If you’re considering a visit to Brunei during your time in Borneo but aren’t sure how to get from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei by bus, look no further!
We recently did this exact trip and I took note of all the details for you!
While it does take a good few hours (9 to be exact!) to get from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei by bus, it’s mostly a comfortable and easy journey.
But, it’s useful to know a few things about this journey to help you decide if this is the right route and mode of transport for you!
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Overview Of Bus Travel From Kota Kinabalu To Brunei
There is only one bus from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei per day, leaving from KK Sentral at 8am.
The bus from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei used to depart from the Kinabalu City Park on Jalan Tugu.
Important: **This is no longer the case!**
The bus for Brunei now departs Kota Kinabalu from KK Sentral bus terminal.
KK Sentral is brand new and there isn’t a lot of information about it yet. It is practically empty with the exception of the Sipitang Express Bus that leaves from here.
As far as I could tell, KK Sentral opened officially on 22 July 2019.
Either way, you definitely want to head to KK Sentral if you want to get the bus to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu.
Bus Tickets From Kota Kinabalu To Brunei
You can book your bus ticket from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei online but be aware that you’ll need to print off your ticket. This seems to be a general requirement for buses in Malaysia in our experience.
If you book online, you can only do so through easybook.com
At the time of writing (September 2019) you can use discount code SPT10 for 10% off!
Alternatively, if you have the time, head to KK Sentral bus terminal the day before to purchase your ticket in person.
Having said that, you might get away with purchasing your ticket to Brunei on the day itself but of course you do risk the bus being full. Although, ours was only about half full so this may not really be an issue, depending on the time of year.
Make sure you bring your passport with you when you go to buy your bus ticket to Brunei! They will want to see it and will enter your full name on your ticket.
The ticket will set you back RM100 per person.
Whether you book online or in person, the price remains the same (well, except if you’re able to use the discount code above!). You’ll also be able to choose your seats when you book.
The Kota Kinabalu to Brunei Bus
The bus is a 44 seater, with a 2×2 configuration.
I did read somewhere that Sipitang Express Buses are in the process of being upgraded so there may be 1×2 configuration buses in the not too distant future.
With the current bus, the first row of seats have solid barriers in front of them so there is arguably less legroom in the sense that you can’t stretch your legs out.
Because of this, I’d personally not choose the front row seats.
The space between rows is decent and I had plenty of room even though I’m quite tall at 1.80m (5’10). The seats do recline a bit but nothing to make it too obtrusive for the person behind.
On the morning of departure, go and sit in the departure hall and wait for your bus to be called.
This happened at about 7:50am for us. You’ll then go down the stairs to platform 2 to get on your bus to Brunei.
In the end, we didn’t leave until 8.20am. Malaysian buses are punctual as ever 😉
Border Crossings Between Kota Kinabalu and Brunei
When you buy your ticket over the counter at KK Sentral, you’ll also be given 2 arrival/departure cards for Brunei. I’d suggest filling these in ahead of time if you buy your tickets the day before your trip.
Like most arrival cards, there’s a bit to fill in, including race and how much money you’re brining in… Although, to be fair, it didn’t seem like any of the immigration officers at the border crossings paid too much attention to what was written on the forms.
There are 4 border crossings on the route by bus from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei.
This means you will collect 8 stamps for your passport!!
Sabah – Sarawak Border Crossing
We hit the first border crossing – Sabah/Sarawak – at 11:30am. This is the Sabah exit and Sarawak entry immigration. Although both Sabah and Sarawak are Malaysia, they are essentially different states and there are (easy) border crossings each time you move between Malaysian states.
You’ll get two stamps in total here (one departure and one arrival stamp).
This is a very simple process:
- Everyone gets off the bus and lines up
- There is a small office with two small openings in the window with tinted glass
- You won’t see or speak to the people inside!
- In the first slot, labelled Imigresen Sabah, you will hand over your passport
- Shuffle along to the next opening, labelled Imigresen Sarawak, where you will receive it back shortly after
Half an hour later you’ll get to Lawas, where the bus stops for a 1 hour lunch break (12-1pm). Feel free to wander around, buy some food and stretch your legs.
You might also want to make a toilet stop, although there are usually public toilets at the border crossings as well.
Sarawak – Brunei Border Crossing
Once you leave Lawas, the next border crossing is about 20 minutes away. This is the crossing from Mengkalap in Sarawak into Brunei.
Although passport control was again very quick and painless, we spent about 20+ minutes at this crossing. As far as I could tell, the bus was carrying some parcels and letters as well and the post checkpoint into Brunei took a while.
Note: The way Malaysian Borneo is laid out means that you actually exit Brunei and head back into Malaysia before you go back into Brunei (hence all the passport stamps!)
Brunei – Sarawak Border Crossing
We arrived at the Brunei – Sarawak border at 2:35pm. It only took 5 min exit Brunei before we drove on to the Sarawak re-entry point. We were all done by 2:55pm.
You’ll cross the Malaysia-Brunei Friendship bridge between the Brunei and Malaysian border controls here, which I thought was a nice touch 😊
Don’t let the speed of the crossings fool you though! In Limbang, where we arrived just after 3pm, we had about a 15 minute roadside stop to let people off and picking new passengers up.
Final Sarawak – Brunei Border Crossing
We arrived at the final crossing, at Tedungan, around 4:15pm. Again, there were two stops, an exit and an entry check. All in all, it took about 15 minutes and we were on our final leg into Brunei by 4:30pm
Note: At this crossing into Brunei, ourselves and another foreign couple were asked to step into another building for a “health check”. None of the other passengers were required to do this.
Although I was a bit concerned at first, it was quite simply a quick verbal check on whether we’d recently been to any African country. As far as I could tell this was to do with the ebola virus. Once we confirmed we had not been to Africa in the recent past, we were free to continue on and get back onto the bus for the final stretch.
There were a lot of signs at the Brunei immigration checkpoints about penalties for various things!
Not that you would anyway, but things like bringing in drugs or smuggling in people carry very heavy sentences in Brunei (including death!!!)
I’d be extra vigilant and friendly at the borders if I were you, just in case 😊
Final Stretch To Brunei By Bus
For some unknown reason, we had an extremely slow drive after this final border crossing…
The staff were calling around to lots of people, which seemed to be linked to the parcels and letters I mentioned earlier. Once they had called around to everyone on their list, the speed of driving picked up again… To this day I’m unsure what that was all about! But, long story short, while it seemed like we were nearly there, this added another chunk of time onto our total journey time!
The bus from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei will drop you off in the capital (Bandar Seri Begawan) at the waterfront in along Jalan McArthur.
In the end, we were all checked in to our room at the Jubilee Hotel by 6pm. (Side note – Hotels in Brunei are generally quite expensive! This was a good mid-range/budget option).
So yeah, as I mentioned, rather a long day on the bus! At least all the border crossings to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu by bus gives you the chance to stretch your legs a bit too! And all in all, the journey was comfortable.
A Final Note: On arrival at our final stop in Brunei, a man got our bags out for us and asked us where we were going. Apparently, he works for the bus company and gave us directions to our hotel. He also told us not to bother with anyone trying to tell us to get a taxi as there are apparently people who give out the wrong information to tourists in order to try and make a buck… We didn’t have anyone offer us a lift but I wanted to mention it here just in case you do experience this!
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