For many Bruneians, pleasurable vices that are otherwise prohibited at home such as drinking, karaoke and smoking are literally just a few steps away. Welcome to Limbang - a small and quiet riverside Malaysian town hidden within the independent Islamic sultanate of Brunei.

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    Top Attractions in Limbang, Sarawak

    Where is Limbang, Sarawak

    Limbang is a small border town sandwiched between the two halves of Brunei to its west and east. In the olden days, Limbang was known as Pangkalan Tarap due to its location on the banks of a river with busy trading activities. 'Pangkalan' or 'pengkalan' is a Malay term for a small port while 'Tarap' is the name of a local fruit that resembles a durian - but with blunt thorny skin.

    Once Pangkalan Tarap became more developed, it was merged with the Trusan and Lawas districts to form Limbang. The name ‘Limbang’ is taken from the name of the river, where Pangkalan Tarap is located.

    Limbang, Sarawak
    Top Attractions in Limbang, Sarawak

    History of Limbang, Sarawak

    Apart from being a trading town, Limbang is economically supported by the timber and agricultural sectors. Their main products include oil palm, rattan and pepper. In the past, Brunei considered Limbang as their rice bowl when it became the country's major producer of rice and sago. Due to this important reason, concerns over the ownership of Limbang were raised multiple times.

    Limbang, Sarawak
    The small and cultural town of Limbang, Sarawak

    Origins of the Limbang Claim

    Debates over the status of Limbang have existed since the rebellion of the Limbang residents in 1884. They protested against the high tax rates imposed by the former Bruneian Empire due to the British and Sarawakian expansion under the administration of Charles Venyer Brooke. In 1885, Pengiran Temenggung Pengiran Anak Hashim, who was the 25th Sultan of Brunei, was unable to contain the rebellion movement. Eventually, he involuntarily sought help from the acting British Royal Consul that was located in Labuan.

    However, Charles Brooke and the North Borneo Chartered Company (NBCC) continued to put pressure on Brunei to cede Trusan, Padas and Limbang. Trusan was subsequently surrendered in 1885, followed by Padas in 1887. Despite that, Brunei stubbornly refused to relinquish Limbang as the Limbang River historically belonged to Brunei.

    Limbang River
    Limbang River historically belonged to Brunei.

    In hopes of preventing further losses of Limbang territories to Brooke’s government and NBCC, Brunei signed an agreement with Great Britain on the 17th of September 1888 for Limbang to be placed under British protectorate. In March 1890, Charles Brooke publicly announced that Limbang was to be part of the Kingdom of Sarawak.

    In 1957, there was an attempt by Brunei to claim Limbang as part of its integral territory. However, higher officials stated that the issue was never fully discussed between both Malaysia and Brunei during meetings of both countries.

    With unclear interferences between Malaysia and Brunei regarding Limbang, it is common to see people getting into or out of Limbang without a passport. Limbang is completely cut off from Sarawak’s road network but it has good road links to both parts of Brunei on its west and east. This characteristic defines the way Limbang is ‘being hidden’ in Brunei. As a result, many Bruneians can freely enjoy the amazing bargains of goods in Limbang.

    mosque in Limbang, Sarawak
    A mosque in Limbang, Sarawak
    Limbang, Sarawak
    The simple yet beautiful wooden shophouses of Limbang
    kelab persatuan cina limbang
    There are many active community clubs in Limbang

    Limbang Population

    The population of Limbang consists mainly of Brunei Malays, Kedayan and Iban. They live harmoniously with other smaller groups such as the Chinese, Lun Bawang, Kelabit, Bijaya, Penan and Tabun communities.

    What to See in Limbang, Sarawak

    Today, the residents of Limbang lead a simple life in the quiet and humble river town. Once you step into Limbang, you’ll quickly notice rows after rows of beautiful wooden shophouses. On a daily basis, people are doing their odd jobs, socialising through community club activities, performing prayers at the mosques or temples, as well as shopping at the local markets. In the evening, Limbang has the best scenic spots for sunset viewing by the river banks.

    sunset in Limbang, Sarawak
    Limbang is one the best places to catch the spectacular sunset in Borneo
    markets in Limbang, Sarawak
    Hungry? Head over to a local market to get fueled
    markets in Limbang, Sarawak
    In Limbang, local durians are delicious and plenty!
    markets in Limbang, Sarawak
    Malay vendors at a local market in Limbang

    Limbang, Sarawak Postcode

    There are four postcodes in Limbang, which are 98700, 98707, 98708, and 98709.

    How to Get to Limbang, Sarawak

    There are several ways to arrive in Limbang. If you are visiting from Brunei, catch the bus from Bandar Seri Begawan to Kota Kinabalu which passes through Limbang. Tickets can easily be bought from the coffee shops on the main road or in the bus. Note that travelling to anywhere beyond Brunei such as Miri, Kuching or Kota Kinabalu by land will require you to go through Brunei.

    You can travel to Limbang by plane to the LMN airport which is located approximately 5 kilometers away from the town.

    Happy traveling!