EXACTLY How To Go From Tawau To Lahad Datu [2024]

Published Categorized as Sabah, Tawau
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Exploring the hot spots in Sabah and wondering how to go from Tawau to Lahad Datu? We can help!

Both Tawau and Lahad Datu have surrounding attractions that are great to visit, especially if you love natural attractions including wildlife spotting. They are both on the path of the typical Sabah itinerary, as well as the main Sabah highway, so it’s not hard to take this journey with many people taking the trip every day.

Tebah Batang Village, Lahad Datu Sabah
Tebah Batang Village in Lahad Datu

However, while it’s not far from Tawau to Lahad Datu, this journey can seem complicated especially as there is not much information online about how to do it. But don’t worry, we have everything you need to know here.

Below, I break up exactly how to get to Lahad Datu from Tawau so you know exactly what you need to do, when, whether you are looking for a Tawau to Lahad Datu bus or driving from Tawau to Lahad Datu. This way, you will be in your destination as quick as possible!

I also describe the reverse journey from Lahad Datu to Tawau. 

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Map: Tawau To Lahad Datu

Tawau to Lahad Datu map
Click the Map to open in Google Maps. You can then access directions to each of the locations discussed in this article.

The Tawau to Lahad Datu distance is only 150 kilometres, and it takes about two hours and twenty minutes to drive depending on traffic and road conditions.

BEST OPTION: How To Go From Tawau To Lahad Datu

The quickest and best option for travelling from Tawau To Lahad Datu is to take a private taxi.

The cheapest option is to take a bus.

Here’s a summary of your options:

Mode of transportDurationBest For?Book
Bus3.75 hoursPeople who want the cheapest optionBook here
Car2 hours 20 minutesPeople who don’t mind hiring a car or who like to stop along the wayBook here
Taxi2 hours 20 minutesAnyone who wants the easiest and most straightforward way to get between Tawau and Lahad Datu
Durations take into account an approximate time getting to and from bus stations to a central location as well as waiting time

Option 1: Tawau To Lahad Datu Bus

You can take an express bus to Lahad Datu from the Sri Indah Regional Bus Terminal in Tawau. Buses that are heading to Kota Kinabalu usually stop in Lahad Datu.

At the time of publishing, buses depart at 8am and 2pm.

The Sri Indah Regional Bus Terminal is about 17 kilometres east of town and the best way to reach here is by Grab taxi.

Click here to buy your ticket and to see the latest timetable.

These buses often sell out and it’s best to book a couple of weeks in advance if you can.

You can also find minivans at the Sabindo Square minibus stand. These depart more regularly.

Buses or minivans cost around RM20 and take around three hours.

Lahad Datu Sabah

Option 2: Tawau To Lahad Datu By Car

If you hire a car, you can easily drive between Tawau and Lahad Datu yourself.

You simply drive on Route 13 out of town and keep following it until you get to Lahad Datu. It’s a major highway and you won’t get lost. The road was in great condition last time I did this journey with some great views in some sections.

Click here to read more about driving in Malaysia or click here to see car rental prices.

Option 3: Tawau To Lahad Datu By Taxi

The easiest and quickest way to get between Tawau and Lahad Datu is by taxi. A taxi can pick you up at your hotel (or the airport or wherever else you want) and drop you off at your next hotel.

This means no walking round in the heat with your luggage trying to navigate bus terminals and buses or trying to work out the road rules. You can be in air-conditioned comfort the whole way and arrive at your destination refreshed instead of hot and sweaty.

The hardest part about this option is finding someone to take you. A good starting point to find a reliable driver is at your hotels.

You can also try the Grab app. When I was here last time, Grab showed the taxi price as RM168 which is a bargain to go so far. However, I don’t know how easy it is to get a driver to accept this fare.

Tawau To Lahad Datu Flight?

There is no Tawau to Lahad Datu flight. To travel by air, you would need to fly via Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu and it wouldn’t be worth the extra time that that takes.

Lahad Datu To Tawau

Lahad Datu Airport
Lahad Datu Airport – it’s tiny!

Travelling from Lahad Datu to Tawau is just as straightforward as the opposite direction. You just reverse the instructions above.

If you want to take a Lahad Datu to Tawau bus, express buses travelling between Kota Kinabalu and Tawau depart from the Lahad Datu Bus Station. The times can be weird thanks to the buses coming from Kota Kinabalu but you should find departures mid-afternoon as well as in the late evening and the middle of the night.

Click here to see if timetables are online now.

To book a taxi, I booked with this driver on a recent trip and had a positive experience. You can also use Grab. Last time I was at Lahad Datu, Grab showed the fare as RM210 to go in this direction.

Grab fares vary based on how busy the network is so you may see different prices.

Final Words

It’s not far between Lahad Datu and Tawau and it’s easy to travel this distance whether you take a bus or taxi or drive yourself.

A taxi is the easiest and most comfortable way. Hiring a car is great if you want to stop along the way and have the freedom that comes with a vehicle.

The bus is the best option for budget travellers who want to conserve their money.

I hope you found this guide to how to travel from Tawau to Lahad Datu useful. Check out all the best things to do in Lahad Datu here. You can also learn exactly how to go to Lahad Datu from Sandakan here. You can find our complete travel guide to Lahad Datu and Sabah here or Tawau here.

Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions? Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon is a certified Malaysia travel expert and can't get enough of travelling and talking about Malaysia since she first visited 21 years ago. She travels around Malaysia multiple times a year both alone and with her kids. She used to call Penang home and especially loves this food paradise. Sharon also has a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies, a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and has been certified by Tourism Malaysia as a Malaysia Travel Expert. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to this amazing destination.