Lawas is a small frontier town in the northeastern corner of Sarawak state in Malaysian Borneo. The town is located in a strip of Sarawak territory sandwiched between the Temburong district of Brunei and Malaysia's Sabah state. It is cut off from the rest of Sarawak and is more easily accessed from Sabah.
The town does not have many attractions to interest the traveller but you may find yourself here if you are travelling overland between Sabah and Sarawak. Quiet and peaceful, Lawas is quite pleasant if you have to stop for a day or two.
Lawas is also the starting point for the logging road to Ba Kelalan in the Sarawak Highlands.
- From Ba Kelalan: Flights on Mondays and Saturdays. One way fare is RM46 before fuel surcharge and other fees.
- From Kota Kinabalu: Two flights a week. From Kota Kinabalu, flights depart on Tuesdays and Sundays while from Lawas, flights depart on Mondays and Sundays. Fare is RM54 one way before taxes and surcharges and journey time is 45 minutes.
- From Limbang: Flights on Mondays and Wednesdays. One way fare is RM34 before fuel surcharge and other fees.
- From Miri: At least four flights daily, with some flights going through Limbang. One way fare is RM60 before fuel surcharge and other fees.
The road network in Lawas is directly linked to Sabah while access to the rest of Sarawak requires you to travel through Brunei. You will most likely find yourself in Lawas if you are travelling overland between Sabah and Sarawak. See Kota Kinabalu to Brunei by land. Lawas is also the starting point for the ex-logging trail to Ba Kelalan.
- From Sabah: Travel to/from Sabah is straight forward as there is a direct road from Lawas to the Sabah-Sarawak border at Merapok 35km away, where the road continues to Kota Kinabalu via Sipitang, Beaufort and Papar. Please note that non-Sarawak residents have to go through immigration procedures at Merapok and Sindumin on the Sabah side of the border.
- From Temburong, Brunei: Temburong is connected by road to Lawas town via Trusan, where there is a ferry crossing. The Brunei-Sarawak border is at Labu but there is only a Brunei immigration checkpoint there. You will have to sort out your Sarawak immigration requirements, whether being stamped in or out of the state, at the immigration post at Trusan (officially known as the Mengkalap immigration post), 20km from Lawas and about 8km from the actual border. The checkpoint operates out of a corner shoplot in a row of shops just east of the ferry until the new customs and immigration checkpoint which is being built is completed. From Labu, its another 20km to Bangar, the administrative centre for Brunei's Temburong district. You should also head to Temburong if you want to go to Limbang, Miri and the rest of Sarawak.
- From Ba Kelalan: The 125km road to Ba Kelalan is a former logging trail, and conditions can be pretty bad especially during the rainy season. The road is only suitable for four-wheel drives and the journey takes at least six hours. The road goes through at least 20 villages in the Long Sukang, Long Luping and Long Semadoh areas.
Minivans and local buses operated by the Lawas Bus Company Sdn Bhd link Lawas neighbouring towns like Trusan, Punang, Sundar and Merapok as well as Beaufort in Sabah. Most minivans leave in the morning. Air conditioned long-distance express buses connect Lawas with Kota Kinabalu and towns in between like Sipitang and Beaufort.
Sipitang Express Bus Sdn Bhd (Tel: +60-(0)16-8326722 in Lawas, +60-88-213722 in Kota Kinabalu) runs one daily bus to Kota Kinabalu, departing at 12:30. From Kota Kinabalu there are three buses that depart from the station on Jalan Tugu, one at 07:30, 7:45 & 8:00 all by different operators with a ticket booth at the station. Journey is about five hours (two hours to Beaufort) and the one way fare is RM20 or RM11 for Beaufort. The
Lawas Bus Company runs a daily express bus service to and from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah leaving Lawas in the morning and returning from Kota Kinabalu at 1pm, arriving in Lawas at about 5pm. RM30 one way.
To get to Ba Kelalan, private four-wheel drives usually offer seats to passengers. They cost around RM40 one way. Check around where buses and taxis stop.
Lawas town is small enough to get around on foot. There are local buses and minivans linking Lawas with neighbouring towns and villages like Trusan, Sundar, Awat Awat, Kuala Lawas, Long Tuma and Merapok on the Sabah-Sarawak border.
kuala lawas Punang Beach Awat-Awat
Pesta Lawas , Festival Chak Go Mei in Lawas Hock Teck Shi Temple
As Lawas is a part of Sarawak, there will a great opportunity to have a test at the local Sarawakian food, known as Kolo mee. Kolo mee is a type of noodles that are stirred inside the soup, but without the base. Its appearance is difference compared to the normal soup noodles, and it is simple. Kolo mee can be found in most restaurants in Lawas and they cost around RM 3 per plate. Note that Kolo mee only available in mornings.
There are plenty of hotels in Lawas, but no lodges around it. The hotels price range is around RM 50 as the cheapest, and the most expensive rate for a night is at RM 170.
- Lawas is the staging post for trips to Ba Kelalan in the Kelabit Highlands.
- It is also a stopover if you are doing the Kota Kinabalu to Brunei by land trail, with Bangar in Brunei, or Beaufort being the immediate next stops.