Things To Do In Sandakan

There’s a never ending list of things to do in Sabah. Located on the east of Sabah lies Sandakan, the heaven for all food and nature lovers. Here’s our recommendation on things to do in Sandakan!

Delight your tummy with delicious local food

All food lovers will definitely fall in love with this city filled with yummy food! From the local bak ku teh, homemade springy noodles to desserts like the UFO, you have to try them all when you’re here! See here for our favourite top 5 must-try foods in Sandakan!

A must try for all bak ku teh fans!

Get up close with the cute Orangutans & Sunbears

Being animal lovers, we absolutely enjoyed this day out to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation centre and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre! There are 2 parts to the visit, first we will get to see the juvenile orangutans in the outdoor nursery where they are still learning the basic survivor skills.

Young orangutan fooling around at the outdoor nursery in Sepilok

Next we were led to the feeding platform where at 10am sharp, the trainer will appear with a basket full of bananas, long beans and other fruits for the orangutans. We were so lucky to be able to witness mama orangutan and her baby climbing down to the feeding platform!

Aww, mama orangutan and her precious baby!

At the feeding platform of Sepilok

Tip: Go earlier at 9am to beat the crowd and to get a nice viewing spot of the cute juvenile

At the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC)

Fun fact: do you know that the tongue of a sun bear can extend to 20-25cm when feeding? This long tongue is useful for them to extract insects (eg. ants) from deep holes and honey!

Marvel at the wonders of the beautiful Gomantong Cave

In full awe of the breathtaking Gomantong Cave in Sandakan

Being the largest cave of Sabah, it’s not only home to a million bats and swiftlets but also cockroaches and dung beetles! Before you go on about how disgusting that is, do you know how important the cockroaches are for the ecosystem within the cave? These cockroaches are responsible for feeding on the carcasses  of the bats and swiftlets and this helps prevent diseases from spreading.

Tip: Important to wear proper footwear when visiting Gomantong Cave. It can get very slippery from all the guano and not forgetting the cockroaches crawling all over the pathway!

Till today, locals are still using traditional methods (ie. bamboo poles, rattan ladders, ropes, etc) without any safety equipment to climb to the top of the cave to harvest bird nests. No wonder bird nest is so expensive!

Do you know, the rarer pure white bird nests can fetch up to $5,000 per kg?!

Beware of these poisonous centipede that can be commonly found in the cave!

Fun fact: Swiftlets are excellent flyers! They fly so well that they can actually mate during flight

Be at one with nature at the Bilit Rainforest Lodge

Especially for the city folks, this will resonate with you guys, it feels so good to be disconnected from the digital world and to escape to nature from time to time. We really enjoyed our stay at Bilit Rainforest Lodge where it’s nicely nestled in the forest. We had to cross a river to get here!

Our cozy abode at Bilit Rainforest Lodge

The rooms were really spacious!

Wildlife spotting while cruising along the Kinabatangan River

One of the activities here at Bilit Rainforest Lodge is the river cruise along the Kinabatangan River. It was quite fun trying to spot the different wildlife that might appear anywhere any time!

From hearing the hornbill call to actually spotting it, seeing the leaves rustling and realising that it was caused by a group of proboscis monkeys.

Do you know that the proboscis monkey’s bulbous nose is what attracts the female?

Spotted an oriental pied hornbill while cruising along the Kinabatangan River

For those game enough, you can even opt for a night river cruise to spot the nocturnal animals such as the owl or the sleeping animals. We spotted crocodiles, king fishers and an owl during our night river cruise!

Aww, this cute little blue eared kingfisher was smaller than my palm! 

Explore the quaint city of Sandakan

For those with some extra time, do check out some of the city’s highlights to better understand their culture and history. Our first stop was the Pu Ji Shi Temple located at the top of a hill.

Next we visited the water village of Sandakan where a large population is still living in houses built above the waters! In the past, majority of the locals were fishermen as Sandakan was located along the coast. This tradition has carried on till today where many of them are still fishing for a living.

Water village at Sandakan

Essential Info

How to book the above tour in Sandakan

We booked the tour with Amazing Borneo who arranged everything from the accommodation, transport, to attraction tickets for us in Sandakan. If you prefer a fuss free experience, we highly recommend Amazing Borneo! Do contact them directly for more info on the updated pricing 🙂

Overall we really enjoyed travelling off the beaten path in Sabah, exploring the interesting city Sandakan. Have you been there before? Did we miss out anything?