Labuan, derived from the Malay word ‘labuhan’ which means “harbour”, is a federal territory of Malaysia. It’s often referred to as “Pearl of Borneo” due to its rich history and strategic location in the South China Sea.
Labuan comprises a main island and six smaller islets located off the northwest coast of Borneo. It lies near the mouth of the Brunei Bay, facing the South China Sea. Being closer to the state of Sabah, it’s often regarded as the gateway to mainland Borneo.
Labuan’s history is intertwined with trade, piracy, and colonial influences. It was an important trading post in the region during the 19th century. The British took control in 1846, mainly to suppress piracy and to create a base to control the coal reserves in the area. It served as a British naval base and coaling station until the Japanese invasion in WWII. Post-war, Labuan returned to British control, and later, in 1984, became a federal territory of Malaysia. Today, it’s known as an offshore financial centre offering international financial and business services.
Highlights of Things to Do
- Labuan War Cemetery: A resting place for soldiers and prisoners of war from the British and Australian forces during World War II.
- Chimney Tower: A mysterious red-brick tower with no clear historical record of its purpose, this landmark offers insights into Labuan’s coal mining past.
- Labuan Marine Park: Comprising several islets, the park is a paradise for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, showcasing rich marine biodiversity.
- Labuan International Golf Club: A premier golfing destination set amidst natural green landscapes, offering challenges for both amateurs and professionals.
- Labuan Museum: A place to delve deep into the history, culture, and traditions of Labuan.
How to Get In and Out
- By Air: Labuan Airport connects the territory with major cities in Malaysia and some international destinations.
- By Sea: Labuan is a major port, with ferries connecting it to Sabah, Brunei, and Sarawak. Regular ferry services operate, making it convenient for travelers.
- By Road: Though an island, Labuan can be accessed by road through car ferries that operate between the Menumbok terminal in Sabah and Labuan.
With its unique blend of history, culture, and modernity, Labuan serves as an intriguing destination for those looking to experience the diverse facets of Borneo.