Kota Kinabalu to Brunei by land

This article is an itinerary.

Traveling in a day from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah state in Malaysia to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, or vice-versa, can be easily done by flying, driving, taking boats or by catching buses or taxis. Of course, the level of comfort and how much you end up spending will depend on what mode you choose.


Getting from Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei, can be seen as one leg of the "Borneo Overland Trail" which can be covered continuously between Tawau at the southeastern tip of Sabah, and Kuching at the southwestern end of Sarawak. Both states are part of Malaysian Borneo but the trail also requires you to pass through the expensive sultanate of Brunei which lies more or less in between the two states.

The stretch covered by this leg can be both challenging and fascinating; challenging because it involves traveling through some of the more remote corners of Sarawak and Sabah where the roads may not be at their best. Traffic is light and public transport connections require a little more time to work out. The trip can also be fascinating because you will get to see what it's like to live in one of the richest countries in the world.

This itinerary basically just shows you the way to get from Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan within a day and does not leave you much time for any diversions (thankfully, there are not too many, although visiting the Pulau Tiga Park, Klias Wetlands, white-water rafting on the Padas River and even exploring to forests of the Ulu Temburong National Park in Brunei are some interesting ones) and opportunities to experience the relaxed atmosphere of the small remote towns along the way. Give it one or two more days and you will get to feel the places a little more.


There isn't really that much for which to prepare as the route goes through many towns where you will be able to get food and drinks -- and accommodation if you get stranded -- without any problems. If you are driving, just make sure that your car is in good condition as there are many stretches where you'll have to wait for a while before you can thumb a lift to the nearest mechanic.

As the route brings you across state and international borders (it's wonderful for passport stamp collecting -- a maximum eight entrance stamps and eight exit stamps if you choose the correct route), make sure you satisfy the necessary immigration requirements. Check with Brunei | Get in and Malaysia | Get in for details. If you need visas, make sure you get multiple entry ones as you'll be hopping in and out of Brunei and Malaysia several times.

The thing you'll probably need the most is patience -- to wait for minivans or buses to show up, to wait for them to fill up, to wait for them to complete their rounds in town just to get more passengers, to wait out connections which don't work out, to wait out breakdowns, to wait in lines at ferry crossings and immigration checkpoints. Once you have mastered that, you'll see a pretty interesting Sabah rural life along the way.

Get in

Besides the two end-points of this itinerary, there are several places where you can join or leave the overland trail from Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan.


There are several ways in which you can make the journey between Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan.

By air

The fastest and most comfortable, but also the most expensive, Royal Brunei Airlines operates one or two daily roundtrip services between Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan. The flight takes about 40 minutes. Malaysia Airlines and its subsidiary MASwings used to operate this route but it was eventually terminated.

By car

As of January 2010 there are two options for the road journey from Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan - road journey along in Sabah and sections 83 to 92, or by a ferry journey in Menumbok, a town about 80 kilometres from Beaufort via route 1 and in Sabah. . The car ferry is pricey but faster - advance booking is essential during public and school holidays.

By road all the way even in your own car is taxing, taking anything between seven and ten hours. A lot of time is spent waiting at border checkpoints, at Sindumin/Merapok, Mengkalang/Labu, Ujong Jalan/Pandaruan and Tedungan/Kuala Lurah, which can get very busy with long lines during weekends and holidays. There is also a ferry crossing which can take time too. Previously there were two ferry crossings but the one at Trusan, Lawas has been replaced with a bridge recently.

The journey is described in stages from Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan below. If you are traveling the other direction, just take the stages in reverse:

By boat

This is one of the more comfortable ways of making the journey as you do not need to spend so many hours on the "road". The sea is also relatively smoother than traveling on the back roads of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei (though on some days you may be in for a pretty rough ride). Note that the ferries are not wheelchair-friendly. A person in a wheelchair can make the trip (seated in an airplane-like seat for the duration of the ride), but be advised that some very capable help will be needed as it involves a good deal of lifting, carrying and balancing.

Though there are several ferries taking the route between Kota Kinabalu and Labuan and Labuan to Brunei, if you take the wrong ones you may end up being stuck and forced to stay overnight in Labuan.

To get from KK to Brunei in the same day, the following is a good strategy:

From Bandar Seri Begawan to Kota Kinabalu, the following is the best game plan:

By public transport

New buses and ferries make this much easier.

You will also find that there are many variations to travel between the two cities, especially at the Brunei end of the journey. The main route described here will allow you to make the journey in a day, while the variations may cause a delay in reaching your final destination.

Three posibilities available - 1 Boring get on Bus in KK - get off in Bandar, Bus leaves daily from KK bus terminal. 2 Bus to Munumbuk - car ferry to Muara (http://www.pkljaya.com/Fares_Tickets.htm) - public bus to Bandar. 3 KK to Lawas then Bandar ( same route as 1 but using a variety of transport)

This is the fastest way in which you will be able to travel from Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan and you should be able to make it in a day. If you are going the other direction, do the stages in reverse. Here is the stage-by-stage description:

Go next

Traveling from Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan in a day can be seen as part of the Borneo Overland Trail which stretches from Tawau in the southeastern corner of Sabah, to Kuching in Sarawak.

The usual next stop from Bandar Seri Begawan is Miri in northern Sarawak, which can be reached by road and bus. See Brunei's Get In section for details.

If you are heading to Kota Kinabalu, then it is highly likely that you'll be setting your eyes on Mount Kinabalu. See Kota Kinabalu's Get In section for details. However, before you proceed along the trail towards the mountain, you could make a detour to the northern part of Sabah. Kota Belud has an interesting tamu (market) and Kudat bills itself being at the northern-most tip of Borneo.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, September 21, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.