Airport hacks: Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Malaysia

It’s fairly easy to navigate Kota Kinabalu International Airport, a one-runway, two-terminal airport in Tawau Town in Malaysia. It’s 8km away from Sabah‘s city center (about 10 minutes by car). The modern glass-and-steel structure of Terminal 1, which services international flights including Cebu Pacific, is a relatively new addition to what used to be a military airfield and was completed in 2008.

Airport to city

If you haven’t pre-arranged transport from Kota Kinabalu‘s airport (with your resort or local host), you can get to the city by taxi. Once you’ve cleared immigration and picked up your checked baggage, head over to Level 1 buy where you can buy a coupon from the Airport Taxi counter. There’s a fixed rate of RM30 (PHP400) for a maximum of four (4) people in one car for a standard route to the city center.

Car rental services, offered by a variety of companies — including Avis, Europcar and Hertz — are also available.


Free WiFi is available inside the terminal, but keep in mind that the connection can get a bit spotty (and unreliable) during times of heavy usage. Kota Kinabalu‘s airport offers duty-free shopping for last-minute souvenir purchases, dining establishments (from fast-food chains to other sit-down restaurants), luggage storage and lockers (MYR15 or PHP200 for 24 hours per bag), and prayer rooms (for Muslims).

Top tip

The most comfortable way to pass the time before your international flight is at any of the available pay-per-use lounges. For MRY168 (PHP2,250), you get to spend three hours at the Plaza Premium Lounge where amenities include a food and beverage buffet, relaxing sofa seats, showers, and WiFi. Alcoholic beverages are also available at an extra fee.

Written by

Tara Sering

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