We arrived in Sandakan from a seven-hour bus journey from Kota Kinabalu. We found ‘Hotel Livingston’ online and jumped into a grab to take us there. When we arrived they told us their rooms were on offer at 120RM a night which was cheaper than we expected for such a nice room and a hotel with a pool! We realised we were slightly out-of-town but that didn’t bother us as we could jump onto a local bus for 1.70RM each to take us into town. We had planned to go to the orangutan sanctuary, sun bear conservation centre and the proboscis monkey sanctuary anyway and these were all out of town. We found the cheapest way to do this was to hire a car for 120RM for the day and drive ourselves there, you can fit up to four in a car so if there are two or more of you this works out a lot cheaper than the tours. We booked though whatsapp with ‘Sandakan Car Rental’  on +60168150029.


Top 5 Places to eat in Sandakan 

  • Ballin Roof Garden Bar & Bistro – Located above the Nad Hotel its hidden away but the food here is great.
  • My Harbour Restaurant – The place to get your seafood fix and try out a couple of dishes.
  • The Best Brew – Great if you just want a drink or western food, the burgers are tasty.
  • Urban Cafe – For those who have a sweet tooth, Urban Cafe have some lovely cakes.
  • Zakaria Restorant – Located on the opposite side of the main road from the long distance bus station, a great place to have rotis for breakfast before heading on your bus journey.


Top 5 Things to do in Sandakan

  • Sepilok Orang-Utan Sanctuary – We didn’t get to see any orang-utans here unfortunately they didn’t seem to be hungry at feeding time but we did get to witness two beautiful baby orang-utans in the nursery.
  • Sun Bear Conservation Centre – Located opposite the orang-utan sanctuary, they do excellent work here at rescuing sun bears and rehabilitating them to be released back into the wild
  • Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary – Slightly steep ticket price at 60RM each but worth it when you see how many monkeys there are, be warned most of it isn’t In shade and I can get very hot.
  • Kinabatangan River – Boats leave from Sakau, you can book on a tour or drive here yourself to get a boat for 4pm, it’s a cheaper way at 30RM per person but it is a two-hour drive away, the best place to see wildlife.
  • Turtle Island Park – We didn’t do this as it wasn’t in our budget and we had planned to dive in Semporna with the hope we would see turtles (we did!), if you love turtles though, this ones for you.

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Our Tips for Sandakan

  • Hire a car – The tours are over priced and if you hire a car you can either do most things in two days or take it steady at your own pace. We booked through whatsapp with ‘Sandakan Car Rental’  on +60168150029.
  • Enjoy the wildlife – There are many conservations and places to go to enjoy the wildlife of Borneo.



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