The town of Sandakan, once claimed to have the greatest concentration of millionaires anywhere in the world during its heyday as a timber centre, was developed on its present site in 1879, after an earlier settlement accidentally burned down. The region had been known for centuries for its pearls, camphor, bee's wax, sea cucumbers, and edible birds' nests. This attracted traders from the nearby Sulu sultanate and from as far away as China.
A group of British businessmen bought the rights to the northern tip of Borneo from the sultans of Brunei and Sulu and established British North Borneo in 1881. Sandakan was made its capital in 1884. In 1942, during World War II, the Japanese army took control and established a POW camp. It was from here that the infamous Death March to Ranau began in January 1945. Of the 2,400 POWs who left Sandakan, only six survived. What little of the town was left after repeated Allied bombings was burned to the ground by the Japanese.
At the end of the war, the administration of Sabah was moved to Kota Kinabalu. In 1946, the British recaptured Sabah and declared it a Crown Colony. British rule ended in 1963 when the state obtained its independence by joining the Federation of Malaya. Sabah joined the Federation of Malaya to form the country of Malaysia.
Sandakan, lying on a narrow strip of land between steep hills and the waters of the Sulu Sea, bears little evidence of its early history as a result of its wartime bombing. Today, Sandakan has been rebuilt and although little remains of its former charm, one can still catch glimpses of its early days.
Caution: Guests are urged to leave expensive jewellery, watches and other valuables aboard the ship. Be aware of pickpockets in crowded areas.
Going Ashore in Sandakan
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Karamunting Port in Sandakan, approximately 7.5 miles (12 kilometres) from the city centre. Taxis are not readily available at the pier. There is no terminal, and no tourist facilities are available at the pier.
The majority of the shopping in Sandakan is done in the Central Market where the town comes to trade. This is a real working market and you will see items such as dried and wet seafood, vegetables and fruits. The local currency is the ringgit; U.S. dollars or credit cards are not readily accepted.
Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western food are all represented. Most air-conditioned restaurants are located in the major hotels and coffee shops in the town centre or along Jalan Leila.
This memorial pays tribute to Japanese migrants, including Japanese girls sold into prostitution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Australian Memorial Park
Located on the site of what was the POW camp in Taman Rimba, this memorial commemorates Allied soldiers who lost their lives during the Japanese Occupation.
Located on Labuk Road about 7.5 miles (12 km) outside of town, the crocodile farm contains about 3,000 crocodiles of varying sizes in concrete tanks. It is one of the few crocodile farms of its kind in Sabah.
For those guests interested in touring at your leisure, we are pleased to offer Silver Shore Privato - both half-day and full-day private arrangements by private van only. You may book this in advance at Silversea.com or it may be purchased on board, subject to availability. .