In 1883 the North Borneo Chartered Company decided to move its capital from Kudat to Sandakan. For 62 years Sandakan thrived as a modern bustling town, trendy and fashionable, and it even acquired a nick name as “little Hong Kong”. In the June of 1945, towards the end of the Second World War, the Japanese burnt Sandakan to the ground. Subsequently the Capital was moved once again to Jesselton, now renamed as Kota Kinabalu.

Sandakan started life as an important port for exporting timber. Many tycoons were made in the log trading business. Not so long ago Sandakan can proudly boast about having the greatest concentration of millionaires in the World. Today the timber economy is no more feasible, and Sandakan has transformed itself as a gateway to the wildlife of Sabah.

Highlight of Sandakan’s destinations:

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Popular and well loved is the Orangutan, where many tourists come to visit our closest cousins in the primate family. Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is located about 40 minutes drive from the Sandakan City, everyday people from all over the world come here to have a close encounter with the wild man of Borneo.

Rainforest Discovery Centre
This is a great new addition to the Sandakan tourist destinations. Set within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, Rainforest Discovery Centre is a huge place. The main attractions here are the canopy walk, the plant discovery garden and the forest trails. Bird lovers will have an extra incentive to visit, three towers that mushroom up to the top of the canopy giving visitors a spectacular view over the surrounding tree tops. Huge canopy walkway on equal height with the trees allows photographers to choose the perfect spot to capture that unique picture of exotic birds of Borneo (with some luck).

Agnes Keith House
Agnes Keith wrote her award winning book, Land Below the Wind which described her Borneo experiences, at this very house. Restoration of the house was started in 2001 by Sabah Museum, and in 2004 the house was opened to the public. In honour of Agnes work the Malaysian government has named the house Agnes Keith House, a special tribute to this award winning American authoress.

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
While most proboscis monkey discovery trips involved cruising the rivers of Sabah, where guests could see them hiding or sitting on the branches from a distance, whereas in Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, guests will have a totally different and unique experience altogether. Here visitors can observe them in harem, see the day to day rivalry among the siblings, and also able to experience seeing two or three of these proboscis monkeys up close and personal.

Kinabatangan river
Kinabatangan river, 560 km, is the longest river in Sabah. Many wildlife of Borneo can be found around the lower Kinabatagan, from hornbills to water fowls, and the very popular Proboscis Monkey which roam around the tree tops beside the river bank. Many tour agents have resorts and resthouse stations around this area. Organised boat rides to have a glimpse on the wildlife of Borneo can also be found.

Turtle Island
Although only limited people can visit this Selingan Island on a daily basis, many queue up for their turns to see one of the oldest species of turtle come ashore to lay their eggs. Swimming with turtle at the shallow sea around the island is a possibility. The island has been on a conservation programme for the past 30 years, and the good news is more and more turtles make their pilgrimage to this island regularly.

Gomantong cave
Centuries ago the Chinese Emperors had been after this exotic bird nests of Gomantong Cave. Today twice a year licensed collectors still risk their lives to harvest these precious and delicious bird nests which still fetch a hefty price at the markets. Two caves make up the Gomantong Caves. The more accessible cave is the Simud Hitam with its roof soaring up to 90 metres high, and with a well-maintained boardwalk for exploring the cave ecology. Simud Puteh is where the valuable bird nests are found.


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