Sandakan Sabah Malaysia

zamboanga-sandakan-017Sandakan Malaysia

I spent a grand total of 4 hours as a tourist in Sandakan on the Island of Borneo.

The idea of the visit was to get a new visa upon re-entering the Philippines at the seaport of Zamboanga in southern Mindanao.


The boat trip from Zamboanga takes about 20 hours. The schedule is flexible and the length of the journey varies, depending upon the weather.


There is a lot of construction going on along the waterfront. Pink seems to be the preferred color and it makes a sharp contrast to the gray concrete colored buildings along the alleys a street or two inland.

No pictures or content is to be copied and used on any other website.


zamboanga-sandakan-007I found the people of Sandakan to be a friendly lot. There is no tension in the air like you get in parts of Mindanao, including Zamboanga. You can take pictures and talk with people and not get angry stares. Here, religion does not seem to be a big divider.  People are just cool.

zamboanga-sandakan-015This friendly sales girl is selling dragon fruit. These things taste like a giant raspberry to me. I kind of grooved on Sandakan and ate 3 times during my big 4 hour trip. Once at a halal restaurant, once in the market and once at KFC. (which was crap by the way)

zamboanga-sandakan-023Sandakan is a melting pot of races.  This lady runs an electronics store. Everyone seemed to enjoy having their picture taken. (I just ask if it’s ok – except in fundamentalist parts of Mindanao where I do not take any pictures period, because everyone is very touchy and I prefer to remain healthy)

zamboanga-sandakan-024Internet is 1.5 ringit per hour and the speed is ok.

zamboanga-sandakan-008Sandakan shopkeeper

zamboanga-sandakan-013I have come to love dried fish or “bulad” in the filipino language, but am well aware of the danger of packing this food in with your bags. You will never get rid of the smell.

I loaded up on oranges and other snack foods for the return trip back to the Philippines.

zamboanga-sandakan-027Here is a cargo ship docked next to us at the “pelabuhan” or harbor in Malay. My hopeless Indonesian came in handy. The trip to town on a bemo or mini bus was 1.5 ringit. A taxi cost 15 ringit one way.

For the return trip, just go to the bemo terminal in town and hop on the van that has “pelabuhan” painted on the side.

zamboanga-sandakan-028We left around 6pm and got to Zamboanga around 4pm or so the next day.

dutchpickle logoSandakan

Jul 16, 2009

14 responses to “Sandakan Sabah Malaysia”

  1. Hi ! Ricky you been Sandakan, Malaysia ha yes i miss that place.
    Im inviating you to come to my house fiesta in Catbalogan August 24
    Melanie pacoli wedding on August 22 in Catbalogan church. See you soon my friend….

    Joni B.

  2. Hi all,

    Whenever you guys visit Sabah again, you could now RENT A MOTORBIKE to move around free & easy.

    As we also help our customers to enhance their trips here to the max with our suggested itineraries .

    Visit for more info .

    Cheers :)


  3. Hi Pickle

    I like to ask your permission if i can use your sandakan photos for


  4. hi! i just want to ask aside from zamboanga shipping how many hours it takes to travel in tawi-tawi to sabah malaysia by boat?? just wondering! :)

    hope u can give me a solid answer :) thanks in advance

  5. how can i buy a tiket round trip if im from sandakan?what day you will be going to sandakan every weekend?how many hours will take to arrived in zamboanga?is there any restoran halal in ferry?please reply me as soon as possible..thanks.

  6. dear dp

    thanx for this great cource of information.
    Me and my gf have a flight 6-2-2013 to manila, and have a 21day visa.
    at the end of our journey we had a flight from clarck to kota kinabalu. But Air asia deleted this route from their schedule. So we read your blog and find the boat trip to Sabah very appealing. We sent an email to aleson ( but got no reply. So hope you can awnser these questions:

    1 Do you know what the aleson ferry schedual is at this moment from Sandakan to Zamboanga?

    2 Will the imigrations at Manila (where we enter the Phillipines) bother us since we do not have a outbound flight/boat ticket?

    3 Would you advise us taking ferries from manila to zamboanga and stopping at varies islands in 3 weeks time?

    4 Should we book a ferry ticket in advance? if yes, do you know the alesons office phone number?

    thanx in advance
    and keep up the good work

    Kind regards,

  7. i would like to ask, how am i going to find the schedule and latest fare reates.. pls help

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