Lahad Datu is a town and district located in the Tawau Division, in the eastern part of Sabah state, Malaysia. With its north side of Darvel Bay or Lahad Datu Bay, it gets the peninsula occupied geographically. Lahad Datu is surrounded by cocoa and oil palm plantation, nonetheless it is also an important timber exporter. Due to its significance, there is an airport serving Lahad Datu for domestic flights. From the history point of view, the settlement in Lahad Datu is believed to have been opened from as early as the 15th century. This is due to the excavations of Ming dynasty ceramics that have been found in the area. At the east of Lahad Datu is the village of Tunku which is a notorious base for pirates and slave traders back in the 19th century. Based on a manuscript written in Jawi writings, it is believed that Islam entered Malaysia through Sabah, where an account of a Muslim man named Abdullah is unveiled in the manuscript. This town once got caught in the 2013 dispute between the acclaimed Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysia government, but the fast action of the Malaysian armed forces eliminated the threat pretty quickly. The main economic driver of the area is definitely its palm oil. There are several palm oil refineries that could be found around the area, while the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) is situated near the Lahad Datu Port and where it begun receiving its first vessel on the first March of 2013. The cluster consists of 1150 acres of area with centralised bulking facility and a jetty with a 20 meters high draft, making it one of the few deep sea ports in the world, specifically for palm oil downstream industries.
There are flights to Kota Kinabalu from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) which are provided by both Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia. Upon touchdown, from the airport, guests can take domestic flights to Lahad Datu.
People driving from Kota Kinabalu may drive via Jalan Ranau - Sandakan/Route 22/A4/AH150 for immediate access to Lahad Datu. The journey could take up around 6 hours and 40 minutes depending on the traffic.
Tabin Wildlife Reserve covers 122, 539 hectares of forest in the centre of the Dent Peninsula, north-east of Lahad Datu town, south of the lower reaches of the Segama River and north of the Silabukan Protection Forest Reserve. Managed jointly by the Sabah government, Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Forestry Department, it houses some of the most endangered species of animals in Borneo including Borneo Pygmy elephants, Borneo rhinoceros, Tembadau, exotic birdlife and eight of Sabah primate species which include orang-utan and Proboscis monkey. There are also a colossal number of tropical plants that have seen preservation and conservation activities ever since the reserve is created in 1984. Among the activities permitted for the visitors including jungle trekking, wildlife viewing, photography and filming. It is one of the most terrific spots for bird watching – there are at least 42 families representing 220 species of birds have been recorded to be found here.
Danum Valley Conservation Area is another terrific ecotourism spot to be visited upon coming to Lahad Datu. Located 82 kilometres away from the town of Lahad Datu, this site holds a unique status in that prior to its status as a conservation area, human settlements are almost non-existent. Therefore, this area is free of hunting, logging and other human interference, hence its form is preserved from development for years. Managed by the Sabah Foundation, the area is 438 square kilometres big, which is not as massive as the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, however there are a lot to see here. There is a lot more diversity here in the context of tropical flora and fauna, including such unique species as the rare East Sumatran rhinoceros, Bornean orangutans, gibbons, mouse deer, clouded leopards and over 270 bird species.