Sabah’s main trunk road continues southeast from Sandakan and the Sungai Kinabatangan to Lahad Datu. This unenthralling town offers access to two excellent rainforest areas: Danum Valley Conservation Area and Tabin Wildlife Reserve. Further south, Semporna draws scuba divers headed for the world-renowned Pulau Sipadan. It’s possible to stay in town or in an island resort; the latter range from backpacker shacks to luxurious retreats.
The main road around Sabah stops at the busy, noisy town of Tawau, from which ferries depart for Indonesian Kalimantan. Also from Tawau, 4WDs head daily for Keningau along rough routes that complete a ring road of sorts. This is also the way to the Maliau Basin, a magnet for trekkers although only accessible within expensive tour packages.