Top 7 Best Sandakan Tours – Turtles, Orangutans And More

Published Categorized as Sandakan
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Heading to Sandakan? You’re in luck – there are some excellent tours from Sandakan to choose from!

I compiled this list of the best Sandakan tours through personal experience and detailed research. I didn’t just want to find the best tour in Sandakan, but also a great range of tours that you can pick from depending on your budget and interests. Sandakan has many amazing natural and cultural tours that you can choose from.

Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary Watching the monkeys eat and interact
Watching the monkeys eat and interact at Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary

Already know you simply want the best tour for visiting the Sepilok orangutans? Click here to see the latest prices now.

Or keep reading as below, we have listed detailed information of the best tours Sandakan offers to make the most of your visit.

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Why Book A Sandakan Tour?

A Buddhist Temple in Sandakan

Borneo tours of Sandakan make visiting this city so simple. It’s always difficult to know when you visit a new city whether you’ve seen the top sites and the attractions that interest you. This is particularly true in a city like Sandakan where infrastructure and services are more basic than some visitors may be accustomed to.

Joining one of the Sandakan Malaysia tours ensures that you are taken care of and that you’ll see the top sites in the most efficient way.

Also, it’s worth noting that some of the attractions can only be visited by tour and have a limited capacity for guests. This is true with visiting Selingan Turtle Island which only allows a limited number of guests in order to preserve the turtles’ habitat. You also need a tour for Kinabatangan River.

A tour will help you make the most of your Sandakan visit!

Compare All The Best Sandakan Tours

Here’s a quick comparison of all your Borneo Sandakan tours

Tour NameBest For…DaysPriceBook Now
Sepilok Orangutan Centre Half Day TourSeeing Sepilok’s famous orangutans1$$Click
2D1N Stay at Sepilok Jungle Resort with Sepilok Wildlife TourEnjoying the best natural attractions around Sandakan including orangutans, sun bears and the rainforest2$$$Click
3D2N Discover Kinabatangan River with Stay at Bilit Adventure LodgeNature and wildlife spotting on the Kinabatangan River with multiple river cruises to spot wildlife3$$$$Click
4D3N Sepilok Wildlife Tour with Kinabatangan River Cruise ExperienceA complete experience visiting Sepilok’s orangutans, sun bears and rainforest before two nights wildlife spotting on the Kinabatangan River4$$$$$Click
2D1N Selingan Turtle Island with Turtle WatchingVisiting exclusive Selingan Turtle Island to see a turtle lay eggs and baby turtles being set free2$$$Click
Sandakan Heritage Walking Excursion TourUnderstanding the cultural and heritage of Sandakan city on a walking tour1$$Click
Sandakan City Half Day Tour with Seafood LunchExploring Sandakan city and seeing Sandakan War Memorial Park 1$$Click

You can read more about each of these options below.

Best Day Tours In Sandakan

Sepilok Orangutan Centre Half Day Tour – Best Choice For Sandakan Orangutan Tours

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

Sandakan Orangutan sanctuary tours are one of the top reasons visitors head to Sandakan, and this is the best tour Sandakan offers visitors that want to see the orangutan.

For those that don’t know, Sepilok Orangutan Centre is a world famous rehabilitation centre helping to raise orangutans that are either orphaned or affected by deforestation, after which they are released back into the wild. You’ll see plenty of obstacle courses here to help orangutans learn to climb and survive in the wild upon release.

This is a half day tour which takes you to Sepilok (located about 30 minutes from Sandakan) and includes hotel pickup and drop off. The tour takes 3 hours and includes multiple educational opportunities, a visit to the baby orangutan room and ample time to walk around the glorious forest watching orangutans eat and interact.

This is the best way to see orangutans in their natural habitat.

Click here to see the latest prices and tour options.

Sandakan City Half Day Tour With Seafood Lunch – Best Sandakan City Tour

St. Michael’s & All Angels Church Sandakan
St. Michael’s & All Angels Church Sandakan

Sandakan is an interesting city in its own right, and if you want to see the city highlights of Sandakan, consider this half day Sandakan tours Borneo option.

