Travel Budget for Sandakan

State of Sabah, Malaysia

How much does it cost to travel to Sandakan?

How much money will you need for your trip to Sandakan? You should plan to spend around RM220 ($51) per day on your vacation in Sandakan, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, RM71 ($16) on meals for one day and RM124 ($29) on local transportation. Also, the average hotel price in Sandakan for a couple is RM152 ($35). So, a trip to Sandakan for two people for one week costs on average RM3,085 ($709). All of these average travel prices have been collected from other travelers to help you plan your own travel budget.

  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day
  • One Week Per person
  • 2 Weeks Per person
  • One Month Per person
  • One Week For a couple
  • 2 Weeks For a couple
  • One Month For a couple
This data comes from the travel budgets of real travelers - Learn more about these numbers.
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A vacation to Sandakan for one week usually costs around RM1,542 for one person. So, a trip to Sandakan for two people costs around RM3,085 for one week. A trip for two weeks for two people costs RM6,170 in Sandakan. If you're traveling as a family of three or four people, the price person often goes down because kid's tickets are cheaper and hotel rooms can be shared. If you travel slower over a longer period of time then your daily budget will also go down. Two people traveling together for one month in Sandakan can often have a lower daily budget per person than one person traveling alone for one week.

How expensive is Sandakan?

How much does a trip to Sandakan cost? Is Sandakan expensive? The average Sandakan trip cost is broken down by category here. All of these Sandakan prices are calculated from the budgets of real travelers.

While meal prices in Sandakan can vary, the average cost of food in Sandakan is RM71 per day. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out an average meal in Sandakan should cost around RM28 per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Sandakan is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.

The cost of a taxi ride in Sandakan is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent RM124 per person, per day, on local transportation in Sandakan.

  • Accommodation1 Hotel or hostel for one person
  • Accommodation1 Typical double-occupancy room
  • Food2 Meals for one day
  • Local Transportation1 Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
  • Entertainment1 Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
  • Tips and Handouts1 For guides or service providers
  • Alcohol2 Drinks for one day
Flights to Sandakan

How much does it cost to go to Sandakan? Naturally, it depends on the dates. We recommend SkyScanner because they can find the best deals across all of the airlines.

Typical tour prices for Sandakan

How much do tours to Sandakan cost? Multi-day tours can often be an effecient way to see the highlights of a country or region.

  • Contiki Tours for 18-35 year olds
    14 days
    $ 2200
  • G Adventures Adventure and cultural tours
    14 days
    $ 1075
  • Intrepid Small group tours for everyone
    14 days
    $ 1250
  • Trafalgar Award-winning tours
    14 days
    $ 3700
Find a hostel, guesthouse, or B&B in Sandakan

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Sandakan On a Budget
Sandakan Sandakan, Malaysia
Located on the Northeast side of the state of Sabah in Borneo is the city of Sandakan, which is the 2nd largest city in the country. Sandakan was a prosperous port town in the 1800s because of its exports of tobacco, timber, pearls, and ivory. However, this booming town that was formerly the administrative capital in North Borneo was bombed practically out of existence at the end of World War II.

Today, the modern town of Sandakan has been rebuilt on the reclaimed land and its economy is now based on cocoa and palm oil. Unfortunately, the mass deforestation for palm oil is causing many problems to the environment and wildlife.

Most travelers do not visit Sandakan for the city itself, but rather, for the nearby natural areas, such as wildlife preservation centers, caves, and rivers.

If you're going to visit Sandakan, weather will be generally consistent throughout the year with average temperatures in the 80s, but be aware that rainfall changes drastically with wet season from November to February. The wettest month is December and the driest in April. Regardless of the time of year, Sandakan is humid year round, so pack light, breathable fabrics and don't forget the sunscreen and insect repellent.
Within the city, check out Agnes Keith's House. Keith was an American author who lived and wrote three autobiographies of her life in Sandakan in the 1930s.

History buffs may be interested to visit Sandakan Memorial park, which commemorates the many Australian and British prisoners who died at the former site of the World War II prisoner-of-war camp.

