Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May, 2021 08:06:45 AM

Places of Interest in Tawau District  >  TAWAU HILLS PARK

Tawau Hills Park
- 27,972 ha (280 sq. kilometre)
- Feacture Hornbills, World’s Tallest Tropical Tree.
Tawau Hills Park is a 280 square kilometre of rain forestr under First category Conservation Area.

Opening hours: 8.00am – 5.00pm
Admission fee:
Malaysian RM3 Adult, RM1 Child
Non-Malaysian RM10 Adult, RM6 Child
Tel: 089 925 719 (Tawau Hills Park)

Tawau Hills Park is only 22 Km from Tawau Town center

Under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment, 1997, Sabah has three types of protected areas:
1- The first category is Conservation Areas, for the purpose of fast and flexible protection of wildlife and habitats.
2- The second category is Wildlife Sanctuaries is the strongest conservation category for fauna, flora, genetic resources and habitats.
3- The third category is Wildlife Hunting Areas, intended for animal population management by regulated hunting.
Under the First category, Tawau Hills Park is being developed as a field lowland research centre, particularly in tropical wildlife research. Among the facilities constructed are the research exhibits and laboratory building, an aviary (never able to complete) and animal enclosure (with no animal), canopy walkways and observation towers. Currently there are permanent ecological transects and plots and a lowland garden featuring wild orchids and other herbs and plants. Research projects include those on primates and hornbills.

A Black Hornbill at Tawau Hills National Park
Black Hornbill
at Tawau Hills National Park

See more birds of Tawau Hills Parks from Facebook of Bud Chapman

Ansar Khan/Life Line for Nature Society

New Pangolin Santuary in the PARK
Sabah's new wildlife tourist attraction

2019- Funded by Arizona Sabah Pangolin Sanctuary and Research Institute (Sapsari) with an initial start-up investment of RM1 million, the sanctuary is an effort by Sabah government to further protect arguably the world’s most poached and trafficked animal.

"Turning the PARK into a first class tourism resort"


2018 - "....a professional tourism architect will be hired to develop a conceptual plan for Tawau Hills Park ... to turn it into a first class tourism resort in Tawau..."

Christina Liew
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister
Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Facilities of Tawau Hills Park

Tawau Hills Park Headquarter
comprises of Nature facilities and Building facilities:


Nature Facilities:
A - Nature trail to waterfall 2.5Km

B - Nature trail to hot spring 3.2Km

C - Nature trails to mountains exploration 11Km++

This short wooden bridge over a small stream make the begin of a nature exploration.
This short wooden bridge over a small stream mark the begin of a nature exploration.

After a 100 meters walk from the ticket counter entrance, you have two chooses of bridge to cross, the wooden (image above) or the steel bridge, bases on you purpose of nature exploration or for BBQ picnics.

Those who cross this wooden bridge, your trials to the hills of Tawau begin.

But local Malaysian visitors do not after cross this bridge. For they do not come for nature admiration but for picnic recreations.  So instead they took to cross the hanging bridge of steel  to the recreation BBQ ground which is on the right hand direction.

Building Facilities :
1- Entrance ticket counter
2- Canteen
3- Management Offices
4- Multi purposes rooms
5- Multi purposes Hall
4- Tourists accommodation - a Chalet and a Hostel
6- Staff accommodation

Tawau Hills Park lies 24 km North West of Tawau and was gazette to protect water catchments resources for Tawau Town and the Semporna Peninsula. At least 7 major rivers in Sabah originate here. The Tawau River flows through the middle of the 27,972 ha park and forms many natural deepwater pools and waterfalls.

The Park Headquarters comprises an office and staff accommodation. There are chalet, hostel and a canteen operated by KOKTAS, the Sabah Parks staff cooperative. Nature trails lead to a waterfall and hot spring.
The terrain is hilly with two prime elevations - Gunung Magdalena ( 1310 meters) and Gunung Lucia ( 1201 meters). Bombalai Hill (530 meters) is a landmark with the remains of a crater.

