Sandakan was the former capital of British North Borneo until 1946. The town prospered in the early days due to its port with visiting traders from about the world. Sandakan is an important town to Australian and British WWII history with the infamous Death Marches commencing here in 1945. After WWII the capital moved to Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu).

Due to the effort of the local forestry reserve, Sandakan has retained many hectares of dense rainforest, hence making it the first chosen destination for eco-tourism. With heightened awareness and desire to learn more about the environment, Sandakan city has become quite the rage these days.

Getting There

The most practical way for visitors to get into Sandakan is by air, second by tour packages arranged by your chosen travel agent

By plane
Sandakan Airport is connected directly daily with Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu by AirAsia, and to Kota Kinabalu by Malaysia Airlines and its subsidiary MASWings. MASWings also has connecting flights with Tawau and Kudat.
Future flight routes include those chartered flights directly from southern coastal cities in China.

By road
There is a two-lane highway (one lane per direction) from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan. The road is paved and road conditions are generally good. Journey from KK to SDK shall take anywhere between 6 – 8 hrs depending on traffic and weather conditions.

Eco Tourism

When one think about the eco city, the first that comes to mind first would be the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. Orang Utans, like most apes, give the impression of being on the smaller side. In actual fact, a dominant male can grow as tall as humans and definitely heavier weight. In recent years, several wildlife conservatories such as the Borneo Sun Bear Centre and Rainforest Discovery Centre were established to provide further information and sanctuary to the flora and fauna in the region.

Then there are the turtles at the Selingan Turtle Island. Turtle hatchings take place pretty much every week throughout the year, with certain months peak at almost tens and thousands of eggs being laid by turtles coming ashore.

A trip to Sandakan would not be completed, without joining the river cruise along Kinabatangan River. The 560km Kinabatangan River, the longest in the state, flows pass some of the richest ecosystems on earth, especially just before it meets the sea. The Lower Kinabatangan and Sukau areas are known for its mangrove swamps and flood plains, and is home to its most famous inhabitants, the proboscis monkeys. Up river, you will go past interesting villages where the river is still the main highway. There are also opportunities to view wildlife, including the rare and endangered pygmy elephants, that is unique and only available in Borneo.

There are a lot more other interesting sites where one can roam and explore the wonderful wildlife dwelling in the forest. If you are a nature lover, you really should make this one of your bucket list. Better yet, tick the list off by coming over with us!