Sandakan Holidays

Once Sabah’s capital, Sandakan was heavily bombed during World War II and while much was destroyed, a scattering of religious relics and stunning colonial mansions can be seen.

It is however, the nearby attractions which provide most interest, including the world-famous Sepilok Orang-Utan Sanctuary, where visitors can watch these adorable animals close up in their natural habitat. A boardwalk leads to a viewing gallery and feeding platform where rangers feed the apes twice a day.

Also close by is the Rainforest Discovery Centre within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, where you can stroll through the rainforest or along the canopy walkway. It’s a great vantage point for spotting some of the 250 species of tropical birds that call the forest home. Wildlife can also be spotted when you travel along the Kinabatangan River during our Sandakan Wildlife tour, and is sure to be a highlight of a visit to Sabah. The rich floodplains of the river are home to orang-utans, proboscis monkeys, Sabah pygmy elephants, estuarine crocodiles, monitor lizards and around 200 species of birds.

Another notable attraction within the area is the majestic Gomantong Cave, one of the largest cave systems in Sabah. Located in the Gomantong Forest Reserve, the caves are home to millions of bats and just as many swiftlets along with their valuable nests, a prized delicacy among the Chinese for bird's nest soup. A boardwalk leads into Semut Hitam cavern (one of the two complexes) which gives you access to explore or to watch the skilled harvesters climbing networks of rattan ladders and ropes to get to the nests.

Why visit Sandakan?
  • Sepilok Orang-Utan Sanctuary
  • Rainforest Discovery Centre
  • Canopy Walk
  • Gomantong Caves
  • Kinabatangan River
Essential facts about Sandakan
Local Time

GMT +8 hours


Malaysian Ringgit

Travel information

There are no direct flights from the UK to Sandakan. The flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan takes around 45 minutes.

Best time to go

March to October are considered the best months for travel as November to February can bring more rain. However, rainforest areas can be unpredictable so rain can occur at any time, even if just a short sharp downpour.