Lowland dipterocarp forest dominates. Above 1,000 meters, thick damp mossy forest takes over. Orchids, epiphytes and forest herbs grow in abundance. The mengaris tree - notorious for its beehives - is common here. Animal life is varied ranging from Long Tailed Macaques and the Red Leaf Monkey to cats, hornbills and pheasants.

Tawau Hills Park Headquarter

The headquarter of Tawau Hills Park is at the southern boundary of the park and reachable by good road.
Those pages in the web still describing the road condition as "a maze of some rather rough roads but that’s part of the adventure !" is outdated for more then 10 years. The new road has been in used for more then 10 years.
The distance is merely 24 kilometers away from Tawau Town. But no public bus service is available. Visitors have to make their own transport arrangements to the park by taxi or Grab or through hotel transportation. Those buses you saw parking in front the park entrance are private charted by local people. These local village young people weekly come to the park in bus lots for "parties". Many "sneak through" the entrance gate with out paying entrance fees. The public park ground became a "cigarette smoking heaven" of the youngsters.

Officially promoted by government as destiny for International tourists to Tawau.

More about Tawau Hills Park Headquarter

Tawau Hills Park's

The rivers in the park tumble over several attractive waterfalls, and the Table Waterfall has created a natural swimming pool. Past more spectacular waterfalls, but you need to count two hours of trekking is the Bukit Gelas Waterfall and will pass The Sulphur Spring.

The Two Waterfalls of Tawau Hills Park

Tawau Hills Park has two waterfalls :
1- Table Waterfall - 200 meters walk on concrete foot path
2- Bukit Gelas Waterfall - 2.4km jungle trial walk

Table Waterfall is 200 meters from park main entrance. An easy walk on cemented foot path. This water fall is fenced off from swimming. This is the location where news of local picnickers occasionally swept away by strong water current while swimming. Some were drowsed.

Bukit Gelas Waterfall is an 1 hour walk in 2.4km jungle trial. This is a good place for water funs with clear mountain stream.

The government official web site mentioned only one water fall. (the small Table Waterfall which is dangerous for swimming)

Hot Springs

- Mother Nature's very own spa - the Hot Springs, where you can ease your tired muscles and weary bones while luxuriating in the therapeutic warmth of the 'geo-thermal' pool.
The image of Hot Springs (taken 10 years ago) is of the pass. Today, during the dry seasons, the Hot Spring is not more then a ditch of stagnant lukewarm water.

Tiger Orchid Blooming in Tawau Hills Park
Tiger Orchid Blooming in Tawau Hills Park

Species: Grammatophyllum speciosum (Tiger Orchid/ Giant Orchid)

Grammatophyllum speciosum
Tiger Orchid
Tawau Hills Park
Tawau 21Km

Because of its enormous size, Tiger Orchid is rarely cultivated as this species is too large to in most greenhouses.
The above Tiger Orchid plant is grown in open space beside the office car park (inside the park).

Lowland Orchid Garden
Lowland Orchid Garden

Lowland Garden has various wild plants cultivated for display especially orchids, wild ginger and herbs. The garden also showcases some 60 species of ferns including the giant ferns. Being not an attractive garden with too few visitors, do expect the entrance is closed with no staff in attendent.

Taman Tanah Rendah (Lowland Garden) Lush dipterocarp forest vegetation and lianas cover the lower regions giving way to thick damp mossy forests as the altitude gets higher and temperatures get cooler. The variety of plant life found within Tawau Hills Park include Agathis, Mountain Ru, Tree ferns, different species of orchids and begonia.

Wild strawberry  in Tawau Hills Park in Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia. The foods of the animals in the park.
Wild strawberry in Tawau Hills Park in Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia. The foods of the animals in the park.

