Kota Kinabalu may be synonymous with its mountainous namesake, but there’s so much more to the capital of Sabah, Borneo. The city’s close proximity to beaches, islands, wildlife, and culture means that there’s plenty to see and do. Here’s how to make the most of one day in KK.
Sandakan Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Jalan Sepilok Batu 14, Sabah, Kota Kinabalu
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre on the island of Borneo teaches baby orangutans necessary survival skills in an open, protected rainforest preserve. Take a walk along a wooden boardwalk leading into the jungle for the chance to observe the orangutans from several viewing platforms, as well as an air-conditioned nursery.
The easiest way to visit the center is as part of a day trip from nearby Sandakan or a tour from the Sabah state capital of Kota Kinabalu. These tours sometimes include round-trip flights to avoid a 10-hour return journey across the island. Tours departing Sandakan typically include a city tour and lunch, and often visit the neighboring sun bear sanctuary.
Things to Know Before You Go
A must-visit attraction for families and wildlife lovers.
An on-site cafeteria serves hot meals, cold snacks, and chilled drinks, while a gift shop offers orangutan-themed souvenirs.
Fewer orangutans—and sometimes none at all—show up at feeding times during the fruiting season, when naturally growing food is abundant.
Touching the free-roaming orangutans is not permitted at any time.
The center is wheelchair- and stroller-accessible.
How to Get There
The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is 15.5 miles (25 kilometers) north of Sandakan, on the edge of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, and about a 45-minute’s drive by public bus departing Sandakan. From Kota Kinabalu, you can take either a 35-minute flight—of which there are several per day—or a 5-hour bus.
When to Get There
Feeding times take place at midmorning and midafternoon, and the platforms and nursery are open both morning and afternoon hours. The center closes for lunch, but the on-site cafeteria remains open. Check scheduled times before your trip, and plan to arrive an hour before feeding so you can watch the documentary film that gives an overview of the foundation.
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Located right beside the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is dedicated to protecting endangered sun bears, the smallest breed of bear in the world. Observe rescued sun bears in areas similar to their natural environment and learn more about these mammals at the center. Plus, you may even see a free-roaming orangutan in the trees above.
- Things to do in Sabah
- Things to do in Sandakan
- Things to do in Puerto Princesa
- Things to do in Kuching
- Things to do in Boracay
- Things to do in Panay Island
- Things to do in Cebu
- Things to do in Palawan
- Things to do in Visayas
- Things to do in Southern Vietnam
- Things to do in Mekong Delta
- Things to do in Central Vietnam