Labuan has an island feel, laid back. There is not much for the tourist to do. It is quite unlike its much more touristy fellow duty-free island off the west coast of Malaysia--Langkawi, which has numerous resorts and a party vibe. Labuan is much more residential, with a substantial port. Two notable incongruencies are the two building high-rise financial center, and the low-rise slightly seedy bar area, frequented by sailors in port and folks from alcohol-free Brunei who want to let their hair down. Brunei/Borneo is only an hour long ferry ride away.
We took a minibus to the top of the island. The features listed on the tourist bureau map for the northern half the island are: Surrender Point, Bird Park, and The Chimney. We chose the latter, which is variously claimed to be a remnant of the coal industry that first attracted British involvement in 1847, and simply a landmark for approaching ships. In any case Labuan coal did fuel the Royal Navy for years.
plaque in a downtown square marks the "possession" of the island by the British in 1840. Another, nearby (sorry no photo) marks the passing of Japanese commanding general Maeda, who died in a 1942 air crash as he was coming to Labuan, and the renaming of the island in his memory.
Later it was un-renamed by the British following the Japanese surrender.
We chose a hotel listed by Lonely Planet as appealing to the low end business traveler. Our comfortable room is had a flat screen TV and minifridge. In the bathroom a modern shower, with a modern, wide shower head but also a large plastic bucket and scoop for those who prefer the more traditional Asian style splash bath.