Rainforest Discovery Centre RDC in Sepilok

RDC Rainforest Discovery Centre
The Rainforest Discovery Centre, or RDC, is located in Sepilok and caters to the environmental education of the Sabah Rainforest.

It is also located in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, which is also home to the world-famous Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary.

The primary function of the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) is to create public awareness and the importance of conserving our rainforest as well as mother natures resources.

Visitor Building Rainforest Discovery CentreRainforest Discovery Centre Visitor Building

Rainforest Discovery Centre RDC in Sepilok

The Rainforest Discovery Center, or RDC, was opened to the public in 2006 to create awareness of our tropical forests and rainforest.

Proceeds from ticket sales are channelled back into the RDC to fund environmental education for students and other related activities which are becoming popular nowadays.

With the support of Sabah Tourism, I visited the RDC in Dec 2009 and found the entire premises a wonderland for nature lovers.

Sepilok RDC The RDC has three main areas for exploration: the main Visitors Building, Rainforest Discovery Trail and the very impressive Canopy Walkway.

In this article, I will focus mainly on the visitors centre while the other places will be featured in my other articles.

To get to the RDC, you can either engage a tour company with a certified tour guide or self-drive here from Sandakan town.
Visitor Centre at RDCVarious images of the rainforest at the RDC Visitor Center.

As we had our own guide - Ben, we made our way via 4WD from the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and arrived in about 5 minutes.

Tickets were purchased at the main Visitors' Building entrance. From there, we explored the centre's interiors, where everything and anything about the rainforest, flora and fauna are displayed.

Most of the information is related to the surrounding rainforest of Kabili-Sepilok and the greater Sandakan district.
Information for Pygmy Elephant SabahPygmy Elephant information at the visitor centre.

Rare information can be obtained here as I noticed one of the exhibits included the unique Pygmy Elephants of Borneo, a highly endangered species.

These Pygmy Elephants are only found around the Kinabatangan River in the Sukau district, about two hours from Sandakan.

Crocodile from BorneoBornean Crocodile

Other wildlife subjects include birds of Borneo, Butterflies and Insects and even Crocodiles. A stuffed crocodile on display measured a whopping 15 feet from head to tail, with a little baby crocodile on top of it. It looked very real, and if you did not pay attention, it would shock you.
Sabah Butterfly TaxidermyRDC Visitor Center Butterfly Taxidermy

When you explore the exhibition hall in the visitor's building, you will notice that there are over 40 posters with information on flora and fauna of Borneo, which includes taxidermy (stuffed butterflies/insects), samples of trees, flowers and leaves and even a skeleton head of a Pygmy Elephant in a case.

There are quite a number of pictures of birds and flowers as Birders (Bird Watchers), or Flora Lovers would absolutely enjoy this place. If you are an orchid lover, you should not miss visiting the RDC.
Visitor Center Kids Corner at RDCVisitor Center Kids Corner

Besides the gift shop and lecture hall, I saw a 'kids corner' where children can further learn about the rainforest and environmental education here., which is a plus point for bringing kids here. One can easily spend a good hour reading and finding out more about the rainforest at the visitor centre.
Birds Nest Harvesting ModelModel of Birds Nest Harvesting at the Visitors Center RDC

Just before exiting, we saw how Bird's Nests are harvested traditionally from the caves around Sandakan.

A replica model of the contraption is on display there. I have a forthcoming article on Gomantong Caves, one of the famous Birds Nest Harvesting caves in Borneo.
Trail Rainforest Discovery CentreRainforest Discovery Trail start point

Once you exit the visitor centre, you will be led to the Plant Discovery Garden, part of the Rainforest Discovery Trail. It is here where you will see some of the natural flora of the Borneo Rainforest.
Sabah Heliconia FlowerHeliconia flower at the RDC

As a nature lover, I could not help but admire how the RDC has structured its tour of the rainforest walk. Flowers and plants are carefully located in their specific areas throughout the walk, making identifying them easy.

A tip would be to engage a good nature guide for this, as they will explain everything along the way to you. I was glad that I had Ben with me throughout the trip here.

Ginger Flower SabahA flowering Ginger plant at the RDC

The RDC has a fantastic selection of flora, and it would be a bonus if you brought a camera along for your visit here. There would be many pictures to take, especially if you are a flower enthusiast.
RDC Rainforest Discovery Trail BridgePart of the Rainforest Discovery Trail at the RDC

The main Rainforest Discovery Trail would easily take you one to two hours to complete, and this depends on the time and speed of your exploration. I must have spent a good four hours during my visit here with no regrets.
Canopy Walk at RDCRDC Canopy Walk

Apart from the Visitors Building and the Rainforest Discovery Trail, there is a unique Canopy Walk, where the entire structure is made from steel.

