Lahad Datu is a small town on the eastern side of Sabah. It's situated on the Celebes Sea. Lahad Datu does not contain many sights or activities it is mostly used as a stopping point to arrange transportation to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Danum Valley Conversation Area, Maliau Basin, north towards Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu or south towards Tawau. Or so some who spent a short number of days here would think. However, little do travelers know that since middle 2013 various parties have worked hard to promote Lahad Datu as a soft tourism destination. Not catered for the mass market but would appeal to purist travelers who shy away from tourists crowd. In terms of activities it offers trekking and cycling engagement at Mount Silam and Taliwas. Snorkeling and diving at Darvel Bay; and wildlife safari observation at Bukit Piton and Bole River. Bukit Piton, Bole River and Taliwas are all part of Danum Valley Conservation Area.



Sights and Activities

  • Wildlife sighting and safari at Bukit Piton - About 50 minutes drive from Lahad Datu town, lies a secondary forest named Bukit Piton. This forest is an extension to the Danum Valley Conservation Area. Bukit Piton was once badly damaged by illegal logging practices and fire. Naturalists and NGOs like WWF and Brothers Cycling stood firm for replanting activities to take place. Today, the ongoing success of tree planting activities has welcome endangered wildlife such as the orangutan and slow lories back to Bukit Piton.
  • Alternative River Adventure Sungai Kapur - Sungai Kapur is situated in the north easternmost part of Tabin Wildlife Reserve and take about 3 hours drive from Lahad Datu town to be reached. It is surrounded by the three amazing primary forests being the Nipah Forest, the Kapur Forest and the Mangrove Forests. Sungai Kapur is mostly discovered via river cruising to experience the spectacular view of nature and when you are lucky, you get to see the Borneo wildlife such as the orangutan, proboscis monkeys, crocodile and pygmy elephants to name a few. Bear in mind that this is primary tropical rainforest we are talking about. Whilst it will impress the purists, it is not a place for those who expects to take a selfie with the pygmy elephants in the background, The primary or virgin forests means, the jungle/forest has not been touched or exploited by humankind. As such the jungle is lush & thick and offers the wildlife plenty of corners and space to shy away from human. Address: Sungai Kapur, Lahad Datu
  • Taliwas Forestry and Recreational Area - Taliwas Forestry and Recreational Area is located within the Danum Valley Conservation Area. This second class forest reserve has plenty to offer naturalists - from swimming in the Taliwas River to trekking to the challenging Vanilla Waterfall to wildlife sightings. The place is also family friendly to those who wishes to camp in the jungle. Only 1 hour ride away from Lahad Datu town and about 1 hour away from Danum Valley Field Center, Taliwas is potentially the best jungle experience to be without forgoing that much comfort.
  • Danum Valley Field Center - The Danum Valley Field Center is a rainforest research center establishment in South East Asia. It is set in the primary and lowland dipterocarp rainforest and throughout the years have provided accommodation and facilities for researchers. The Danum Valley Field Center has open its doors to naturalists who are keen to experience this ancient jungle be it independently or with on a guided tour to delve into educational insights of the flora and fauna in this part of the world. Many naturalists come here for trekking sessions and wildlife sightings of Borneo wildlife such as the orangutan, pygmy elephants, hornbills, the different species of birds, nocturnals and many more.
  • Authentic River Safari at Bole River - Bole River is a special secluded place that offers amazing sights of nature. The Bole river is an arm of the main Segama River that connects Danum Valley Conservation Area to Bukit Piton. Hardly visited, the jungle river at Bole River offers one of the cleanest and unpolluted river in Borneo. The place is home to many wildlife such as the proboscis monkeys, long tail macaques, pygmy elephants, orangutan, hornbills, kingfishers and many more!



Events and Festivals

  • Thaipusam - This annual Hindu festival commemorates the birthday of Lord Murugan. Over a million devotees and visitors throng Batu Caves on this eventful celebration, every year.
  • Chinese New Year - Chinese make up about a quarter of the total population and in honour of the Chinese New Year, Malaysia has declared the first two days as public holidays. In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, a date between 21 January and 20 February.
  • Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (Eid ul-Fitr) - This Muslim festival marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and is celebrated by 60% of the population. The first two days are public holidays, and most people take extra days off to spend time with family and visit relatives and friends.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival - Alternatively known as the Lantern Festival or Mooncake Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the full moon day (15th day) of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar – usually in September.
  • Deepavali (or Diwali) - A significant Hindu festival also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrating the victory of good over evil. Based on the Hindu luni-solar calendar, Deepavali typically falls between mid-October and mid-November.
  • Christmas - This joyous day is declared a public holiday in Malaysia. Year 2000 census indicates that almost a tenth of the population are Christians.



Getting There

By Plane

MASwings, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, has daily flights from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu.




