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In the east part of Sabah lies a historic town of Sandakan. It is the gateway to Malaysia’s eco-tourism, one of the primary ports for timber, oil, tobacco, coffee, and sago exports.  Despite its booming export industries, the place remains idyllic and unaffected by Western cultures. There are no luxury hotels, shopping centers, and lavish restaurants, but don’t worry because there are some malls where you can shop. What you will experience is the authentic Asian experience that provides simple delight as you explore this amazing place.

5 Best Things To Do In Sandakan, Malaysia
Orangutan | Photo by under Akihito Fujii creative commons

Best Things To Do in Sandakan Malaysia:

#1- Meet the Orangutans

The orangutans can be found in the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. The center rescues and trains orphaned apes, giving them natural habitat since it is situated in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Be there early to get a nice viewing spot in one of the designated feeding platforms. At around 10:00 A.M, the trainers feed them with long beans, bananas, and other types of fruits. You can also watch the juvenile orangutans practicing their basic survival skills in the outdoor nursery. The entrance fee is 37RM.


#2 – Visit The House of Agnes Keith

Agnes Keith was the American writer who lived in Sandakan for five years during the 1930s with husband Henry, who was the Conservator of Forests in Borneo. She wrote the book Land Below the Wind, a memoir describing the lifestyle and culture of the town. It was followed by another two books- Three Came Home and White Man Returns. This colonial-styled, wooden villa was converted into a museum. And after visiting the House, go to the nearby Sandakan English Tea House and chill for a while.

#3 -Pay Tribute to Sandakan War Memorial

If you heard about the story of death marches from Sandakan to Ranau where only six Australians were able to escape, then visiting the Sandakan War Memorial is one of the things to do when you get there.  This historic site pays homage to 600 British and 1800 Australian soldiers who were captured by the Japanese troops during the end of World War II. It is located in the exact site of the camp where they were held as prisoners of war in Taman Rimba, 10 kilometers from Sandakan proper.

#4 – Go Spelunking in Gomantong Cave

If you are a daring soul, exploring the Gomantong Cave is another place to visit. It is famous for bird nests that are used to make an Asian soup delicacy. It has two chambers- the Black Cave where tourists explore and the White Cave with inaccessible terrain. This cave is home to more than two million bats and maybe same numbers of cockroaches, too!

#5 – Take a River Cruise in Kinabatangan River

One of the best things to do in Sandakan Malaysia is to check out the wondrous sights, while taking a cruise in the Kinabatangan River. It lies in the midst of Sukau-Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can find rainforests with pygmy elephants, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, birds, crocodiles, and water buffalo as you traverse the length of this 560-kilometer river.

These are just some of the best things to do in Sandakan Malaysia. There is a never-ending list of places to explore and things to enjoy in this laid-back town of Sabah, Malaysia. Don’t forget to relish their delectable Bak Ku Te, the Spring Noodles, and Sotong Kangkung!


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