How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo!

If you’re anything like us then the idea of visiting a small and mysterious country that almost no one else puts the effort into exploring fills you with excitement! We love the idea of visiting far off places and seeing countries not many get the chance to visit. Whilst having the most amazing time on Borneo we decided to make the trip over to the tiny country of Brunei whilst over in Kota Kinabalu. It turns out that its a little more complicated and drawn out that we initially hoped, but as is the case with everything travel related; once you do it its actually not that hard! Here is our how to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu guide!

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo, Miri, Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan, bus, taxi, muara, ferry, express ferry, boat, coach, flight, guide, Kuching, How to get to Brunei, Brunei overland, Passport stamp, Visa, entry requirements

What are your options:

Well really you have three options if you want to use public transport, you can take an expensive flight, a gruelling bus or spend the day on two boats! Either way its either going to be expensive or take all day!

We opted for the ferry option as it cuts out crossing the border multiple times (around 5!) and offers a rest stop on the Malaysian island of Labuan around half way there. It also seemed like the more relaxing option for how to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu.

NOTE: It isn’t possible to do this in a day trip unfortunately, the ferry takes ALL DAY and will get you into BSB in the evening which would mean you had to literally get straight back on the last ferry. We suggest staying over 2 nights as the ferry on the way back is in the morning, this will give you at least a full day to explore.

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo, Miri, Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan, bus, taxi, muara, ferry, express ferry, boat, coach, flight, guide, Kuching, How to get to Brunei, Brunei overland, Passport stamp, Visa, entry requirements

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu

Taking the ferry over to Labuan:

The express ferry is comfortable and has a seating plan. It does get a little cold with the AC if you are up near the front and the journey back from Labuan to KK is also a lot busier. This ferry doesn’t really allow you to look out of the window and can get pretty boring as well as being quite choppy! Bring along some entertainment! The ferries usually take off pretty punctually and it was quite an enjoyable ride all things considered. How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu? The ferry for us was comfortable, quick (ish) and not too expensive.

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo, Miri, Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan, bus, taxi, muara, ferry, express ferry, boat, coach, flight, guide, Kuching, How to get to Brunei, Brunei overland, Passport stamp, Visa, entry requirements

The ferry from Labuan to Brunei:

In Labuan you have time to have a wander and get some food, there is baggage storage if you need it at the terminal. Here you can also do some duty free shopping on the way back. The ferry from here was very similar to the one we got on at first but was a quicker ride, once again pretty comfortable.

On our return leg of this section we took the larger car ferry, it was a much longer and slower journey however we were able to go out onto the deck and take in the scenery and refreshing sea air/ sun which was much nicer as once again it was like a fridge freezer inside! They also have a better selection of food and drink on offer which you can just go up and order.

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo, Miri, Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan, bus, taxi, muara, ferry, express ferry, boat, coach, flight, guide, Kuching, How to get to Brunei, Brunei overland, Passport stamp, Visa, entry requirements

Hopping on the bus into Bandar Seri Begawan:

Once you arrive in Brunei you will notice you are not in the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan but over in Muara around 30km away.

From here you can take a taxi which will cost around B$20 (£11.33 / $14.42)

Or you can take the local bus for B$1 (£0.57 / $0.72)

The number 39 is the express bus that goes from the station in BSB to the terminal but is only once an hour and itself takes around 1 hour. In the morning make sure to set off to the bus station in good time. 

Bus 33 and 38 also go to the ferry terminal. However sometimes you do have to connect in Muara town, although both times we didn’t have to do this.

Brunei dollar, Singapore Dollar, How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo, Miri, Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan, bus, taxi, muara, ferry, express ferry, boat, coach, flight, guide, Kuching, How to get to Brunei, Brunei overland, Passport stamp, Visa, entry requirements

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu

Border crossings:

You will leave Malaysia and get stamped out when you go to board the ferry from Labuan to Brunei, this involves your bags being scanned also. Allow enough time for this.

You will then enter Brunei through immigration in the ferry terminal, again your bag will be scanned. For us (UK citizens) we don’t need a visa and we were just asked how long we intended to stay. We were then given a 30 day permit without having to show any additional paper work.

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo, Miri, Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan, bus, taxi, muara, ferry, express ferry, boat, coach, flight, guide, Kuching, How to get to Brunei, Brunei overland, Passport stamp, Visa, entry requirements

You will leave Brunei the same way you entered and have bags scanned and then be stamped out. Again, leave enough time before the ferry departs.

You will enter into Malaysia again at the Labuan terminal, we don’t need visas for Malaysia and despite only leaving 2 days before we were given a new 90 day stamp with no questions asked.

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo, Miri, Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan, bus, taxi, muara, ferry, express ferry, boat, coach, flight, guide, Kuching, How to get to Brunei, Brunei overland, Passport stamp, Visa, entry requirements

From elsewhere in Borneo:

From Kuching you can take a long bus that due to the terrain of the county will enter and exit Brunei before entering again! This apparently takes around 15-20 hours and you end up with a passport full of stamps.

If coming from Kuching the best option on a budget would probably be to fly to Miri and take the bus onwards (see below). You can also fly direct to BSB though this can be expensive.

Miri is probably the most convenient city in Malaysian Borneo to get a bus to Brunei from and should only take around 2- 3 hours and cost between 50-70 Ringit. It would make a great stop off point if you were heading from Miri up to KK.

