Sandakan, Malaysia: More Than Just an Airport

Sandakan street
Sandakan, Malaysia.
We got a ride to the Sukau junction. Osman’s wife told us that we could catch a bus anytime to Sandakan, but our driver to the junction seemed less sure. He told us to take a minibus to the checkpoint and then a local bus into Sandakan.

We caught a minibus almost immediately. It cost RM10/$3.20 each, but signs posted in it made it clear that we were being ripped off. Oh well, we had already agreed to pay ten. When we got to the checkpoint, a local bus was waiting. The ride to Sandakan cost RM5/$1.60 each and dropped us off at the minibus station right downtown. The small size of the town made it easy to navigate to our accommodation, Hotel London (RM55/$17.70 per night with TV, AC, hot water, a small breakfast). Overall, we were happy with the hotel and found it to be one of the better places we stayed for the price. As a bonus, they have a giant monitor lizard living out the back of the hotel.

Hotel London Sandakan Malaysia lizard
Keep an eye between 8am-12pm for the giant monitor lizard.
We did a walking tour of the city. Our hotel provided us with a pocket map of Sandakan which has the Sandakan Heritage Trail marked on it. We planned to end our tour at Agnes Keith’s house to play croquet on the lawn and have tea and scones at the English Tea House. Unfortunately, the Tea House was extremely expensive and way out of our budget, so we walked back down the hill and enjoyed some air-conditioning instead.

Stairs with a hundred steps Sandakan, Borneo, Malaysia
Although this was called the stairs with the hundred steps, they neglected to mention the extremely steep hill that comes after it.
We were in Sandakan for the airport, but it was worth staying for a couple of days as the city has a nice Heritage trail, and waterfront area. In fact, Sandakan would be a good spot to base yourself to do day trips to Sepilok and Sukau if staying in the jungle isn’t your thing.

Next, after navigating the impenetrable fortress of Sandakan airport, we hop over to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.