A while ago, I went on a trip to Labuan with the team from AirAsia. Labuan is known for its oil and gas but little did all of us know, it is also a state filled with amazing seafood, untouched beaches and historical landmarks. The exploration really opened my eyes on Labuan as before this I’ve never once looked it up. Here’s a list of places I really enjoyed visiting and eating in Labuan, a few suggestions for your next trip there maybe?
1. Mr. Crab Seafood and Steamboat Restaurant
With a view of the river, Mr. Crab is a newly opened seafood and steamboat restaurant that I fell in love with. At Mr. Crab, fresh seafoods are served and cooked based on personal choice. We were privileged enough to be served all of Mr. Crab’s best dishes. A quick tip when eating here is to come with a large group so you get to try more varieties of their fresh seafood dishes.
2. Water Village
This village is occupied by mostly Bruneian's who came decades ago. They’re called Brunei Malays and live on traditional stilt houses above water. They usually travel by boats as most of them are fishermen. A simple life indeed, children running around barefoot and playing in the water at the docks. Not to mention, colourfully painted stilt houses decorated with flora and fauna.
3. Pulau Rusukan Besar
Pulau Rusukan Besar is one of the few beautiful islands off the coast of Labuan. There are two Pulau Rusukans’, one known as Pulau Rusukan Besar and another as Pulau Rusukan Kecil. Both islands are near each other. Legend has it, both islands used to be lovers who were cursed by their families. Both were banished, apart from each other and when they died they turned into these two beautiful islands that were always near but never together. This island also has a turtle conservation area that takes care of sea turtle eggs until they're hatched and ready to be released. Aside from that, there's also a cute and humble boutique hotel by the beach for travellers who want to stay on the island. Not to mention, the clear blue water is perfect for snorkelling and even glass bottom kayaking.
4. Pulau Papan
One of the known islands for weekend beach parties and even small scaled music festivals, this is the place to be for party goers. On weekends, there’ll be a DJ spinning music at the beautiful beach, food stalls and even BBQ stalls by the locals. This beach is decorated so beautifully by the locals that I can safely say it’s the ultimate Instagram beach haven. Not to mention, there’s also extreme water sports and snorkelling for beach goers to enjoy!
5. Mortar Cafe & Lounge
The only “hipster” cafe in Labuan with a Melbourne cafe-inspired concept, this place serves delicious fusion food that's absolutely irresistible. Nestled in the boutique hotel Lazenda, it is one of my favourite place to be. The interior is not only cosy but nicely decorated. Every corner has a photo op that I was spoiled for choices. My favourites on the menu are their Nasi Kerabu, Laksa and homemade Coconut Gelato Ice Cream. All of them a must try!
6. Museum Chimney
I love historical landmarks, they carry so much intense story in them. Museum Chimney is a chimney that was built above the railway tracks by the British during the colonisation. However, the mind blowing part is that while everyone thought the chimney was built for the coal transportation underground, locals later found out that the chimney did not even connect underground. I find it intriguing that a sky high chimney that definitely took some real skills to built at that period of time had no recorded use or purposes to It. If you’re a fan of history, here’s something interesting you might like.
7. Peace Park
During the World War II, many lost their lives The locals told us that when the Japanese surrendered, all the soldiers performed harakiri (suicide) and that many of their souls were still lost in this land far from their home. Hence, the Peace Park was built from scratch with materials imported from Japan to ease the souls who were longing for home. Peace Park is a reminder of the horror of war and also as a memorial for the innocent lives lost then.
8. Labuan War Cemetery
You might think visiting a cemetery on a holiday sounds like a super eerie idea. However, this cemetery is a little different from what you think. This is the cemetery that houses thousands of soldiers from Australia, India, Britain and more. These were the brave men who fought during World War II and are being remembered here. Many of the soldiers were only in their early twenties when they left home and never returned. The War Cemetery brought a sense of lingering peace to me when I visited it . It was overwhelming as many of the graves were unmarked and empty or only filled with uniforms or belongings of deceased soldiers. During World War II, most of the soldiers were killed at the Death March. Hence, many of the bodies were not found as they were only exhumed from the jungle after the war ended. I’ve always found graveyards intriguing as each individuals has a story to tell and it makes me wonder how full their life was before they left.
Catch a glimpse of Labuan on my travel vlog: