There are several ways to travel from Brunei to Kota Kinabalu and if you’re exploring Borneo then we really recommend a stop in Brunei. We spent three days in there a wrote a guide to Brunei to give you an overview of what it’s like to travel there. So once you’re ready to move on you need to decide if you want to go by plane, bus or boat.
Below we will list the pros, cons, prices and details of each option so you can choose your preferred way to travel from Brunei to Kota Kinabalu.
Brunei to Kota Kinabalu by Ferry
Journey is broken up so it doesn’t feel as long
Seats are more comfortable than the bus
The ferry terminal in Brunei is about an hour from Bandar Seri Begawan
Possibility of bad weather
Need to change transport several times so not good if you have large luggage.
To take the ferry from Brunei to Kota Kinabalu you’ll need to first go to Labuan Island. Take bus number 38 from the bus station at Bandar Seri Begawan to the last stop. The journey takes about 45 minutes. From there a free shuttle will take passengers to the ferry terminal. When we were there the shuttle wasn’t arriving for another 30 minutes so we went to the road and hitchhiked the 2 km to the terminal with the first car that passed.
There are ferries to Labuan Island at 8:30 am and 9:30 am. The journey takes about two hours and is very comfortable. There were only about 10 people on the boat and we had couch seats. At Labuan Island you will be stamped into Malaysia.
The ferry from Labuan Island to Kota Kinabalu leaves at 1 pm and takes about 3.5 hours. This ferry is smaller and not as comfortable but fast. You have an hour or two waiting times to grab a coffee, some food or cheap alcohol in the duty-free shops on the island.
Bus to ferry terminal - 1 BND
Ferry to Labuan Island (including terminal fee) - 17 BND
Ferry from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu - 12 BND
Brunei to Kota Kinabalu by flight
Airports are further from the city
Least eco-friendly option
Royal Brunei or Air Asia fly between Bandar Seri Begawan and Kota Kinabalu. Flight prices vary but you can usually pick up a deal for around $ 30.
Brunei to Kota Kinabalu by bus
Least changes and has pick up and dropped if in the city centres. Good for if you have large luggage.
Cheaper than a flight
Scenic. You will pass through some smaller areas of Brunei and Malaysia which makes it an interesting journey.
It’s 8 hours which is a long time to be stuck on a bus.
You have to pass through many several border checkpoints and get 8 stamps in your passport (might be a pro if you’re trying to fill a passport).
Quite expensive for a bus trip.
You can buy tickets for the bus through this website. It costs 35 BND per person or 45 BND if you buy it on the day. The bus leaves from the waterfront opposite Piccolo Café at 8 am. If you already have a ticket you can arrive 10 minutes before it leaves, otherwise be there at least 30 minutes before to get a ticket.
The best way to get from Brunei to Kota Kinabalu?
It depends on your preferences and how much luggage you have but a flight is definitely easiest. We try to reduce our carbon footprint and not take unnecessary flights so for us the ferry was the best option. Once you get to Kota Kinabalu make sure you visit the islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park! Read all about it here.