Looking out to distant isles across the Bay of Sandakan, where fishing trawlers dot the teal-blue waters, the former colonialist capital of British Borneo is a buzzing little city used by travelers as a gateway to the Sungai Kinabatangan and Sepilok. German merchants, Dutch and Chinese planters, Arab and Indian traders, and pearl divers all had their heads turned by Sabah's second city at some point, until it was razed to the ground by the British during WWII in an attempt to shake off the invading Japanese. Today the compact centre is buoyed by the success of the palm-oil industry and those who linger here will find religious relics, colonial mansions and haunting mementoes of WWII dotted across the city.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Sandakan.
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Sandakan.