Heading from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu? Or going from Kota Bharu to KL? Need to work out the best way to do this?
We can help. There are a few different ways to make this journey but all are straightforward.
Below, I describe exactly how to get to Kota Bharu from Kuala Lumpur whether you are looking for a flight from KL to Kota Bharu, a Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu bus, interested in taking a Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu train or would love to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu by car.
I also describe the reverse journey from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur.
Table of Contents
Map: KL to Kota Bharu
The distance from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu is 440 kilometres and takes about seven hours to drive.
The following map shows you the fastest journey.
Summary Of Best Way To Go From Kuala Lumpur To Kota Bharu
The fastest way is to take a Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu flight. It can also be very affordable in sales making it a cheap alternative as well. Click here to see the latest flight prices.
Otherwise, the bus from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu is the next best option for a more affordable and direct trip.
More details on every option below.
Option 1: Flight From Kuala Lumpur To Kota Bharu
If you wish to reach Kota Bharu from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, taking a flight will be your quickest option. There are two major airports in Kuala Lumpur, and both offer affordable flights to Kota Bharu. Flights from either airport take about an hour.
Sultan Abdul Azziz Shah Airport (SZB) is a little closer to the city center, but it also offers less flights. If you want to use this airport, you can choose between Malindo Air and Firefly Airlines. Prices vary, but you should be able to book a one-way flight out of this airport starting from RM 90.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) is about an hour drive from the city center and can be reached by taxi for about RM75. There are also buses and trains to get here (more details here)
If you want to depart from this airport, your options include AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines. Even a next-day flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu is very cheap at this airport, costing you around RM 76 for a one-way trip. You’ll need to spend a few more RM to cover your taxi ride from Sultan Ismail Petra Airport (KBR) in Kota Bharu to your accommodations.
Your KL to KB flight should be relatively affordable even without a discount, so if you’re asked to pay more than RM 120 for a one-way flight, consider looking for a better deal.
Option 2: Bus From KL To Kota Bharu
There are many reasons why travellers choose to take the bus to Kota Bharu from Kuala Lumpur rather than fly. The bus journey is slow, taking around 9.5 hours, but if you’re looking to take your time and see more of the Malaysian countryside, this might be the perfect option for you.
You can catch a KL to Kota Bharu bus at pretty much any time, which makes this an excellent option for spontaneous trips. There are multiple busses an hour throughout the day, and the last night bus usually departs between 9 and 11 p.m.
Tickets cost around RM 40 depending on the bus line and the time of departure.
Option 3: Train From KL To Kota Bharu
The train is another option that can provide travelers with an up-close-and-personal experience of a country’s landscapes and small villages. The train from Gemas to Kota Bharu is considered one of the best journeys in Southeast Asia.
To travel from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu by train, you’ll need to begin by heading to the KL Sentral Train Station, where you can catch the train to a small town called Gemas. There is no direct KL to Kota Bharu train. It will take around 2.5 hours to get to Gemas, and once you arrive, you’ll need to catch another train to the Wakaf Bharu Station. This train is known as the Jungle Train.
There are a couple of trains per day. Since the journey is 12.5 hours long, you’ll get to enjoy some nice views of the jungle no matter what time you depart.
The first train will cost you around RM 30, and the second journey can be booked for around RM 50. After you arrive at the Wakaf Bharu Station, you’ll need to find a taxi to cover the 9.5-kilometre trip into Kota Bharu which should cost around RM 14.
Taking the train to Kota Bharu from Kuala Lumpur can be an awesome experience for a slow-paced traveller. Trains often sell out, especially in the busy season. If experiencing the Jungle Train is important to you, be sure to make reservations well in advance.
Option 4: KL To Kota Bharu By Car
Driving your own vehicle provides a level of freedom you won’t get with other types of transport. You’ll be free to stop for food, break for the loo or to take a detour to check out an interesting landmark whenever the mood strikes you.
Of course, you’ll also have to deal with the stresses of the road, and you won’t be able to relax or nap along the way. There are positives and negatives to every option, but if you have your own vehicle, are familiar with the Malaysian roadways, or simply love to drive, this might be your best bet.
The distance from KL to Kota Bharu is 440 kilometers, and the journey takes around 7 hours if you don’t make too many stops along the way. Most travellers stop to rest for the night, separating the trip into two shorter drives.
To get to Kota Bharu by car, follow Karak Highway until you reach the town of Bentong, where you can merge onto Route 8. From there, continue to follow Route 8 until it reaches Kota Bharu. It’s a long but uncomplicated drive, and you’ll get to see plenty of interesting places along the way, including Lentang Forest Reserve.
Kota Bharu To Kuala Lumpur
When it comes time to return, you can cover the distance from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur using your choice of the same transportation options that were available going the other way.
If you want to book a flight from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur, you’ll be departing from Sultan Ismail Petra Airport (KBR). The AirAsia Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur flight is usually the cheapest. Malaysia Airlines and Firefly also offer flights.
If you book in advance, you can find a KB to KL flight for cheaper. The flight takes approximately one hour.
If you aren’t in the mood to take a flight from Kota Bharu to KL, you can take the bus or the train. The Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur train follows the same route back and you’ll need to change trains in Gemas. Taking the train from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur might be a great option if you flew in and missed the chance to experience it.
Lastly, you can take the bus from Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur, which reverses the same route we mentioned earlier. The Kota Bharu to Kuala Lumpur bus is an affordable way to travel. You can catch the Kota Bharu to KL bus by heading to the Kota Bharu Bus Terminal.
Malaysia is set up for independent travel, making it a top destination for backpacker, midrange and luxury travellers.
Choose a flight for quick transport, the bus or train for a journey that’s slow but unforgettable, or a personal vehicle for the ultimate freedom.
No matter what you choose, you’ll be sure to make some great memories as you explore this lovely country.
Sharon is an Australian who has fallen in love with Malaysia! She explores Malaysia multiple times a year, often with her kids, and has previously lived in Penang.