  • Sakura Seafood - A nice local restaurant that serves delicious seafood and fishes. The cuisine is more from the Malaysian Chinese kitchen. The restaurant also serves delicious vegetarian dishes. However, it may not entirely be vegan or gluten free. Address: Bandar Lahad Datu, 91100 Lahad Datu, Sabah, Phone: +6089-885 622, Hours: 6pm to 11pm, Price: from RM15 per dish (for 1 person)
  • Dovist Restaurant Lahad Datu - Dovist Restaurant offers delicious local food from the Chinese Kitchen. For quick and affordable hunger fix, they offer delicious Chicken Rice. Other meals that the locals often order when they choose to dine at Dovist are the steamboat meal, butter chicken, squid fried with salted egg batter and the stir fried local vegetables sayur manis (almost the same consistency as asparagus). Price starts from RM7 per meal per person. Address: MDLD3811 Lot 11, Lorong Fajar 5, Bandar Lahad Datu, 91100 Lahad Datu, Sabah, Hours: 8am to 11:30pm
  • Mek Nab Restaurant and Catering - Mek Nab is a favorite amongst the locals who craves for local breakfast and lunch. She caters food from the Peninsular Malay kitchen. Originally from the East Coast of Malaysia, Mek Nab offers local specialty such as nasi lemak (coconut rice), nasi kerabu (warm salad rice), nasi dagang (glutinous rice served with mackeral curry) and assam pedas (spicy and tangy curry). Address: Jalan Pantai, Bandar Lahad Datu, 91100 Lahad Datu, Sabah, Hours: 8am to 2pm, Price: from RM7 per meal per person
  • Ah Seng Chicken Rice - Just as the name says, Ah Seng specializes at offering delicious Hainanese chicken rice - both steamed chicken and roasted chicken. They use good quality jasmine rice and serve it up with cucumber, light soya sauce, home made chili and ginger sauce with juicy steamed and roasted chicken. For those who likes curry, they also offer chicken and potato curry cooked in Nyoya style. Mouth watering good! Address: Bandar Lahad Datu, 91100 Lahad Datu, Sabah, Hours: 7.30am to 3pm, Price: from RM8 per person
  • Secret Recipe Lahad Datu - For those who wishes to have coffee and cake Secret Recipe is the place to be. It is one of Malaysia's largest cafe chain and besides coffee and cake, diners are also spoilt with local and western dishes from their menu list. Address: Lot 9-10, Level 1, Linear Block B, Harbour Town, Bunga Raya, 91100 Lahad Datu, Sabah, Hours: 11am to 11pm, Price: from RM9 per slice of cake




  • One and Only Bar & Cafe - The One and Only Bar and Cafe is situated just next to OYO 972 Bay Hotel. Managed by the same owners, the bar offers both local, Asian and Western cuisines. Reasonably priced it is definitely a place to chill and relax to a glass of beer!
  • Come Chase Me Restaurant - If you crave Western food with a fushion twist, then do come and have steak, lamb chop, chicken chop - fried or grilled; pasta and pizza. At Come Chase Me you can also enjoy your food with alcoholic beverages. Free ice cream for dessert! Address: Lorong D`Perdana 5, Kampung Sapagaya, 91100 Lahad Datu, Sabah, Hours: 6pm to 11pm




Bike and Tours B&B: About 5 minutes drive from Lahad Datu town away from the traffic congestion lies a quaint Bed and Breakfast known simply as Bike and Tours B&B. It is run by Swiss & Malaysian couple with their two children for a few years now. A perfect family environment with home away from home concept. But please note that the property is about 10 to 15 minutes walk to town or RM5 by Grabcar per way. The place is not recommended to those who wishes to have restaurants and shops right next to their hotel. Also not meant for light sleepers as there are stray dogs who competes with the domestic dogs on who can bark the loudest. You have been reminded :)
De Leon Hotel Lahad Datu Located right smack in town, De Leon Hotel has 2 wings Hotel De Leon and Hotel De Leon 2. All units comes with air conditioner and warm shower. Easy access to restaurants, clinic, bank and fast food chain KFC. The hotel is equipped with a lift so you do not need to worry about carrying your heavy suitcases to the room. About 15 to 20 minutes walk from the Lahad Datu Airport or take the airport taxi for RM10 per way or Grab Car from RM5 per way.
OYO 972 Bay Hotel Lahad Datu Conveniently located in middle of the town, this hotel offers comfortable and clean air conditioned rooms with ensuite bathroom. Located opposite pharmacy Watson, a local bank that offers ATM service, fast food KFC, convenience store , Darvel Bay shopping mall and nearby local eatery. It is a perfect place for those who looks for walking convenience from their hotel. About 15 to 20 minutes walk from the Lahad Datu Airport or take the airport taxi for RM10 per way or Grab Car from RM5 per way.
My Inn Hotel Lahad Datu My Inn Hotel is a local hotel chain in Malaysia. The My Inn Hotel in Lahad Datu is located about 10 to 30 minutes drive (depending on traffic) from Lahad Datu Airport and Lahad Datu town. The traffic can be bad between 5pm to 6:30pm especially on a Friday as there is a school located just next to the main road and this is the only road that leads to Semporna/Tawau direction. Having said that the hotel is conveniently located in the same building as the local grocery/departmental store. So it will be an ideal location to travelers who likes to just roll out of the hotel and land in a shopping area. There are also lots of eatery places within walking distance.

