The 10 Best Things To Do In Sandakan

Imagine waking up to the gentle hum of the jungle, the air tinged with the salty breeze of the Sulu Sea. Sandakan, a city perched on the northeastern coast of Borneo, is a treasure trove of natural wonders and historical charm. It’s a place where adventure whispers from the treetops and history echoes through the streets. Let’s dive into the heart of this vibrant city and explore the top 10 things to do that will make your visit unforgettable.

1. Encounter Wildlife at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

One of the most heartwarming experiences in Sandakan is visiting the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Here, orphaned and injured orangutans are nursed back to health and taught survival skills before being released back into the wild. Watching these majestic creatures swing through the trees is a moment that’ll stick with you for life. And hey, you might even make a new Orange-haired friend!

2. Step Back in Time at Sandakan Memorial Park

History buffs, you’re in for a poignant journey. The Sandakan Memorial Park stands on the site of a World War Ii prisoner-of-war camp. It’s a place of reflection, where you can stroll through the beautiful gardens and pay respects to the soldiers who lost their lives. The air is heavy with stories of the past, and the silence speaks volumes.

3. Discover the Wonders of Rainforest Discovery Centre

Ever wanted to walk among the giants of the forest? The Rainforest Discovery Centre offers an incredible canopy walkway where you can view the rainforest from above. It’s a birdwatcher’s paradise, with hornbills and kingfishers adding splashes of color to the green canvas. Don’t forget to explore the botanical garden and learn about the diverse plant life.

4. Take a Cruise Along the Kinabatangan River

For an adventure that’s both thrilling and serene, hop on a river cruise along the Kinabatangan River. It’s the second-longest river in Malaysia, and its banks are teeming with wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles sunbathing, elephants quenching their thirst, and maybe even a pygmy elephant if you’re lucky!

5. Explore the Limestone Wonders of Gomantong Caves

Feeling brave? Venture into the Gomantong Caves, where you’ll find a complex system of caverns home to thousands of bats and swiftlets. It’s a bit eerie, but totally fascinating. The locals Harvest the swiftlet nests for bird’s nest soup, a delicacy that’s as intriguing as it sounds.

6. Visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Right next to the orangutan sanctuary, you’ll find the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. These are the smallest bears in the world, and they’re absolutely adorable. The center works to protect and rehabilitate these sun bears, and you can watch them frolic and play in their natural habitat.

7. Stroll Through the Sandakan Heritage Trail

Ready to stretch your legs? The Sandakan Heritage Trail is a walk through time, taking you past colonial-era buildings, Chinese temples, and the historic Agnes Keith House. It’s a cultural mosaic that tells the story of Sandakan’s rich heritage. Plus, the views of the bay are simply stunning.

8. Indulge in Seafood at Sim-Sim Water Village

Foodies, rejoice! Sandakan is known for its mouthwatering seafood, and there’s no better place to indulge than at Sim-Sim Water Village. The stilted houses double as seafood restaurants, serving up the freshest catches of the day. It’s a feast for the senses and a true taste of local life.

9. Witness Turtle Conservation at Selingan Turtle Island

If you’re up for a short boat trip, Selingan Turtle Island is a must-visit. This sanctuary is dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles. You can watch as turtles lay their eggs on the beach and, if timing is right, see the hatchlings make their first journey to the sea. It’s a magical experience that’s both humbling and inspiring.

10. Soak in the Views at Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple

Perched on a hilltop, the Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple offers a peaceful retreat with panoramic views of Sandakan Bay. The temple itself is a work of art, with intricate designs and golden statues. It’s the perfect spot for a moment of tranquility and to snap some breathtaking photos.


  • What’s the best time to visit Sandakan?

    The best time to visit Sandakan is during the dry season from March to October. You’ll enjoy clear skies and easier access to outdoor activities.

  • Is Sandakan safe for tourists?

    Absolutely! Sandakan is generally safe for tourists. Just exercise the usual precautions you would when traveling anywhere else.

  • How do I get around Sandakan?

    There are various options, including taxis, buses, and car rentals. For a more authentic experience, try the local trishaws!

In conclusion, Sandakan is a hidden gem that offers an array of unforgettable experiences. From the enchanting encounters with wildlife at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre to the historical insights at Sandakan Memorial Park and the Heritage Trail, there’s something for everyone. The natural beauty of the Rainforest Discovery Centre, Gomantong Caves, and Kinabatangan River will leave you in awe, while the cultural and culinary delights at Sim-Sim Water Village and Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple will enrich your senses. And let’s not forget the heartwarming conservation efforts at Selingan Turtle Island. Sandakan is a destination that not only entertains but also educates and inspires. So pack your bags, and get ready for an adventure that’ll etch itself into your memory, just as it has in mine.

Kurby Team

The Kurby Content Team is a diverse group of seasoned real estate experts dedicated to providing insightful, reliable information for homebuyers, real estate investors, and real estate agents. With backgrounds ranging from real estate brokerage, property investment, and residential home buying, our team combines decades of experience with a passion for demystifying the real estate world. We at Kurby are committed to helping you make informed, successful real estate decisions. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or a real estate professional, count on the Kurby Content Team to deliver the most relevant, actionable real estate content you need.