Car Hire from Kota Kinabalu Airport
The Sabah region of Malaysian Borneo is home to the white sand and warm waters of paradise beaches, inland jungles with rare wildlife and adventure activities, and cities with rich and varied culture. When hiring a car from Kota Kinabalu Airport, you’ll have your own set of wheels and the freedom to explore this beautiful island under your own steam.
Where to hire a car at Kota Kinabalu Airport
Hertz and Europcar both have car hire offices located within the airport’s main arrivals hall. Hawk and Prima Odyssey are two more companies offering car hire from the airport. They don’t have an office at the airport and instead provide a meet and greet service, waiting for drivers at the arrivals gate and shuttling them to their own car hire centre.
Petrol Stations near Kota Kinabalu Airport
Depending on your car rental agreement you may be required to refuel your car prior to returning it.
The nearest petrol station to Kota Kinabalu Airport is an Esso garage less than five minutes’ drive from the main airport terminal. It’s located just off Jalan Mat Salleh road and well placed for drivers who need to return their hire car with a full tank of petrol.
Driving around Kota Kinabalu Airport
Getting to and from Kota Kinabalu Airport is easy. The airport is surrounded by a good network of roads. Route 1 leads south towards Papar and north to Telipok while the A3 heads towards Penampang. A number of smaller roads run from the airport into Kota Kinabalu centre.
Generally it’s fine to drive in Malaysia with your standard photo card UK license. However it’s worth checking with your car hire company that they don’t require an International Driving Permit as you’ll need to apply for one of these before you leave the UK.
Cars in Malaysia drive on the left hand side of the road, as they do in the UK. Big expressways are well maintained and signposted although you may find the odd pothole on smaller roads. Remember that Borneo is made up of territories belonging to Malaysia, Indonesia and the nation of Brunei. It is unlikely that you will be able to travel between these countries with a hire car but it’s worth double checking with your car hire company if you hope to do so.
Getting to your destination
Kota Kinabalu is a great base from which to explore Borneo’s Sabah region. Here are just a few places it’s easy to get to when you hire a car from Kota Kinabalu Airport.
Kota Kinabalu city, popularly known as KK, is a vibrant, multicultural place. From beaches to bustling night markets, ancient Chinese temples to modern shopping malls, Kota Kinabalu has an eclectic mix of attractions. It’s possible to walk between them in the city centre and also to arrange a host of outdoor activity adventures while you’re here.
Kota Kinabalu city is just 10 minutes’ drive from Kota Kinabalu Airport, taking Jalan Mat Salleh road and then the Jalan Coastal road. Roads around Kota Kinabalu are well-maintained and easy to drive on. However, some signage is only written in Malay. It may be wise to brush up on your Malaysian road signs before travelling.
Mount Kinabalu National Park
Mount Kinabalu is the largest mountain on Borneo and is surrounded by the splendid beauty of the natural park. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular destination for hikers, wildlife spotters and adventurers. There’s a good selection of accommodation within the park and a range of activities to get the blood pumping.
Mount Kinabalu National Park is around two hours’ drive from Kota Kinabalu Airport, taking route 1 north through Kota Kinabalu and beyond. Roads in the national park can be winding so be prepared for your journey to take longer than expected. It’s also wise to fill up with petrol as and when you can to avoid being caught stranded.
The hot springs at Poring, brought to Borneo by the Japanese in the Second World War, provide a weekend retreat for city dwellers. Visitors can relax in the pools and enjoy the surrounding forest park in which there are plenty of trails to wander. The more adventurous can also head up to a canopy walkway suspended from the trees, which gives spectacular views of the surrounded forest.
Poring is just over two hours’ drive from Kota Kinabalu Airport, taking route 1 north and then the A4. The visitor centre and hot springs both have car parks and roads from the airport to the springs are, although winding, generally in a good condition.