As Borneo is a large island, you should plan your transportation options ahead due to the long distances involved. While not as modern as those in Peninsular Malaysia, the transportation system in Borneo is decent enough, allowing you to rent cars, take taxis, ride buses or charter boats and ferries. Sometimes, it’s easier to just fly from one place to another in Borneo as the travel distance is great.
Sometimes, travelling by plane offers the most convenience as the distance between places in Borneo can be quite far using just wheeled vehicles. Besides planes, some places offer helicopter rides to reach national parks. Layang-layang Island in Sabah is only reachable by air.
By Bus & Taxis
Visitors can take cabs and public buses within the major cities from stations or stops. You can also take buses for outstation trips from one end of Sabah to Sarawak. The journey will be long, but you get to enjoy some pleasant scenery along the way while enabling you to mix with locals on the bus. Taking a taxi for such long distances will depend on the willingness of the driver.
By Boat & Ferry
To get to some of the popular islands off Sabah, you’ll need to hitch a ride on a ferry. These include islands such as Sipadan, Pulau Tiga and Labuan. Do ensure you only board licensed boats that provide insurance. Wearing a life vest is compulsory but operators will provided them.
On the other hand, if you’re in Sarawak, you’ll need to rent boats to reach some of the longhouse communities for a visit; many are located far inland along the banks of rivers. Express boats offer cheap and convenient transport for you to ride up. If you intend to go through smaller tributaries along the river, you may need to rent a longboat. Prices will depend on how much petrol the boatman uses and how many days you use the boat for.
You can easily rent cars from major cities like Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. Choose from compact cars to large people movers depending on the number of people accompanying you.
There is only one railway in Borneo which starts from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom on the west coast of Sabah. This is strictly a tour to enable visitors to soak in the many sights of Sabah rather than as transport per se. Hence, it is not priced for public use, but like that of a guided tour. Still, it is popular with tourists.