Gateway to Boreno

Sandakan is the former capital of British North Borneo and is now the second-largest city in the Malaysian state of Sabah, after Kota Kinabalu. The city was occupied by the Japanese in World War II and was liberated by Australian troops in 1945. the city is predominantly culturally Chinese and most residents understand at least basic English.

Sandakan is not a major tourist centre and that will make you somewhat of a novelty here and lends a certain charm to any experience of the city. Most of the city's activity centres on the port. There are a couple of attractions in and around the city itself like Sandakan Memorial Park and Buli Sim Sim, a stilt village. Sandakan is however, generally visited as a convenient stepping-stone to other Sabah attractions, such as the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and Turtle Island Park.

There is a good selection of restaurants, and given its port status, seafood is obviously a highlight. In regards to nightlife there are new bars opening along the waterfront all the time.

Insiders' Tips

  1. Want to Learn More? Walk the Canopy Walkway at the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) to learn about the flora and fauna.
  2. Lest We Forget: Visit the Sandakan Memorial Park which is dedicated to the men who lost their lives on the notorious death marches during World War II.
  3. Soup Anyone? Gomantong Cave is known as 'the best-managed edible birds' nest cave in the world'. Investigate for yourself.
  4. More Information

    For maps, days tours and accommodation options, visit the Sandakan chapter in our online Malaysia brochure. Click here.

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