Found near Borneo, Kota Kinabalu is one of Malaysia’s top holiday destinations. It boasts of pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and of course, the famous Mount Kinabalu.
Equally stunning, Sandakan is one of Borneo’s underrated destinations. It features gems like Kampung Pukat Fisherman Village and is close to the famous Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. It’s also an ideal place to go if you enjoy wildlife watching.
If you’re planning on travelling from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan, then you’re in luck as this guide will show you how to get between the two destinations.
Below, I describe exactly how to get from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan whether you are looking for a Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan flight, a bus from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan or want to drive from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan.
I also describe the reverse journey from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu.
Note: There is no Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan train.
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Map: Travel From Kota Kinabalu To Sandakan
This map shows you the Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan distance and route.
The distance from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan is 338 km, and driving takes approximately 6.5 to 8.5 hours.
BEST OPTION: How To Get From Kota Kinabalu To Sandakan
|Mode of transport||Duration||Best For?||Book|
|Flight||4 hours||People who want an efficient way to get to Sandakan||Check here|
|Bus||8 hours||People who want the cheapest option||Check here|
|Car||6.5 hours||People who love the freedom of a car and are happy to hire one||Check here|
Option 1: Flights Kota Kinabalu To Sandakan
One of the easiest ways to get to your destination is to fly Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan via AirAsia or Malaysia Airlines.
The cost of a Kota Kinabalu Sandakan flight ticket starts at around RM 100, depending on any current sales and the season. If you’re wanting a flight from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan, keep an eye out for the AirAsia sales where sometimes you can get a flight for barely any ringgit at all. The approximate flight time from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan is 50 minutes.
The main city centre is only 13.2 km from Sandakan Airport, and just a quick 12-minute drive via taxi, or Grab, so you don’t have to worry about long transfer times.
Click here to see the prices for your dates.
Option 2: Kota Kinabalu To Sandakan Bus
Another convenient (and budget-friendly) option is to take the bus from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan at Kota Kinabalu North Bus Terminal Inanam.
Buses depart a few times throughout the day between 8am to 8pm and are operated by Sida Ekspres and Tung Ma Express. Travel time is approximately 7.25 hours from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan by bus.
It’s best to check the Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan bus schedule and book your tickets in advance to avoid long queues and the influx of travellers, especially during the weekends and peak season.
If you’re a budget-traveller, taking the bus is the cheapest option, with bus fares costing around RM 43.
Click here to see the latest timetables and prices.
Option 3: Driving From Kota Kinabalu To Sandakan
If you’re travelling by car from Kota Kinabalu, you’ll be driving a distance of 338 km, and the journey will take 6.5 hours if you don’t hit traffic.
Travelling from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan by car allows you to create a flexible itinerary, giving you plenty of time to stop at notable attractions along the way. It’s also easier to go from one attraction to the next and to get to many of the amazing wildlife experiences in Sabah.
You can hire a car in Kota Kinabalu on arrival. Click here for prices.
However, if you want to cut on costs, you might prefer the bus.
Click here to read more about driving in Malaysia.
Sandakan To Kota Kinabalu
In terms of how to get from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu, all you need to do is to take the above transportation options in reverse.
To get to your destination, you can either fly, take the bus or travel by car.
If you’re after a flight to Kota Kinabalu from Sandakan, AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines are the airlines to check out. A Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu flight will cost from RM 80, with a flight time of 1 hr. Check out the latest prices and times here.
Similarly, you can take the Sandakan Kota Kinabalu bus. Buses bound for Kota Kinabalu North Bus Terminal Inanam will cost around RM 43.
Finally, you can also travel by car, and it will take approximately 6.5 hours. The Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu distance is 338 km.
In this post, we’ve covered the different transportation options that you can take if you’re travelling from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan (and vice versa!)
The fastest way to get to your destination is to travel by plane. But if you want to take a more budget-friendly alternative, you can travel by bus.
Meanwhile, if you want convenience and flexibility in your itinerary, you can travel via private vehicle.
I hope you found this guide to how to travel from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan useful. We also have travel guides for reaching Kota Kinabalu from other places such as Tawau, Labuan and Brunei. You can find our Kota Kinabalu itinerary here and guide on things to do in Sandakan here, all the top Sandakan tours here or the all the best hotels in Sandakan here. You may also be interested in our guide on things to do in Tawau 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!