Tawau is the third biggest city of Sabah, after Kota Kinabalu in the west and Sandakan in the east. The city plays an important role within Malaysia because of its three major products; tobacco, cocoa and palm oil. As the city is located along the Celebes Sea, it is also known for its great seafood restaurants (especially popular are the huge tiger prawns). Tawau is one of the biggest producers of cocoa in the world. Next to that much of the timber from the mainland of Borneo is shipped out of Sabah via Tawau’s port. Tawau is located in the southeastern region of Sabah, nearby the eastern border with Kalimantan, Indonesia (though you need to obtain a visa to cross the border to Indonesia up front).
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Gateway to top dive spots
Tawau itself is not that popular among tourist, though many arrive daily at Tawau Airport to travel via Semporna to the fabulous diving spots around the islands of Sipadan, Kapalai, Mataking and Mabul. Those that stay overnight can either chose to sleep at one of the basic hotels and guesthouses or at the only 4 star hotel in the city; The Promenade Hotel Tawau. The hotel is located right next to the biggest mall in Tawau; Eastern Plaza Shopping Centre. Among the more basic hotels are the Heritage Hotel and the King Park Hotel (most of the hotels are located in the Fajar area).
Attractions in and around Tawau
Attractions in and around Tawau consists of the Central Market, the Fish Market, the Bell Tower, the Al-Kauthar Mosque, Tawau Hills National Park (recreational park for picnics), hiking at Bukit Gemok with its canopy walk, the Teck Guan Cocoa Museum, the Madai Caves and the Tawau hot springs. A bit further away from Tawau is the Maliau Basin and Danum Valley; both with their pristine jungles.
How to get to Tawau
Both Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia offer daily flights from Kuala Lumpur (KLIA and LCCT) and from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau. Prices often differ not that much between the two airlines, though AirAsia does offer cheaper fares during their special promotions. Once you arrive at the airport, the taxi is the easiest and quickest way to get to Tawau city center (30km, around RM45). A considerable cheaper solution is to travel by public bus from the airport to Tawau.
Map of Tawau
Below you can see a map of Tawau. You can simply scroll through the map with your mouse. Use the markers on the left to zoom in or out of the city map.