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“Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sandakan

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
73 helpful votes 73 helpful votes
“Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2011

what can I say about this lovely town :) This town remind me so much of my own hometown,Ipoh. A small town with simple living style. nothing to rush here. the people are nice. the foods are great. and the nature are absolutely amazing!! i went here last February 2011 for a 4 days trip. went to various amazing places! im proud to be Malaysian and Sabah is definitely a jewel of Malaysia!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
“Gomantong Caves and Kinabatangan River”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2009

Day 3 of Our Road Trip to Sandakan
The Gomantong Caves and Kinabatangan River

We were really looking forward to this day trip to the Gomantong Caves and the Kinabatangan River.
It was booked with Sepilok Wildlife and Adventure Tours (part of Sepilok Jungle Resort ).We set off as a party of 12 on the coach from the Rainforest Discovery Centre and soon discovered that our guide was both friendly and very informative.The journey to the caves was quite long but enjoyable.We gained a lot of information about the collection of birds nests from the caves for soup. This is very protected and restricted and also applies to the collection of the bat gwano.
There was a man-made walkway from the bus park at the edge of the forest.We had been told to cover up and wear a hat for the cave.However it wasn’t so bad although a bit smelly.The walkways were slippery because they were wet but also because of the cockroaches and other insects.
The cave was very high and the views of the rock face which were red and brown were really
beautiful where they were lit by the sunlight through a hole in the cliffs above.
The walk back to the coach was really exciting we were so lucky to see macaques, silver tailed monkeys, hornbills and a huge monitor lizard.We then spotted a female orang-utan with her baby hanging from a branch.
We travelled to the Kinabatangan river where we were to take a 2 hour river cruise .Starting from a lodge style retreat where lunch was available.
The river trip was really enjoyable although we had hoped to see pygmy elephants as they had been seen the day before . Unfortunately we only discovered fresh prints on the river bank.There were lots of macaques and fish eagles.As we made our way back to the retreat we were hit by a storm and used the spare lifejackets to keep us dry.
It was a long journey back to the Rainforest Centre but we had had a really good day and had seen lots of the area around Sandakan that was new to us.

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Top Contributor
94 reviews 94 reviews
Reviews in 54 cities Reviews in 54 cities
90 helpful votes 90 helpful votes
“Sandakan, Sabah Day Trip”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2009

Sandakan is a worthwhile day trip if visiting Sabah. Having read on-line that it is almost impossible to book flights to Sandakan once you arrive in Kota Kinabalu we found this wasn’t true. In fact, had we waited to book a flight in KK we could have done a whole day package with lunch and transport to the main sights for not much more than the price of our airfare ($AU95 return). Sandakan appears to be better prepared for the tourist than KK. Modern, air-conditioned buses were at the airport to meet those on package deals and tourist sights were well advertised and signposted in English. Car rental was cheap, particularly considering that some of the sights were a RM100, one-way taxi trip from the town centre. Agnes Keith House is a unique look into the colonial past and the lives of those who lived in these remote outposts. It’s a five minute drive from town. Next door is the charming English Tea House which provides Devonshire teas and meals. A must for any Australian is the Sandakan Memorial Park built on the site of a Japanese POW Camp. Entry to the park is free, however, there is a small charge to visit the excellent museum. Linked to this sight, but located in the town, is the church of St Michael and All Saints. Windows and plaques are dedicated to the 1700+ Australians who lost their lives in the death marches to Ranau. The church is locked, however, if you ask at the office a staff member will happily show you through for no charge. Less than 10 minutes drive from the Sipilot Orang Utan Reserve in the Rainforest Discovery Centre. Make sure you take water; there are no refreshments available at the Discovery Centre. Tropical strength insect repellent is also recommended. The centre has a number of walking paths, lookouts and a canopy walk. Unfortunately we found the much publicised orang-utan reserve over-rated. For those who have seen TV documentaries about the orang-utan rescue work in Borneo and Sabah be warned, you don’t get to see any of this interesting work at the reserve, however, the international staff are more than happy to chat about the work being done. There is a 30 minute documentary and a walking trail that takes you to the feeding location for orang-utans that have not completely separated from the reserve. Feeding times are 10am and 3pm. We were told to avoid the morning feed as it is crowded, however, whether we were unlucky or the orang-utans were no longer hungry, we only saw the back of one. There are plenty of other activities that we didn’t have time for in our short visit to Sandakan.

