10 Things to do in Sandakan Sabah Borneo

10 Things to do in Sandakan Sabah Borneo

10 Things to do in Sandakan, Sabah is a must for those seeking a nature and fun experience on the East side of Borneo. While Sabah has so much to offer in terms of tourism, many come to Sandakan mainly for the Eco Tourism offered here. In this list, I have narrowed down the things one can do while visiting Sandakan and this list is in no order. Everything listed here is located around Sandakan and you can easily visit all of these places in under 5 Days. Best recommendation would be to spend about 6D/5N here to fully experience all of the places listed here.

1. Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary

Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center in Sandakan is one of the must-visit places when you are here. There are no two ways about this while it is known as the star attraction of Sandakan. See orangutans in the wild as they are being rehabilitated to go back to nature. Excellent for all ages, kids especially. Walking level is - Easy
Kinabatangan River Sabah
Watching the wildlife along the Kinabatangan River
2. Visiting the Kinabatangan River

Kinabatangan River is one of the most interesting nature safaris available in Sandakan. Located just two hours out of Sandakan town, the Kinabatangan River stretches over 560 kilometers and is the second longest river in Malaysia and the longest in Sabah. Kinabatangan is also well known for its remarkable wildlife and fascinating habitats found throughout the sanctuary. See the rare Borneo Pygmy Elephant in its natural surrounding while bird watchers will have a field day here. 
Gomantong Caves Sandakan
3. Gomantong Caves

One of the world renown caves for birds nest harvesting and located at Gomantong Hill in the lower Kinabatangan area or Gomantong Rainforest Reserve. Consisting of two cave complexes which are Black Cave (Simud Hitam) and White Cave (Simud Putih), these caves have been harvested for the prized birds nest for many years even till today. There is also wildlife to be seen here as you may spot several red lip monkeys around the Gomantong Caves. Bring a perfumed mask for those who dislike the guano smell. Walking level is - Easy

4. The Canopy Walk at Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC)

This is one of the most unique canopy walks or sky walks I have ever been on. This mega steel structure is located along the Rainforest Discovery Trail at the RDC in Sepilok, Sabah and if you are a nature lover or bird watcher, this is the place to experience it. The Borneo Bird Festival is also held here anually. If you want to try a different kind of Canopy Walk, then head over here and the best time is also in the mornings or late evenings before the sun goes down. Walking level is - Easy to Medium.

5. Agnes Keith House in Sandakan

One of the popular places to visit as it is located in town area. This famous landmark house called Newlands was a former British colonial quarters and was once lived in by Agnes Newton Keith, a well known American writer who penned the famous 'Land Below The Wind' in 1939. You can easily walk to the Agnes Keith House from town.

6. English Tea House and Restaurant

War Memorial Sandakan This stunning place is located on a little hill overlooking the majestic Sandakan Bay. This unique place is also housed in a meticulously renovated colonial English house and is surrounded by 1.5 acres of perfectly manicured lawns complete with a Croquet Pitch and outdoor seating. Anyone visiting Sandakan should at least visit this place for some good old traditional English cooking.

7. Sandakan War Memorial 

The Sandakan Memorial Park is located in the outskirts of Sandakan town. The site is just next to the actual POW (Prisoners of War) camp which was set up during the World War Two Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1945 which witnessed the death of 2400 Australian and British POW held by the Japanese here.

8. Seeing rare Orchids,  Flowers and Plants

Known also as the Plants Discovery Trail, this is one of the highlights at the Rainforest Discovery Centre RDC in Sepilok. This unique 800 meter long trail is filled with all kinds of rainforest flora and is a very educational walk. If you love all things flora (flowers and plants) this should be one of your stops as you will see rare Borneo Orchids and other interesting flowers here. 

9. Staying at one of the lodges in Kinabatangan

The Bukit Melapi Lodge is located along the Sukau Kinabatangan River and these are the kind of lodgings available for those who wish to stay a few days to observe the incredible wildlife around here. Most packages to the Kinabatangan are 3D/2N and river cruises or trekking are included here. The best possible way to enjoy the natural wildlife of Borneo is staying at one of these lodges.

Kinabatangan River Photo
Baby crocodile at Kinabatangan River
10. Experiencing a Night River Safari along the Kinabatangan River

A Kinabatangan River Night Cruise is one of the most exciting and adventurous trips you will take while you stay at the Lower Kinabatangan River Lodges. This unique night cruise is an optional package at each of the lodges so you need to book with your lodge or tour guide if you want to experience this cruise along the Kinabatangan River in Sandakan to see the nocturnal wldlife. Crocodiles are a guaranteed sighting here.

Update November 2014 - Nothing much has changed around Sandakan except they have the new Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre or BSBCC which is located next to Sepilok Orangutan Centre here. A number of new lodges and resorts have opened up along the Kinabatangan Sukau district too. Some of them luxury while others just normal. 

The links in each of the 10 Things to do in Sandakan are linked back to each of my original articles which I personally have visited and experienced at the various places around Sandakan. So this is not one of those 'plucked-from-the-air' lists but more of a personal experience shared with everyone about the interested in things to do in Sandakan Sabah Borneo.