It is here where Birders (Bird Watchers) come to see Borneo's rare and unique birds. This segment is featured in my Canopy Walk RDC article.
Tasik RDCRDC Lake

The RDC also has a beautiful lake where you can rent a paddle boat. If not, do as I did and relax by one of the lake chairs while absorbing the pure nature after our exciting exploration.
RDC Sepilok ActivitiesFather and daughter paddle away at the RDC lake

Note the paddle boats at the RDC are leg powered and easy to use. Life jackets are provided, and each paddle boat seats two persons.
Boat Ride at RDC SepilokRDC Boat Ride Information

For RM5 (US$1.50), you can rent the paddle boats and explore the lake around the RDC. Sadly, I did not have the chance to do this, as when I finished my exploration, the boat ride was closed for the day.
Ticket Price for RDC SepilokRDC Entrance Ticket Fees (old price)

For your added info, the Rainforest Discovery Center RDC also offers EE Programs for students. Since 1997, about 13,000 students from local and foreign schools have participated in this Environmental Educational Program by Sabah Forestry.

This is something that more local and international schools around the region should participate in. In conclusion, the Rainforest Discovery Center RDC in Sabah: Please visit this place if you are a nature lover or when visiting Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary.

If you have children, I highly recommend you bring them here as it is uniquely educational for them and the family. Growing up and living in a city, my trip to the RDC provided me with valuable information about our rainforest, which cannot be thoroughly enjoyed by just reading about it.

Getting to RDC Sepilok:
  • Located just out of Sandakan, RDC Sepilok is about 23 kilometres from the city. Getting to RDC Sepilok is pretty simple as it takes about 30-40 minutes by car or van. (Self-drive or tour company)
  • The public bus service from Labuk Bus Company departs from the Sandakan Town Council at RM2.10 (US$0.60) one way, but the bus stops at the junction of the main road. You then need to walk about 1.5km.
  • Taxi service from Sandakan is available with a return trip costing about RM100.00 (US$29). Do negotiate with your taxi about the prices.
  • Getting to Sepilok from Kota Kinabalu (KK) is also possible. A bus ride would take about 7-8 hours from KK to Sandakan and cost around RM30-50 (US$9-$15).
  • A better option is to fly to Sandakan as there are direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching. Airasia offers some cheap tickets if you book early. Malaysia Airlines also has some reasonable ticket prices if you want to compare.
Getting to the RDC via car or bus:
  1. Drive along Jalan Labuk from Sandakan Town
  2. Turn left at the Mile 14 roundabout (with a giant Orangutan statue)
  3. Drive along until you see the large, pictorial RDC sign and turn right
  4. Drive for about 500m to the RDC car park
  5. The public bus service from Labuk Bus Company departs from the Sandakan Town Council at RM2.10 (US$0.60) one way, but the bus stops at the junction of the main road. You then need to walk about 2km or thumb a ride.
Map for Rainforest Discovery Centre RDCMap courtesy of RDC

Tickets/Entrance Fees for the RDC:
  • Adults: RM10 (US$3)
  • Children (5-17 yrs) RM5 (US$1.50)
  • Children (Under 5 yrs) Free
Opening Hours for the RDC:
  • Daily 9.00 AM - 6.00 PM
  • Birders start as early as 7 AM
What to bring
  • Bring mosquito or insect repellent, a poncho or an umbrella if it rains as the walkways are not covered. 
  • Bring some snacks and bottled water as well.
  • A pair of binoculars are worth bringing if you want to see birds.
  • Wear proper shoes here, as some of the walkways can be slippery.
  • You may want to bring some snacks if you have kids, as there is no food available except for a kiosk that sells drinks and some local snacks.

* Remember to practice Responsible Tourism wherever you are.

Address for the Rainforest Discovery Center RDC
Rainforest Discovery Centre,
PO Box 1407, 90715
Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.
Telephone: 60 089 533780 / 781

Map to Rainforest Discovery Center RDC
View RDC Rainforest Discovery Center Sepilok on a larger map

*All pictures shot with Nikon D60 - 18-105mm Lens


My trip here was an eye-opener to what we have in Malaysia, as I never expected this part of Sabah to be so world-class. 

And for anyone who wants to explore Malaysia, I recommend that the Rainforest Discovery Centre RDC in Sepilok be one of the places on your itinerary.
Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.


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