Popular as a mere transit point to Sabah’s paradise beach, islands and other countries, this small coastal town in the southeast of Borneo makes a deserving stop on its own.

Mari-mari Cultural Village. Photo from Sabah Tourism Board.

How To Get There

One can get to Tawau via direct flights from Malaysia’s capital city Kuala Lumpur through domestic airlines. Both AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines also have daily flights from Sabah’s main city at Kota Kinabalu to the coastal town.

What To Do

Shoppers viewing merchandise in Pasar Tanjung Tawau. Photo from Sabah Tourism Board.

Get a familiar feel of the neighbourhood at Pasar Tanjung Tawau that majorly sells raw and dried sea produce at a good deal. Another must-visit place is Teck Guan Cocoa Museum. Tawau is the largest producer of cocoa in the country so you can find a variation of local chocolate at the museum.

Orang Utan. Photo from Sabah Tourism Board.

For a scenic change from the cityscape, explore Tawau Hills Park for orchid viewing and trek in the lush tropical garden. Follow the nature trail in the park and it will lead you to the temptingly refreshing waterfalls and hot springs.

Where To Stay

Promenade Hotel Tawau. Photo from AirAsiaGo.

Spend a simple and yet stylish night at 4-star Promenade Hotel Tawau that is located next to the biggest mall in the city. A stay at Shervinton Executive Boutique Hotel let you take a break at their sky bar and lounge that overlooks the quaint town and wind down in the hotel’s spa.

Where To Eat

Taste Sabah’s signature nasi kuning (yellow rice)–cooked with coconut milk and turmeric–at Restoran Haji Tamrin. During the in-between meal hours, snack at Indo Cafe that is famous for their cheesy banana fritters. The coastal town has some of the best seafood to offer in Sabah so dine at Kam Ling Fresh Seafood for dinner. You can directly select your choice of seafood from the fish tanks.

Good To Know

  • Pre-arrange a return trip from the town to Tawau Hills Park with your taxi driver to avoid inconvenience in cab-hailing later.
  •  Other than chocolates, batik sarongs and Tawau handicrafts make good travel souvenir.
  • Be sure to have enough money on hand as it might be difficult to find ATM in the small town.

Text by Jessy Wong

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