We are just about to book a tour which covers Sandakan, through Kinbatagan and to Semporna and out to Mabul for a couple of days. Hear that the islands might be somewhere to stay away from at the moment. Does anyone have any recent updates? If not here, are there recommendations for snorkelling elsewhere perhaps on the western side of Sabah? - Thanks!
Jodie, there's a military operation ongoing in that area. Last February a small army from the lawless Sulu Archipelago (of neighbouring Philippines) invaded Lahad Datu. The Malaysian government responded in force and there were gunfights. The army has declared a Special Security Zone and has posted seven battalions of troops to the area.
There are shades of ethnic and religious conflict, and I think rights over oil reserves are involved too.The so-called "invaders" are linked to the extremist groups from the southern Philippines. These guys are pirates (NOT like Jack Sparrow) and they fund their operations through kidnap and ransom of foreigners.
I haven't read of any more shooting incidents, and some of the resorts might tell you it's OK, but regardless of that the area has been put on the DO NOT TRAVEL list of several foreign governments (including Australia, NZ, US and UK), so if you decided to go there you would NOT be covered by your travel insurance. If anything did happen to you (and there is an increased risk), you'd be on your own.
Here's a travel alert we posted in March: http://safety.worldnomads.com/eastern-sabah-travel-alert
Phil at the safety hub. about 6 years ago
Yep..! Avoid it at all cost, I am a Bitish citizen work & live KL,
I and my family planing to visit Sabah, even we knew someone locally
but strong advice was to avoid it...! about 6 years agoAnswered by Adam via WorldNomads.com
some good news! As of July 24th Australia's foreign office is NO LONGER warning against all travel to Eastern Sabah. Other foreign government's will most likely follow suit soon.
They've determined that the situation has calmed enough for it to be relatively safe to visit. But be warned, they do still suggest you exercise a high degree of caution. The Malaysian government does STILL have an emergency security zone order in place so if you come across military patrols you must comply with their orders. about 6 years ago