and explore. Walk from your hotel towards the Botanique metro station.

Before reaching the station, you will see a Turkish restaurant where you can enjoy a good lunch.

The beautifully manicured Place du Petit Sablon.

Also buy a MOBIB card and the 48 hour pass for a few Euros. The pass allows you to travel along the whole STIB, TEC and De Lijn urban networks.

Do stop at the Petit Sablon station and walk leisurely in the garden at the Place du Petit Sablon or Kleine Zavel in Dutch. It is very beautifully manicured.

There are many well-kept heritage buildings nearby including the Synagogue de Bruxelles, Anglo-Belgian War Memorial and the massive Palace of Justice.

Walk a little further and you will reach the Grote Markt. It is a massive square surrounded by many UNESCO World Heritage buildings including the City Hall.

One of the less busy squares in Brussels.

Compared to the Markt Square, this square feels more enclosed and busy. It is the capital city of Belgium, after all.

Nearby Markt Square is the statue of Everard ‘T Serclaes. It is a reclining statue of a heroic and legendary Brussels citizen.

It is said that whoever touches the statue will enjoy good luck. The statue has actually changed colour due to the many hands that have touched it.

Use the many convenient signboards in the city and walk to Mannekin Pis, the iconic statue of Brussels.

The famous Mannekin Pis statue.

The statue is rather peculiar but still cute nonetheless. It looks huge in photos but in real life, it is actually much smaller. There are other pissing statues but not as famous as this one.

Finally, end your walk with the obligatory trip to Primark. Buy the perfume and t-shirt souvenirs before returning to your hotel by taking the metro and the tram.

Many people love the city Brussels. Others find it very busy and chaotic. The many Turkish immigrants and their unfriendly demeanour is vastly different from the locals.

Nevertheless, in terms of food, efficient public transportation and tourist attractions, you will love it.

Khai and wife Amira are Malaysian travel bloggers who blog at Kaki Jalans. Their travels have taken them to almost all the countries in Asean and five countries in Europe. They are still actively travelling and adding to this list.