In March 2009, JetStar (www.jetstar.com) and Tiger Airways (www.tigerairways.com) announced a bevy of new flights from Singapore, giving Air Asia some serious competition when it came to Borneo-bound flights. Since then, it has been cheaper than cheap to hop on a flight to KK from various Southeast Asian destinations. These days, flying through Borneo can actually be cheaper than taking a bus (and obviously much less of a time suck). Flights can be purchased online up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure.
Malaysia Airlines : has similar flight schedules, although they are usually much more expensive than the budget carriers. MASwings services domestic destinations like Mulu, Miri, Sandakan and Lahad Datu.
Please note that the two terminals at Kota Kinabalu International Airport are not connected to one another, in fact they feel like two different airports. Most airlines operate out of the swankified Terminal 1, with the exception of Air Asia, Tiger Airways and charter flights, which depart from Terminal 2.
AirAsia (within Malaysia ( 03-2171 9333; www .airasia.com; Ground fl, Wisma Sabah, Jin Gaya) offers the following international flights to/from KK: Shenzhen, Macau, Jakarta, Manila and Singapore. Within Malaysia, flights go to/from Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Peninsular Malaysia, and Kuching, Labuan, Miri, Sandakan, Sibu and Tawau in Borneo. The AirAsia counter at Terminal 2 of KKIA handles all bookings less than 24 hours prior to departure. It's open from Sam to 7pm.
All ferries, including taxi boats out to Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, operate from the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal, commonly referred to as 'the jetty' by locals and taxi drivers. A lot of construction was underway during our visit, so it's best to get a heads up about departure locations from your local ac-commodation. All passengers must pay an RMS terminal fee for ferries departing from Kota Kinabalu.
Passenger boats connect KK to Pulau Labuan twice daily (first/economy class RM39/31), with onward service to Brunei) and to Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park , and a schedule is in the works to link the state capital to Pulau Tiga.
Bus & Minivan
You need to know ahead of time where you want to travel because there are several different stations around KK serving a variety of out-of-town destinations. In general, buses heading east depart from Inanam (Utara Terminal; 9km north of the city) and buses heading south leave from Padang Merdeka Bus Station (also called Wawasan or 'old bus station'; at the south end of town). Buses, mini-vans and private taxis serving destinations on the west coast and northern Sabah operate from the Padang Merdeka Bus Station. Local buses (RM1.80) from Wawasan can take tourists to Inanam if you don't want to splurge on the RM20 taxi. If you're going to Poring Hot Springs, take a minivan to Ranau and switch to a Poring-bound minivan.
Have your hotel call ahead to the bus station to book your seat in advance. Same-day book-ings are usually fine, although weekends are busier than weekdays. It's always good to ring ahead because sometimes transport will be halted due to flooding caused by heavy rains.
Share taxis operate from the Padang Merdeka Bus Station. Several share taxis do a daily run between KK and Ranau, passing the entrance road to the Kinabalu National Park office. The fare to Ranau or Kinabalu National Park is RM20 or you can charter a taxi for RM80 per car (note that a normal city taxi will charge RM150 to RM200 for a charter).
The North Borneo rail line is currently closed and a reopening date has yet to be confirmed.
Take a deep breath - transport in KK can be a bit of a nuisance, with two unconnected airport terminals (one of which is still under construction), taxi drivers that bend the 'standardised cab fare' rules and bus interchange stations situated at the opposite ends of the city. Ask around to find out the best ways to get about town - locals are always up on the cheapest and fastest way to get around.
To/From the Airport
Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) is 7km southwest of the centre. To reach the airport using public transport, try city bus 2 and bus 16A (RM1; do not take bus 16 as it does not go all the way to the airport). These buses can be boarded at the City Park station downtown. Both of these buses service Terminal 2 (AirAsia's terminal); at the time of research there was no public transport to Terminal 1, although that will no doubt change (look for city bus 1 to access this terminal). Public transport runs from 6am to 7pm daily. Taxis heading from the terminals into town operate on a system of vouchers (RM20), sold at a taxi desk on the terminal's ground floor. Taxis heading to the airport should not charge more than RM20 if you catch one in the city centre. For those taking one of AirAsia's popular late-evening flights, a taxi to/from the airport will cost RM30.
Don't forget to check which airport ter-minal you are using as the two terminals are not located near one another.
The major car-rental agencies have counters on the first floor at KKIA and branch offices elsewhere in town. Manual cars start at RM100 per day and most agencies can arrange chauffeured vehicles as well.
Adaras Rent A Car :Borneo Express (088-268009; G25, Wisma Sabah, Jin Tun Fuad Stephens)
Extra Rent A Car (088-218160,088-251529; www .e-erac-online.com; 2nd fl, Beverly Hotel, Jin Kemajuan)
Kinabalu Rent A Car (088-232602; rentcarpo.jaring.my; Lot 2.47, 2nd fl, Kompleks Karamunsing)
Mayflower Car Rental (012-803 3020,088-221244; D3-3A, 3rd fl. Block D, Plaza Tanjung Aru)
Minivans operate from several stops in KK, including the Padang Merdeka Bus Station and the parking lot outside Milimewa Superstore. They also circulate the town looking for passengers. Since most destinations within the city are within walking distance, it's unlikely that you'll need to catch a minivan. If you do catch one, most destinations within the city cost RM1.
Most of KK's taxis have meters, but few drivers will agree to use them. Set prices rule the roost, but you should always negotiate a fare before heading off. There are several hubs where taxis congregate, including the Milimewa Superstore in the centre of town. Figure on around RM7 to RM10 for a ride in the city centre.