Kuching is the capital of Sarawak, and this charming city holds its own appeal. It’s a great place to visit if you’re into nature and wildlife, as it’s the home of the exotic orangutans. It also features a breathtaking waterfront area and delicious local street food.
Equally as stunning, Kota Kinabalu is another excellent holiday destination in Malaysia. This is Sabah’s largest city and the main gateway to Borneo. Fall in love with the idyllic islands and lush rainforests that are great for hiking. Mt. Kinabalu can also be found just 20 km northeast of the city.
Below, I describe exactly how to get from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu whether you are looking for a flight from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu, a bus from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu or want to drive between the two.
I also describe the reverse journey from Kota Kinabalu to Kuching.
Note that there is no Kuching to Kota Kinabalu train.
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Map: Travel From Kuching To Kota Kinabalu
This map will show you how you can travel from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu.
Kuching to Kota Kinabalu distance is 805 km. Travel time if you fly via plane is 1 hour 40 minutes. Meanwhile, if you travel by bus, it takes approximately 27 hours.
BEST OPTION: How To Get From Kuching To Kota Kinabalu
Option 1: Kuching To Kota Kinabalu Flight
Flying is the easiest and fastest way to get from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu. Airline carriers like AirAsia offer Kuching to Kota Kinabalu flights. Ticket prices cost around RM 180 – RM 1400 depending on the promos and season. Flight time takes 1hour 40 minutes.
I suggest that you look for cheap flights from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu as it is less expensive than taking other transportation options.
Once you arrive at the Kota Kinabalu Airport, take the taxi or Grab to the main city centre. The distance from the airport is approximately 6.9 km, with a travel time of 6 minutes.
Option 2: Kuching To Kota Kinabalu Bus
There’s no direct Kuching to Kota Kinabalu bus. But there are bus services that leave at Kuching Sentral Bus Terminal, arriving at Kota Kinabalu Terminal Mahkamah via Miri.
Bus 1: Kuching To Miri
From Kuching Sentral Bus Terminal, take the Bintang Jaya Express to Miri. Travel time is 14 hours 30 minutes and cost about RM 70 – RM 100. Buses leave 3 times a day.
Bus 2: Miri To Kota Kinabalu
From Miri, take the bus (Salam Bumimas Express) to Kota Kinabalu. Travel time is 10 hours, and the bus fare costs around RM 90. Take note that there’s only one bus daily.
Option 3: Driving From Kuching To Kota Kinabalu
If you’re travelling from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu by road, you’ll be driving a distance of 1,248.9 kilometres. It will take anywhere between 17-24 hours.
Note that you need to go through the Sungai Tujoh Immigration Check Point in Miri. There’s also an immigration checkpoint in Brunei, which may take quite some time. You also need to present your passport and fill up a form that will ask for the chassis number of your vehicle and insurance details. Because of numerous border crossings, expect delays in your travel time.
Kota Kinabalu To Kuching
In terms of how you can get from Kota Kinabalu to Kuching, all you need to do is to take the above transportation in reverse.
You can either fly via plane, take the ferry, or travel by car to get to your destination.
If you’re flying via plane, airline carriers like AirAsia offer flights from Kota Kinabalu to Kuching. A Kota Kinabalu to Kuching flight costs RM 189 – RM 1359, depending on promos and season. Travel time is 1 hour and 40 minutes. From Kuching International Airport, the main city centre is 9.1 kilometres and 9 minutes by taxi or Grab.
Meanwhile, there are no direct buses that travel from Kota Kinabalu to Kuching. However, there are bus services that leave from Kota Kinabalu Terminal Mahkamah to Miri. You need to take another bus (Salam Bumimas Express) from Miri to Serian, before taking your last and final bus from Serian to Kota Kinabalu.
The bus from Kota Kinabalu to Miri leaves once daily. Travel time is 10 hours and will cost RM 90. Once you arrive in Miri, take another bus (Bintang Jaya Express) to Serian. Travel time is 13 hours and 30 minutes and will cost RM 65 – RM 95.
Then from Serian, take the third and final bus (Eva Express or Bintang Jaya Express) to Kuching. Travel time is 1 hour 20 minutes and will cost about RM 10 – RM 25.
You can also travel via car or private vehicle. You’ll be driving a distance of 1,248.9 kilometres and will take about 17-24 hours. Delays can be expected because of border crossings.
In this post, we’ve covered the various transportation options that you can take when travelling to Kuching to Kota Kinabalu (and vice versa.)
The fastest and most convenient option is to fly via plane. If you want to save, you can also purchase cheap flights if airlines offer promo fares. This significantly cuts your travel time, as travelling via bus or private vehicle will usually take a lot longer.
I hope you found this guide to how to travel from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu. We also have travel guides for reaching Kota Kinabalu from other places such as KL, Sandakan and Brunei. You can find our Kota Kinabalu itinerary here and our complete travel guide to Kota Kinabalu here.
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.