Malaysia has 3 Federal Territories which are independent districts not governed by any state but comes directly under the management of the federal government. Labuan is one of these three where it is a regional financial hub located in East Malaysia.
Facts about Labuan
- Currency: MYR (Malaysian Ringgit)
- Dialling code: Labuan uses the 608 prefix which must be used when you dial into the land lines using mobile phones
- Airport: Flying into Labuan is through the Labuan Airport here.
- Airport Tax: applies for both domestic and international flights
- Distance from airport to city centre: The Labuan Airport is only about 10 minutes drive away from the city centre
- Temperature: Labuan has an annual temperature between 23 and 33 degrees Celsius
- Climate and Weather: Tropical with high humidity
- Common languages: Bahasa Malaysia, English Language, Chinese and Tamil
Transportation in Labuan
Getting from Labuan Airport to the city center is a breeze as you can hail taxis that can bring you in from RM6.50 per trip. This could go up to about RM25 depending on where you are going. The trick is to negotiate and decide before getting into the cab. Otherwise, you can rent a car to get around. Within Labuan town, going around on foot is possible although you can easily find taxis around. Bus services are available as well.
Highlights in Labuan
Although it is a small island off the coast of Sabah, Labuan has a lot to offer for the budding traveller. Among the highlights that you should seek when you are here include:
- Shopping – Labuan is a duty-free zone. This means that you will find goods and such to be at free-tax prices, making them a lot cheaper when found in other parts of the country.
- International Offshore Financial Centre – as one of the financial hubs in the region, expect to see some of the top banks and financial institutions here.
- Islands – head out to its 6 smaller islands here which are part of the sport fishing locations of the world. The islands here are Pulau Kuraman, Pulau Daat, Pulau Rusukan Besar, Pulau Rusukan Kecil, Pulau Papan and Pulau Burong.
- World War II remnants – for a bit of history, find out how Labuan was once an important landmark during the world war. You can go to places like the Labuan War Cemetery, Allied Landing Point and Japanese Surrender Park, among others. Wreck Diving – this is one of the best places for divers to seek any of the four wreck sites. Most people will come for the Australian Wreck or check out The American Wreck, the Cement Wreck and Blue Water Wreck.
Foods around Labuan
When in Labuan, check out some local delights here. Seafood can be found at almost every corner of the island and is quite affordable. Otherwise, see if you can find foods like:
- Pulut Panggang
What is Labuan like?
The island of Labuan is situated off the northwest coast of Borneo and north of the Brunei Bay which also faces the South China Sea. As mentioned besides the main island of Labuan there are also six smaller islands which includes:
- Pulau Burung
- Pulau Papan
- Pulau Rusukan Kecil
- Pulau Daat
- Pulau Kuraman
- and Pulau Rusukan Besar.
The cluster of islands is located at 05 latitude North and 115 longitude East and about 10km southeast off the coast of the East Malaysian state of Sabah.
Getting to Labuan
You can reach Labuan from Menumbok which is a small fishing town in Sabah that is only 8 km or a twenty minute boat ride. There are also high speed air-conditioned ferries that operate the routes to Labuan from various departure points that include the state of Sarawak, Sabah and the neighboring country of Brunei. The journey from the capital of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu will take at least 3 hours while traveling from Brunei will last about an hour. The journey is roughly equidistant of travelling to Jakarta, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Manila. If you plan to fly to Labuan there are direct flights from Kuala Lumpur and also from Brunei.
Natural make up of Labuan
The island itself is mainly flat and undulating while the highest point on the island is measured at only 85 meters. While more than 70 percent of the island is still underdeveloped and consists mostly of vegetation, the area that is utilized are geared more towards property and industrial use as such there is less agricultural activity in the area. The island’s prime land, waterfront and suburbs are then used for development in terms of tourism and residential use. The shipbuilding, manufacturing and oil and gas industries are located on a sizeable area on the south western side of the island.
Weather in Labuan
Like the other areas in East Malaysia, Labuan also has a tropical climate with two annual monsoon seasons. One is the South West monsoon that occurs from the month of April to June while the other one is the North East monsoon that happens from the month of September to December. Apart from that Labuan is also free from natural disasters such as typhoons and hurricanes while enjoying good climate all year round. With its tropical climate you can expect the temperature of Labuan to average between 28 to 32 degrees Celsius.
Labuan is generally a safe town to be in as compared to the major cities located elsewhere, in fact the whole island Labuan is quite a safe place to live in. The locals are very nice and friendly while police presence is hardly noticeable besides the occasional road blocks conducted with JPJ the local Department of Motor Vehicle.
You can even see the locals jogging around in the evenings and even in secluded areas in the hills without the fear of being mugged like they would if they had done this in major cities. The crime rates here are very low with the rare occasion of petty crimes as well as physical confrontations between the immigrants themselves.
As for the roads they are not as busy as the ones found in cities except may be in the town centre but even still it is not as congested. The people here are quite relaxed in the way that they drive meaning that they are not rushing off to their respective destination; you should also take note that there are a lot of jaywalkers and pedestrians that cross that road without practising much caution, so you should be careful when you are driving.
Language and culture
English as well as the national language, Bahasa Malaysia is widely spoken here while major Chinese dialects especially Hokkien are spoken amongst the Chinese community. Also within the Malay language there are also dialects such as the Kedayan which is spoken here as well.