Saturday, December 28, 2013

Kota Kinabalu to Brunei: The Alternative Route via Temburong

Most tourists opt to travel via ferry boat when traveling from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei.  Their usual route is Kota Kinabalu to Labuan to Muara.  Then they take a bus to Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB). This route entails a combined four hours of ferry ride, two hours of transit in Labuan, and one hour of bus ride. We contemplated about taking the same route, but decided otherwise since we are no fans of being stuck for hours in an airconditioned ferry boat.  (I always get motion sickness whenever I go on long airconditioned ferry boat rides.)   

"Let's take the bus and the fast ferry to Bandar Seri Begawan," my friend suggested enthusiastically. "Yes! Let's do it!" the other friend exclaimed.  "Great! Do you have any idea which bus and ferry to take? How about trip schedules?" I asked. "No," they replied in unison. 
After unsuccessfully getting any helpful information from our hostel receptionist about the schedule of the buses that go from Kota Kinabalu to Temburong and ferry that ply from Temburong to BSB, I decided to consult Mr. Google. Unfortunately, the search yielded not too many helpful results. As it was already getting late in the evening, we decided to call for help.  Good thing my friend J kept the calling card given by the Filipino taxi driver slash tour guide whom they met at the airport the other day.   She excitedly dialed his number and made the arrangements.  

Kuya Albert fetched us at our hostel early next morning and brought us to the bus station*. We needed to catch the 8:00 am bus bound to BSB so we requested to be picked up at 7:00 am. He did arrive earlier than the agreed time, but we ended up leaving at 7:15 am because we woke up a bit late and somebody took a leisurely time to use the bathroom. (No, the latter wasn't any of us, but one of the guests of the hostel. That's one disadvantage of not opting for a room with an ensuite bathroom. We are cheapskates like that.)   

Kuya Albert bought the bus tickets for us and handed us some Brunei dollars so we can readily buy tickets at the ferry station.  He stayed with us until we were allowed to board the bus.  He patiently answered all our questions and shared with us some interesting trivia (and gossips as well).

Kuya Albert buying our tickets and some local passengers.
At quarter to eight, we got in the bus and waited for our fellow passengers to board.  I surmised that the majority of the passengers were locals. Sticking out in a sea of black-haired commuters, were two blonde-haired Caucasians who chose to sit in the front row.  There were also a couple of Filipino tourists and a small group of OFWs.  

Our Brunei-bound bus (Jesselton Express)
Fare from KK to Temburong is RM 50.00
Since there were three of us and only two can sit together, we had to let chance decide who will sit beside each other.  We played pompyang and since I was the one with the odd hand, I had to take the seat on the other side of the bus.  Fortunately, I had no seatmate so I was able to talk to my friends, enjoy the countryside views, and take photos. 

After two and a half hours, we had our first stop over. Forgive me, but I failed to take note of the name of the place.  We just had a short restroom break.

By 11:00 am, we arrived in Sindumin and had our passports stamped.  We had an easy breezy time at the immigration, no questions were asked. I even managed to snap a photo of the map of the immigration stops.     

We reached Lawas just before lunch. We were told we had thirty minutes to eat and to explore the place. 

My friends wanted to eat in a fastfood, but I coerced convinced them to try the local food.  We ordered soto putih, soto kuning, and nasi goreng.  We paired them with teh tarik and lemon iced tea.  For only RM 18, our stomachs were fully satisfied.  

From the bus station, we had to walk about 250  meters
to reach this two-storey building where a market
and a few hawker eateries were located.
Simple yet sumptuous lunch

The next stop was at Sarawak, which we reached after an hour and a half of journey.       

A few cartwheels away was the Brunei immigration post. 

Less than an hour after, we arrived in Bangar, Temburong, where we had to get off.  We walked a few meters from the bus stop to the ferry station. 

Fare is $6, travel time is 45 minutes
We were lucky that we did not have to wait for a long time since a boat was set to leave soon after we arrived at the station.  The crew to urged us to immediately board the speedboat.  My only regret was I didn't have ample time to take photos.  

The moment we hopped on the blue speedboat, we knew we were in for an awesome adventure.  We were absolutely right! 

The thrillseekers in us were very much pleased.  The winds blew on our faces and caressed our hair as our boat sped through rivers lined with mangroves and nipa palm trees.  We imagined we were cruising the Amazon River as we sailed along the Temburong River.  We were on the look out for proboscis monkeys, but we were not fortunate enough to see even one.   Our boat had to slow down every now and then whenever we came across small boats. 
Here's a short clip of our speedboat ride:

Eventually, the river poured into Brunei Bay and we saw even more amazing sights. 

We reached Bandar Seri Begawan in no time. 

We couldn't get enough of the exhilarating boat ride so we decided to hire a water taxi to explore the kampung ayer (water village) the next day.

As we waited for our foster family to fetch us and take us home, wchatted with our co-passengers and took some photos. 

Our lovely Brunei adventure has just started!

*The bus station is located in the city center, just in front of the City Park, along Jalan Tun Razak. 

Sending you happy thoughts...


  1. Wow! After reading your post, i am excited with our Miri - Brunei trip next year. Looking forward for your brunei trip post. Thanks!

    1. Hi Marco! Thanks for visiting. I really enjoyed our KK-Brunei trip! Do not leave Brunei without riding the water taxi. :)

      Go to Aiko Sushi Restaurant for affordable $6.00 buffet meals. There are also cheaper restaurants that offer eat-all-you-can promos nearby. I have no idea how to go to the place because our hosts brought us there. It's located right behind the Palm Hotel. It's quite far from Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mall.

  2. Hi:) So how many hours (total) does it take to travel from Kota Kinabalu to Bandar Seri Begawan? Thanks!

  3. Amazing! we did the ferry option from KK and the bus to Miri.

    Fuet, Mate i Arros


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