Tawau Airport (IATA: TWU, ICAO: WBKW) is the second largest airport in Sabah and located about 28 km north east of Tawau, the third-largest town in the state of Sabah, the land below the wind. Tawau Airport serves the districts of Tawau and Semporna. The airport is located in Balung, 33km east of downtown Tawau along the Tawau-Semporna road. In addition, the airport is the nearest airport to the well-known beautiful islands, of Sipadan, Mabul and Kapalai. The islands are especially popular among scuba diving enthusiasts because of its crystal clear water, amazing beaches and fantastic snorkeling oppurtunities. The airport consists of one terminal and serves domestic flights (catered by Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia) to Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu and Kuala lumpur. The new terminal was officially open in December 2001 to serve the raising numbers of passengers headed to marine and natural parks located near Tawau. This minimalistic airport offers limited facilities. Nevertheless, if you are travelling to or from this airport, you may grab some drinks and snack from the convenience store to fill your stomachs. There is also a money changer counter at the airport if travellers need to change to Malaysian Ringgit. While the airport has ATMs and a money changer, note that the money changer closes relatively early and the ATMs do not always work properly. Therefore, if you are arriving late and intending to take a taxi or bus, do ensure that you have at least enough Malaysian Ringgit to pay your fare. Locker service is available at the airport as well. Charges may vary according to the size of the luggage or bags deposited. For your convenience, parking lots are also available at the airport. Other attractions nearby Tawau Airport include Pasar Tanjung, the Fish Market, Al-Kauthar Mosque, and Tawau Hills National Park (best recreational park for picnics). A bit further away from Tawau is Maliau Basin and Danum Valley, both well known with their pristine jungles. For food lovers, Tawau is also known for its great seafood restaurant (most popular are the huge tiger prawns). Don’t forget to give them a try!
Both Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia offer daily flights from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau. It takes about half an hour to get to the airport from the Tawau town and about an hour from Semporna town. If you are heading to the town from the airport, you are required to purchase a taxi coupon from the taxi counter before heading outside the terminal building to get a taxi. The taxi fare is fixed depending on your destinations. A cheaper solution is to travel by public bus from or to the Tawau Airport.
The national park is home to numerous indegenious plant and animal species. Lowland orchids are also abundant in this park; the most spectacular is the Elephant's Ear Orchid. Be sure to check out the 2 hectare Lowland Gardens, home to an astounding selection of flora. This park is also a popular spot for families and friends to enjoy a picnic or, for the more adventurous, spend a night camping under a blanket of stars. Many people visit Tawau Hills Park during the school holidays or at weekends. To avoid crowds, weekdays are the best time to explore the park.
Located about 45 minutes away from the Tawau Airport, The Sipadan Mangrove Resort is a magical hideaway surrounded by oil plantations, fish farms and mangroves and is located on the Kalumpang river. The resort is a perfect place for a quite escapes for you. The resort is a new gateway to Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai & other island surrounding Celebes Sea. The resort also serve a interesting experience of river cruise to spot the proboscis monkey and a visit to their own aquaculture farm. At night, you can relax by the bar where there is a large, flat screen TV. For your convenience, the resort can arrange an airport transfer for you.