Sabah North Borneo – Sandakan Day – 75th Anniversary

From $5200 per person

Attention adventure seekers, animal lovers and history buffs! This colourful and diverse land offers an array of rainforests, mountains ranges and beautiful coastlines. Travel aboard boat, by steam train, in the skies over this amazing land. Experience the moving 75th Sandakan Day Anniversary and remember those fallen heroes who suffered and perished during the infamous “Death Marches” from Sandakan to Ranau 1945. 

Monday 10 August – Friday 21 August 2020 (12 Days)

Day 1 – Mon 10 Aug | Auckland – Kuala Lumpur  (FM)
Check in and overnight flight to Kota Kinabalu Borneo via Kuala Lumpur
Departs Auckland MH130 2240 – Kuala Lumpur 0605 + 1

Day 2 – Tues 11 Aug | Kuala Lumpur – Kota Kinabalu (FM,D)
Departs Kuala Lumpur MH2612 0815 – Kota Kinabalu 1100
After our overnight flight from Auckland via Kuala Lumpur we arrive in Kota Kinabalu late morning. We are met by our English speaking guide then transfer to our luxury 5-star hotel overlooking the colourful markets and offering magical views across the bay and the South China Sea. After settling into our rooms the afternoon is free to catch up on some sleep, stroll the waterfront markets, enjoy a spa treatment or take a swim in the amazing outdoor pool. Early evening we gather for pre-dinner drinks (own cost) before enjoying a welcome buffet dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Le Meridien

Day 3 – Wed 12 Aug | North Borneo Railway – Malaysian Multicultural Show & Dinner (B,L,D)
After a leisurely breakfast, we transfer to the Tanjung Aru Station for our North Borneo Railway Steam Train experience which begins as we are served with a light morning tea on board as we depart the station. The British Vulcan Steam Engine Train, fuelled by wood, runs gently from Tanjung Aru through the towns of Kinarut and Papar and returns on the same route. Experience the romance of rediscovering the Colonial Train Ride on the North Borneo Railway with a Colonial Style “Tiffin” luncheon served on board. See the scenic paddy fields, rubber trees and villages and their lifestyles along the way. Short excursion stops will be conducted – to see the quaint Tien San Shi Temple at Kinarut and the open markets of Papar town. We also witness the turnabout operations of the British Vulcan Steam Engine at Papar. Our rail journey arrives back at the Tanjung Aru Station early afternoon which allows time to relax back at our hotel or enjoy the shops. This evening we are transferred to the Kampung Nelayan Floating Seafood Restaurant for a delightful Multicultural Show and dinner. Experience dining in the ambience of Kota Kinabalu’s only lakeside floating seafood restaurant, anchored within a Botanical Park. Be entertained by the “Malaysia Cultural and Variety Show” performed nightly by professionals on the floating stage with traditional Malay architecture.
Accommodation: Le Meridien

Day 4 –  Thurs 13 Aug | Kota Kinabalu Discovery Tour – Sandakan  (B,D)
Another delightful breakfast is enjoyed at the hotel before checkout. With luggage packed away on our coach, we proceed on our Kota Kinabalu City Discovery Tour. We pass by the historic Atkinson Clock Tower and enjoy excellent photographic opportunity stops at Tun Mustapha building formerly known as Sabah Foundation Building, the Phu Thou Se Chinese Buddhist Temple, the new magnificent Moorish Likas Bandaraya Mosque and the spectacular State Mosque with its gold motif domes. Late morning we arrive at the Kota Kinabalu Airport for check-in and short afternoon flight across to Sandakan.
Depart Kota Kinabalu AK6494 1345 – Sandakan 1430
Upon arrival in Sandakan, we transfer to our 4-star waterfront hotel for check-in. Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan is located at the heart of Sandakan town while offering stunning views overlooking the Sandakan Bay. After check-in, we will have time to relax and freshen up before gathering for pre-dinner drinks (own cost) and dinner in The Eatery Sea View Restaurant.
Accommodation: Four Points By Sheraton