Exploring Mother Nature in Tawau Hills Park

Flora of Tawau Hills Park
Exploring Mother Nature in Tawau Hills Park

Mother Nature is Earth’s precious treasure we should always try our best to preserve.
We must do the very best to protect and preserve the Mother Nature for as long as we can remember.
When you visit Tawau , be sure to witness with your very own eyes the protected nature of the Earth -start off with Tawau Hills Park.

Tallest tropical tree in the world

In 2014, scientists discovered another tall tree in Sabah being taller then this tree in Tawau Hills Park. Thus it became the second tropical tree in the world. But it still remain the tallest in Tawau town.

This world second tallest tropical tree is only 900 meters walking distance from Tawau Hills Park's Office.
The park has constructed a natural trial for visitor to see this tall tree in Malaysia. Along the trial visitors breath the fresh forest air, view the lush greenery of various plants in this protected forest and, if you are lucky, see the friendly Red Leaf Monkey that live in this protected jungle.

Cicada 蟬Froglet 幼蛙Snake 蛇Spider 蜘蛛Stick Insect 竹節蟲

Cicada 蟬
Froglet 幼蛙
Snake 蛇
Spider 蜘蛛
Stick Insect 竹節蟲

Frogs in Tawau Hills Park
Frogs in Tawau Hills Park
The clear streams are occupied by a variety of small fishes and many frogs whose nightly croaking dominate the evening air.


Night Walks around Tawau Hills Park Head Quarter
For a small fees and prearrangement, a Tawau Hills Park ranger will guide you around the head quarter area for a night walk to look for nocturnal animals such as frogs, snake, night birds etc.

Night Jungle Walk
A Night Jungle Walk is the best way to discover nocturnal creatures in the rainforest. At night, jungle night life comes alive with many of the wildlife only active after night fall. Remember to bring a touch light or headlamp. This is necessary to see nocturnal animals and insects along the trail. Keeping a quite walk when trekking along the trails in order not to scar the creatures away.

More about Fauna of Tawau Hills Park

There is a canteen selling snack run by KOKTAS. (Sabah parks staffs co-operative). This is not restaurant. Only simple hot foods like noodle and rice are available. This is a small canteen smaller then most the local primary school, so do not expect much. This small café main business is selling cold drinks. Also available hot Teh, Kopi and Teh tarik.

Soccer Field/Mini Hall & Court Games
There is a soccer field in Tawau Hills Park and a mini hall for court games (sepak takraw, badminton and volleyball) which is regularly used by sabah parks staffs. However, visitor who were keen to use it, please obtain permission from park manager / officer in-charge.

Meeting/Seminar/Workshop Room
There is a small conference room suitable for meeting/seminar/workshop in Tawau Hills Park. It could be rented out to visitors/public if unoccupied by Sabah Parks staffs. For booking please contact Sabah Parks hq/park manager/officer in-charge.

Surau were available for Muslim visitor.

Accommodation in Tawau Hills Park
Accommodation in Tawau Hills Park

A campsite, 1 chalet, 1 jungle lodge and 1 mountain lodge are available for visitors.
The campsite can accommodate 500 to 1000 campers.

The hostel is a low cost Rm25.00 per bed ideal for backpackers. For conform seeking tourists may not expect the service of a 5 stars hotel.

Summit of Bombalai Hill
Bombalai Hill (Bukit Bombalai)

at Tawau Hills Park

Bombalai Hill (530m) is only about a half-an-hour jungle walk. From the hill you have a panoramic view of cacao and palm oil plantations, Tawau town and at the horizon the Sulawesi Sea.

Rainy day - bad day to be in the park

Tawau Hills Park is about nature. Nature needs sunlight and nature's beauty shine under sunlight. So choose a sunny day to come. This choosing a time may not be possible for travellers who are passing Tawau on transit or in a tide schedule.
Rain can easily ruined your day in the park. Visitors can easily stuck with rain hour or hours. Even after the rain is over, the park is no more an delightful place to wonder around.


