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SandakanMalaysia

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.

Top Hotels in Sandakan

Sabah Hotel Sandakan
Sabah Hotel Sandakan
4 out of 5
Km 1 Jalan Utara, Sandakan, Sabah
Free CancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is NT$1,298 per night from Feb 1 to Feb 2

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 ...

4.2/5Very Good! (234 reviews)
good

"everything just good"…"

Reviewed on 2020/6/10

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
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Located in the heart of Sandakan, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Sandakan Harbour Mall, Saint Michael's and All Angels Church, and Agnes Keith House. ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (867 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 2020/3/26

Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan
Sepilok Nature Resort
Sepilok Nature Resort
2.5 out of 5
KM 22.5 (Mile 14), Jalan Sepilok, Off Jalan Sapi Nangoh, Sandakan, Sabah
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Situated in Sandakan, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre and Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary. Rainforest Discovery Centre is ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (213 reviews)
I wish we planned to stay longer

"I wish we had planned a longer stay. The photos do no justice to the place. Simply fabulous property and really great staff."…"

Reviewed on 2019/12/31

Sepilok Nature Resort
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.

Vacation Rentals in Sandakan

Homestay Signature Suite
Homestay Signature Suite
3.5 out of 5
Sri Utama Condominium, IJM, Sandakan, Sabah
The price is NT$1,578 per night from Jan 19 to Jan 20

Situated in Sandakan, this apartment building is 2.4 mi (3.8 km) from Sandakan Memorial Park and within 6 mi (10 km) of Sandakan Rainforest Park and Puu Jih ...

4/5Very 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 2018/2/25

Homestay Signature Suite
Mickey Mouse Signature Suite
Mickey Mouse Signature Suite
3.5 out of 5
A2-3-6, Sri Utama Condominiums, IJM, Sandakan, Sabah
The price is NT$1,754 per night from Jan 19 to Jan 20

Situated in Sandakan, this golf apartment building is 2.4 mi (3.8 km) from Sandakan Memorial Park and within 6 mi (10 km) of Sandakan Rainforest Park and Puu ...

Mickey Mouse Signature Suite
Walai Penyu Conservation Park
Walai Penyu Conservation Park
2 out of 5
Libaran Island, Sandakan, Sabah
The price is NT$9,719 per night from Jan 19 to Jan 20

Situated in Sandakan, this campground is within 20 mi (32 km) of Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, and Borneo Sun Bear Conservation ...

Walai Penyu Conservation Park
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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