Razed to the ground by bombing raids in World War II, but since revived and developed into one of Borneo’s most important and thriving cities,[ReadMoreMob] Sandakan – once connected to German, Arab and Indian traders, pearl divers and Chinese planters – is now a buzzing hub of industry and culture once again.
You can really feel the energy of modern Sandakan, as the locals go about their daily lives, making their contribution to the local palm oil, tobacco, coffee, cocoa and numerous other industries, but there are plenty of reminders of the city’s fascinating past to discover too. Sandakan Memorial Park and the Heritage Museum offer a wonderful insight into the history here, while visiting the Chinese and Japanese cemeteries is always an emotive experience. Don’t miss the magnificent temples of Puu Jih Syh and Sam Sing Kong – the city’s oldest building – too.
Beyond the city, Sandakan also serves as a gateway to encountering some of Borneo’s most mesmerising natural treasures and wildlife; on tour, it’s possible to visit Sepilok and see orphaned orangutans up-close, explore the Gomantong Caves, and visit Turtle Island, to name just a few of the highlights.