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Sepilok, is in Sabah, Borneo. Situated 26 km from Sandakan, the famous Orangutan Sanctuary is situated here [1] in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve.

Get in[edit]

Most travellers travel to Sepilok via tour group. It is also reachable by personal transport (car, taxi) or, with some effort, by bus from Sandakan.

The road from Sandakan is well signed making for an easy journey for those self-driving. Grab taxi from the Sandakan airport cost approximately 16MYR.

By Bus:

  • From Kota Kinabalu: Catch the bus to Sandakan from Inanam station in KK (33 MYR, ~5hrs). Ask driver to drop you off at Sepilok. From Sepilok entrance, take a 3 MYR pp taxi (they will be waiting) into the park.
  • From Semporna: Catch the Tung Ma bus to Sandakan (40 MYR, 5 hrs) and catch a taxi from there to Sepilok.
  • From Sandakan: Bus leaves from the minibus station in Sandakan at 9:00, on public holidays and on Sunday they might have an additional trip at 8am as well. The last bus leaves Sepilok at 16:00. 6MYR one way (updated on May 2016).This bus drives directly to the Orangutan and Sun Bear Sanctuary in Sepilok. There are also other buses that could drop you at the junction in Sepilok which is about 25 minutes walk from the Orangutan and Sun Bear Sanctuary

By Taxi from Sandakan: Grab cost approximately 21MYR as of OCT18 and offers more leg space than vans. Consider this option if you are in group.

See[edit][add listing]

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre [2] and [3] is situated on the edge of a forest reserve. Established in 1964, its purpose is to rescue orphaned and abandoned juvenile orangutans and to teach them to fend for themselves.

Tickets: As of OCT 2018

  • Non-Malaysian Adult: 30 MYR
  • Non-Malaysian Child: 15 MYR
  • Malaysian Adult: 5 MYR
  • Malaysian Child: 2 MYR
  • Camera Fee: 10 MYR
  • Centre hours: 9:00AM-12:00PM & 2:00-4:00PM Saturday to Thursday
  • Centre hours: 9:00AM-11:00AM & 2:00-4:00PM Friday
  • Office hours: 9:00AM-12:00PM & 2:00-3:30PM

With a ticket you can enter the park two times a day - for the morning feeding and again for the afternoon feeding. So if you buy a ticket in the afternoon you cannot enter the park next day with the same ticket.

The best time to visit is at feeding times (approximately 10am and 3pm) as this is the probably the only chance of seeing the orangutans and other monkeys (such as the long-tailed macaques) which appear for the free feed of bananas and sugar cane. Note that if it is raining, the feeding times may be delayed as the rangers prefer not to sit out in the rain. Hiking along the jungle trail on July 2016 we had fair bit of luck and actualy saw orangutangs twice right along side the trail. If you don't see any at the morning feeding time, it is strongly suggested that you take the hiking trail (called the Bird Trail and runs approximately 2km one way). The trail remains open from 10am to 2pm, so this can be done between feeding times.

Within the reserve, the visitor is restricted to the boardwalks but there are some walking trails through the jungle. The visitor is also restricted to what they can bring into the Centre - small backpacks are sometimes permitted, but neither handbags nor water bottles (unless inside your backpack) nor insect repellent are allowed. It is best to go with as little as possible i.e. no bags, backpacks, water bottles. They do have lockers avaliable (no extra fee) to leave bags in before entring the site. There is a shop / cafeteria selling water and other food items in the carpark. The food is a little overpriced compared to other eating establisments a short drive away from the centre.

Since the Centre is situated inside a tropical jungle, you should expect biting insects (spray yourself before you go in as repellent is not permitted inside). Also expect to get rained on. There is no shelter at the viewing area and thus a poncho is a good investment. Umbrellas aren't really useful as the rain can be absolutely torrential side ways at a relentless pace for over an hour complete with thunder and lightening. Besides umbrellas block views of others. It can be dark inside the jungle with difficult lighting at the viewing area if it is overcast so consider this if you are the avid photographer.

Given the Centre is a popular tourist destination, expect that the morning feeding time will be crowded with a good half to dozen tour buses fresh from the morning flights from Kota Kinabalu. The hundreds of sweaty visitors will keenly jostle for that perfect photo. The afternoon feeding time is possibly a quieter choice for those with the luxury of time with the added delight of seeing a larger number of the animals in a more personal, peaceful atmosphere. Access to the nusery is possible during feeding times and also in the half hour before the afternoon feeding.

Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre [4]

BSBCC is situated next to the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre inside the orangutan complex. Established in 2008, its purpose is to rescue sun bears from deforestation, commercial poaching and the pet trade with an aim to rehabilitate them. Bears that can re-adapt to the forest are released while those bears that are unable to fend for themselves are provided with long-term living environments. The bears themselves are the smallest bear species and most arboreal. Their love of honey gives them the alternative name 'honey bear'. As of July 2016 they had approximately 40 bears on site. The bears at the centre come mostly from people who have kept them as pets. It is estimated that there are only 10,000 sun bears left in the wild (while there are an estimated 11,000 orangutans).

The BSBCC is the only sun bear sanctuary in the world and is the best, if not the only, way to see healthy sun bears for many people.

Tickets: As of OCT 2018

  • Non-Malaysian Adult: 30 MYR
  • Non-Malaysian Child: 15 MYR
  • Malaysian Adult: 5 MYR
  • Malaysian Child: 2 MYR
  • Free admission under 12yrs and Malaysians over 55yrs.
  • Opening times: 9:00AM-3:30PM

Address: Mile 14, Jalan Speilok, Off Jalan Labuk, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia Phone: +089 534 491 E-mail: [email protected]

Rainforest Discovery Centre [5]

The RDC is an environmental education centre situated within the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. Its primary function is to create public awareness and appreciation of the importance of conserving forests, as well as the sustainable use of forest resources. RDC has a 147 m-long canopy walkway, that allows great views of the forest canopy and is also good for bird-watchers.

Do[edit][add listing]

Check out the orang utan and other wildlife. Pay a trip to the Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) and walk their canopy bridges strung between huge towers.

There are a couple of trails within the SORC area, but only the 1.1 KM Birder's trail is possible without a special permit. Permits need to be attained at the RDC, 1.5 KM down the road.

Buy[edit][add listing]

The fundraising shop at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre sells postcards, fluffy monkey toys and other touristy merchandise.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Sabah Vegetables are a local specialty. When stir-fried with garlic or other herbs/spices these ferns are tasty and have a texture like crunchy bok choy or asparagus.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Most resorts around the area will offer beer and other beverages.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Sepilok Nature Resort [6] - chalet-style accommodation

Sepilok Jungle Resort This is a basic chalet resort that charges as if it were a luxury eco-lodge(May 2011 visit). Despite a good location and layout, the facilities are at a bare minimum with aircon that doesn't work, and a restaurant that serves poor quality food. The staff are either timid or unfriendly and the guides for the nightwalks and park very disinterested with a lazy attitude. Accommodation is clean and basic double aircon rooms. . An open-air dining area serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Beer, soft drinks and bottled water are sold. Note that this accommodation venue is not suitable for those who are mobility impaired. Transport to and from Sandakan town and airport is available (50 MYR if solo, 30 MYR pp if 2 per vehicle as of July 2008).

Paganakan Dii Tropical Retreat [7] - a newly opened retreat set on top of a hill overlooking a distance of over 5km in radius and the nearby Labuk Road forest reserve. For those wishing to experience a contemporary interpretation of traditional stilt house living, and enjoying a serenity rare among the Sepilok doorstep offerings. Using recycled & rare timber, reject scraps from sawmills and redefining the use of simple and commonplace objects, the structures are created to highlight a unique, tropical design style. Only 5mins drive from Sepilok. Look for a signboard with a hornbill sitting on it.

B&B Uncle Tan [[8] - +6089-535784 - It's on the right-hand side, a couple of hundred meters from the main road Junction/Circle Basic Dormitory: RM 48.00 per person, Room with attached bathroom, Room with shared common bathroom Tea and Coffee during the day

Get out[edit]

Tours which take in Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary often also visit the nearby Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary.

Take a 5min detour drive to Taman Hiburan Jalil Alip [9], a local recreation park popular among locals, to fish, paddle boats and feed local species of deer and crocodiles in their individual sanctuaries in the park.

Nearby Sandakan is the practical departure point from Sepilok for those travelling by air.