Sandakan

Travel Guide
Sandakan featuring a garden, a city and general coastal views

This historic township, once occupied by the Japanese in World War II, is now a gateway to northern Borneo’s rich world of ecotourism.

The Sabah region’s largest center is the historic town of Sandakan, located on the northern coast of Borneo. The town is surrounded by natural beauty and an abundance of wildlife, and is considered the gateway to Sabah’s ecotourism region. Beyond the ecotourism, Sandakan is an important historical site. The Japanese occupied the town for much of World War II. The area was used to host a number of Prisoner of War camps, and the Sandakan Airport was built by forced labor. Today, a war cemetery and memorial park mark the events.

Tour operators are abundant in Sandakan, and ecotourism is by far the biggest draw card to the region. Elephants, monkeys, crocodiles and rhinoceros call the area home, and the dramatic shifts in landscape produce one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Within a few miles you’ll see swamps, limestone cave systems and three types of forest. See endangered species of ape and monkey at the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary. The largest mammals mingle with the smallest birds on the banks of the Kinabatangan River, a short drive from the town. Dive the Semporna Islands, known as one of the best dive sites in the world, just off the Sabah coast.

Life underwater is even more abundant than it is above in Sandakan, and many of the local dishes revolve around seafood. Sample freshly caught shellfish, or try dried, salted fish from the local markets.

Sandakan enjoys a tropical rainforest climate, with temperatures averaging 87 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius) year round. The wet season brings monsoons that often cause the Kinabatangan River to flood during December and January. Between April and October visitors can expect a mostly dry experience with the added bonus of the new season of flora in the region.

Sandakan can be reached by plane from Kuala Lumpur or by bus from southern Borneo. Once in town you’ll have no problem walking between your hotel, restaurants and local attractions, while a bus system will take you further afield. Taxis are readily available and cars can be hired from within the town.

Sandakan Travel Guide Video

My Dream Hotel
My Dream Hotel
3 out of 5
Lot 161-166, Block D, Avenue 5, Bandar Utama (IJM) Mile 6, Sandakan, Sabah
Fully refundable
The price is P774 per night from 1 Jan to 1 Jan
Situated in Sandakan, this hotel is 2.3 mi (3.7 km) from Sandakan Memorial Park and within 6 mi (10 km) of Sandakan Rainforest Park and Puu Jih Shih Temple. ...
3.6/5 Good! (35 reviews)
"They called you at 2am just to get back the iron and the board. The iron board that they provide was was also broken."

Reviewed on Jul 1, 2019

My Dream Hotel
Sepilok Forest Edge Resort
Sepilok Forest Edge Resort
3 out of 5
Jalan Rambutan, Sepilok Mile 14, Sandakan, Sabah
Situated in Sandakan, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary and Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Rainforest Discovery Centre ...
4.3/5 Excellent! (110 reviews)
"Our recent stay was fabulous. The staff could not do enough to make us comfortable. It was great that the restaurant opened on our first day thus making everything so convenient. Food was superb. Super high ratings from us!"

Reviewed on Aug 7, 2020

Sepilok Forest Edge Resort
Sabah Hotel Sandakan
Sabah Hotel Sandakan
4 out of 5
Km 1 Jalan Utara, Sandakan, Sabah
The price is P2,689 per night from 12 Dec to 12 Dec
Situated in Sandakan, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Agnes Keith House, Sandakan Harbour Mall, and Saint Michael's and All Angels Church. Bukit Buli Sim ...
4.2/5 Very Good! (235 reviews)
"A pleasant in city closed to nature hotel to stay in."

Reviewed on Nov 24, 2021

Sabah Hotel Sandakan
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Homestay Signature Suite
Homestay Signature Suite
3.5 out of 5
Sri Utama Condominium, IJM, Sandakan, Sabah
The price is P2,581 per night from 1 Jan to 1 Jan
Situated in Sandakan, this apartment building is 2.5 mi (4.1 km) from Sandakan Memorial Park and within 6 mi (10 km) of Sandakan Rainforest Park and Puu Jih ...
4/5 Very Good! (3 reviews)
Unexpected Pleasure
"Room was fantastic, Host was great as we had accidentally booked the wrong night but he quickly organised for the room to be ready. Had excellent facilities and comfortable beds. Pool area was amazing. Host was also extremely helpful with information about the area."

Reviewed on Feb 25, 2018

Homestay Signature Suite
Hello Kitty Signature Suite
Hello Kitty Signature Suite
3.5 out of 5
Sri Utama Condominium, IJM, Sandakan
The price is P2,892 per night from 12 Dec to 12 Dec
Situated in Sandakan, this apartment building is 2.6 mi (4.2 km) from Sandakan Memorial Park and within 6 mi (10 km) of Sandakan Rainforest Park and Puu Jih ...
2.7/5 (3 reviews)
房間可以 主人懶散
"裝修很符合Hello Kitty 的氛圍,女兒進去就發出一聲驚呼,但廚房水龍頭搖晃,睡覺翻身床板便嘎吱作響。共三房雙衛,還有一個停車位。訂房時附帶早餐,這是最大的騙局,只有幾包咖啡粉,其他什麼都沒有。入住交接鑰匙後,便人影全無,如果這種態度經營民宿的話,還是免了吧!"

Reviewed on Jan 23, 2019

Hello Kitty Signature Suite
Mickey Mouse Signature Suite
Mickey Mouse Signature Suite
3.5 out of 5
A2-3-6, Sri Utama Condominiums, IJM, Sandakan, Sabah
Situated in Sandakan, this golf apartment building is 2.6 mi (4.2 km) from Sandakan Memorial Park and within 6 mi (10 km) of Sandakan Rainforest Park and Puu ...
Mickey Mouse Signature Suite
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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