Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia’s capital. Hovering its skylines are well-positioned business districts and towering buildings. In its bustling streets, you can find delicious street food, trendy bars, one of the best budget shopping scenes, religious monuments, and a lot more. It also offers an interesting mix of culture, art, sightseeing, and of course, history.
Also interesting with a pretty seaside location, Kota Kinabalu, also known as KK by locals, is Sabah’s state capital located in the Malaysian portion of Borneo. It’s a relatively big city offering visitors lots of exciting adventures, rich history and culture, and good food. This laid back coastal city is also known for its bustling weekend markets, and vibrant art and music scene.
If you’re heading to Kota Kinabalu from KL then you’re in the right place.
Below, I describe exactly how to get from KL to Kota Kinabalu. I also describe the reverse journey from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur and share some information about passing through immigration on this journey.
Map: Flight From Kuala Lumpur To Kota Kinabalu
This map shows you the distance between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.
The distance between these two places is 1625 kilometres. The flight time from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu is approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes.
How To Get From KL To Kota Kinabalu
Your only option when travelling between these two places is to take a flight from KL to Kota Kinabalu.
Despite being in the same country, they are located quite far apart and separated by sea. There are no ferry options. This leaves flying your only choice.
Flight From KL To Kota Kinabalu
Flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu are via Batik Air, MYAirline, Malaysia Airlines or AirAsia.
The cost of a KL to Kota Kinabalu ticket is RM 150+, depending on the current sales and season. The KL to Kota Kinabalu flight time is around 2 hours and 40 minutes.
The main city centre is only 6.9 kilometres from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and a quick 6-minute taxi ride, so you don’t have to worry about long transfer times. The fare costs around RM 20.
Click here to see the prices for your dates.
Kota Kinabalu To KL
In terms of how to get from Kota Kinabalu To KL, all you need to do is take the above flight in reverse.
To get to your destination, since there are no available ferries, flying is your only option.
Airlines carriers such as Batik Air, MYAirline, Malaysia Airlines, and AirAsia offer flights from Kota Kinabalu to KL. Tickets start from RM 150, and a direct flight will take around 2 hours and 40 minutes. A great sale on AirAsia may get you a super cheap price and, at peak time, you may have to pay a lot more.
Booking ahead is always a good idea.
See flight prices and options here.
Once you arrive in Kuala Lumpur Airport, you have multiple options for how to get to the city. You can easily take a taxi, train or bus. The airport is about an hour from the city.
Buses are the cheapest option with trains being the fastest, but also the priciest if there is more than one of you. Taxis cost around RM85 – 120. Using the Grab app to book a taxi can save money.
The train runs regularly and is super quick. It is the best option during morning and evening peak times, especially on your way to the airport when you want to be sure you don’t miss your flight. It runs from KL Sentral and costs RM 50 using the link below.
You can find the train schedules and discounted tickets here.
Passing Through Immigration On A Flight Kuala Lumpur To Kota Kinabalu
Despite being in the same country, Sabah, the state where Kota Kinabalu is located, has its own immigration controls. This means you will actually pass through immigration when travelling between Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.
When you enter and depart Sabah, your passport will be stamped. Note if you are travelling on a foreign passport that this does not extend your time in Malaysia and you still must leave the country within the timeframe you were given on entry.
Malaysians from outside of Sabah must also use a passport to enter or their IC card and are only allowed to enter for 90 days.
In this post, we’ve covered the transportation option that you can take if you’re travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu (and vice versa!)
Although both places are in the same country, they’relatively far apart and separated by sea. Since there are no ferries that take this route, your only option is to take the plane.
I hope you found this guide useful to how to travel from KL to Kota Kinabalu. We also have travel guides for reaching Kota Kinabalu from other places such as Kuching, Sandakan and Brunei. You can find our Kota Kinabalu itinerary here and our complete travel guide to Kota Kinabalu here.
Click here for our full guide on things to do in Kota Kinabalu.