Tamu Sabah

tamparuli tamu

What is Tamu ?

There are many fascinating cultural heritage aspects that attract visitors to a destination, from the way people build their houses to the way they dress or eat. As many distant parts of the world, the exotic island of Borneo and especially the Malaysian state of Sabah has its own distinct cultural traditions and customs, most of them extremely enticing for foreign visitors. Part of the heritage of Sabah, the tamu is an old practice dating back from colonial times, when the British allowed the locals to exchange produce in open markets throughout North Borneo.

Pronounced as “tah-moo”,  tamu is a place to sell and buy, but mostly exchange goods and food, a natural market where farmers and artisans gather around to market their products. From the youngest to the oldest inhabitants of Sabah, everyone has been at least once at these open air markets. A custom regulated by the British during the times North Borneo was a colony, the tamu is also a social gathering, Importance announcement and special celebration are held at Tamu as it is a most effective tool for distributing news to the distant interior, and to receiving reports from those far outposts. While the Tamu markets in Kota Kinabalu and other major cities have become tourist attractions and lost some of their authenticity, for the real experience, visitors should visits the ones in smaller towns and distant villages.

Today, the tamu is a fascinating experience, a veritable immersion into the local culture of Sabah, discovering part of the charm that the old world must have had. Walking among people from various tribes, farmers, fishers and hunters, craftsmen and artisans, one can see the real everyday life of Sabah, meet the authentic people and their traditions. It is also a great place to buy authentic products and exotic food ingredients, a place to socialize with the locals and explore the colorful culture of the destination.


Tamu Sabah

Nowadays,, you can find various kind of goods and produce being sold at Tamu such as tobacco, chicken, coffee powder, cloth, traditional medicine, toys and much more. While the Tamu at Kota Kinabalu city attracts a lot of visitors and tourists, Tamu in most of the interior area of Sabah still didn’t change much and you can see the locals tribes gather and exchange their produce and goods just like the old days.

Tamu Sabah

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Tamu Sabah

Tamu Besar Kota Belud is one of the biggest event in Sabah calendar. Tamu Besar at Kota Belud held annually, combined colourful culture dances and traditionalise sports of Kota Belud peoples

tamu besar kota belud

tamu besar

List of Tamu in Sabah

Beaufort – Saturday

Kinarut – Saturday

Keningau – Thursday

Kota Belud
Pekan Kota Belud – Sunday

Kota Kinabalu

Tamu Jalan Gaya – Sunday

Kota Marudu

Pekan Kota Marudu – Saturday and Sunday
Goshen – Thursday


Matunggong Lama – Saturday
Matunggong Baru – Thursday
Sikuati – Sunday


Membakut – Wednesday and Sunday

Nabalu – Thursday

Lok Kawi Sabindo – Saturday


Donggongon – Start Wednesday afternoon till Friday


Bandar Tawau – Sunday

Tuaran – Sunday


Pekan Kundasang – Friday
Pekan Ranau – Saturday
Tamu Besar – First Saturday of every month


Sandakan Town – Sunday
Gua Mantong Jaya – Sunday


Sindumin – Saturday

Bandar Tawau – Sunday

Telipok – Thursday

Pekan Tuaran – Saturday and Sunday
kiulu – Tuesday

Pekan Tambunan – Thursday

Tamparuli – Wednesday

Tenom – Sunday

Weston – Friday


Most ‘tamu’ operate as early as 6am and close by 12pm



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