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Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

North Yorkshire...
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Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

Reading that it's 5 to 6 hour drive to the Orangutan santuries, is this a stupid idea bareing in mind flights are cheap, but then heard the drive is lovely & we could stop off & see other things or maybe stay over somewhere to break the journey up. Please can anyone get back on their thoughts on this. Also is there very much rain mid March onwards.

Singapore
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1. Re: Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

I believe the journey is half the fun and the destination only a direction to point your journey in.

Take half a day to work your way up to Mount Kinabalu / Kundasang / Poring region. Spend a day (or three) doing something like jungle trekking, mountain admiring, hot spring bathing, smelling the rafflesia, visiting the war memorial, bike riding round the tea plantation etc. etc.

Then spend another half day trundling down the other side towards Sepilok and the Kinabatangan. A lot of other stuff is easier on the east coast if you are independently mobile like the rainforest visitor centre and Labuk Bay proboscis monkey sanctuary.

North Yorkshire...
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2. Re: Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

Hi, what do you mean easier to do on the east coast, as we are independently mobile & what is this rainforest visitor centre please? Also to avoid unnecessary flights, thought of flying from KL to Sandakan, getting the car there, but then when we've done all we want drive down to Kota Kinabalu & would we be able to drop the car off there do you know when we leave Borneo. Also read bad reviews about the beaches been trashy & not been able to swim in the sea etc. in not just Borneo but in all Malaysia, which I love to do as I suffer with psorias & eczema & it clears it all up for a while. So I was thinking because of this & also that March is still rainy, see & do what we want, then fly off to another country for a rest up, decent beaches & swim in the sea. Please can you let me know your thoughts on this idea of mine.

Singapore
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3. Re: Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

The East coast attractions are much more spread out than the west coast. After Sepilok is the Rainforest Discovery Centre. You can then head east for Sandakan, Labuk Bay and Turtle Islands park, or you can head south towards the Gomantong Caves, the Kinabatangan, Damun Valley, Tabin and Semporna. Look at this map for a better idea.

sabahtourism.com/sabah-malaysian-borneo/file…

Flying straight to Sandakan from KL is a possibility, but I'm not so sure on whether anyone will let you drop off on the opposite side of the state. I suspect that if you drive it over there, they'll expect you to drive it back.

The beaches ARE trashy. There's no garbage collection except within the various town limits. However, the resorts and national parks all do what they can to collect the garbage an dispose of it more appropriately. If you just head for the beach, you have to take whatever the tide has left behind. This is just as true in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines though.

The sea, however, is not particularly "polluted" in that sense. Bathing is fine and very enjoyable after the heat of the day. I do, however, suggest that you enjoy the beach at a resort or national park.

March is technically rainy, but not absurdly so in my experience. Expect periods of 2-3days no rain. And when it does, the mornings will be hot and sunny, with heavy rain only in the late afternoon, clearing up again in the evenings.

Hope this helps,

Haz

North Yorkshire...
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4. Re: Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

Thank you for all that it was very helpfull. Surprised about the beaches being trashy in Indonesia too, but been to many beaches in & around Thailand & never seen a trashed beach there, or India for that matter, or is it just me that just does'nt notice & looks beyond any trash at the beauty of these countries. So i'm thinking is it fussy people slaging the beaches off who's expectations are that of European beaches, hoping so & then i'll just stay put in Borneo.

Thank you again.

Wangaratta...
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5. Re: Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

The beaches north of Kota Kinabalu, at Nexus, Rasa Ria and the Tip of Borneo are fine. Some, because the resort keeps them clean and the Tip of Borneo because it is remote. As said the sea is fine, at times the water appears murky but it is the open sea and if it has been rough it will stir up the sand.

North Yorkshire...
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6. Re: Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

Thank you I will defo be staying in Borneo & did hear that the north is best for beach.

Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

Depending on where you are, driving can be fun or boring in Sabah. As said before, you can stop wherever you like with your own transport, which is the best part as reliable public transport is almost non-existant in the state.

The road to Sandakan is mostly one-lane with passing points in some places, and going into Sandakan after the turn-off from the main highway is always slow and with no passing lane.

Around Sandakan, you'll see a lot of trucks and the huge fields of endless oil palm plantations that runs for miles and miles. It is quite boring until you get to the pockets of conservation areas that are left. But the drive between KK to Kudaseng is much nicer with the mountains and small farms at the foot of the mountain.

Sandakan, Malaysia
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8. Re: Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

To me the interesting part of the drive is from Kota Kinabalu to Ranau. After some 30 km the "mountain/uphill" phase of the drive begins - you'll be gradually ascending to about 6,000 feet altitude. By the time you reach the Kinabalu National Park (IMHO the highlight of such a drive) entrance (about 85-90 km from KK) you'll see what a tropical highland is like; the temperature would be cooler than at sea level, and it can get chilly in the evening or at night! You may actually want to reserve a whole day and stay overnight to do your own exploration of this highland region.

After Kinabalu National Park, you'll pass the little township of Kundasang a few miles down the road. And then about 10 miles further on, after some downhill driving, you'll reach the town of Ranau. A mile beyond Ranau is the junction where one turns left to get to the Poring Hot Springs.

After that it's less interesting. 97 km after Ranau is another small township, Telupid, and Sandakan comes after that. Bear in mind that the roundabout where you'd turn right to get to Sepilok is about 14 miles before Sandakan.

Driving-wise, the road is for the most part a single lane on either side. It's also a winding road during the mountain phase, so you'll want to drive carefully especially when going downhill - don't want to be picking up too much speed and then find yourself having to negotiate a bend!! It gets less winding after Telupid. Bear in mind that you do get the distinct impression of being so far away from civilization during certain stretches of the trip. Having said that, there's mobile phone coverage for most of the way, and your best bet would be to go with Celcom or Maxis.

9. Re: Driving to Sepilok/Sandakan from Kota Kinabalu.

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