Saturday, February 24, 2018

MeanderWithMeg: Best things to do in Sandakan, Borneo @meanderwithmeg

Sandakan is famous as a gateway to ecotourism in the Sabah region of Borneo. As a huge animal lover, my purpose for visiting was to see as much of the species native to this part of Borneo as I could, although primarily the orangutan.

I used the city of Sandakan as a base to explore the local area, however, there are also many things to do in Sandakan itself that can keep you happily exploring for a few days.

Where Is Sandakan?

Sandakan is a town in the Malaysian state of Sabah, on the northeast coast of Borneo. It is the second largest town in Sabah after Kota Kinabalu. Sandakan is easy to get to with an international airport on the outskirts of the city and many local and long distance bus routes.

Sandakan has a population of approximately 158,000 and is considered to be one of the main ports for tobacco, oil, coffee, sago and timber exports. This industrious history meant that at one time it had a high concentration of millionaires due to the booming timber export business.

The town was completely destroyed in World War II, although now it since been rebuilt and is thriving. Sandakan is not very Westernised, so if you’re after shopping centres, luxury hotels and restaurants then you won’t find them easily in Sandakan. What you will find, however, is a an authentic experience and a town that’s in a great position for you to explore this part of Borneo.

The town is structured by miles with the centre of Sandakan as 0 and the further you travel outwards the more the miles increase. It will not be uncommon for you to hear destinations referred to by their miles – e.g. The Australian War Memorial is at Mile 8.

What to do in Sandakan

There is plenty to do in the town and the surrounding area so you could easily spend several nights here. I booked two nights in my hostel when I first arrived to explore the local area before heading off to the Kinabatangan River. On my return I spent a couple more days in Sandakan to finish up my sightseeing, so I can recommend at least a stay of four nights.