Southeast of Sandakan Bay, Sabah’s longest river – the 560km Sungai Kinabatangan – ends its journey to the Sulu Sea. Whereas logging has had an adverse impact on the river’s ecology upstream, the creation of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary has kept its lower reaches largely free of development. This is the largest forested flood plain in Malaysia, laden with oxbow lakes, mangrove and grass swamps, and distinctive vegetation including massive fig trees overhanging the water’s edge.

The sanctuary offers some of Sabah’s best opportunities for seeing wildlife. Although some tour operators offer day-trips from Sandakan, it’s much better to stay overnight given the travel time; the ideal is a two-night stay. Although there are a few exceptions, most lodges are located either in or around the villages of Sukau or Bilit. From November to April, the rainy season can lead to flooding at some lodges – at its worst in January – and even force their closure.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Malaysia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Modern Bangkok, historical Hanoi and tourism-boom town Siem Reap — home to the world-famous Angkor Wat temples — are some of Southeast Asia's best drawcards…

21 Nov 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
7 places to get off the tourist trail in Malaysia

7 places to get off the tourist trail in Malaysia

Already gaped at the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, lazed on a white beach in the Perhentians, met orangutans at Sepilok and filled a whole SD card with…

31 Aug 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
9 tips for backpacking Malaysia

9 tips for backpacking Malaysia

Despite having turquoise-ringed tropical islands, misty rainforests, cosmopolitan and arty cities, colourful festivals and one of the world's most interesting e…

08 Jun 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook