Bucket List: Top 15 Best Things To Do in Sandakan, Malaysia

Sandakan Bucket List: Best Activities and Amazing Places to Visit in Sandakan

Sandakan in Malaysia has plenty of sights to see for tourists. This city serves as a special place, especially for nature lovers who admire the environment and wildlife. Malaysian culture is also evident in the cities and museums you encounter. Here are some of the activities you can participate in during your visit:

Witness the Turtles at Selingan Turtle Island

Selingan Turtle Island by tian yake via Flickr CC

Selingan Turtle Island is a haven for rare turtle species. In fact, visiting this island is a chance to witness turtle landings and hatchings.

Some of the rare species you’ll encounter are the green and hawksbill turtles. In case you want to stay longer for more than a day, there is a hotel and a cafeteria for your convenience.

See the Orangutans at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre by LouiseGoggin via Flickr CC
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre by LouiseGoggin via Flickr CC

Visiting this rehabilitation center is a chance to experience the rare orangutans. The orangutans here were either orphaned or confiscated, including other species, such as elephants, gibbons, and sun bears.

These species stay in the center for the sake of teaching them how to survive in the wild. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to interact with them to not interfere with the rehabilitation process.

Relax at the Sepilok Nature Resort

Sepilok Nature Resort in Sandakan
Sepilok Nature Resort in Sandakan

Check rates and availability

If you prefer to stay in the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre longer, you can stay at the Sepilok Nature Resort, which is only five minutes away.

The resort is surrounded by exotic gardens, which include 150 orchid types.

Some of the hotel’s services include restaurants and air-conditioned rooms which have lovely views of the rainforest.

Observe the Bears at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center by Andrea Schieber via Flickr CC
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center by Andrea Schieber via Flickr CC

Bears are not the type of creatures that people see daily. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center is a rare opportunity to get a closer look at Malayan sun bears, which happen to be the smallest ones in the world.

This facility serves as an avenue of rehabilitation for sun bears when released back into the wild.

Meet the Monkeys at the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary by Martha de Jong-Lantink via Flickr CC
Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary by Martha de Jong-Lantink via Flickr CC

The Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary offers a rare chance of being up close with monkeys. Labuk Bay is surrounded by small areas of mangrove forests, making this sanctuary a perfect habitat for proboscis monkeys.

While the visitors are placed in observation platforms, they are also given a chance to feed and even take photos with the monkeys.

Go Birdwatching at the Rainforest Discovery Centre

Rainforest Discovery Centre by Chris Smallwood via Flickr CC
Rainforest Discovery Centre by Chris Smallwood via Flickr CC

The Rainforest Development Centre is a haven for nature lovers. What’s special about this rainforest is the existence of multiple types of birds, so be sure to have a camera and telescope with you.

In exploring the rainforest, you will do so on a 347-meter steel walkway. There are also plenty of signboards along the way which educates visitors about the birds and plants.

Join the Kinabatangan River Cruise

Kinabatangan River Cruise by Daniel Pietzsch via Flickr CC
Kinabatangan River Cruise by Daniel Pietzsch via Flickr CC

The Kinabatangan River Cruise must not be missed by any adventurer. The river cruise takes a half-day long, which exposes you to seeing plenty of wildlife. Some of the species you will see are birds, primates, snakes, and crocodiles.

Since you will be in a boat for a long period of time, make sure to bring shades, a raincoat, an insect repellant, and sunscreen.

Enter Gomantong Cave

Gomantong Caves by Mike via Flickr CC
Gomantong Caves by Mike via Flickr CC

The Gomantong Cave offers the rare cave Indiana Jones adventure that people have always dreamed of. The cave is divided into the White and Black Cave. The White Cave offers a casual adventure where you simply travel on a boardwalk as you go through the cave.

The Black Cave is a more difficult route and will require more challenging caving activities. In any case, be on the lookout for bats and cockroaches.

Spend the afternoon at Buli Sim Sim Water Village

Buli Sim Sim Water Village by Shankar S via Flickr CC
Buli Sim Sim Water Village by Shankar S via Flickr CC

The water village serves as a representation of Malaysians’ fishing lifestyle. This village is filled with plank walkways, where fishermen conduct their daily activities.

The area usually serves as a seafood market for locals and seafood restaurants for tourists. Some of the must-try dishes are Prawn Balls, Prawn Noodles, Curry Bean Curd, and Seafood Dumpling.

Learn about history in the Sandakan Memorial Park

Sandakan Memorial Park by Merlijn Hoek via Flickr CC
Sandakan Memorial Park by Merlijn Hoek via Flickr CC

Sandakan Memorial Park gives a glimpse of the city’s dark history. This park is meant to commemorate the death of approximately 2400 Australian and British war prisoners.

Some of the park’s notable sights are the small museum, commemorative pavilion, and rusting remains of an excavator, boiler, and generator.

Go to Puu Jih Shih Temple

Puu Jih Shih Temple in Sandakan Bay by CEphoto via Wikipedia CC
Puu Jih Shih Temple in Sandakan Bay by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas or alternatively © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Puu Jih Shih Temple is one of Malaysia’s global landmarks. As you make your way to the largest Buddhist temple in Sandakan, there will be multiple Buddha statues on the way.

The temple also has a garden, souvenir shop, and an astonishing view of the town and Sandakan Bay.

Visitors are also allowed to participate in some Buddhist rituals such as vegetarian dinner and charity work.

Visit the Agnes Keith House

Agnes Keith House by ChezShawna via Flickr CC
Agnes Keith House by ChezShawna via Flickr CC

The Agnes Keith House is the historic former home of the prominent American writer named Agnes Keith. In fact, she wrote two famous novels on the hill where this house was eventually built.

When she permanently left Malaysia, the house was still frequently seen by visitors. As of now, it has become a heritage house that narrates Agnes’ lifestyle and family.

Have a Meal at the English Tea House and Restaurant

English Tea House and Restaurant by shankar s. via Flickr CC
English Tea House and Restaurant by Shankar s. via Flickr CC

After visiting the Agnes Keith House, you should eat at the nearby English Tea House and Restaurant. The establishment offers a fine dining experience filled with traditional English and Asian cuisine.

What makes this restaurant special is the refreshing and windy atmosphere with a beautiful sight of Sandakan Bay.

Eat at Sandakan Central Market

Dried Fish at Sandakan Central Market by Merlijn Hoek via Flickr CC
Dried Fish at Sandakan Central Market by Merlijn Hoek via Flickr CC

You cannot finish your trip without visiting the Sandakan Central Market, which will surely delight your taste buds. The market is home to multiple exotic meals such as Malay Nasi Lemak, Chinese Fried Noodles, Coto Makassar, and Indian Roti Canai.

Visiting this place during the evening is highly recommended since multiple food stalls offer fresh seafood and spicy chicken wings.

Explore Sandakan at the Walk along the Sandakan Heritage Trail

Sandakan Heritage Trail photo by shankar s. via Flickr CC
Sandakan Heritage Trail photo by Shankar s. via Flickr CC

Since Sandakan has so much history to offer, taking the Sandakan Heritage Trail is the most efficient way to go about it. This trail serves as a comprehensive journey that covers Sandakan’s most important heritage sites.

In fact, you will be given a leaflet to guide you along your travels as you witness temples, monuments, and colonial buildings.

Sandakan Travel and Tour Packages

To help you plan out your journey to Sandakan, we listed places to visit and other amazing activities in Sandakan, Malaysia. We also listed some of the best travel deals and tour packages and excellent flight deals and accommodation.

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Sandakan hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new package tours and tourist spots in Sandakan, Malaysia? Follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Bloglovin, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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