Day 5 – Fri 14 Aug | Sepilok Orangutan & Sun Bear Rehab Centres – St. Michaels Church (B,L,D)
This morning after breakfast we make our way to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, founded in 1964. The centre helps once captive, injured or abandoned Orangutans learn to climb and fend for themselves in the wild, with the hope that one day, they may return to the forest. The semi-wild Orangutans return to the platform provided by the Centre for milk and bananas twice a day during the rehabilitation and release process to the forest. We will have the chance to get up close to the Orangutans and to take some photographs. We also view an audiovisual in the special theatrette which gives a more in-depth view of how the park and centre operates. Souvenirs and adopt a baby Orangutan programs are available at the centre as well as a well-stocked Café. Leaving the Orangutans we proceed to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founded in Sabah, Malaysia in 2008 as a two-stage effort to provide for the care, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and captive sun bears, as well as address the lack of knowledge and awareness of this little-known bear both in Malaysia and internationally. The Malayan sun bears (Helarctos Malayanus), found only in south-east Asia are the world’s smallest bear species. While Borneo is a remaining stronghold for this species, it is seriously threatened if not extinct in many areas of mainland Asia, including India, Bangladesh, China, Burma and Vietnam. After lunch at the Sepilok Jungle Resort, we visit the Rainforest Discovery Centre and learn about the rainforest and its exotic flora and fauna. Experience the canopy walkway that gives an incredible view of the treetops and overview of the rainforest as well as its unique flora and fauna. This afternoon before returning to our hotel we stop by St. Michael’s and All Angels Church. The historical city of Sandakan is home to many buildings and monuments, each witness to the changes of time and events over the years. One of the oldest buildings being St. Michael’s and All Angels Church. The Church avoided major damage during World War II in the 1940s and remains one of the very few stone buildings in the whole of Sabah. The beautiful stained glass windows in the church were donated by Australians to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Back at the hotel there will be time to relax before enjoying dinner in The Eatery Sea View Restaurant.
Accommodation: Four Points By Sheraton

Day 6 – Sat 15 Aug | 75th Sandakan Day Anniversary – Sandakan War Memorial Park  (B,L,D)
Following breakfast this morning we proceed to the Sandakan War Memorial Park situated on the site of the Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp. Here at the Commemoration Ceremony marking the 75th year we will remember the fallen heroes of the Australian and British Prisoners of War (POW’s) who suffered and perished during the infamous ‘Death Marches’ from Sandakan to Ranau in 1945. Two thousand and seven hundred Australian and British soldiers were taken to Sandakan to build airstrips. They were tortured, left malnourished and in poor physical condition. The soldiers were then forced upon a tortuously long walk to Ranau, a distance just over 260km. Only six men survived, they managed to escape and were fed and hidden by the locals. The story of Sandakan is one of the most tragic of World War II. Every year, family members and friends of the POW’s who perished during the Death March travel to Sandakan to reflect and remember. This event also remembers local residents who risked their lives to help the POWs during this period. “Lest We Forget”. After leaving the park we make our way to Agnes Keith’s house and museum. Agnes Keith was one of the original western settlers in Sandakan. Her family was taken prisoners by the Japanese during the war. A light lunch is then provided at the English Tea House as we take in the breathtaking surrounds of the beautiful colonial building which overlooks Sandakan Bay. Following is a transfer to our hotel for a rest before dinner.
Accommodation: Four Points By Sheraton

Day 7 – Sun 16 Aug | Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary – Sukau Kinabatangan River (B,L,D)
This morning we travel up to the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary located in the centre of the mangrove forest along with the coastal land near Samawang Village. We view these unique primates that are not found elsewhere in the world, providing us with an exhilarating and memorable experience, as we observe the monkeys both young and adult leaping from tree to tree and eventually down to feed on leaves and plants. The leaping act is superb, fast, steady, stylish and perfect. After the completion of this session, we re-board our coach and continue the journey down to Sukau located on the mighty Kinabatangan River. On arrival at Bilit Jetty, we transfer by boat to Bilit Rainforest Lodge for check-in and lunch at the lodge. Late afternoon we venture out for a wildlife cruise along the Kinabatangan River hoping to spot wildlife like the unique Probosci’s Monkey, Hornbills, Kingfishers, Pygmy Elephant and many others. Return to Bilit Rainforest Lodge to refresh before dinner.
Accommodation: Bilit Rainforest Lodge