Starting in the morning with a 9:30am pickup from your hotel, this tour visits numerous places of importance in Sandakan and the surrounding area. One of the most significant sites is the Sandakan War Memorial Park. This is one of the Sandakan death march tours which takes you through the British built memorial, which honours the 2,434 Australian and British soldiers who died as prisoners of war.

Complete with a tranquil rainforest, stories and war relics, this is both a beautiful and contemplative spot to visit.

You’ll also visit the St. Michael’s & all Angels Church which was built prior to WWII and is the oldest stone church in the state.

Lunch is a highlight of this tour, and includes a seafood feast at Sim Sim Water Village with a stunning view of the water. This fishing village is about 3km from the city centre, and has over 100 years of history. You’ll walk past wooden houses connected by bridges to reach the restaurant.

The tour concludes with either hotel or airport drop off.

Click here to see the latest prices and tour options.

Sandakan Heritage Walking Excursion Tour

Sam Sing Kung Temple Sandakan
Sam Sing Kung Temple

If you want to get intimately connected with Sandakan’s heritage, there’s no better way than a walking excursion. In this tour, your Sandakan tour guide takes you for a walk around town letting you get up close to some of the most important sites.

Beginning in the morning with a 9am hotel pickup, you’ll start your walk with a group photo before making your way to some of the top spots around town, including the Heritage Museum, the William Pryer and Sandakan Liberation Monuments, as well as Tokong Kun Yam, Sam Sing Kung Temple and St. Michael’s and All Angels Church.

This is also one of the Sandakan day tours that takes you to Masjid Jamek. Dating from 1890, it’s one of the oldest mosques in the area.

You’ll also visit an English Tea House where you can stop for a bite to eat, and climb a set of stairs to enjoy a stunning view.

Of course, you can follow the heritage trial yourself, but this can be tricky. The Sandakan tour operators will explain the sites in more detail, adding charm and history to the sites you encounter along the way.

Click here to see the latest prices and tour options.

Best Sandakan Tour Package Options

2D1N Selingan Turtle Island With Turtle Watching At Sandakan – Sandakan Turtle Island Tour

Some turtle tracks on the beach at Selingan Turtle Island
Some turtle tracks on the beach at Turtle Island

One of the most unique tours you can do in Sandakan is this turtle island Sandakan tour. This two day, one night tour will meet you at the airport or pick you up from your hotel and take you to Selingan Island by boat to see turtles laying eggs and hatchlings being released into the sea.

With a 9am pickup, you’ll head to Sabah Parks Jetty and hop onto a boat to Selingan Island. This island is peaceful and exclusive. Once you arrive, you’ll check-in to your chalet, have lunch and spend some time swimming or snorkelling in the clear water.

Accommodation is at the Selingan Island Chalet which is a basic nature resort. It’s comfortable with ensuite bathrooms, air-conditioning and a cafeteria.

In the evening, you’ll watch a film about the turtle conservation program and then wait for a female turtle to come ashore and start laying eggs. You’ll get to watch this and then learn as the ranger collects the eggs to plant them in their turtle hatchery. After this, you can watch the just hatched turtles be released into the sea.

This turtle island tour Sandakan includes all meals. After breakfast the next morning, you’ll head back to the jetty for a hotel or airport drop off. This is the perfect tour for those looking for something unique and special. It’s also a crazy good price to spend time at an exotic tropcial island and then get such close-up experiences with turtles.

Click here to see the latest prices and tour options or click here to read our full guide to visiting Selingan Island.

You can also watch this full video of the experience that we made:

2D1N Stay At Sepilok Jungle Resort With Sepilok Wildlife Tour – Best Sandakan Wildlife Tours And Sandakan Jungle Tour

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center
Watching a sun bear climb a tree!

If you’re looking to explore the best of Sandakan’s wildlife and jungles, consider this Sepilok tour. This wonderful tour includes a night at Sepilok Jungle Resort.

