Want to know how to get from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu? In this post, we’ll share a summary of how to get to Kota Kinabalu and go into more detail to help you decide which transport provider to book with and where to buy your tickets.
What to expect when visiting Kota Kinabalu
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 Kota Kinabalu. 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 because only 185 people are allowed to start their climb daily. The hike itself takes at least two days.
What you can’t bring into 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.
TIP: If you decide to travel by plane, please consider including a carbon compensation fee to reduce your impact on the environment.
Step 1: Downtown Singapore to Airport
Duration: 30 minutes
Costs: 9 SGD ($6.50)
Duration: 30 minutes
Costs: 9 SGD ($6.50)
Singapore Changi Airport can be found 20 km 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-ups 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 bulky 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 8 km 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 ($1.00). These buses 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 ($6.00) 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 ($7.50) but they can save you a lot of time, especially during peak hours.
The journey from the airport to Kota Kinabalu city centre takes 30-40 minutes depending on traffic.
Frequently Asked Questions about Singapore to Kota Kinabalu
What is the distance from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu?
The distance from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu is 430 km (267 miles).
What is the fastest way to get from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu?
The fastest way to get from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu is by flight and takes 6h.
What is the cheapest way to get from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu?
The cheapest way to get from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu is by flight with ticket costs starting from 94 SGD ($69.00).
Rounding it up
We hope this guide was helpful in planning how to get from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu. If there's anything else you're wondering about, drop us a comment and we'll do our best to answer you within a few days.
PS: If you've recently travelled this route, share your experience with fellow travellers and help us improve this post. Thanks for helping out our travel community!
Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.
Kate is a writer, (ex)Management Consultant and avid traveller. She recently returned from a 2-year career break exploring the world and decided corporate life wasn’t for her. She’ll soon be testing life as a digital nomad. She’s visited over 40 countries and fell in love with Latin America in particular. Her travelling has inspired a passion for yoga, salsa, hiking and Spanish.