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo, Miri, Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan, bus, taxi, muara, ferry, express ferry, boat, coach, flight, guide, Kuching, How to get to Brunei, Brunei overland, Passport stamp, Visa, entry requirements

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Price, time and tips

Buying tickets:

We suggest buying tickets for the ferry at least the day before as it can get busy, you can do this by heading down to Jessleton Ferry port and buying them at the counter. Here you can buy tickets for both ferries in a package deal.

Return leg tickets:

Again, we suggest buying them at the dock once you arrive for when you want to leave, especially if you are only staying a couple of days. However there are more ferries leaving on the way back from here to Labuan and many more from Labuan to KK. We did have to wait however for a later ferry than the one we wanted.

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo, Miri, Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan, bus, taxi, muara, ferry, express ferry, boat, coach, flight, guide, Kuching, How to get to Brunei, Brunei overland, Passport stamp, Visa, entry requirements

Price:

The package deal cost 56 Ringit each (£10.25 , $13.06) (Check up to date prices)

At Labuan you will be charged a 5 Ringit terminal fee

On the return leg there are more ferries to choose from and the price varies ever so slightly. You will have to buy them separately at each terminal.

Time:

KK to Labuan ferry sets off at 8:00am and arrives around 11:00am

Labuan to Brunei sets off around 1:30pm and arrives around 3:30pm

On the return leg we took a different ferry from Brunei to Labuan as we missed the express, this was larger and had space for cars etc. This took much longer, more like 4 hours.

Tips:

Bring along something warm as the express ferry can get pretty chilly and there is no where to escape like on the car ferry!

There is some limited food on board such as noodles and snacks but we suggest bringing at least something to keep you going just incase.

If you are into your duty free then stock up on chocolate and spirits in Labuan on the way back to Malaysia (Brunei is dry!)

Book in advance if you can!

The Brunei dollar is fixed to the same rate at the Singapore Dollar and both can be used here!

How to get to Brunei from Kota Kinabalu: Heading over to this little visited nation on Borneo, Miri, Malaysia, Bandar Seri Begawan, bus, taxi, muara, ferry, express ferry, boat, coach, flight, guide, Kuching, How to get to Brunei, Brunei overland, Passport stamp, Visa, entry requirements

Have you ever made this journey to this fascinating little country?

See more from this country:

BRUNEI

See more from our backpacking adventures:

ASIA LEG

EUROPE LEG

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Nicola Hilditch-Short

Nic is one half of the Roaming Renegades, a passionate traveller, climber, adventurer, photographer and artist who has a B.A in Fine Art and M.A in Design & Art Direction.
  • Really useful guide! I remember how freezing all the buses and boats were when I was in SE Asia – I’d always have to pack a pashmina to wrap myself in during long journeys!

    • Thanks! I never understood why they have it so cold when they are used to it being so much hotter, surely they feel the cold more!! lol

  • Lara Dunning

    I love that you go to off the beaten path destinations, and you always include such great information about price and how-to’s, and of course, what to do when you get there. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks! Yeah, it was such a headache figuring out how to do it and how much it was going to cost we figured why not make it easier for other people planning the trip! Hopefully it helps some people!

  • We love getting off the beaten path and this sounds perfect! Your tips are perfect for any traveler wanting to experience the area. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thanks, yeah its always rewarding to see these places many others don’t get to. Hopefully this will help others who want to do the same!

  • Brianna

    Super useful guide! And it sounds pretty affordable too!

  • Edith Carolina Rodriguez

    Brunei looks like a fun place to explore. It’s always nice to get away from the crowds and have it all to yourself. The ferry ride itself seems fun and relaxing.

  • Skye

    Great tips. We have visited Kuching but will have to get to Brunei next time. There is a lot of wildlife to see there as I understand it and of course the incredible architecture.

    • Yeah its a really great place to head to on Borneo. Kuching is amazing though isn’t it.

  • No, I haven’t tried going to Brunei yet. Probably next time when I go to Malaysia again. 🙂

  • Kerri McConnel

    For some stupid reason I only just realised recently that Brunei is so much closer to me than I thought. Great tips here as I imagine this is a place that many people wouldn’t know a lot about and would also be visiting for the first time.

    • Ha ha, always the places that are closest to us that we over look! Thanks, worth the trip over if you get chance.

  • Morgan Melhuish

    Did this in reverse today – Brunei to KK. Just to add that despite getting up at 6 a.m we only made it to the ferry for the 9.30 boat to Labuan, which took 3 hours. No problems just turning up and getting a ticket though.

    • I think it all depends on the day. We got there at 8am and both the next to boats were sold out with long lines for the remaining ones. We queued for over an hour for a ticket. Only boat left was the large ferry which took longer than the other boats. It just depends really if you HAVE to make it back that day or not if you want to chance it.

  • The picture on their currency looks like what I imagine the island of Neverland to look like haha! Neat! Great tips on taking the ferry. Such a nice way to travel.

    • Ha ha, I always love looking at new currency! Thanks, yeah always love taking the ferry, so much more relaxing!

  • I’ll be honest, I’ve never even heard of this country before! I’m going to seriously binge on some of your other posts sounds fascinating. Glad you were able to figure it all out and head over.