Asia > Southeast Asia > Malaysia > Sabah > Sepilok
Most travellers travel to Sepilok via tour group, taxi, hire car or bus from Sandakan.
The road from Sandakan is well signed making for an easy journey for those self-driving. Arrangements can be made in advance with your accommodation in Sepilok for a car to meet you at the Sandakan airport (35 MYR one way per car as at July 2007).
- From Kota Kinabalu: Catch the bus to Sandakan from Inanam station in KK (43.5 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 14 leaves ~hourly from the minibus station in Sandakan from 9:00 to 14:00. Last bus leaves the park at 16:oo. 4MYR one way.
Tickets as of July 2008:
- Non-Malaysian Adult: 30 MYR
- Non-Malaysian Child: 15 MYR
- Camera Fee: 10 MYR
Office hours: 9AM-12PM & 2:00-3:30PM
With a ticket you can enter the park two times a day. So if you buy a ticket in the afternoon you cannot enter the park next day with the same ticket.
Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre 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.
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 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.
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 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. There is a shop selling water and other food items in the carpark.
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 lightning. 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.
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.
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.
The fundraising shop at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre sells postcards, fluffy monkey toys and other touristy merchandise.
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.
Most resorts around the area will offer beer and other beverages.
- Sepilok Nature Resort. 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. 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.
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, 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.