Day 8 – Mon 17 Aug | Sukau – Sandakan – Kota Kinabalu (B,D)
This morning wake up by the calls of Long Tail Macaque and birds searching for food. Opt to either go for an early morning wildlife river cruise along the Kinabatangan River in search of more Bornean-endemic wildlife or go for a jungle trek to Oxbow Lake to encounter an array of bird species. After a morning of encountering wildlife, it’s time to refuel and recharge with breakfast. Following, we check out and transfer to the Sandakan Airport for our afternoon flight back to Kota Kinabalu. Upon arrival, we are transferred back to our luxury hotel for check-in and dinner.
Departs Sandakan AK6495 1455 – Kota Kinabalu 1545
Accommodation: Le Meridien

Day 9 – Tues 18 Aug – Sabah Tea Plantation – Kundasang War Memorial & Gardens (B,L,D)
This morning we have a two-hour journey through breath taking scenery towards Mount Kinabalu. Along the way, we get the chance to stop at Nabalu Village Markets to savour the local fruits and to bargain for the handicrafts which the villagers sell. On arrival at the sprawling Sabah Tea Plantation we enjoy a fascinating tour of the Tea Processing Plant. After our tour we are treated to a delightful lunch, then travel down into Renau stopping at the POW Camp Site Memorial which marks the site of the final POW Camp where the survivors of the Death Marches where held. Here we pay our respects as we stand on the site where Gunner Albert Neil Cleary, of the 2/15th Field Regiment, RAA, Perth was chained to a stake, brutally tortured, beaten and starved for 11 days before being released into the arms of his mates to die on March 20 1945, aged just 22 years. Our last stop for today is the Kundasang War Memorial & Gardens. Established in 1962, this was one of the first memorials to commemorate the brave Australian and British Prisoners of War who died while in the Sandakan POW Camp and during the infamous “Death Marches” from Sandakan to Ranau during World War II. The memorial also remembers the people of North Borneo who risked their lives to help the POWs. Later in the day, we return to Kota Kinabalu to the luxury of our hotel to relax before dinner.
Accommodation: Le Meridien

Day 10 –  Wed 19 Aug | Labuan Commonwealth War Cemetery – Surrender Point (B,L,D)
Depart Kota Kinabalu MH3043 0830 – Labuan 0900
After an early breakfast and short flight across to the island of Labuan we pay a visit to the Commonwealth War Cemetery. The Commonwealth War Cemetery is home to 3,908 graves of soldiers who either died at the POW Camp Sites, Death Marches or in battle with most of the soldiers Australian and British. The remains of the Allied troops were gathered from all over Borneo to be interred at the cemetery. The graves lie in long neat rows all bearing a plaque, mostly identified, a few graves still say ”Known only to God”. The cemetery was constructed and is maintained by Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The lawns are beautifully kept and visitors will appreciate the peace and tranquillity of the grounds as we seek to understand the senselessness of the deaths of so many brave young men. We then make our way up to Surrender Point where the 32nd Japanese Southern Army surrendered to the 9th Division Australian Imperial Forces on 9th September 1945 which led to the end of World War II in Borneo. A bronze plaque commemorating the surrender is mounted on a stone slab near the entrance to Peace Park. We enjoy the sights of Labuan which includes a visit to The An’Nur Jamek Mosque. The mosque is of futuristic and amazing architecture and is one of the main attractions of the island that attracts tourists from every corner of the world. After lunch on the island we transfer back to Labuan Airport to board our afternoon flight back to Kota Kinabalu. On arrival, we transfer to our luxury hotel for our farewell dinner.
Departs Labuan MH3047 1730 – Kota Kinabalu 1800
Accommodation: Le Meridien

Day 11 : Thurs 20 Aug | Kota Kinabalu – Auckland (B,FM)
This morning after breakfast we enjoy a day of leisure with time to shop at the waterfront markets or local boutique stores. After a late checkout, we meet in the hotel lobby before transferring to the airport for our late afternoon check-in and overnight flight back to Auckland.
Departs Kota Kinabalu MH2647 1955 – Kuala Lumpur 2220
Depart Kuala Lumpur MH131 2325 – Auckland 1340 + 1

Day 12 – Fri 21 Aug | Auckland
We arrive back in Auckland where we clear customs and immigration before returning to our homes after an amazing and moving experience up in Sabah Borneo.