Labuan is mostly known for its oil and gas. But did you know that it’s rich in history and is home to a few of the most beautiful islands in Malaysia?
We had the pleasure of flying to Labuan, courtesy of AirAsia, an award-winning low cost airline in Malaysia.
While we were in Labuan, we had the opportunity to hang out with some of the locals, who showed us some hidden treasures there that KL-ites might not know.
Here’re 12 activities that are must-tries in Labuan.
1. Enjoy fresh seafood at Mr Crab Seafood and Steamboat Restaurant.
Mr Crab Seafood and Steamboat Restaurant has only been open for a few months but it’s already the talk of the town (for all the good reasons). The restaurant is built on stilts by the river, that’s also home to some crocodiles. Fret not, these creatures mean no harm.
The chefs prepared for us some of the freshest seafood Labuan has to offer.
We’ll definitely recommend the Wet Butter Salted Egg Crab, Kam Heong Mantis Prawn, Tiga Rasa Sauce Fried Garoupa and Pumpkin Crab Soup.
Go in larger groups so you’ll have a chance to sample more seafood dishes, as some come in pretty large portion sizes.
2. Walk through Kampung Patau-Patau.
Kampung Patau-Patau is a water village in Labuan, home of the Brunei-Malays. The houses are built on stilts and decorated with vibrant colors.
You’ll find the locals passing time by playing in the water and singing songs by the dock. There are also homestay programmes available, for those who want to experience a little of their lifestyle.
3. Take some time for quiet contemplation in the Labuan War Cemetery.
This war cemetery commemorates the Australian and Indian troops who perished from the Sandakan Death March.
Don’t think that we’re morbid for recommending it. The cemetery is now more like a beautifully landscaped park.
There are many unmarked graves, and it’s worth going there to at least remember the senseless slaughters that wars often end up as.
4. Take a leap off Ramsey Point.
At Ramsey Point by the beach, you can opt for a little adventure by trying out the short but sweet flying fox adventure which starts from a tower leading you all the way to the grounds of the beach.
Once at the beach, you’ll find plenty of stalls and live music by the locals. Food here is cheap and the entertainment is free!
5. Snorkel at Pulau Rusukan Besar.
Pulau Rusukan Besar has one of the clearest waters we’ve seen in Malaysia.
Here, you can snorkel when the tide is high and marvel at the huge amount of corals beneath. Catch colourful fishes swimming in the distance and explore a whole new world under the sea.
Aside from snorkeling, you can also kayak, have a barbeque and even stay in their beach hostels for a night or two.
6. Catch the sunset at Pulau Papan.
Pulau Papan is known for its weekend beach parties and beautiful sunsets. Extreme water sports are also offered here for the thrill seekers.
There are also food stalls around the well-maintained beach where you can enjoy some cheap beachside grub and drinks. Psst, if you didn’t already know, Labuan is a duty-free island so go ahead and shop to your heart’s desire.
If you’re interested in trekking, you can also get a local to bring you around the island where you’ll see caves, boulders and even some wild animals.
7. Have brunch at Mortar Café.
This place is a fusion café owned by the developer of Tiara Labuan Hotel and designed by his son. You won’t find many quaint hipster cafés in Labuan, so this is definitely one-of-a-kind for an island like Labuan.
They serve up an array of delicious local delicacies with some western delights on the menu. It’s a great place to chill with a book in hand as you enjoy a quiet evening all to yourself.
8. Visit the Chimney Museum.
The Chimney was built in the 80’s and yet the purpose of it being built is still a mystery, even up to this date. This 106-feet tall tower is built with imported red bricks from England and its architectural style is similar to those of the British as well.
The chimney is surrounded by what used to be an old railway and next to it, coal was mined beneath the ground. Locals used to think that the chimney was built for the purposes of coal mining.
But having found no trace of smoke within the chimney walls, it remains as a mystery till today.
9. Take a step back in time and visit the Surrender Point Memorial.
It is said that this is the exact spot where the Japanese surrendered to the Australians after the two nuclear bombs hit Japan soil, marking the end of WWII.
The darker stories whisper that the Japanese soldiers also performed Harakiri (a ritual suicide by disembowelment) 4 days after their surrender here too.
10. Tread carefully on the grounds of the Peace Park.
The Peace Park is designed in a semi circle to symbolise the Land Of The Rising Sun.
It is said that the Japanese decided to build the Peace Park because locals have “spotted” unsettled souls of Japanese soldiers wandering around in the night.
Japanese soldiers who surrendered don’t get a grave after their death, so the Japanese decided to build the Peace Park as a place where the lost souls can find its resting place.
11. Swim underwater and discover ship wrecks.
Labuan is also famous for those who are interested to dive deep down into the ocean and come across some unique ship wreaks.
There are four wreaks for the islands of Labuan with each one having its own distinctive character. Two were identified as being from World War II while the other two are from the 1980’s.
You don’t have to be a professional diver to try this out as there are wreaks that are suitable for beginners too.
Take note though, some divers have believed the wrecks to be haunted by ghosts of the lives lost when the prisoners on board were attempting to escape.
Only one way to find out is to dive and see for yourself!
12. Try out a Perahu Larai ride.
Perahu Larai (called Perahu Larai in some parts) or more commonly known as a sail boat is a great way to feel the breeze while also crossing over the crystal waters of the Labuan ocean.
It’s quite a popular activity in the area, considering that they occasionally have competitions for athletes to race with these sail boats as well as having performances where professionals perform various kind of stunts.
Vacationing In Labuan
If you’re interested to check out this island for yourself, AirAsia flies 7x weekly direct from Kuala Lumpur to Labuan.
The low cost flight carrier is currently having a special promo for an all-in flight starting from just RM99.
Booking Period: August 14–20, 2017
Travel Period: August 12, 2017–August 8, 2018
For more information, you can head on over to their official website here.
This article was brought to you by AirAsia.