Outdoor social gathering such as picnic and overnight camping are popular for the local young groups.
This is also an excellent location for "Hug A Tree Exercise"

Properly dress for hiking. Walking with shorts and T-shirt only becoming easy targets for leeches. This is a nature park not a city park. Many poor knowledge city people thinking Tawau Hills Park is like their city-parks back home. Coming with poor outfits ruined many of these unprepared visitors.

If you are not a adventurous nature lover, going all the way out to a park like this has nothing special interesting enough. But then if you are really a nature lover, a jungle park is a different world of wonders.

If you aim is for hiking, Tawau Hills Park offers 2-3 day hikes to distant hills Mount Magdalena, Mount Lucia and Mount Maria. You require a guide (inexpensive). Once you are out of the public recreation area, the only lodge available in the jungle is at 10.5Km. This is the place hikers spend overnight on their way to Magdalena or Lucia. Remember, pre booking is required with the park office.

If you do not plan to stay over night but only have a day or half day in the park, then wandering through thick lowland rainforest near by the recreation area will keep you fully occupied for a nice half-day visit. 

If you are not a nature lovers, Tawau Hills Park is a very boring park. During raining seasons, you may see no wildlife except leeches on your body. Be well prepared for leeches. This creature is what keep tropical jungle parks unpopular for many soft skin tourists. Adventurers and nature lovers are hard skin.

For nature lovers, this is a park for discovery. Nature lovers return regularly. In this rugged volcanic terrain covered natural landscape are hidden with unlimited natural living things. This is a sharp contrast to the neatly cultivated plantations of oil palm, cocoa and rubber you saw on the flat coastal plains.
Those who plan to hike up to Mt. Lucia and Mt. Magdanela can expect to spot interesting animals such as Gibbons, red leaf monkeys, hornbills, birds, civits and small wildlife such as scorpions, snakes, spiders.

Those do not hike can just enjoy peaceful stay at the only hostel with near by cool stream, canopy walk, a water lily and short jungle walk near by.


Going to Tawau Hills Park is difficult if you do not have your own transport pre-arranged. But situation has improved a little with the lunch f GRAB service in Tawau Town since July 2017. With the GRAB application installed in you mobile phone, visitor can easier to get a transport of going now. But remember returning to town is even more difficult. So also confirm with your driver for the returning trip.
There is no bus going to Tawau Hills Park which is 24Km from most hotels in Tawau town center.
The most common transport visitors get is Taxi and GRAB.
Taxi is Rm40 to Rm50. GRAB is near half the price.

The park headquarters at the southern boundary is merely 24 kilometers (30minutes drive) away from Tawau. Visitors have to make their own transport arrangements to the park which is accessible via a maze of some rather rough roads but that's part of the adventure!

Get a taxi or a GRAB from Tawau Town center.
A taxi costs us RM 40 to RM50 one way.
A GRAB is much cheaper at half the taxi cost. Sometimes you may get a FREE promotion.

The park's entrance is located another 16 km NW from Tawau town
From the airport, the park is 45 km away and about 1 hour car journey.
A taxi from the airport to the park cost around RM 70-80 one way and takes around 1 hour. A GRAB is almost half the cost. But rememb er to make confirmation with drivers for return journey. There is no bublic bus or Taxi stand at the park. During weekdays when few local come to the park with their cars, a visitors may not find any passing vehicles for free rides hitchhikingback to town.

You also need to call for a Taxi for you return journey. Or a GRAB which is difficult to get in return journey from the park.

Many visitors hitchhike back to town. During weekend when the park is crowded with local picnickers, foreign visitors can find friendly local generously offering a free ride to town.


GuiLin Elephant Trunk Hill


Elephant Trunk Hill is the landmark of Guilin in China.
The hill is located in Elephant Hill Park beside Li River. It has been a famous tourism destination since the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907).
Around the hill are spectacular natural scenes and ancient constructions, such as Puxian Pagoda, Yunfeng Temple, and Sarira Pagoda.