In the heart of the mangrove forests of Semawang in Sandakan, the privately owned Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary allows travelers to observe the rare and distinctive proboscis monkeys in their natural Borneo habitat.
It's estimated that about 300 wild monkeys live within this 2.3-square-mile (6-square-km) sanctuary, which includes two observation areas for visitors. These open daily for feedings at 9:30am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, and 4:30pm. The first, a long wooden walkway and platform set over a swampy mangrove, features a feeding station where rangers leave guava and cucumber to supplement the diets of the proboscis monkeys. The second area has a tiered viewing platform where silverleaf monkeys and a pair of oriental pied hornbills sometimes show up for feedings alongside the monkeys.
Many visit the sanctuary on a day trip from Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu, although overnight stays are also possible, with night tours offering the chance to see fireflies, wild boars, flying squirrels, and crocodiles in the wild. If you book in advance, it’s possible to combine the monkeys' feeding time with other activities, such as jungle treks or even a boat trip to a nearby fishing village.
The Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary is open during feeding times at 9:30am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, and 4:30pm. Admission costs 60 RM for adults and 30 RM for children under 12. The sanctuary is located 24 miles (38 km) from Sandakan and can be reached by car; take Jalan Labuk toward Kota Kinabalu, turn off at Mile 19, and follow the dirt road 9.3 miles (15 km) to the sanctuary. It's also possible to purchase transport services from the sanctuary, or choose a full-day guided tour from Sandakan or Kota Kinabalu with round-trip transportation included.
Because the monkeys living within the sanctuary are wild, sightings are never guaranteed. Visitors should always keep a safe distance between themselves and the monkeys. Touching, feeding, or other contact is not permitted.