Photo: Good morning Tawau.

How to get to and from Tawau

Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Tawau.


Tawau International Airport (TWU) is about 30 kilometres from the centre of town. It offers flights to Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur and Tarkan in Kalimantan (Indonesia). MASwings flies to Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Tarkan (Indonesia). Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia fly to Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur.

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Long-distance buses depart from terminals at the eastern end of Jalan Dunlop near Masjid Al-khauthar, the large green and white mosque. Most buses to Kota Kinabalu depart from the back of the terminal near Jalan Chen Fook (near Yassin Curry House).

Kota Kinabalu via Keningau: 07:30, 08:30, 09:30, 13:30, 14:00, 14:30, 20:00 (50 ringgit, 8 hours)
Sandakan: buses depart hourly between 07:00 and 14:00 (except 13:00) (42 ringgit, 6 hours)

Minivans to Semporna are 10 ringgit and take 1.5 hours, and to Lahad Datu are 25 ringgit and take 3 hours. They depart when full between 07:00 and 17:00.

Book a flight, train, bus, taxi or ferry in Malaysia with 12Go Asia

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A new snazzy ferry terminal is being built as of 2016, but for now it's a chaotic and confusing series of ticket windows. Look for the queues of people loaded with shopping bags to the west of Pasar Tanjung. Two ferry companies operate to two different ports in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Nunukan Express goes to Nunakan (1 hour) and departs Monday-Saturday at 11:00 and 15:00, adult fares are 75 ringgit. T: (0135) 409 777. In Nunukan you can connect with Pelni ships around Indonesia, but the schedule varies each month, so best to confirm.

Indomaya Express departs for Tarakan (4 hours) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at 12:00. Adult fares are 130 ringgit, children 70 ringgit; T: (0128) 375 183, (0113) 345 8575.

Be at the port at least one hour prior to buy your ticket. Best to confirm time as locals mentioned they don’t always run to schedule.

Both ports are listed as 30-day visa-free entry points for citizens of eligible countries. The 30-day visa cannot be extended. (Paid) visa on arrival (extendable) is not available at either port, but a 60-day (extendable) visa can be obtained at the Indonesian Consulate in Tawau and takes about a day to process for 190 ringgit.

Indonesian Consulate: Bangunan Yun Fah, Batu 2 1/2, Jalan Sin Onn, Tawau; T: (0897) 72 052, (0897) 52 969;; Mon-Friday 9:30-14:00 for visa applications.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Tawau? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Malaysia.

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