Kota Kinabalu is an inviting modern city with warm hospitality and amazing natural resources. It is a tropical island paradise that boasts of long sandy beaches, bright coral reefs, tropical rainforests and the mighty Mount Kinabalu. Many travelers come here primarily to scale Mount Kinabalu, a World Heritage Site and the fourth tallest mountain in the Malay Peninsula. Since this city is a leading tourist destination in one of the most intriguing countries in Southeast Asia, there are no hassles in getting to Kota Kinabalu. In fact, the Kota Kinabalu International Airport is the second busiest airport in Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of Sabah, a Malaysian state.
When getting to Kota Kinabalu by air, there are a number of options for you when coming from different cities in Asia. From Bangkok in Thailand, you may take Thai Air Asia; from Manila in the Philippines, Cebu Pacific or Malaysia Airlines; from Tokyo in Japan, Malaysia Airlines; from Seoul in Korea, Asiana Airlines or Malaysia Airlines; from Hong Kong, Dragon Air, Air Asia or Malaysia Airlines; from Taiwan, Malaysia Airlines; from Brunei, Royal Brunei Airlines; from Macau, Air Asia; and from Singapore, Air Asia, Silk Air, Tiger Airways, or Jet Star Asia.
These are major cities in Asia, which means you can fly to any of these from the United States, United Kingdom, or elsewhere in the world, and catch a connecting flight to Kota Kinabalu. There are a number of daily domestic airlines available. Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier, and Air Asia, a budget carrier, fly in visitors from Kuala Lumpur (capital city), Labuan, Sarawak, Kuching, Miri, Sibu, Sandakan, Tawau and Johor Bahru. MASWings, a subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines also fly in from Limbang, Lawas, Miri and the Gunung Muru National Park.
Meanwhile, getting to Kota Kinabalu by land involves the bus, train and minibuses. All roads in Sabah lead to Kota Kinabalu, understandably the busiest and most important city. One of the main roads leads all the way to the Kingdom of Brunei Darussalam, and a bus trip from Brunei to Kota Kinabalu takes an entire day. Land travelers from southern Sabah (Beaufort, Sipitang and Lawas) drive in at the South Bus Terminal and those from the far-away northern cities (Sandakan Semporna and Tawau) and Mount Kinabalu arrive at the North Bus Terminal. Minivans or minibuses, on the other hand, serve the towns of Papar, Beaufort, and Tuaran, as well as those in the West Coast, such as Tambunan, Keningau and Tenom. Traveling all the way from Sandakan takes 5-6 hours, from Tawau 9 hours and from Semporma 9-10 hours.
Traveling by train is faster but a bit more inconvenient. There are four train companies traveling daily (except Sundays) from Papar, Beaufort and Kimanis to Kota Kinabalu.
Finally, getting to Kota Kinabalu by sea is covered by several ferries docking at Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal, which is just 20 minutes away from downtown Kota Kinabalu on foot. Ferry boats come in from Labuan, Manukan, Gaya and other nearby islands. Whichever route you take, be assured that it shall be worth it: by land, sea or air, getting to Kota Kinabalu is well worth all the trouble and money for the island’s many world-class beaches, snorkeling and scuba diving sites, traditional parks and villages, and cultural landmarks such as the Atkinson Clock Tower, Signal Hill Observatory and Green Connection Aquarium.