Tawau or formerly known as Tawao, is a town and administrative center of the Tawau Division, in the eastern part of Sabah state, Malaysia. From the geographical point of view, Tawau is bordered by the Sulu Sea to the east and the Celebes Sea to the south at Cowie Bay. It also shares a border with North Kalimantan, being the third biggest town in Sabah following the state capital Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. In 1893, the first British merchant vessel made it to its waters, marking the opening of the town’s sea port. Following the event, British opened its first settlement in the area five years later under the guise of British North Borneo Company (BNBC). BNBC later driven the population growth of the area by allowing and even further encouraging mass immigration of Chinese settlers.
Tawau was later destroyed alongside other towns in Sabah during the Japanese occupation of North Borneo and restoration works begun post-war. Later on, after the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, Tawau became a major point of conflict during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation which happened from 1963 to 1966. Two bombings occurred as well as subsequent shootings happened as Tawau being garrisoned by the British Special Boat Section and Australian Destroyers and combat aircraft. There was even an attempt to poison the water supply as well as curfew being implemented prior to the peace treaty signing in 1966. Tawau then continued to enjoy development till this day with timber, cocoa, oil palm plantations, and prawn farming being its main economic drivers.
There are flights to Tawau from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) which are provided by both Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia. Upon touchdown, from the airport, guests can hail up a taxi or public transportation to go around Tawau.
People driving from Kota Kinabalu may drive via Jalan Tawau - Keningau for immediate access to Tawau. The journey could take up around seven hours depending on the traffic situation.
Tawau Hills National Park is established in 1979, being a water catchment protection area where at least seven rivers would originate from this particular park. Located 24 kilometers away from town, it is managed by the Sabah Parks, comprising 279.72 square kilometers of lowland dipterocarp rainforest which are totally surrounded by oil palm and cacao plantations. Upon entering the area, one can find that there are park headquarters, picnic areas, camping sites chalets and hostels operated the Sabah Parks staff cooperative, KOKTAS. There are also natural trails leading to waterfalls and hot springs, which are abundantly present due to the area’s rugged volcanic landscapes.
With Tawau’s status of being the exporter of cocoa, this location certainly plays to that particular strength. Being the only one of its kind in the country, Teck Guan Cocoa Village, without doubt, is the chocolate counterpart to the abundant strawberry farms readily available in highland areas in Peninsular Malaysia and the nearby Kundasang. Upon entering, one can find the cocoa processing plant and manufacturing factory, which would give a deeper insight and an up close view of the production process of cocoa. There are also a multitude of cocoa products available for purchase, ranging from hot chocolate beverages to chocolate jams. It is open from Monday to Friday at 8 am to 5 pm and Saturday at 8 am to 1 pm with the admission fee of a hundred ringgit for five persons with guided tours. Note that advanced booking is necessary to prevent disappointment at the end of the day.
A wonderful four-star hotel situated at Eastern Plaza Mile 1. At a very reasonable rate and close proximities to some of the attractions in Tawau, this hotel offers comfort and elegant stay with a wide range of facilities and services like business centers, coffee shop, laundry services, concierge, money changer and restaurant.