Sandakan Holidays

The second largest city in Sabah lies on the north eastern corner of the island and looks out across the mouth of teal-blue Sandakan Bay. A former centre of commerce, the city was heavily bombed during World War II and while much was destroyed, the city is dotted with religious relics and stunning colonial mansions.

Just over 30 minutes drive from the city is Sepilok and the world-famous Sepilok Orang-Utan Sanctuary, which gives visitors the opportunity to watch these adorable creatures close up in their natural habitat. A boardwalk leads you to a viewing gallery and feeding platform where the apes are fed milk and bananas twice a day by rangers.

Close by, within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, is the Rainforest Discovery Centre where you can take a stroll through the beautiful rainforest or along the 480 feet long canopy walkway and enjoy spectacular views high above ground. It's a great vantage point for spotting some of the 250 species of tropical birds that live within the forest, including hornbills, kingfishers and the illusive Bornean Bristlehead.

Wildlife can also be spotted when you travel along the protected Kinabatangan River during the 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

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River Kwai


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.

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