Friday, November 1, 2019

Getting Around Sandakan, Sabah

What is the must try food in Sandakan? What is the best place to stay in Sandakan? We would like to share our experience getting around Sandakan.

Sandakan is the second largest town in Sabah, with a population over 400 thousands within the municipal area. It is a peaceful coastal town with nice seafood, nature beauty, and friendly people. The airport is nearby the old township, the place where tourists stay. New township is now extending into the hilly area, far from the sea. We visited several tourist attractions in Sandakan, and share it in another post

What to Eat
The biggest attraction in Sandakan, beside orang utans, is the seafood. We tried several eateries- Sim-Sim Seafood Restaurant(森森海鲜食店), Ocean King Restaurant, seafood noodle stall at Kampung Pukat, food stall at Sandakan Central Market, and many more.

Sim Sim Water Village is located along Buli Sim Sim Road. The water village is located around 10 minutes drive from town center. We can see a clear signage of "Kampung Seafood Sim Sim" from the main road (upper left), with locals were selling fruits along the entrance to the village (upper right). There are several restaurants located in the water village. We visited the one on the left end- Sim-Sim Seafood Restaurant H90 (lower right). The restaurant is big and clean, with very nice dining hall facing the sea.

We tried seafood noodle (upper left), prawn with butter (upper right), and seafood in thick soup (lower right). The dishes were nice with reasonable price. We could see a row of shark jaws hanging on the wall of the restaurant.

Ocean King Restaurant was originally built by the sea. The restaurant was moved to a new location after the pirates' incident. Although it is now far from the sea, around 20 minutes drive from the town center, the restaurant is still famous among the locals and tourists (upper left). We tried steamed babylonia shells (upper right), clams in soup (lower right), and fried squid. All the dishes tasted good. The price was a little bit more expensive compared to the restaurant at Sim-Sim Water Village, maybe because of the restaurant was fully air-conditioned. 

We were recommended to the seafood noodle at Kampung Pukat, around 10 minutes' drive from town center. The village entrance is similar to Sim-Sim Water Village (upper left), and the seafood noodle stall is actually a residential unit (lower right). We tried seafood noodle (lower right) and seafood in soup. Both were delicious, with big portion of prawn, squids, and oysters. The price was around RM 15 per portion.

We also took the opportunity to have afternoon tea at San Da Gen Kopitiam(三大羹), which was nearby our hotel. The eatery was nicely decorated and fully air-conditioned (upper left). We tried several snacks, such as the salted egg croissant (upper right), tart with cream (lower right), avocado bun, and toast with black coffee. The food were special, but really not fitting our taste. 

Many local food stalls are available on the 2nd floor of Sandakan Central Market (upper left). The market is located just next to Four Seasons by Sheraton. Some of the food stalls attract many visitors (upper right). We found the stall selling "The Original Homemade Keuh Teow with Deepfried Pork" (lower right) served very nice noodle.

We visited Sandakan during the fruit season. Local fruits such as duku langsat (upper left), tarap (upper right), durian (lower right), and mangosteen were sold with very low price.

We would recommend to stay somewhere near to the old township area. The town area looks old and tired, with less people walking around. However, it is still the most convenient place for tourists like us to stay.

We stayed in Four Points by Sheraton for two nights. The hotel is facing the sea with nice view around Sandakan town. There is a shopping mall attached to the hotel. Attractions such as Sandakan Central Market and Sandakan Heritage Trail are located within walking distance. 

The hotel was overall good, with just little flaws such as the access card was not working consistently. We were stuck at the mall's entrance, the lift, and our room a few times. The reading lights were not working, and the bath tub was stuck. The problems were settled however, by the friendly staff. 

The drop point of Four Points (upper left). We can see the central market right behind the building. The hotel has a cozy environment (upper right), the room was big with good amenity (lower right), and the restaurant served nice international breakfast.

Nice town view from the hotel.

Sandakan Central Market can be seen from our room. This place is full with people early in the morning.

Sandakan Harbor Square is beside our hotel.

"I Love Sandakan" signage at Sandakan Harbor Square.

Transportation and Streets
We found that the easiest way to move around Sandakan is by Grab service. Grab is available almost everywhere, with very reasonable price- around RM 13 from Sandakan airport to town (20 minutes), and RM 23 from our hotel to Sepilok (35 minutes). 

Clean and modern-look airport with fully air-conditioned departure hall.

Streets in Sandakan old town. We can see the old "resident evil" like buildings along the streets. However, We found no problem walking around the town area, day and night. The street is clean and generally safe, with no zombies around.

The presence of these high buildings between narrow streets make us feel like little Hong Kong.

Sandakan is a great place for a short trip. The town is small with less people around, the seafood is really nice and cheap, and there are several beautiful conservation parks to visit. We share information on Sepilok, and places of interest nearby Sandakan Town as well.

More information about our trip in Sabah are available at:

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