Lahad Datu is a small city with about 160000 inhabitants along the coast of in eastern Sabah. It is surrounded by palm oil and cocoa plantations and lies in a flat lowland area. Its harbour is used for exports of palm oil and timber. Lahad Datu is a quiet, laid-back place with colourful buildings and a lively fish market. The city is not a tourist centre, but acts as a gateway to the Danum valley conservation Area, the Tabin wildlife reserve in the east and Madai Caves further south. As such it has a number of hotels which probably cater to tourists who transit here on the way to the wildlife areas. Lahad Datu has a small airport very close to town with daily flights to Kota Kinabalu. The city itself is believed to date back to the 15 century.
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