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Malaysia - Getting There by Sea

Obviously, if you are travelling directly to Malaysia from the UK, other European countries or the USA, it would be a tad ambitious to arrive by boat. But, because Malaysia is located in the heart of the South China Sea, and has such an extensive coastline, there are many routes in and out of the country by boat. The sea in which Malaysia is located can get very busy with various ferry crossings, cruises and cargo ships coming in and out of numerous ports. Although travelling by sea may not be a logical solution for arriving in Malaysia, it can be an exciting and relatively cheap way of travelling around its islands and to its neighbouring countries.


There are daily ferries running out of Langkawi which travel to Kuala Perlis, Kuala Kedah, Penang and Satun. They provide a very useful link, connecting the small island of Langkawi with the most northern region of West Malaysia. Prices on these ferries start at around RM18 for an adult ticket on the shorter legs, and increase to about RM 60 on longer passages. For a detailed schedule of when the ferries run and an up to date price list, it is probably best to contact the ferry office directly (details given below) or to visit their website.

Kuala Perlis Ferry Office
Tel: +60 4 9852690
Fax : +60 4 9852691


You can travel by boat from the port at Pulay Labuan in the state of Sabah in East Malaysia to Bandar Seri Begawan, Muara Port, in Brunei. It is also possible to travel between Limbang in Sarawak, East Malaysia to Brunei. The timetables change frequently according to weather and tides so it is best to check closer to the time if you plan to use any one of these services.


There are supposedly ferries which connect the mainland of West Malaysia with some of the most southern islands in the Philippines but these appear to be only available to locals by turning up at the office and hoping for the best.

Kota Kinabalu

There are two trips every day which leave Kota Kinabalu and travel to Labuan. They cost roughly RM 40 for a single economy ticket for an adult and the trip takes about 3 hours. There is also a ferry service from Kota Kinabalu which travels to Brunei. This is a much longer leg with just one trip leaving every day. This is slightly more expensive as the trip takes 6 and a half hours in total, costing RM 60 for an adult’s economy class ticket. Jesselton Point run these ferries, and it is advised that you contact them in advance to check availability and ferry schedules.

Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal,
Jalan Haji Mat Saman,
88300 Kota Kinabalu.
Tel: +60 88 240709
Fax: +60 88 249708


The Tawau Ferry Terminal links Sabah in East Malaysia with Nunukan’s Tunon Taka Port in northern Indonesia. The ferries depart twice daily at 9am and 2pm local time. The crossing takes roughly an hour and will cost RM 65 each way. The Tawau Ferry Terminal website will offer up to date information on the services that they are currently running, so is well worth checking before you go.

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