Holidays to Sandakan, Borneo

On the northeast coast of Borneo, Sandakan is a city worthy of exploration and handily, it has a self-guided heritage trail to direct you to the main sights. Among other highlights en route, you’ll visit the 100-year old Masjid Jamek, a beautiful mosque, and the Stairs with a Hundred Steps that leads you to a panoramic view of Sandakan town and bay. But a visit to Sandakan mostly serves as the gateway to the natural wilderness. Your very own Jungle Book adventure awaits.

Southwest of Sandakan, the murky Kinabatangan River winds through the Sabah region. Sure, the chocolate-coloured water may not look too enticing, but the magic of the river is found on its banks. Hop aboard one of the tin boats and keep your eyes peeled and your fingers crossed - you might just be lucky enough to get a heart-skipping glimpse of wild orangutans, gibbons, macaques and monkeys, small herds of pygmy elephants, crocodiles and even a clouded leopard.

The region’s star attraction, the Sepilok Orangutan Centre is a short journey from Sandakan and is the world-renowned sanctuary for Kings of the Swingers. It was founded to help primates recover from capture or injury and is one of the best ways to see orangutans close-up and watch wide-eyed youngsters playing in the purpose-built nursery section. It’s also home to other species like the endangered Bornean pygmy elephant. The Rainforest Discovery Centre, not far from the Sepilok Orangutan Centre, is an excellent introduction into the importance of rainforests to Borneo and the life it supports. Be brave and try a night walk. Sure, it’s a little spooky, but provides the rare opportunity to spot nocturnal animals like tarsiers and wild cats. And it makes a great story to tell back on home soil too.

The aptly named Turtle Island, a 40-kilometre boat trip north of Sandakan, is where endangered hawsksbill and green turtles live and breed. Its official name is Selingan Island and is one of three Turtle Islands, but is the only one accessible to visitors. An overnight stay on the island is possible, and is the best way to witness the turtles laying their eggs on the beaches at dusk.

Eline
Travel Designer
Let's talk
I have lived in Vietnam and travelled extensively in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines.

Sandakan trip ideas

Here are some trip ideas in Sandakan. All of our trip ideas shown below are examples, and we’ll amend, adapt or start from scratch, until we’ve created the perfect trip for you. See one you like, or have a trip in mind? Call us now to book: 01483 319 333

Map of Sandakan

When to go to Sandakan

Sandakan's climate is split between the dry season from February to August, and the rainy season from September to January, although the rainfall can be unpredictable throughout the year. With high humidity, temperatures remain around 30° year round.

January

lightning
28°

In January, the winds can bring occasional stormy weather across Sabah, with high rainfall expected. If you fancy climbing Mount Kinabalu you should wait until later in the year when the paths will be drier.  

February

sun-cloud-rain
28°

February sees less rainfall, with the beaches enjoying the best weather.  

March

sun-cloud
29°

The rain eases off throughout March with sunnier, drier days. It's a great time to visit forests and jungles without the crowds.  

April

sun
30°

April is a great time of year to visit with warm, dry days and minimal rainfall.  

May

sun
31°

May is another great month to visit, with ideal weather conditions for relaxing on the beaches or trekking in the jungle.  

June

sun
30°

The great weather continues with hot and dry conditions.  

July

sun-cloud
30°

July is typically one of the driest months with blue skies and sunshine, meaning hotels get booked up quickly so it's best to plan your trip well in advance.  

August

sun-cloud-rain
31°

Early booking is highly recommended in August as the favourable weather continues.  

September

sun-cloud-rain
30°

The dry season continues into September, although increased rainfall is expected towards the end of the month.  

October

sun-cloud-rain
30°

Rainfall increases but there are still plenty of dry days to enjoy.  

November

sun-cloud-rain
29°

Rainy season hits in November with a strong chance of thunderstorms and grey days. It's a great time to visit the lush jungles when the wildlife is thriving.  

December

lightning
29°

December is one of the wettest months with regular rainfall and thunderstorms, making trekking and wildlife spotting difficult.