Labuan is located off the coast of Sabah. It is made up of the main Labuan island and 6 other small islands around it. All this time, Labuan is best known as an offshore financial centre as well as being an offshore support hub for deepwater oil and gas activities in the region. As a developing tourist destination, Labuan has plenty to offer its visitors.
The school holidays are here and if you are still undecided on where to bring the kids for a break, why not check out Labuan?
Here are the Top 10 things to do in Labuan…
1. MUSEUMS & WAR MEMORIALS
First of all, the best place to learn more about the history of Labuan is the Muzium Labuan. Established in 2004, the museum is located in a 2-storey pre-war colonial building. Inside its cool interior which is like a maze, are displays of all kinds of artifacts depicting the history of Labuan. In fact, it is a one-stop centre with information on everything relating to Labuan.
Meet Mr Willie Teoh (h/p: 019-882-0551) who is a walking dictionary on the history of Labuan!
Peace Park, Surrender Point Memorial
One of the most visited parks in Labuan, the Peace Park is located near Surrender Point where the 32nd Japanese Southern Army surrendered to the 9th Australian Imperial Forces on the 9th September 1945. The Peace Park was built by the Japanese as a promise to peace and mankind. The huge man-made mound has a plaque signifying the renunciation of war.
Next to the Peace Park is the Surrender Point Memorial. This was where the Japanese officially surrendered their rule on Labuan to the Australian army which marked the end of World War II in Borneo.
Labuan World War II Memorial
Known also as the Labuan War Cemetery, this memorial graveyard is where many personnel of the Indian and Australian troops were buried. They were killed during the Japanese invasion of Borneo. There’s a total of 1,788 graves in this immaculately maintained cemetery. There’s an incredible sense of peace as one walks around this place.
*These 2 photos are courtesy of Chasingfooddreams.com
Labuan Botanical Gardens
Close by the War Memorial is the Labuan Botanical Gardens, a popular place for both locals and visitors.
This beautiful sprawling park used to be the estate of a stately government mansion. It was built in 1852 as the official residence for Labuan’s first governor, Sir James Brooke and the island’s succeeding Residents.
Now the gardens are landscaped with lush greenery and shaded by huge ancient trees. There is an added skate ramp, reflexology path, gazebos, boardwalks, bridges, water features, a children’s playground and a fun-looking tree house in one of the many huge trees.
The Chimney is something of a mystery in Labuan. Standing 106 feet tall, this tower located in Tanjung Kubong, is made with strong bricks brought in from England. Although called a “chimney”, there’s actually no trace of smoke or burning inside this tower. However, as there were coal mines in the vicinity back in 1847-1920, it was thus named as such.
Labuan International Golf Club
Avid golfers will love Labuan International Golf Club (LIGC) with its promise “Tee-off with Mother Nature”. This par 72 golf course with its pristine green in undulating slopes is sheer joy for golfers. LIGC is the only 18-hole golf course in Labuan. Their 16-bay driving range, perched on a hilltop, provides a sweeping view of the greens and fresh crisp air for golfers practicing their swings.
3. LABUAN UN BEACH – COCKTAILS AT SUNSET
As Labuan is an island, naturally it is surrounded by beaches. One of the most popular stretch is known as “United Nations Beach” located along the northern coastline. This name came about due to its “Clean Beach Award” from the United Nations Environment Program during the 2nd COBSEA Marine Litter Workshop & Clean-up campaign in 2008. The 9km stretch runs from Batu Manikar Beach to Sungai Miri. The people of Labuan have upheld the honour as I personally saw the council staff diligently cleaning the beach.
It is also listed as one of the Best 15 Beaches in Malaysia. It may not be the perfect beach with powdery white sand but it’s very clean and one of the best spots to enjoy a spectacular sunset. Oh you can also have a cocktail party here, with some help from the Catering Team of Dorsett Grand Labuan!
Cycling has become incredibly popular in the country the past couple of years and this includes Labuan. Here the roads are not clogged with traffic yet and certain stretches do have bicycle lanes. We had a fun 6km ride from Dorsett Grand Labuan to the Labuan International Seaport on a cool morning. While most parts of the roads were flat and smooth, there were also certain sloping stretches that had us huffing and puffing! The good cardio workout took us along scenic green areas, oxygenated with cool crisp air.