View our map of accommodation in Lahad Datu



Keep Connected


Internet cafés are available in cities and major towns. Wi-Fi hotspots can be found in shopping malls, restaurants, food courts and cafés. Many of these hotspots are provided free-of-charge. Internet cafés can also be found in cities and towns.


See also: International Telephone Calls

Malaysia is on the GSM 900/1800 and UMTS (3G) mobile network. If you have an "unlocked" GSM band mobile phone, you can buy a prepaid SIM card and use it with your phone here for cheaper rates instead of roaming here. Prepaid mobile SIM cards are available cheaply at mobile phone shops and 24-hour convenience stores.

Below are the area codes in Malaysia:

01Mobile Phones (nationwide)
02Singapore (special access code to call Singapore)
03Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Selangor
04Penang, Perlis, Kedah
06Negeri Sembilan, Malacca
080Brunei (special access code for use in Sabah and Sarawak only)
08xSabah, Sarawak (x determines the region)
09Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan
1-300Non-geographical numbers (local call rate)
1-800Non-geographical numbers (free call from landline, local call rate from mobile phone)

Area code is not required when calling a number of the same area code. However, it is mandatory when calling from a mobile phone.

There is no charge for receiving calls on any Malaysian phones. Only the caller is charged for the call made. However, if you're on mobile phone roaming service, you will also be charged for any calls received, by your operator.

To dial out of Malaysia, use the international access code 00 (zero zero), followed by the country code, followed by the area code (remove the preceding 0, if any), and finally the telephone number.
e.g. To call London, United Kingdom, dial 00-44-20-xxxx xxxx; or to call Dallas, Texas, United States, dial 00-1-214-xxx xxxx.
For mobile phones, the plus sign "+" can be used as the international access code.
e.g. Using the previous scenario, type +44-20-xxxx xxxx or +1-214-xxx xxxx and press the call button.

The country code for Malaysia is 60. To receive calls from overseas, that person will have to dial the country's international access code, followed by 60 for Malaysia, followed by the area code (remove the preceding 0), followed by the phone number.
e.g. If your prepaid mobile number is 012-1234567, and someone in the United Kingdom were to call you, the number to dial is 00-60-12-1234567. Those calling you from the United States and Canada will have to dial 011-60-12-1234567.

The emergency number is 999 and can be dialled from any phone, free of charge. The worldwide standard emergency number for GSM mobile phones, 112, can also be used on a mobile phone, even without a SIM card. Calls to 112 will be routed to 999 centres.


Pos Malaysia is the national postal service of Malaysia. Rates for sending a standard letter locally is 30 sen (20 gram) to 40 sen (up to 50 gram). International airmail has minimum rates ranging from RM1.00 to RM2.00, depending on destination. It costs 20 sen to send a postcard or aerogramme locally, or 50 sen to send a postcard or aerogramme to anywhere in the world.

Expedited Mail Service (EMS), branded locally as Poslaju, is available for both domestic and international destinations. Domestic EMS has a next day delivery guarantee. International EMS guarantees mails and parcels to be delivered out of the country by the following day. The time required to arrive at its destination will depend on clearance by authorities and the postal service of the destination country. For most countries, delivery of documents can be done in 3 to 5 days.

If you need to receive mails or packages from home, there is Poste Restante service available at all General Post Offices (GPO) in the country. There is one GPO in almost every capital city of every state, and in all federal territories. Mails sent from Singapore and Brunei will be retained for one month while mails from all other places will be kept for two months, after which if unclaimed, will be sent to the Dead Letter Office.

Generally, post offices are open from 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Saturday, except the first Saturday of the month. They are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.


Electricity voltage in Malaysia is 240V AC 50Hz. The UK 3-pin plug is the standard used in Malaysia. European 2-pin plug can also be used on the 3-pin socket by inserting a screwdriver (or any hard object that fits) into the earth pin hole to open the live and neutral shutters. However, this practice can be hazardous.


Accommodation in Lahad Datu

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Lahad Datu searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


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This is version 29. Last edited at 8:34 on Apr 21, 20 by Utrecht. 9 articles link to this page.

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