Tawau is the 3rd biggest city in Sabah after Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. Located in the Southeastern region of Sabah, across the border of Kalimantan, Indonesia and 30 minutes boat ride away from The Philippines. Tawau is known for its seafood and cocoa plantation. There are attractions at Tawau which make it a good place to stop by for 1 or 2 night before or after traveling to nearby attraction such as Semporna islands, Maliau Basin and Danum Valley.
Tawau Airport is located 31 km from Tawau town and also serves as the gateway to Semporna. Tawau Airport offers direct connectivity to Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, and Kota Kinabalu. The airport is also connected to Tarakan of North Kalimantan, Indonesia. Airlines operating from Tawau Airport are AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, and MASwings (operated by Malaysia Airlines).
Grab and taxi are available at Tawau. Tawau town is stretch out and walking around is not easy.
Tawau is famous for its seafood and coffee shop which offer authentic local Malay and Chinese foods. Check out our Tawau food guide at https://www.sabaheats.com/guide-tawau-food-food-must-eat-visiting-tawau/
You can find old coffee shops all around Tawau especially around Jalan Budi during afternoon tea time for a cup of coffee and buns. Local call this area the Yam Cha Street (Afternoon tea break street)
Drop by the local market for some salted fish and dried sea produce. You can find many snacks such as kuih cincin and kuih tempeh which is the favorite snacks for the locals.
Pasar Besar Tawau/ Pasar Gantung
The older Central Market is also known as Pasar Gantung. You can get a lot of fake items here. You can see a lot of products from Indonesia sold here. There are food stalls at the adjacent building selling local delicacies.
Location: Jalan Ho Hwang Kim
GPS Location: 4.2450946N 117.8866374E
Pasar Tanjung Tawau (New Central Market)
The newer market located just a few minutes walk away from the old central market. The UTC (Urban Transformation center) is also located in the same building. There are three floors that make up the whole building. The ground floor is for those who are lots of food stuff such as fruits, crackers, dried crackers and the likes. On the first floor, dried and preserved food is abundant. Dried salted fish, dried anchovies, and dried prawns are some of the examples.
Location: Jalan Dunlop
GPS Location: 4.2433346N 117.8846955E
Where to do in Tawau?
Teck Guan Cocoa Museum
A visit to the cocoa factory to get the first-hand information the cocoa processing into beverages and chocolates is a must. A 10 minutes drive from Tawau town to Teck Guan cocoa factory (Known as Majulah Koko Tawau) in Tanjung Batu is a dream come true especially for chocolate lovers and non-chocolate lovers alike. The exclusive and comfortable museum is the brainchild of Teck Guan MD, Madam Hong Kim Fah. There is a mini auditorium where a 20-minute video on cocoa processing and production is played.
Columnar Basalt Balung Cocos (Sungai Giram)
The only place in Malaysia where you can see the formation of columnar basalt or pillow lava formed 10,000 years ago as a result of contraction during the cooling of thick lava flow from the volcanic mountain. This unique formation is located at a private land at Sungai Giram (Giram River).
Tawau Hotspring is located 8km from Tawau, Visitor can visit the hotspring for relaxation by immersing their bodies in the soothing hot water or by simply soaking their feet in the natural hot spring.
Tawau Hills Park
a must visit for the nature lover. Tawau Hills Park is an excellent alternative to the rainforests that are the primary tourist draws – Danum Valley and Maliau Basin. The park offers several jungle treks in low altitude. The well-marked trails lead to a sulfur spring and a lovely waterfall, but the joy is just being in the forest itself. At weekends, lots of locals go to the park for picnics.
The Tawau Hills Park is also home to giant tropical trees and the world’s new tallest tropical tree at 96.9 meters. The tree of Shorea faguetiana species from the Diptercarpaceae family, located about 9.5km from the Park’s main station, was discovered on May 28 2018. For many years, the world’s tallest tropical tree has been recognized in the Tawau Hills Park at a height of 88.32m (Shorea faguetiana family: Dipterocarpaceae), which is located 900 meters from the Park’s main station.
enjoy the beautiful art by nature while trekking at Tawau Hills Park.
Location Map of Tawau’s Attractions
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Love the aerial shot of columnar basalt balung cocos.
Your photos are awesome! Thank you for writing such an informational post. It is a shame on us Sabahan that Semporna, the famous land for its tourism spots does not has its own airport so tourists can get there easily rather than landing at Tawau airport then travel by land about 1.5 hour to reach Semporna.