Sandakan, Little Hong Kong of North Borneo
Sandakan, Little Hong Kong of North Borneo

Sandakan, Little Hong Kong of North Borneo

Highlights of Sandakan

Once known as 'Elopura'; Sandakan is the second largest city of Sabah and tourists rush here for the renowned Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center and Kinabatangan River. Situated on a gulf of the Sulu Sea, Sandakan was famously regarded as "the Little Hong Kong" due to its history of being vastly populated by Hongkong immigrants and is acclaimed for its wide range of seafood which is easily accessible along the Sim Sim Water Village. Settle in for a couple of days and you will be charmed by its unique Borneo's wildlife, historical sites and diverse cuisines.

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What To Do in Sandakan

Meet Primate Friends at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Exploring Sandakan will never be complete without a visit to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre at the edge of Kabili forest reserve. This 43 square kilometres of protected land houses young orphaned orangutan and many other primates living free in the reserve. Get up close to orangutans during feeding times at 10am and 3pm daily. You could also watch a 30-minute documentary video detailing the projects done in the centre. Also, don't forget to visit the outdoor nursery from 9am to 12pm & 2pm to 4pm to witness some of the young orangutans in the sanctuary.

Here are some packages that include Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre:

Hop onto the Kinabatangan River Cruise

Famous for being the second longest river in Malaysia and one of the most iconic attractions of Sabah, Kinabatangan River is the best option if you want to explore Borneo's diverse wildlife. River cruising allows you to get a closer look at the numerous amount of animals such as the Proboscis monkeys, orangutans, long tailed macaques, crocodile, Bornean pygmy elephant, and much more.

Here are some Kinabatangan River lodges that you might like:

Witness turtle laying eggs at Selingan Turtle Island

Situated in the northern part of Sandakan, Selingan Island boasts one of the world's oldest turtle hatcheries, housing breeds like the green turtle and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle. An overnight visit to this park will give you an unusual chance to witness the arrival of sea turtles and a magical moment of them laying their eggs and being released to the open sea. Do make sure to book your trip in advance as only 50 visitors per day are allowed to enter this island.

Here are some Selingan Turtle Island packages:

See the world's smallest sun bears at Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Borneo is famous for its world's most biodiverse rainforests and endangered wildlife. Visit Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre to get a chance of seeing the world's smallest bear foraging in the forest from the elevated walkways and viewing platform. You will also get to learn about the significant work being done to ensure the safety and wellbeing of these rescued ex-captive sunbears.

Get a panoramic view at Puu Jih Shih Buddhist Temple

Built in 1987, Puu Jih Shih temple has more than 30 years of history and is also the largest Chinese sanctuary in Sandakan.

During your visit, you will be amazed by its brilliant architecture, from lotus sculpture on the ceiling to Buddha statues lined up along the entrance path. Additionally, the Puu Ji Shih Temple grounds are decorated with tropical plants and attention-grabbing swastika formed topiary.

Walk up to the observation deck where you can see a breathtaking view of Sandakan town. It is no wonder that this temple was once featured in the American series "The Amazing Race 4" back in 2003.

Pay tribute to fallen heroes of WWII at Sandakan Memorial park

Tucked in a rainforest parted by several lavish parks, Sandakan Memorial Park is one of the most significant memorial parks in Sabah, acting as a remembrance to the Australian and British prisoners who have lost their lives during World War II.

The site was once a Japanese POW camp where the detainees started the infamous "death march" that would take them to Ranau, Kota Kinabalu.

Within the park, you can see photos of the prisoners as well as the machinery and wartime relics placed in their original position during WWII.

Visit one of Sandakan's oldest buildings at St. Michael's and All Angels Church

The St. Michael and All Angels Church is one of the oldest stone churches in Sabah. Built during colonial period, it is also one of the few remains that survived from major damage during WWII. In this church, you will be able to see beautiful stained glass windows donated by a well-known traditional stained-glass artists, Philip Handel, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War 2.

Packages in Sandakan

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