This tour starts with an 8:30am pickup from your hotel or the Sandakan airport, where you’ll then head to the Sepilok Orangutan Park for a guided tour, before making your way to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center. This is located just next door to the Orangutan Park and helps to rehabilitate these cute and goofy looking bears.

After this, you’ll take a guided walk at the Rainforest Discovery Centre where you’ll see more wildlife and flora, and then enjoy a night at Sepilok Jungle Resort – your oasis in the jungle with a pool, as well as an ensuite and TV in every room. After breakfast the next morning, hotel or airport drop off is provided.

This is a great tour for short on time guests who want to make the most of the natural treasures of Sepilok.

Click here to see the latest prices and tour options.

3D2N Discover Kinabatangan River With Stay At Bilit Adventure Lodge – Best Sandakan River Tour

Kinabatangan River
Kinabatangan River

If you’ve got two nights to enjoy Sandakan, consider doing one of the Sandakan river tours. The Kinabatangan river is the longest in Sabah and a haven for much of this area’s wildlife.

This three day, two night Sandakan Kinabatangan river tour is super well organised and includes a total of three river cruises. Prepare to see wildlife like orangutans, monkeys, numerous bird species, crocodiles and the Borneo pygmy elephant.

This tour includes two nights at the Bilit Adventure Lodge – a comfortable oasis in the rainforest.

Breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner are all included. You’ll also get to partake in special experiences on this tour, such as a jungle night walk and tree planting activity.

On the final day, enjoy breakfast and airport/hotel drop-off – as well as an optional Sandakan city tour!

Click here to see the latest prices and tour options.

Read our full guide to the Kinabatangan River here.

4D3N Sepilok Wildlife Tour With Kinabatangan River Cruise Experience – Best Complete Experience

Proboscis monkey spotted during a Kinabatangan river cruise
Proboscis monkey spotted during a Kinabatangan river cruise

If you’re looking for the best complete experience of Sandakan’s jungles and wildlife, this four day three night tour is a top choice. This could be a great option for those looking for Sandakan tours from Kota Kinabalu as it covers the best attractions in Sepilok and Kampung Bilit.

This awesome wildlife retreat begins at 8:30am with pick up from your hotel or the airport where you’ll then head to Sepilok Orangutan Centre, as well as visit the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center and Rainforest Discovery center for a guided walk. You can also do an optional night walk.

You’ll enjoy a night in the jungle at Sepilok Jungle Resort, before heading to Kampung Bilit for a total of three river cruises and two nights in the rainforest at Bilit Adventure Lodge.

This is among the top tours for spotting wildlife on both your jungle walks and river cruises, many of which are endemic to Borneo. Expect to see red giant flying squirrels, elephants, maroon langur, macaques, snakes and so much more.

All attractions are organised and inclusive, as well as meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

On the last morning you’ll enjoy a final breakfast before heading back to the airport or your hotel. This is an excellent tour for seeing the best of this area’s wildlife.

Click here to see the latest prices and tour options.

Final Words

Endangered wildlife, diverse rainforests and an interesting history, Sandakan deserves more attention than it receives.

We highly recommend spending at least a few nights here and enjoying at least one of the Sandakan tours to get the most of your visit!

Ideally, stay long and visit Kinabatangan River for a couple of nights, Turtle island and also spend a couple of nights in the Sandakan or Sepilok visiting the attractions there. This is what I just did, and it was amazing.

Check out all the best things to do in Sandakan here or our complete guide to the best hotels in Sandakan here. You can also find our full Sandakan travel guide here.

Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions? Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon is a certified Malaysia travel expert and can't get enough of travelling and talking about Malaysia since she first visited 21 years ago. She travels around Malaysia multiple times a year both alone and with her kids. She used to call Penang home and especially loves this food paradise. Sharon also has a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies, a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and has been certified by Tourism Malaysia as a Malaysia Travel Expert. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to this amazing destination.