Sandakan

Travel Guide
Sandakan featuring a park, 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.

Sepilok Jungle Resort
Sepilok Jungle Resort
2 out of 5
Jalan Rambutan, Mile 14 Sepilok, Sandakan, Sabah, 90000
The price is £27 per night from 17 Jun to 18 Jun
Stay at this business-friendly resort in Sandakan. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking and breakfast. Our guests praise the restaurant and the helpful staff in their ...
3.7/5 Good! (142 reviews)
Swimming pool 😀😀
"Great hotel near to Orangutans 🦧 Thank you Shasha and team for the best stay ❤️❤️❤️ Good food Lovely pool Jungle surround"

Reviewed on 3 Mar 2020

Sepilok Jungle Resort
Sabah Hotel Sandakan
Sabah Hotel Sandakan
4 out of 5
Km 1 Jalan Utara, Sandakan, Sabah, 90000
The price is £43 per night from 4 Jun to 5 Jun
Stay at this 4-star business-friendly hotel in Sandakan. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking and 3 restaurants. Our guests praise the pool and the helpful staff in ...
4.2/5 Very Good! (238 reviews)
Friendly Staff
"The staff was very helpful and the location was wonderful"

Reviewed on 25 Dec 2021

Sabah Hotel Sandakan
Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan
Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan
4 out of 5
Lot 106 & 107 Blk Hs 11, Sandakan Harbour Square, Sandakan, Sabah, 90000
Stay at this 4-star business-friendly hotel in Sandakan. Enjoy free WiFi, 2 restaurants and breakfast. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the spacious rooms ...
4.4/5 Wonderful! (865 reviews)
Lovely Hotel
"Good position close to the sea front restaurants and shopping mall. Room was roomy clean with coffee/ tea and water provided daily. Free toiletries. Swimming pool was clean with sun beds and towels. Breakfast had a good selection both Asian and European."

Reviewed on 26 Mar 2020

Four Points by Sheraton 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, 90000
The price is £45 per night from 30 May to 31 May
Stay at this 3.5-star apartment in Sandakan. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking and a children's pool. Our guests praise the pool and the comfy beds in their reviews. ...
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 25 Feb 2018

Homestay Signature Suite
Hello Kitty Signature Suite
Hello Kitty Signature Suite
3.5 out of 5
Sri Utama Condominium, IJM, Sandakan, 90000
The price is £45 per night from 10 Jun to 11 Jun
Stay at this 3.5-star business-friendly apartment in Sandakan. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking and a children's pool. Popular attractions Sandakan Memorial Park ...
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 23 Jan 2019

Hello Kitty Signature Suite
Walai Penyu Resort - Campground
Walai Penyu Resort - Campground
2 out of 5
Pulau Libaran, Sandakan, 90009
The price is £195 per night from 10 Jun to 11 Jun
Stay at this beach campsite in Sandakan. Enjoy free breakfast, a marina and a beach locale. Our guests praise the helpful staff in their reviews. Popular attractions ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (2 reviews)
"We had an amazing tour guide who showed us around the island, to the village, the turtle hatchery and other wildlife on the island. We were given cooked meals throughout the day and drinks. Great atmosphere, all the staff were very friendly and accommodating"

Reviewed on 17 Jul 2019

Walai Penyu Resort - Campground
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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