Sandakan was once the capital city of Sabah.....the northern area of Malaysian Borneo. It was a very wealthy city centred around timber and forestry. It claimed to have more millionaires than any other city in the world!


The expat lifestyle was the old colonial one of beautiful colonial houses,with plenty of extravagant entertaining. This ended when the city was bombed in World War 11.After the war and the city in ruins....the capital was moved to called Kota Kinabalu on the opposite coast.

Attractions Around Sandakan

English Tea House and Restaurant

Back in Sandakan after 4 days on the Kinabatangan River, we had a wonderful lunch at the English Tea House and Restaurant on the hill above the city..... with great views.You could choose from the English menu or a menu of local cuisine.

This traditional colonial teahouse was a fascinating place, with old newspapers framed and photos and articles from the time when the teahouse would have been alive with wealthy expats living the high life. We New Zealanders were intrigued with the huge framed newspaper article and photo of Sir Edmund Hilary after summiting Mt Everest.While the old gramaphone was another interesting feature.

Croquet can be played on the lawns and you can have your tea in the relaxed gazebos dotted around the perimeter of the garden.....or in the open restaurant with silver cutlery, white tablecloths and fine china.


Agnes Keith House and Museum

Next door to the teahouse, Agnes Keith House and Museum was our next visit. A well known author who lived here in the hey days of this once very prosperous city with a wealthy expat community. We wandered through the rooms of her house ....or the replica. The original along with much of the city having been decimated when the city was bombed in World War 11 and rebuilt exactly as the original had been in 1946.

The story of Agnes and her husband... a Forest Conservator, was told in stages on plaques as you went through the rooms and gave an insight into the history of the city. She had written several books while living here based on here experiences living in the area. The most well known being "Land Below the Wind". Originally a town with a busy port exporting logs and timber it was then the capital of Sabah.

Sandakan Memorial Park

This Memorial Park is 11 kilometres from the city. Set in pleasant gardens this memorial is on the former site of the notorious WWII prisoner of war camp.


It now houses a simple museum in memory of those approximately 2400 Australian and British soldiers lost in World War 11. The walls a re lined with photos and writing telling the stories of the men. Many were so was a very moving experience.Relics are seen in in the lovely gardens

St Michaels and All Angels Church

Built in the 19th century by prisoners who carted the huge stones across jungle, this is one of very few stone churches found in Malaysian Borneo.

Sandakan Market

Right on the waterfront the local market is worth having a look at. Fruit,vegetables, fish, spices and all kinds of food and produce are piled high. It is a good place to buy bottled water before your boat trip to Sukau.


More Borneo Information

Malaysian Borneo

Around Kuching

Mulu National Park

Mulu Caves

Mulu Canopy Walk

Kinabalu National Park

Kota Kinabalu


Orangutans in Borneo

Borneo Hotels

Permai Rainforest Music Festival


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