The third largest town of the state of Sabah, situated on the island of Borneo. It is a relatively new town in Malaysia, boomed in early 1980s for its lumber and cocoa farming industry. Today Tawau is a bustling town where it is a transit point to all neigbouring islands such Sebatik, Nunukan, Tarakan, Jolo and Semporna islands.
Tawau International Airport (IATA: TWU, ICAO: WBKW) is the second international airport of Sabah. There are flights to Kuala Lumpur (2 hr 45 min, daily), and Kota Kinabalu (45 min, five daily) on Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia. The airport is about 33 km away from the town. There are ATMs and a currency exchange at the airport but if you're arriving late, it'll almost certainly be closed and the ATMs do not always work, so make sure you've got some Malaysian ringgit before you arrive as you'll need it for the taxi or the bus.
Getting there/away: Airport taxis are available and charge RM45 for one way trip into town. There is also an airport bus service operated by Kasah Transport (S) Sdn. Bhd. (Tel: +6089-950208) to the city for RM10. The departure times of the airport bus from the city to the airport are as follows: 5:40AM, 8AM, 8:30AM, 10:30AM, 1PM, 2:30PM and 5PM.
There are daily buses from Kota Kinabalu's North City Bus Station, but it's a long nine-hour journey. There are half a dozen companies and the fare is RM55.50. (Tel: +6013 879 7779)
There are also bus from Lahad Datu, 2.5 hours away. Departure at 3:30PM, RM15.
To/from Nunukan: Two departures daily from Tawau, Tawindo Express, Labuan Express, at 10 AM and 3 PM. From Nunukan, departures are at 9AM and 2PM. Tickets cost RM41 one-way and journey time is 1 hour.
To/from Tarakan: One departure daily except on Sunday from Tawau. Tawindo Express sails every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11.30am, while Indomaya Express departs every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 10.30am. Tickets cost RM140 one-way and travelling time is 3 hours.
Taxi - Taxi fares around town would cost around RM5, and to housing area at RM7 at most.
Bus - RM 2 to travel within town areas. And about RM2 to the rural areas like Balung and Merotai.
Within the region of Tawau, tourists can also dive from the islands of Roach Reefs or take an hour drive to [Semporna] to dive at popular destinations like Mataking, Mabul, Pompong, Kapalai and the Great Sipadan - The only oceanic island in Malaysia, rising about 5000 feet above seabed. Popular dive shops and agents in Tawau includes:
- Aquatastic  (Tel: +60128187844) (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) (Address: FL08, First Floor, Terminal Building, Tawau Airport)
- SWV Travel and Tours (+6089950023) (Email: email@example.com) (Address: First Floor, Terminal Building, Tawau Airport)
- Central Market or known as Pasar Sri Tanjung Tawau, Pasar gantung tawau,Pasar fish market.It offers goods arrived locally and neigbouring islands.(such as Nunukan and Tarakan).
- Tawau Bazaar opposite to Marco Polo Hotel is the best place to buy goods such as Batik sarongs, merchandises, Sabah T-Shirts, handicrafts, branded cosmetics with cheaper price.
- Sabindo Hawker Center offers a variety of seafood stalls at Sabindo centre. From Chinese, Malay and Thai tomyam seafood stall, it is just located along the waterfront in town. The stalls offer very competitive prices for selective catch of the day.
- Makanan Laut 101 serves excellent crab and shellfishes with vegetables at incredibly low prices.
- Mongolian Chicken Rice on Jalan Chester offers one of the tastiest Chicken Rice in town. The small outlet is always crowded.
At night, numerous stalls set up around the town. Many sell
- Sulawesi Soto Makassar (buffalo soup), a Bugis specialty; Pisang Goreng (fried bananas), Ubi Goreng (fried tapioca), Onde-onde (glutinous rice with savoury taste roasted in banana leaves), Kuih Pandan (Pandan rice cake), Karipap (Curry Puff), Kuih kacang (Peanut pancake spread with coconut jam), Bubur Chaca(a dessert broth with tapioca, sweet potato and sago), etc.
- Nasi Kuning or yellow rice is an Indonesian specialty that cannot be found anywhere else in Malaysia. The rice is cooked with coconut milk and turmeric (known as kunyit in Malay), which in turn made the rice look yellow in colour. In Tawau it is usually served with a piece of fish deep-fried in dried chilli sauce. This can be found in almost any Malay restaurants or stalls around Tawau but sometimes also sold in some Chinese coffeeshops. To further enhance the taste, the rice is usually wrapped in banana leaves. Price ranges from RM 0.40 to RM 3.00 per serving.
- Kam Ling Seafood, 25 Sabindo Open Air SeaFood Stall, Tel: 089-756457, 016-8262511, 017-8982511, 019-8832511. contact Mr Wong to place reservation if you like to taste fresh seafood. Dinner for 2 with fish and 2 dishes costs about RM35. You may like to try Kam Ling's very own Kam Kat Lemon (金秸柠檬, lime lemon juice, RM3.10) drink after seafood to clear the heat.
- Zenzi Dance Club, behind Maxim seafood restaurant, Sedap corner at Fajar. RnB Club formerly known as Frequency.
- Hotel Emas Tawau, Phone: +60 (0) 89-762000
- Hotel Murah - RM41 for double room.
- Hotel Monaco 2000
- Kingston Hotel, Tel: 089-702288, 702388 Fax: 089-702688.
- King Park Hotel Tawau TB30, Jalan Haji Karim Fajar Commercial Center +6089 767 700 / 766 699 http://tawau.kingparkhotel.com.my 2.00p.m. 12.00noon RM98-RM388nett firstname.lastname@example.orgNewly renovated 10-storey 3 star hotel. Free internet and buffet breakfast. Central location with great views. Function rooms and shuttle to airport available. Rated as one of the best value hotel in Tawau!
- Belmont Marco Polo Hotel, Jalan Clinic, Phone: +60 (0) 89 777 988. The best hotel in Tawau, large room with reasonable price.Comfort and clean pillows and beds! The location also strategic, at the town center of Tawau.
- Heritage Hotel, TB 210-213, Jalan Bunga, Fajar Complex, Tel: 6 089 762222, (Fax: 6 089 767222, E-mail: email@example.com), .
- Kingston Executive Hotel. New in 2007.
There are a number of medical and dental clinics available. Majority of them only operate until 5PM but some open until 10PM. Klinik Famili have courteous doctors at 4 branches around Tawau and its branch at Kompleks Tanjung operate until 10PM everyday including weekend and public holiday.
General Hospital Tawau has 24x7 ER department open to all who need it.
- Nunukan - an island in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, is just one an hour away by ferry. 2 departures daily from Tawau port.
- Tarakan - a town on an island of the same name in East Kalimantan, which is about 120km south of Tawau.
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