Kota Kinabalu (KK) is a vibrant coastal city on Malaysia’s Borneo island. Although fast-growing, it also boasts a colourful history, making it a beautiful mix of progress and heritage. We recommend a sweep of the Atkinson Clock Tower, Sabah State Museum, Double Six Monument, and the waterfront City Mosque to truly appreciate the city. In the evening, explore the night market for some great finds.
But don’t stop there! The real adventure lies on the outskirts of the city. Here you’ll find pristine beaches, lush jungles, and Southeast Asia’s highest peak (Mount Kinabalu). If you’re planning on a hike, make sure to reserve a slot early as only 185 persons are allowed to start their climb daily. The hike itself takes at least 2 days.
Kota Kinabalu is located 1,430km northeast of Singapore. If you want to travel this distance, your only option is by flight. Including transfers, a flight from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu takes 3.5 hours and fares start from $67.
Stuff you can’t bring in to Malaysia
Malaysia is nowhere near as strict as Singapore when it comes to customs check, but there are still a few items that you shouldn’t bring when travelling from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu – unless you want to pay hefty fines or receive heavy punishment.
Below are some of those:
More than 1-litre of liquor
Even a few grams over the 225g-limit of tobacco per person (that’s around 200 cigarettes)
Over 3 new wearable items and 1 new pair of shoes
More than 1 electric or battery-operated personal hygiene equipment
Unlicensed weapons, counterfeit bills or coins and illegal drugs. These can lead not just to huge fines but even the death penalty!
The flight from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu takes only 2.5 hours, but both airports are located outside the city centre so you’ll need extra transfers.
Step 1: Downtown Singapore to Airport
Duration: 30 minutes Cost: 9 SGD ($6.50)
Singapore Changi Airport can be found 20km east of downtown Singapore. To travel this distance, you have 4 options: a city shuttle for 9 SGD ($6.50); a taxi for 25 SGD ($18.50); the train for 2.70 SGD ($2); or a public bus for 2 SGD ($1.70).
We prefer taking the city shuttle as they provide good comfort and door-to-door service at an affordable price. This is a shared minivan ride so expect several pick-up stops within the city before heading to the airport. Don’t worry though, they schedule it so that you will make it in time for your flight!
You can book a city shuttle online beforehand via Klook, a trusted booking platform in Southeast Asia.
Are you looking for cheaper rates to travel from downtown Singapore to the airport? The train is a comfortable option, but requires at least one transfer. This might be a hassle if you’re carrying huge luggage.
The public bus, on the other hand, makes too many stops so it takes around 1.5 hours to reach the airport.
Kota Kinabalu International Airport is located 8km south of the city centre. You can take either a bus or a taxi to complete your journey to your hotel.
The airport bus is the cheaper option with tickets from 5 MYR ($1.10). These depart every hour from 07:30 to 20:30 and park at Merdeka Square. From here, you can either walk to your accommodation or take a short taxi ride.
The taxi is more expensive, but also more convenient. Airport taxis are prepaid and rates are fixed depending on your destination. A taxi from the airport to the city centre costs 30 MYR ($6.50) and up.
To skip the taxi queue, you can also pre-book your taxi online via Klook. Their starting rates are just a little bit more expensive at 36 MYR ($8) but they can save you a lot of time especially on peak hours.