What to Do in Sandakan, Malaysia? (The Real Must-Do’s for 2019)

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Sandakan, Malaysia may not be as trendy or exciting as other parts of the country, including Kuala Lumpur, but there are still plenty of sights here to entice a traveler who perhaps desires to experience something different. From beaches to World War II sites to national parks, if you visit Sandakan, you won’t be bored.

Sandakan Memorial Park

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This park has a grim history as it was once home to a concentration camp for Australian prisoners of war taken by the Japanese. As you tour this remnant of the Second World War, you’ll see artifacts from the camp, including the English-built Ruston-Bucyrus excavator Japanese military forces used to construct an airport, the steam generator, and the Great Tree, known locally as the “Big Tree”, a huge specimen of a Mengarisbaumes (Koompassia excelsa) where the memorial obelisk is placed today.

Puu Jih Shih Temple

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Three of the world’s major religions – Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism – are well represented in Malaysia. Due to the strong Chinese influence in the Southeast Asian nation, there are numerous Buddhist temples, one of the most beautiful being Puu Jih Shih Temple. Located on top of a hill overlooking Sandakan Bay, the temple is truly one of the finest local gems you will find during your time in the city.

Sandakan Heritage Trail

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Take some time to enjoy the natural wonder of the area by taking a hike on this trail that runs through several historic sites in and around Sandakan. The trail is marked by white concrete tiles that show a red footprint and the words “Heritage Trail” in black and gold. A few of the historic sites you can visit while on the trail are the Goddess of Mercy Temple St. Michael’s and All Angels Roman Catholic Church, Singapore Road, and the Historic staircase.

Sandakan Heritage Museum

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This small museum showcases the rich history of the area, especially the period in which Malaysia was a British colony. Another exhibit highlights the role Sandakan played during World War II. There is also a gift shop where you’ll easily find the perfect souvenir to take back home.

Sam Sing Kung Temple

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You may have figured out by now that Sandakan and surrounding areas is oozing in history. If you’re a history buff – especially one who loves religious buildings, you won’t want to miss out on seeing this temple. Built in 1887 by Chinese Buddhist monks, Sam Sing Kung is the third oldest temple in the city. Many locals refer to the temple as “Three Saints Temple” with the three saints being: Kwan Woon Cheung, Goddess of Tin Hou and Min Cheong Emperor.

English Tea House and Restaurant

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Sandakan’s colonial past is well preserved with such establishments as the English Tea House and Restaurant. This quaint teahouse is located on a lush hill overlooking gorgeous tropical Sulu Sea from Sandakan Bay. Offering traditional British food as well as local specialties, the design of English Tea House and Restaurant is based on British colonial architecture and is surrounded by 1.5 acres of lawns where guests can play croquet.

Inspired to plan your trip to Malaysia? Explore other destinations in the region:

6 Epic Things to Do in Cambodia

Shopping in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Your Guide to Bangkok, The City of Angels

6 Best Places to Go Near Bangkok

Taling Chan Floating Market, Bangkok: 5 Tips for a Great Experience

How Many Days to Spend in Chiang Mai?

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