Flights to Kota Kinabalu

Compare Cheap Flights to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

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Kota Kinabalu Guide

What are the best things to do in Kota Kinabalu?

Mount Kinabalu

Avid hikers with tickets to Kota Kinabalu won’t want to miss the chance of summiting Southeast Asia's highest peak. At 4,000 metres high, it’s possible to summit Mount Kinabalu in one day, but it's advised to take your time in order to let the body acclimatise to the altitude. Those wanting to hike up the mountain must do so as part of a two- or three-day guided tour. It's compulsory to use a guide and cannot be done independently. If you don't have the time in your itinerary, you can still visit the base of the mountain and complete shorter hikes or visit the botanical garden to see one of the largest flowers in the world, the Rafflesia.

Klias Wetlands

The Klias Wetlands make an excellent day-trip for travellers with an airfare to Kota Kinabalu. It will give you the chance to see Borneo's elusive wildlife. Bring along your camera and snap pictures of Proboscis monkeys, orangutans and other animals native to the island. Organise a boat trip once your flights to Kota Kinabalu have arrived.

Tanjung Aru Beach

After a long day of exploring, visit Tanjung Aru Beach to watch the sunset. Sit on the beach, or watch the sun sink into the horizon from one of the many bars and restaurants along the beachfront. The beach also makes a wonderful place to visit on your first day in the city.

See Kota Kinabalu's stilt villages

One of Kota Kinabalu's most unique sights are its surrounding stilt villages, home of local ethnic group, Bajaus. If you want to use your return flights to Kota Kinabalu to see the villages, it's best to go on a guided tour. You'll support the local community and get a better insight into their way of life and culture.

What should I know before visiting Kota Kinabalu?

Best time to go

The best time to visit Kota Kinabalu is during Borneo's dry season. From late April to October, the weather is hot and there's less chance of rain ruining any outdoor activities you have planned. The dry months are also the best time to spot wild orangutans. However, as more tourists are visiting Kota Kinabalu over this period, you should organise your flights to Kota Kinabalu and first-choice hotel as soon as you can. If you’re after cheap flights to Kota Kinabalu, search for flights departing between November and March. It’s the wet season, with fewer tourists. If you’re lucky, you might snap up deals on airfare to Kota Kinabalu and your accommodation.

Getting around

The best way to get around Kota Kinabalu is with Grab. It's a ride-share service in South East Asia and is usually cheaper than using metered taxis. Buy a local sim card at Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI), download the app and request a ride. A one-way trip from Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI) will cost on average 12 MYR ($4.47 NZD). If you don't want to rent a car for your flights to Kota Kinabalu, you can hire a taxi out for the whole day for around 300 MYR ($111.80 NZD). Other options include walking (it takes less than an hour to walk around the city centre), the local bus (most trips within the city cost as little as 0.10 MYR (less than .50 NZD)) or you can rent a motorbike. If you want to rent a motorbike, always check to see if your travel insurance for your flights to Kota Kinabalu will cover you in the event of an accident.

Embrace local cuisine

Foodies buying return flights to Kota Kinabalu are in for a treat when it comes to street food and delicious local fare. One dish not to miss is nasi lemak - rice cooked in coconut milk and then served with boiled eggs, toasted peanuts, sambal and rendang. Those with a palate that can handle kick can look out for ayam percik - marinated and barbecued chicken with chilli, ginger, garlic and coconut milk. End off your meal with a local dessert, such as kuih ketayap, a pancake with a sweet coconut filling.

What is the cost of visiting Kota Kinabalu?


Food in Kota Kinabalu is relatively cheap. You can eat out at local restaurants for around $2 to $5 USD ($3 to $7 NZD) per meal. A can of beer is usually $3 USD ($3 NZD).


If you want to use your flights to Kota Kinabalu to climb Mount Kinabalu, it will be one of the most expensive things you do in Borneo. Prices start at about $200 USD ($300 NZD) and include a guide and the park fees. Luckily, there are plenty of other activities that won't break the bank. One of the best things to see with your tickets to Kota Kinabalu is Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. You'll pay around 20 to 40 MYR ($7 to $15 NZD) depending which of the five islands you'd like to visit.

Best time to visit Kota Kinabalu

The state of Sabah is nicknamed, ‘the land below the wind’ referring to its sheltered position just south of the monsoon and typhoon belt. The temperature does not change much throughout the year, however, the city is affected by two monsoons seasons each year from April to May and September to October. The best time to visit Kota Kinabalu is during the dry season from January to March.

Travellers should be aware the city has a high heat and humidity rate throughout the year which can take some getting used to, with temperatures staying between lows of 23 and highs of 33 degrees. 

Airports in Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu International Airport

The main airport for international travellers is Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Located around 8 km from the city centre it is the second busiest airport in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Flights make their way to Kota Kinabalu from a number of destinations, including Hong Kong, Manila and Singapore. Flights to Kota Kinabalu depart from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth and travel via Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.