Travelling to Sabah is not so complicated. Many think think it is very difficult, but the buses are new and they all have air conditioning. There is a modern bus station, which is located just outside the town. Buses stop regularly on their way to the east coast for lunch, dinner or a toilet stop.
There are some bus companies, which depart to the same destination Sabah.
This page will be an eye-opener for many to opt for the bus.
For backpackers, the bus is the most economical way of travelling in Sabah. I had seen many tourists who came to the bus stations with very limited information. They ask about the bus service and timetable.
Although you can reach all parts of Sabah with the bus, it's still very difficult for foreigners without any guidance. I hope to contribute something for those, who want to travel by bus on Sabah.
There are three types of buses, which you can see driving around in Kota Kinabalu (KK), the capital of Sabah:
1. Long-Distance Bus: to take you to other major towns/cities in Sabah.
2. Local Bus: to take you to suburban areas and vicinity of KK.
3. City Bus: to take you around every corner of KK. I'll just go through these three types of buses below.
1. De Long-Distane Bus Also known as "Express Bus", Long-Distance Bus is
colourful and cosy big bus that can bring you to important cities/towns such as Sandakan, Tawau, Semporna, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Keningau.
Nowadays it's easy to make an online
bus reservation for an air-conditioned bus. You'll receive the
reservation with a seat number.
All you have to do is the click on the banner on the right side and you
Normally, the earliest departure time is 6:30am, the last bus is 8:00pm. Just go to the terminal before departure time, purchase the fare at ticket counter and get on the bus. Long-Distance Bus will stop in the bus terminal of your destination city. Taxi is available around bus terminal for you to move on to other places. In KK, there are 3 bus terminals to take Long-Distance Bus.
Online Bus Tickets Reservation:
Inanam Bus Terminal.
Located in Inanam, about 10 KM away from Kota Kinabalu, this is the MOST important Long-Distance Bus Terminal. Most buses here take you to key cities of East Coast, and they will pass by Kinabalu
Park in 90 minutes (you can ask them to drop you there).
For the same destination, there would be a few bus operators. Just walk around their ticket counters and pick the one that departs at your preferred time. Personally
we like Tung Ma Express and Dyana Express. Since itís a long journey, the long-distance buses will stop for breakfast/lunch/dinner and toilet break along the way. You can find their mobile phone numbers on the bus ticket. You can even call them to fetch you at Kinabalu Park and Sepilok junction in returning trip.
Padang Merdeka (Merdeka Field) Bus Terminal
Padang Merdeka (Merdeka Field) Bus Terminal is near the KK city center and very convenient. You can take buses to most city/towns in West Coast and Interior of Sabah. e.g. Keningau, Tenom, Kudat, Kota Belud.Though there are some big buses, most are mini-van, which only departs when the car is full. You would end up waiting for an hour.
City Park Bus Terminal City This bus terminal is in Kota Kinabalu city center too, in front of the Court. From there, you can travel to Sipitang, Sarawak (Lawas, Miri) and Brunei.
2. Local Bus (Kota Kinabalu) Local bus can take you to suburban areas and vicinity of Kota
Kinabalu. e.g. Inanam, Menggatal, Telipok, Tuaran, Tamparuli, Penampang, Dongongon, Luyang, Kepayan, Putatan, Tanjung Aru, Lok Kawi, Papar. Most of them are mini-bus without air-conditioning, and they donít have any schedule. During non-peak hours, you need to wait some time, until the bus is full, only then they
The local mini-bus terminal is temporarily relocated to 3 locations in city centre:
1.Marina Hof Terminal: buses to Luyang, Penampang, Sembulan, Tanjung Aru, Lok Kawi, Papar, etc
2.KK Shangri-La Hotel Terminal: buses to Likas, Inanam, City Mall, Menggatal, Menggatal, Tuaran, Tamparuli, etc. 3.Wisma Bandaraya Terminal: buses to Sepangar, Tuaran, Sulaman, etc.
3. City Bus (Kota Kinabalu)
To go to other location in KK city center, you can take City Bus that moves on three fixed routes in 10-min to 30-min interval. So you have to wait a few minutes for the next bus.
Update: The Wawasan Bus Terminal is closed for maintenance since 21 Sep 2013 onward. The City Bus terminal is temporarily relocated to 3 locations in city centre: Marina Court: city bus circling in Route A. i.e. Marina Court → Wawasan Plaza → Waterfront → Kota Kinabalu Central Market → Wisma Sabah → Suria Sabah → Jesselton Point → Old Warehouse → Jalan Pantai Road → Warisan Square → Marina Court
Wisma Budaya: city bus moving in Route B. i.e. Wisma Budaya → Kota Kinabalu City Hall → Old Warehouse → Wisma Merdeka → KK Plaza → Asia City → Indonesia Consulate → Chung Hwa School
School Bandaran Berjaya: city bus circling in Route C. i.e. Karamunsing Police Station → Karamunsing Complex → Wisma Radio → Karamunsing Capital → BSN Bank → Marina Court.
Below are the top 3 attractions that backpackers ask for direction by bus. Our bus companies are very used to such requests. Just let them know your destination and they will be happy to help you.
How to go to Kinabalu Park?
Go to Long-Distance Bus Terminal in Inanam, get on any bus that heads to Sandakan, Lahad Datu or Tawau. About 1.5 hour later, you will reach Kinabalu Park. You will see the signage before Kinabalu Park..
How to go to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center?
Go to Long-Distance Bus Terminal in Inanam, get on any bus that heads to Sandakan. Tell the bus conductor that you want to go to Sepilok. The bus will drop you at the roundabout of Sepilok junction. You need to walk only 2 KM to reach Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center.
How do I get to Semporna?
That's easy! Go to Long-Distance Bus Terminal in Inanam, get on any bus that heads to Semporna.
Take care of your personal belongings. Keep your valuables close to you. Beware of pickpockets on the bus. Use
your common sense, it does not matter in which country you are traveling. It does not mean that Sabah is unsafe. You always have to take care of your peronal belongings Everywhere!
Taxi is readily available near bus terminal. They donít use meter and many charge tourist higher price. Do negotiate with them.
Donít take unlicensed taxi. Illegal taxi driver is the first to approach you once you step out of bus. Just ignore them. Registered taxi vehicles are in red+white or yellow+black colors.
Be warned that if you take unlicensed transport, itíll badly affect your insurance compensation in case any untoward happens
For lady, donít travel alone in public transport at night.
You are welcome to ask the locals for direction and information. Sabah people are very friendly and helpful. Many speak well in English. In Malaysia language, Bus is ďBasĒ and Taxi is ďTeksiĒ.
All transaction is in cash term. Prepare small change.
If no taxi in sight, you can walk to the reception counter of any hotel nearby. They can call a taxi for you. Of course the fee is higher.
You can request the bus driver to alert you when you reach the destination.
Bus and van with upper half in white color and lower half in green color are vehicles of travel agents. They are not public transport.