Lawas is a small town and the capital of Lawas District, Limbang Division, Sarawak, Malaysia. This district area is 3,811.9 square kilometres, and population was 35,300. It is 1200 km from the state capital, Kuching and 200 km from the capital city of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu. Lawas town have since undergone a complete transformation following major urban redevelopment in the last decade.
New residential areas, shops, shopping centres, agriculture projects and roads have been constructed with the investment of millions of ringgit. Rundown motels have been refurbished into tourist level hotels with adequate facilities. Lawas is made up of a population comprising Lun Bawang, Kedayan, Brunei Malay, Murut Tagal and Chinese. The main spoken language is Brunei Malay, Kedayan, Lun Bawang and Hokkien. As with Limbang, the town is a busy transit point between Sarawak, Sabah, and Brunei. Timber and agriculture are the mainstays of the economy. The highland area known as Ba'Kelalan has been experimenting with the cultivation of apples. In addition, the tourism industry is being developed in Ba'Kelalan.
However, these plans have been met with controversy due to the probable effects on several traditional tribal villages. Plans to develop small and middle scale industries in Lawas have been proposed by the state government. At this time much of the land in Lawas, Sundar and Trusan has been transformed from padi fields into oil palm plantations. Lawas is also known as the producer of smoked fish called 'Tahai' in local dialect. One of the villages that produces 'Tahai' commercially is Kampung Awat-Awat in the Sundar sub-district.
If you are traveling by air, the nearest airport is Lawas Airport (IATA: LWY, ICAO: WBGW) which is a Short Take-off and Landing (STOL) airport serving Lawas, a town in Limbang Division, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Water transport is one of the main modes of transportation in Lawas. Another mode of transport is via the Lawas River. The cleaned river serves as an important link to neighboring towns and deep interior settlements. Commonly, four-wheel drive would be the main transport for most of the highlanders. Brunei, Labuan and Limbang can be reached by boat. The journey will take around two hours to get to the destination. Boats to Brunei, Labuan and Limbang are available at Lawas Wharf every morning. The boats can accommodate around 150 passengers.
A planned RM210 million state government office complex cum three-storey shopping mall will be built next to Hotel Seri Malaysia and Lawas Town Square. The mall will houses a supermarket, departmental store and 132 commercial lots.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Lawas is its Tamu Lawas (or Lawas Produce Market), which is held every Saturday. Local products such as vegetables, fruits and sea products are sold by locals in this market which is frequented by locals and people from the neighbouring Temburong district of Brunei. The open-air market, locally known as tamu, is held weekly on from Friday evening until Saturday afternoon. Local produce such as fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh meat, Adan rice, Bario rice, Ikan Tahai, Hill salts (Garam Bakelalan) , handicraft traditional and live poultry are sold. The days of this weekly community occasion differ from district to district. Besides Tamu Lawas, other interesting places in Lawas are Punang Beach, Sungai Bangat Beach, Pa' Lelau in Merarap, Mount Murud, Kampung air Terjun (along Jalan Trusan). Kuala Lawas, Punang and Awat Awat are famous with its Kampung Air. It is similar to Kampung Ayer in Brunei but smaller. The main mode of transportation is perahu (boat) to cross the river.
Sarawak’s first and only Hotel Seri Malaysia Lawas is located on Jalan Gaya. The Lawas hotel is currently the only Hotel Seri Malaysia branch in East Malaysia. You will find Hotel Seri Malaysia Lawas in a small town in the north-east of Sarawak. Lawas is a logging base and main river road leading to Ba'Kelalan in Sarawak. Among the popular attractions are Tamu Lawas (Open Market) every Saturday. Places of interest, Tamu Lawas, Punang Beach, Sungai Bangat Beach, Murut Mountain, Kampung Air Awat-Awat.