Although Sandakan may not be the most glamorous of small towns, it offers travelers the perfect base to visit the many wildlife sanctuaries in the area, as well as trips to the Kinabatangan River. It’s also likely that you could be here for a night or two, which isn’t a great shame. Given the fauna on the doorstep, I noticed that Sandakan was refreshingly un-touristy. On the weekend, there was a nearby street market, a promenade along the waterfront with a number of small restaurants and a few amazing things to do. You can spend the morning following the Heritage Trail, which includes many points of interest in Sandakan, such as the Jamek Mosque, 100-step stairs and the Temple of the Goddess of Mercy.
Red footprints on the earth show the path of the road, and at tourist information you can take a map. I always enjoyed visiting the house of Agnes Keith, an American woman who lived in Sandakan in the 1930s and 1940s. She wrote a book about her experience of living in Borneo during the period called ‘Land Below the Air,’ which became popular when it was published in 1939.
You’ll find the English Tearooms next to Agnes Keith ‘s home. This is a small restaurant that’s great for a mid-afternoon cup of tea and a pick-me-up. The tea rooms are also available for dinner, and you can have a nice view of the lawn.