Rainforest Discovery Center (RDC), Sandakan was setup in 1996 and managed by Sabah Forestry Department. Initially it was setup as an environmental education center for students and teachers with the aim of increasing and enhancing their awareness and appreciation of the importance of rainforest conservation. The center has been opened to the public since August 2006 for them to see and learn of the many different species of rainforest tree and wildlife in Sabah. Its main aim is to teach the public to appreciate the uniqueness and importance of Borneo’s rainforests and how human can co-exist harmoniously with nature.
The various attractions here are:
- The Canopy Walkway which is the main attraction here is mega steel structure. It is about two meter wide and 300 m long with a single-column shelter and was built to connect two tower named Bristlehead Tower and Trogon Tower together. (Construction is currently underway to extend the walkway). At its highest point, it is about 25 meter high from the ground level. From this height, the scenery is breathtaking and will give tourist the chance to appreciate the surrounding forest better. This is also a good place for bird watching and taking photos of the rare and unique birds of Borneo such as the Borneo Bristlehead and hornbills. Note: The best time for bird watching is at the early morning about 7.00 am.
The mega steel structure of the canopy walkway
- The Rainforest Discovery Trails. This is a network of nature trails that leads trekkers deep into the rainforest to appreciate the unique flora and faunas that is endemic to Sabah. There are numerous paths for trekkers to choose, varying from some very long and deep trails into the rainforest to some other shorter paths. Many signs with descriptive information have been put up along the trail to inform visitor on the type of tree species and wildlife found here. You can also opt for a night walk to have the opportunities to see the forest become active in the night time. Various wildlife such as mouse deer, civet cats, tarsiers and many interesting and unique insects can be seen during the night walk.
- Visitor Building with an exhibition hall where the unique and endemic flora and fauna of Sabah are displayed. Learn about the various plant group, animals and insects that make up the rainforest community. Learn more about Borneo's unique animals such as the Bornean pygmy elephant, the orangutan and various cats and deer that are found in the surrounding rainforest and the different insect’s species such as beetles and stick insects.
- Relaxing by a lake. This beautiful and peaceful lake is the place for tourist to take a rest after a long walk, exploration and learning. For those who still have some energy to burn, there is a boat rides to try. For a small fee, visitor can rent the paddle boat which is leg powered and seat two persons and go explore the lake.
- Plant Discovery Garden is the place for plant lovers. With hundreds of different orchid species, pitcher plant, herb plants and many more, this is the place to see and learn all about the endemic plants of Borneo. In this garden, there are many descriptive and informational panels to describe the plants and educate the visitors.
Getting There: The Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC), Sandakan is situated about 14 miles (23 km) from Sandakan Town and about 1.2 mi (2 km) from the Sepilok Rehabilitation Center. Self driving or taking a taxi is the most convenient way to reach this place. From Sandakan town, drive along Jalan Labuk until you reach a roundabout with a large orangutan statue at Mile 14. Turn left here and continues to drive until you see the RDC sign. Turn right here to go to the RDC car park which is about 500 meter from the junction. You can also use the public bus to reach RDC during your Sabah vacation but bus only stops at the junction of the main road, which means that you need to walk for another mile (1.6 km) to reach the center in the hot humid weather.