Kota Kinabalu is the charming capital of Sabah. Travellers often come here to visit as it is the gateway to one of the highest peaks in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu. It’s also blessed with natural wonders like pristine beaches, lush rainforests and fresh seafood.
Also interesting, Labuan is well-known in Southeast Asia as a duty-free centre and a financial district. Also called the “Pearl of Borneo,” this underrated destination features interesting WWII attractions, fascinating shipwrecks and beautiful beaches.
Kota Kinabalu and Labuan are close together so it’s natural to want to visit both when you are in the area.
To help you do this, below I describe exactly how to get from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan whether you are looking for a Kota Kinabalu to Labuan flight, a Kota Kinabalu Labuan ferry or want to take your car from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan.
I also describe the reverse journey from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu. Let’s start!
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Map: Kota Kinabalu To Labuan
This map will show you the Kota Kinabalu to Labuan distance and the most direct journey by land.
The distance from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan is approximately 175 kilometres with a travel time of 3 hours and 45 minutes – if you don’t wait for a ferry.
BEST OPTION: How To Go From Kota Kinabalu To Labuan
There are several ways you can travel between Kota Kinabalu and Labuan.
The direct ferry from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan was the best option. Now it’s not running, taking a flight is the quickest way or taking a bus + ferry in Menumbok is the cheapest way.
Here’s a summary of your options. Labuan is an island with no bridges to the mainland so you will need to catch a ferry at some point or fly.
|Mode of transport||Duration||Best For?||Book|
|Flight||2.75 hours||People who want the quickest and easiest option||Book here|
|Ferry||3.5 hours||People who want an easy and affordable option. This is not running at present||Book here|
|Car + Ferry||4.5 hours||People who are happy to hire a car||Book here|
|Bus + Ferry||5.75 hours||People who want the cheapest option||Bus – Book here|
Ferry – Book here
Option 1: Kota Kinabalu To Labuan Flight
Flying is the easiest way to get from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan especially while the direct ferry is not running.
Malaysia Airlines offers direct flights from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan. Ticket prices start from RM190 with exact prices depending on the promo, season and how far in advance you book. The approximate flying time is 35 minutes. There are 3 – 5 flights per day.
Click here to see the prices for your dates.
To reach the Kota Kinabalu Airport, take a Grab taxi. The distance is approximately 9 kilometres from the centre of Kota Kinabalu with a travel time of about 14 minutes.
Once you arrive in Labuan, the airport is close to the main city centre. It’s just a couple of kilometres northeast. It’s about an eight minute drive.
Although flying is the quickest way to get to your destination, you have to consider the wait times at the airport and overall travel times as well.
Click here to see the prices for your dates.
Option 2: Kota Kinabalu Ferry To Labuan
At the time of publishing this article in May 2023, the ferry from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan is temporarily paused. It has not been announced when it will restart. Check the Facebook page here or the ticket pages here to see if it has started again when you travel. The information below is for your reference if it does start again.
Another option is to take the ferry from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan. From the main city centre, Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal is within walking distance. Alternatively, you can take a Grab or taxi.
You can purchase your tickets once you arrive at the terminal. You can also book online in advance (once it is available again) to avoid queues and missing out on a spot. Travel time is 2.5 hours and costs RM43 for a foreign adult. Malaysian adults are RM23.80.
Before the ferry was paused, there were only two trips a week at 8am on Fridays and Sundays.
When this is running again, I think it’s the easiest option since it’s more straightforward than dealing with airports. Also, the ferry terminals in both places are central. This means it doesn’t add up to much more time than flying.
Click here to see the latest prices.
Option 3: Kota Kinabalu To Labuan By Car
If you’re travelling by car from Kota Kinabalu, the first step is to drive to Menumbok. This is about 2.25 hours from Kota Kinabalu depending on traffic and road conditions.
From here, you need to take a ferry that departs from Menumbok Ferry Terminal to Labuan Island.
There are two options – a high speed passenger ferry or a slower car ferry. If you decide to take your car with you, you’ll need the latter.
Passenger ferries cost only RM9, take 49 minutes and depart regularly throughout the day.
You can see the latest timetable and book your ferry here.
Car ferries take around 1.5 hours and also run regularly throughout the day. It’s best to know the schedule in advance and, ideally, to book your ticket as well so you definitely have a spot. Space for vehicles, in particular, does sell out.
The price for this is quite reasonable starting at RM40 for a small vehicle and RM5 for a passenger.
There are a few different operators. You can find the Galaxy Ferry timetables, prices and online booking here. You can find the details and online booking for Labuan Ferry here.
Travelling by car allows you to have a more flexible itinerary. Make sure your rental car is allowed to go on ferries and drive in Labuan before taking it.
Click here for the best car rental options or click here to read more about driving in Malaysia.
Option 4: Kota Kinabalu To Labuan Bus + Ferry
This is the best option if you are watching your spending and want the cheapest price. It involves both a bus and a ferry.
It is similar to the option above but instead of driving yourself to the ferry at Menumbok, you take a bus.
Buses currently run an average of five times a day from Kota Kinabalu to Menumbok with most departures in the morning. Sipitang Express and Menumbok Express run this route. Tickets are RM20 and the bus ride takes around three hours.
See the latest prices and schedules here.
Buses can sell out so book in advance.
Buses depart from KK Sentral which is on the edge of central Kota Kinabalu. They arrive at Terminal Bas Menumbok which is right by the ferry terminal.
Once you are there, take a quick passenger speed boat to Labuan. These take 49 minutes and depart throughout the day for just RM9.
Find the latest prices and schedules here. You can also book your ticket here.
Labuan To Kota Kinabalu
In terms of how to get from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu, all you need to do is to take the above transportation options in reverse.
You can either fly via plane, take the ferry or travel by car or bus to get to your destination.
If you’re flying, Malaysia Airlines offers direct flights to Kota Kinabalu. A Labuan to Kota Kinabalu flight starts at around RM190. There are multiple flights a day and it only takes 35 minutes.
When the direct ferry is running again, you can take the ferry from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu. This takes about 2.5 hours and costs about RM43 for a foreigner or RM23.80 for a Malaysian.
Click here to see if this ferry service is running again.
Finally, you can travel via ferry + car or ferry + bus. From Labuan, take either a 49 minute passenger ferry or a 1.5 hour car ferry.
This takes you to Menumbok.
The passenger ferry is only RM9 and you can book tickets here.
From here, it’s a 2.25 hour drive to Kota Kinabalu in your own car or a three hour drive in a bus.
You can see the latest bus prices and schedules here.
So there you have it. In this post, we’ve covered the various transportation options that you can take if you’re travelling from Kota Kinabalu and Labuan (and vice versa!)
The quickest option is to fly, but you have to take into consideration the waiting times at the airport as well. If you want to get to your destination in the most convenient way possible, I suggest that you take the direct ferry once it is running again.
Another alternative is to travel via car or bus to Menumbok and then take a ferry from there. This ferry runs regularly throughout the day.
I hope you found this guide to how to travel from Kota Kinabalu to Labuan useful. We also have travel guides for reaching Kota Kinabalu from other places such as KL, Kuching, Sandakan and Brunei. You can find our Kota Kinabalu itinerary here and our complete travel guide to Kota Kinabalu here.
We also have other travel guides for travel to Labuan from other Malaysian destinations such as taking the ferry from Brunei. You can read our guide on all there is to in Labuan here, where to stay here and our full travel guide to Labuan here.
Planning a trip to Malaysia? Have any questions? Join our Malaysia Travel Planning Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!