Last August 26 to 31,2019, twenty five active bloggers and influencers from different ASEAN countries gathered in Kuala Lumpur, to participate in the Malaysia ASEAN Influencers and Key Opinion Leaders programme (MAIKOL 2019). The 6-days programme offered the participants a fun and engaging ‘Experience Malaysia’ activities and cultural exposure, aiming to promote Visit Malaysia 2020 tourism campaign.
The highlight of the activity was to let the participants see and experience Malaysia beyond the metropolis of Kuala Lumpur. On day 03, all twenty five bloggers and influencers were sent as solo travelers or in pairs to different provinces across the country, given the freedom to make their own itineraries for 2 days at the assigned place. I was particularly assigned to visit Tawau and Lahad Datu, which is located on the east coast of Sabah.
Airasia flies from Kuala Lumpur (KLIA2) to Tawau Airport daily. Direct flight takes three hours. Lahad Datu is a scenic 2-hours drive from Tawau.
Exposure: Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia
Lahad Datu is a coastal town located on the east side of Sabah, mainly living on palm oil and coco agri-business. The town is surrounded by vast plantations. As such, green is everywhere. Probably the greenest province I’ve visited so far. Population is relatively small, at around 27,000. The people here are generally Muslim Malay and a fraction of Chinese-Malay. The town centre is relatively small, very walkable and full of life during the late afternoon. Seafood Destination. As a coastal town along Denver Bay, seafood here is downright fresh and cheap. The seafood market is definitely a feast.
Rainforest Visit. Aside from being a Palm growers’ town, Lahad Datu is also the gateway to Danum Valley Conservation Area, one of Malaysia’s most well preserved and protected rainforest and home to the most precious birds and mammals of Southeast Asia. Danum has over 200 species of trees found in just one hectare, making it one of the richest rainforest in the world. A visit to Danum viewing park offers an overlooking view of Denver Bay and Lahad Datu coast.
For rainforest tour bookings, visit the official site https://www.amazingborneo.com (Photos of animals attached by Borneo Safari Tours).
Exposure: Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia
Tawau is the third largest town in Sabah, after Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan. The town is currently at its high time on industrial development. Commercial and hospitality facilities are booming. Tawau’s main product is Palm Oil. This coastal town boasts a well-established road network from the highland plantations to port.
Tawau Chocolate Industry. Blessed with fertile land, Tawau is also known for tobacco and cocoa produce. Tawau is said to be one of the best source in the world for raw chocolate material. Teck Guan Cocoa Museum is a must visit in Tawau. Also a good place to find local products; from organic body wash to export quality 70% pure chocolate bars.
Rainforest Trekking. Tawau is also known as the gateway to some of Sabah’s most well preserved rainforests and nature conservation area. One of this is the Tawau Hill Park. It’s a 60 minutes ride from town center. Tawau hill park boasts some of the tallest natural rainforest trees in the world.
Here’s a Video Blog preview shot during my visit to Tawau Hills Park.
Other Nearby Places to see. Tawau itself is not that popular among tourist, though many arrive daily at Tawau Airport to travel via Semporna (3 hours drive east) to the fabulous diving spots around the islands of Sipadan and Mabul. I didn’t have the luxury of time to visit these islands. For more info on diving activities, just google “Amazing Borneo Tours”.
Where to Stay in Lahad Datu: My-Inn Hotel, Lorong Bandar Perdana 6, 91100 Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia
Where to Stay in Tawau: L.A. Hotel, Jalan St Patrick, Bandar Tawau, 91000 Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia
Airasia flies from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau daily. Check schedules here.