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Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Great day with Sam the taxi driver”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2009

Our trip to Sandakan. Feb 1 2009

After arriving at KK on 31 Jan we traveled to Sandakan from KK the next day. Flew over Air Asia(705am departure) 217 MY for 2 and back MalaysianAirlines (650 pm return MH 3037) 348MY for 2..

Thought about booking a tour pre leaving Australia and when we got to KK. All looked expensive… and were compared to our great day.

From Sandakan airport, got a cab to Sepilok Orang Utang rehabilitation centre, about 40 mins out of Sandakan town.

Saw the orangutangs in the jungle while they were being fed at 10 am. Interesting place… but orangutangs are over and done in about 30 mins. Then the monkeys turn up to eat the left overs. Not expensive. Video was very informative, so make sure you see it pre show. It is just opposite the ticket room.

Met two Canadians – who were also wondering what to do next and how we would get back to town. I had printed off Sandakan highlights off Air Asia website, so we just needed a car.

We had a bite to eat at the Rehab centre café and had a look in the car park.

Ran into a taxi manned by the sensational Sam, looking for a good fare and a very knowledgable trained tour guide. Learnt lots about Borneo, Malaysia, Sandakan, etc,

We hired him for about 6 hours for 120 ringit(about A$50). Between 4 of us, about A$13/head… but we gave him a big tip at the end.

His phone no is [-]. His email is [-]. Highly recommended.

Went to Sandakan prisoner of war memorial camp site – very powerful esp if your are Aussie or Brit. 2500 prisoners went in after fall of Singapore, only 6 lived and they only lived because they all escaped.

Then to the water village, Chinese temple and Agnes Keiths house, city centre(local market)

Water village…wow!!! As land is expensive if you have no money, you build your house on stilts on the water. There were hundreds of houses, best ones had fresh water, power, satellite tv. Some not so good of course. All just let he sewage drop into the sea below…. Where the kids swam, caught fish, etc.

Chinese temple is on top of the hill.. great view and very interesting.

Agnes Keith was an American author living in Borneo pre and post war. She was also interned by Japanese during the war. Her house in Sandakan is now a museum, also on top of a hill. Very interesting. We had tea and scones at the tea house opposite and played croquet. Just like it would have been in the 30s no doubt.

Then back to town to wander round the market, then off to airport via a local market, where Sam bought his fish for his family’s tea.

Back to KK over the mountains. Great day… and I reckon we did it for about half the cost of a tour!

The Goodwill travelers

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Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“heaven on earth”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2006

About Sandakan;
The only regret I have about Sandakan is that I didn't stay longer and explored more of the beauties that surround Sandakan. I stayed in the Sandakan surroundings for 2 days.
the first stay was on Selingan island to see the turtles and my 2nd night was at the Sepilok jungle resort. We toured Selingan island, Kinebatangan river and the Sepilok orang utang sanctuary through SI-tours. Had I have known how amazingly beautiful and breath taking my journey on the Kinabatangan river was, I would have opted to do the 3 days/2 night trip to Sukau. It feels like being part of a National Geograhic screening. There is ( according to the local people) an increasing stream of tourists visiting, and you will find yourself gathered with other tourists on boats, resorts. That in my opinion, can sometimes spoil the 'moment' of seeing the animals the first time you discover them, so do try to take a minute to yourself, and let it all sink in. There seems to be so much left do discover around Sandakan. The town itself seemed uninspiring the first time I layed eyes on it, but it has this unexplainable attraction. The town centre has seen better days and a lot of the buidings are dilapidated. However the stilted houses are something to be seen.
I can't wait to get back there and explore more of it. I think Sandakan is probably a good base to explore and admire the surroundings. I'm not sure whether it's advisable to do all the sightseeing on your own account. The tour companies seem reasonably good value and the knowledge of the guides indispensable.We travelled throug SI-tours, who were very organized and helpful. Little tip : Being on Selingan island when it is full moon is amazing as you wait for the turtles to come ashore. Enjoy your trip!

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