Positioned beside the Celebes Sea and proximity to the Semporna Archipelago, Tawau has a tropical climate lying 11m above sea level. Temperatures in Tawau typically fall between 23°C to 31°C and are rarely below 22°C or above 33°C. Anyone visiting Tawau must always be ready for the humid weather and rainfalls at any time of the year. Nonetheless, the best time to travel to Tawau for outdoor activities is from mid-January to late April and from late June to late September.
The Malaysian time zone is 8 hours ahead of GMT (+8GMT). The time zone is the same as West Malaysia, but there is a difference of sunrise and sunset timings.
Malaysia’s currency unit is divided into two. The term Ringgit Malaysia (RM) is used to refer to paper money. The denominations are RM1, RM5, RM10, RM 20, RM 50 and RM100. Whereas the coins are referred to as sen (cents). The denominations are 5 sen, 10 sen, 20 sen and 50 sen.
Exchanging money in Malaysia is relatively easy as you can find money changers easily. If you want to withdraw money, make sure your home bank ATM card is supported by banks in Malaysia. Also, bear in mind that your home bank can charge an overseas withdrawal fee. You may also realise that the Malaysian ATM adds its own fee. Ask your home bank before you leave what charges will be added-and check the ATM notices to understand any extra charges. Most places in Tawau accept debit/credit cards, just be sure to notify your home bank about your trip to avoid your transactions to be barred and your card getting blocked.
Passports must be valid for at least 6 months at the time of entry. Visa requirements vary from time to time, so it is best to check with the Malaysian embassy or consulate or the Immigration Department website.
As for Malaysian who has citizenship, MyKad IC will be sufficient if you are taking domestic flights to Tawau Airports (TWU). Passport is only needed if you are a permanent resident of Malaysia.
Be sure to have your hotel bookings printed. Booking a hotel in Tawau is easy, but if you are travelling during peak periods you may want to book in advance to avoid disappointments. When booking a stay, be sure to check how far is it from the places you want to visit. Check if your hotel provides free WiFi. Most hotels provide free WiFi for their guests. But in case they don’t you will need to purchase a pre-paid phone line with a data plan. There’s a myriad of budget to 5-star hotels to choose from in Tawau.
If you do not plan to switch on your roaming while you are travelling to Tawau, fret not as most hotels give you access to their wifi. Whilst most cafés in Tawau provide free Wifi with the purchase of a drink or food. There are also 286 free wifi hotspot areas in Tawau so make sure to check out the area for free wifi. It is also advisable to buy a prepaid sim card with a data plan to make things easier when you are on the go.
The heat and humidity in Tawau can be intense. Therefore, be sure to pack light and breathable clothes that will help you stay cool. Cotton is a good choice, as it is designed to absorb moisture. If your hotel comes with a swimming pool or you are planning to head to the beach, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit.
Since you will be doing a LOT of walking so you should consider wearing sensible shoes that are very comfortable. We recommend packing a pair of sneakers as well as flats and sandals.
Make sure to pack in your sunscreen, especially if you don’t want to be sunburnt. The sun can be scorching hot at times.
Since the rain can be pretty unpredictable in Tawau, don’t forget to pack your raincoat or a travel-sized umbrella. You don’t want to be soaked to your skin if it rains suddenly.
DO NOT forget to pack your prescription tablets and any other medicines that you think you might need in case you fall sick.
Malaysia mobile phones use the GSM network, if your phone has a roaming facility, it will automatically hook-up to a local network. Otherwise, prepaid sim cards can be purchased starting at RM20 for registration and talk time. The three main phone providers in Malaysia are Maxis, Celcom and DiGi. Buying prepaid sim cards is easy since you can find kiosks selling prepaid sim cards almost everywhere.
Each city has its unique area code for landlines. 089 is Tawau’s area code followed by the eight-digit number when you call from your mobile phone. Example: 03-12345678 Whereas, every call to a mobile phone requires a three-digit prefix (Maxis = 012, Celcom = 019, DiGi = 016), followed by the seven-digit or eight-digit subscriber number. Example: 012-123 4567
Police/Ambulance: 999 (112 from a mobile phone)
Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba): 994 (112 from a mobile phone)
Civil Defence Tel: 991