Sandakan, the former capital of Sabah, is a busy port town located at the entrance of a picturesque bay on the East Coast of Sabah. The town’s wealth was original built on timber but nowadays oil palm and tourism drive the town’s economy.

Sandakan was occupied by the Japanese during World War II and was the site of the notorious Death Marches, forced marches that resulted in the deaths of thousands of allied prisoners of war.

The town itself has a few attractions and is a pleasant enough place to hang out. Places of interest include the bustling waterfront, the Agnes Keith House, the English Tea House, the Sandakan Memorial Park and Goddess of Mercy Chinese temple. Sandakan also has some good restaurants and coffee shops and some of the best seafood in Sabah.

However, Sandakan is more famous for the attractions that surround it. The town serves as the jumping off point for a whole series nature-based attractions and wildlife adventures. These include Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the Rainforest Discovery Centre, Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary, Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Selingan Turtle Islands, Lankayan Island, Gomantong Caves and the Kinabatangan River.

For tours in the wider Sandakan area see our Kinabatangan River and Sepilok tour pages.

View more destinations on our Borneo Destination Map.