Covering over 2200 square kilometre of land, Sandakan is a city in the Malaysian state of Sabah. It is the second largest town in Sabah after Kota Kinabalu and was known as Elopura or ‘beautiful town’. The town is located approximately 1,900 kilometres from Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, 28 kilometres from the international border with the Philippines and 319 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah. As in 2010, the estimated population is 396,290 and the town is mostly occupied with Bumiputra, Chinese and followed by Bajau/Suluk. Most of the community here use the Malay language as their first language with Sabahan dialect. Besides that, Sandakan is well known as the main ports for oil, tobacco, coffee, sago and timber exports. The main economic activities at Sandakan are shipbuilding, eco-tourism and manufacturing as well as fishing.
Owned by Government of Malaysia, Sandakan Airport is a domestic airport which serves Sandakan, a town in the east Malaysian state of Sabah. During World War 2, it acted as a former military airstrip and participated for the event of Sandakan Death Marches. Located around 14 kilometres west of downtown Sandakan, this airport mostly handles flights to Kota Kinabalu, Tawau and Kudat. The airport handled 621,513 passengers and registered 10,876 flights in 2005.
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The best time to fly to Sandakan is during the hottest months when there is less rainfall and recorded the warmest time. The hottest months are May, June and April. The east coast is relatively stable during June and July with afternoon showers helping to freshen the humid weather. Visitors are the least during the end of the year and January as the rainy and monsoon seasons are likely to occur.
1. Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre-Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is named after the two rivers flowing into the Sandakan Bay and started its operation in 1964. The Sabah Government funds this centre and the objective of this centre is to return orphaned, injured or displaced orangutans back to their reserve habitats. The rehabilitation process starts with the orangutans admitted to the centre with a thorough health examination, followed by a quarantine period to eliminate diseases being transmitted. The young orangutans will learn ‘Nursery' learning skills essential to jungle life such as building a nest and finding food. Once ready, they will move to the ‘Outdoor Nursery' where freedom is increased and dependence on food and emotional support is decreased. Last but not least, the animals will be released into the 4294 hectare Kabili-Sepilok Forest which is rich in tropical rainforest and mangrove swamp. This centre opens daily from 9 am to 12 pm, 2 pm to 4 pm, 9 am to 11 am and 2 pm to 4 pm on Fridays and the journey from Sandakan Town to Sepilok takes only 45 minutes by bus and the price is only RM 4 or 48 peso per person. The entrance fee for Malaysians citizens aged 18 years and above is RM5 or 60 pesos per person, Malaysians citizens aged below 18 years is RM 2 or 25 pesos per person.
2. The Turtle Island Park-Also known as Pulau Penyu National Park, this park comprises of three islands which are Selingan, Bakkungan Kecil and Gulisan. All the three islands are protected within marine parks on both sides of the Malaysian and Philippine borders. The park's headquarters, the visitors' centre, basic tourist facilities and a turtle hatchery are mainly located at Selingan Island which is the largest island compared to Bakkungan Kecil and Gulisan. Most of the green and hawksbill turtles which lay their eggs on the beaches of the islands commonly between July and October when the seas are calmer. For those who want to learn more on turtles, the visitors’ centre can give in-depth information. Besides the turtles, the west side of the island offers water sport activities including snorkelling.
3. Danum Valley Conservation Area-Another human conservation area can be visited at Sabah is the Danum Valley Conservation Area. It is one of the world's most complex ecosystem and consists of many animals and plants. Yayasan Sabah manages this area for conservation, research, education, and habitat restoration training purposes. This forest is a home for endangered wildlife species such as banteng, Asian elephant, clouded leopard and orangutan. There are also various mammals and birds living at the lowland tropical rainforest. Other notable species that inhabit the area are the sun bear and Bornean rhinoceros. Besides, many types of insects and the land snail fauna can be found here. Besides that, this conservation area is also rich with flora. The valley is home to over 15,000 plant species, and 94% of the plants belong to the dipterocarp genus as well as pitcher plants. Other than that, visitors also can visit an ancient Kadazandusun burial site decorated with belian coffins and ceramic spirit jars.