The district of Lawas shares borders with not only Brunei and Sabah, but also a bit of Indonesia, and is cut off from the rest of Sarawak’s road network. To get to Lawas by land, you’ll need to have your passport ready.
Alternatively, you can drive in from neighbouring state, Sabah, which takes about three hours from Kota Kinabalu or take a direct flight from Miri.
A haven for eco-tourism, Lawas is not just the doorway to the highlands of Ba’Kelalan but is also home to fishing villages of Punang and Awat Awat as well as the hot springs of Merarap. Read on as we explore the hidden treasures of Lawas!
1. Lawas Town
No trip is complete without a trip to the heart of the district. Situated on the Lawas River between Brunei and Sabah, it gets busy during the weekends thanks to travellers from Brunei or visitors on their way to Sabah or to Ba’Kelalan. From Friday evening until Saturday afternoon, locals flock to the local open-air market, Medan Niaga Lawas for fresh produce, traditional handicrafts, local delicacies and live poultry.
2. Rueb Ugui
30 minutes away from Lawas town is a small waterfall pool called Rueb Ugui. You will need to pay a small entrance fee as well as extra if you’re looking to rent facilities like a barbecue pit, foldable tables or plastic chairs. A shallow stony pool seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the blue-green waters are so clear you could see the local semah fish swimming around.
Kampung Long Ugui, Jalan Lawas Damit, 98850 Lawas, Sarawak.
3. Long Tuma Ceramic Bead Centre
Kampung Long Tuma is the only village in Sarawak where traditional ceramic beads are made, as the clay used to make them can only be found near the banks of Lawas River. Visitors can purchase ready-made beadwork at the village and even personalise their own necklace or bracelet as well as try their hand at making a bead from scratch.
Ceramic Bead Centre, Kampung Long Tuma, 98850 Lawas, Sarawak.
4. Penawan Waterfalls Eco Park
Penawan offers an impressive number of ten waterfalls, with the tallest being Merengeb Falls. A mere 15 minutes from Lawas airport, the Eco Park is located near Jalan Sungai Penawan and managed by Koperasi Kota Penawan Lawas. Basic accommodation is provided for those who wish to spend the night, as well as a campsite area reserved for tents.
Jalan Sungai Penawan, Off Jalan Kampung Pa’ Puti, Off Jalan Merapok, 98850 Lawas, Sarawak.
5. Merarap Hot Spring Lodge
About 70km away from town centre is the quaint lodge reachable only by 4X4 vehicles through logging roads and steep valleys. There are multiple pools with different temperatures, pumped in directly from a water spring nearby. Basic accommodations are available, making it the perfect retreat for any traveller.
KM60, Merarap Hotspring, Lawas, Sarawak.
6. Lawas’ Fishing Villages
The fishing villages of Lawas, primarily Kampung Punang and Kampung Awat Awat, are the main producers of the iconic Tahai fish. The fish is smoked for an entire day, using mangrove wood, which enhances the taste of the fish. The smoked result can be made into gravy, a soup dish or tossed with spicy sambal, and is a favourite among locals from Limbang, Sabah and even Bruneians.
7. Payeh Maga Highlands
Located 70km away from Lawas is the Payeh Maga highlands, which is an entire day’s hike to the summit, with a couple of camp stations along the way. The highland boasts waterfalls along the trails, as well as a treasure trove of nature and birds endemic to Borneo.
Lawas might be cut off from the roads in Sarawak, but it is a haven for nature lovers looking for a place mostly untouched by concrete development. If you haven’t been, and you’re looking for a place to properly unplug, make your way on over to Lawas!