Our little cycling expedition was made possible by Tourism Malaysia and special thanks to the Chief of Police Tuan Adzhar Othman from Labuan Royal Police for the escort service.
Rental of bicycles is available from LDA Holdings (Labuan Holdings Sdn. Bhd.). Contact Ms Syafiqah, at 60 8 7413 155 or 6013-5070795 for more information.
5. HIKING BUKIT KUBONG
At 148m above sea level, Bukit Kubong is the highest natural peak in Labuan. It isn’t any wonder then that this hill is popular with hikers on the island. For regular hikers, the hike is a walk in the park and for the rest, even with kids, the trail is not that difficult and it can be accomplished in about 30 minutes. The view at the peak is lovely, with the South China Sea glimmering as far as the eye can see.
6. ISLAND HOPPING
Surrounded by the South China Sea, Labuan Island, together with its 6 other smaller islands are just perfect for some sea activities. The islands, namely Rusukan Besar, Burung, Daat, Rusukan Kecil, Papan and Kuraman form the Labuan Marine Park.
The water around these islands is crystal clear and so irresistible to snorkelers and divers. There are 3 well-known shipwrecks in the area, a clear attraction for wreck divers.
Alternatively, just pack some food and have a picnic on Kuraman island!
On the way out to the open sea, you will see many of these…
Deep-sea oil rigs
Ships and tankers, all lined up like battleships!
If you need to rent a boat, contact Rodney (016-3281689, email@example.com)
7. MASSAGE & SPA
Back in town, after hours of all those strenuous activities, why not relax and enjoy a session of massage? There are several spas and massage centres in town and I’d recommend Borneo Paradise Spa run by Marcus Koh.
Borneo Paradise Spa
Lot 33 Lazenda Centre
Jalan OKK Abdullah
Tel: 010-9489911 / 012-8021234
8. EAT SEAFOOD!
Being an island, Labuan is home to abundant seafood. The South China Sea yields catches of fish which sometimes are unavailable to the market in Peninsula Malaysia. For this very reason, having at least one seafood feast in Labuan is a must.
Kg Nagalang Seafood Restaurant was opened not too long ago and it’s packing in the crowds, both locals and visitors. As its name suggests, it is located inside a kampong, a wooden structure with a long walkway, facing the sea.
Our favourite dish here was the “sea chicken” fish, a hard-to-get deep-water fish. Yes, it is a fish – but because its texture and taste are so delicious, the locals have nicknamed it “sea chicken”! It’s a huge fish and was good enough to be shared by 20 people!
Kg Nagalang Seafood Restaurant
Simpnag Ikan Todak 24
9. VISIT CENTRAL MARKET & FISHING PORT
I love markets and always try to visit them whenever I’m travelling. The Central Market of Labuan in Jalan Bunga Tanjung is a hive of activity, especially the section where fresh seafood is sold. The seafood all looked like they’ve just been hauled from the sea, which probably was the case. Prices were definitely lower than those here and the vendors will also pack the fresh seafood in proper packing should you want to bring them aboard a flight.
If you can, wake up early to grab some real bargains at the Labuan Fisheries at the fishing port in Jalan OKK Awang Besar. You have to be there by 6am to get the best seafood at wholesale prices – that’s even cheaper than prices at the wet market!
Prices can be as low as half the amount we have to pay here in the Klang Valley. For example, ikan tenggiri was only RM16/kg, compared to more than RM30 charged here!
10. DUTY-FREE SHOPPING
Yes, Labuan is a duty-free port – good news to shoppers! There are many duty-free shopping outlets in town but the one we went to was One Stop Duty-free Shopping. It has almost everything under its roof, from perfumes, cosmetics to chocolates, cigarettes and liquor. Go for the imported chocolates – the prices for certain famous brands are almost half of what’s sold in KL airports.
One Stop Duty-free Shopping
Lot A, G Floor, Victoria
Jalan OKK Awang Besar
87000 Wilayah Persekutuan Labuan
So there you go – 10 compelling reasons to check out this amazing island-city. Malaysia Airlines Bhd has several daily direct flights to Labuan as well as via Miri and Kota Kinabalu. Check out Malaysia Airlines here.
Dorsett Grand Labuan is the only 5-star hotel in Labuan and if you need more information on this hotel, check my earlier post here.
*Photos without the PureGlutton watermark were taken by Y.S. Ching