Meanwhile, if you want to go off the beaten tourist track, head down to the waterfront for the daily fish market, at the end of the enormous Sandakan Central Market. This is the largest in Sabah and draws in hundreds of locals to buy fresh seafood. If you see turtle eggs for sale, do note that even though they are legal in the rest of the country, they are prohibited to sell in Sabah.

While Sandakan has a few offerings in town for tourists, daytrips to nearby sites will undoubtedly be the highlight of your trip.

The Sepilok Orangutan Rehab Center, just 14 miles east of the city, if one of Sabah's biggest attractions. One of the four in the world, this center cares for abandoned and injured orangutans with the goal to reintroduce them to their natural habitat after equipping them with skills to fend for themselves.

Turtle Island National Park, about 25 miles north of Sandakan, is made up of three small islands: Selingan, Bakungan Kecil, and Gulisan. Visit between July and October for a chance to see turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.

Divers will want to head to Pulau Lankayan, just a 90-minute boat ride from the city. This island is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs, making for an ideal and uncrowded diving destination. Visit during April and May to see black-tip sharks.

Sungai Kinabatangan is the largest river in Sabah, at 348 miles long. It's no surprise that is also the largest habitat for wildlife in the country. Much of the region was established as the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. Take a river boat trip to spot wildlife such as Proboscis Monkeys, hornbills, crocodiles, and Macaques.

Check out the Gomantong Caves, the largest limestone caves in Sabah and home to a large population of bats and swiftlets. This is also a site where locals harvest swiftlets' nests to make the much sought-after Chinese delicacy, Bird's-nest Soup.

The Tabin Wildlife Reserve, about 137 miles Southeast of Sandakan, protects endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros, Borneo Pygmy Elephants, giant flying squirrels, orangutans, and hornbills.

Food and Dining
Malaysian food, at its best, offers a variety of culture for any palate,including Chinese, Indian, Malay and Western cuisines and Sandakan is no exception.

Don't leave without enjoying the fresh seafood offered on the waterfront as you take in views of the ocean at Restoran Seafood Sim-Sim 88.

Head to the Sandakan Central Market for even cheaper eats. Malaysian cuisine on the first floor and Chinese food on the third. Try the Original Homemade Kueh Teow with Deep-fried Pork, served dry or in soup on the third floor.

Bridge No. 7 is a traditional coffee shop in the Buli Sim Sim Water Village, which specializes in prawn balls, thousand-year-egg dumplings which are also stuffed with pork and fish paste, and a variety of noodles, including fish head noodles and curry noodles.

For a quick bite or even an easy food crawl, stop by the food court in Pasar Kim Fung, which has a variety of vendors coming and going throughout the day. Popular offerings include dim sum, potstickers, chicken rice, and tofu pudding.

Malaysia Bus and Train Prices
The best prices for buses and trains in Malaysia can be found on 12Go. They let you search across all bus, train, and airline routes throughout Asia.

Sandakan Airport is connected directly to Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, and Kudat and AirAsia offers plenty of low-cost flights. To get into town from the airport, you can take a cab or walk to the main road past the roundabout and catch a local bus before nightfall, as they usually stop running between 5 and 7 p.m.

Kota Kinabalu also has a direct road to Sandakan which will take a 6-hour drive at a little over 200 miles. Drivers, beware of potholes and be sure to fill your tank at Ranau because it's the last gas station before you get to Sandakan, which is about 150 miles away.

You can also opt to take a bus from Kota Kinabalu to the Sandakan bus station on Jalan Utara, which is about 15 minutes away from downtown. Tung Ma Express, Sida Express, and Bunga Raya Express each serve this bus station between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Ferries run from Zamboanga in the Philippines on a weekly basis, but call ahead to confirm schedules.

Within the city, you can easily walk because it is so compact, but to take a daytrip to the other points of interest, hire a motorbike or a taxi. Note that meters aren't common, so be sure to negotiate prices before getting into the cab. Otherwise, you may also opt to take a bus or van to get to nearby stops like Sepilok or the Buli Sim Sim Water Village.


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1 Categories averaged on a per-item basis.
2 Categories averaged on a per-day basis.
For example, the Food2 daily average is for all meals for an entire day, while Entertainment1 is for each individual purchase.

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Sandakan Travel Cost - Average Price of a Vacation to Sandakan: Food & Meal Budget, Daily & Weekly Expenses |

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