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Semporna (Lat.:4.47991,Lng.:118.612475)

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Semporna is a city on east coast of Sabah. It has a population of around 135,000. While there is not much to see and do in Semporna itself, it is frequently used as a gateway for diving and snorkeling trips to the nearby islands of Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Mataking, Maiga and others.

Get in
By plane
Most travellers take a flight to Tawau from either Kuala Lumpur (IATA:KUL) or Kota Kinabalu (IATA:BKI), then travel overland by taxi. First time travelers are advised to either take an airport taxi or if possible, arrange for shuttle service if one has booked for accommodation or diving packages from tour/diving operators operating in Semporna.

By bus
From Kota Kinabalu: Direct from Inanam station to Semporna (or Tawau), 8-10 hrs. Departs 7:30AM & 7:30PM. To get to Inanam station you can take the public bus from the long distance bus station in KK city on Jalan Padang to the Inanam bus station, or a taxi. Note that in high season (Jun-Aug) these buses fill up fast so book at least a day in advance.

From Sandakan: there are two direct buses to Semporna run by Dyana Bus at 7:30 am and 2 pm (5-6 hrs). If you miss the direct bus, you can also try taking a bus to Lahad Datu (at least 1:00pm), and from there take a minibus to Semporna (leaves when it's full).

From Sepilok: Take a taxi to Sandakan and take a bus from there, or hail down the bus at Sepilok junction (works if there are seats available on the bus). Takes 1 hour.

Get around
Because of its small size, Semporna town is easily explored on foot. However, there are also commercial passengers' vans and 'kereta sapu (prebet)' for getting around. Baware the ' prebet' will charge tourists with higher prices, make sure you make a deal with the driver before take a ride.

One may also attempt to get around the town and to surrounding villages/beach resorts using private taxis (commonly referred to as "prebet" or "kereta sapu"). These taxis are usually not color-coded, and the drivers usually drive around the town honking their taxis to attract passengers or converge around points of interest such as the supermarkets. This mode of transportation is favored by the less economically-able locals to go anywhere and may charge more for tourists. Since these taxis are not licensed for commercial purposes (hence lacking business insurance), travelers are advised to avoid using these taxis at all cost. One will also notice that this kind of taxi usually wait until they have sufficient number of passengers (4 to 6 people) before heading to the passengers' destination.

Commercial passengers' vans are also available for travels to nearby villages and to Tawau. These vans are usually color-coded in yellow and can transport 8 to 12 passengers. These vans are usually available near the KFC fast food outlet and around supermarkets. Charges vary and one should establish an agreed price with the driver before boarding these vans. These vans also travel to Tawau daily and is usually available as early as 5.30AM.

Food, Shopping & Information
  1. The Bajau ethnic houses on stilts by the jetty and around the town's mosque.
  2. Unlike the Land Bajaus and Kadazan usually found in nothern Sabah coastal areas, the Sea Bajaus which dominate Semporna celebrate Regatta Lepa-Lepa annually during the entire month of April. Being the focal point of Semporna's identity, the festival is of extreme importance to the locals and the State Government, in which the State's Head of State is always invited to grace the event. Regatta Lepa-Lepa is similar to dragon boat race in which different villages around Semporna will commission their own boats and decorate their boats for parade near the jetties. The culmination of this event is the Ratu Lepa pageant event.
  3. Semporna Proboscis River Cruise has become an increasingly popular way of exploring and appreciating a fascinating aspect of the beauty of Sabah nature, especially the wildlife in the biodiversity-rich mangrove ecosystems and also the very rare species Proboscis Monkeys which can be found only in Borneo.
  4. Moon stones and pearls are sold, often on the jetty

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