Border Crossing in Borneo: Traveling Overland from West Kalimantan to Sarawak

Traveling by bus in Borneo is not impossible. The only downside is that the information is quite limited, so you need to dig deeper to find out the best way to cross the country borders within the island. Whether you want to travel from the Indonesian part of Borneo to Malaysia or vice versa, getting on a road trip to travel across the border in Borneo can be done quite easily.  

And this time, I'll share with you how I've done my Borneo trip, particularly the route from West Kalimantan to Sarawak. In case you're curious what kind of route I took on my last trip, I got to Kuching in Sarawak from Singkawang in West Kalimantan.

How did I get there? Check this one out!

Some Alternatives You Could Opt to Get to Sarawak from West Kalimantan

In case you didn't know, I've done road trips for most of the routes that I took. It took a while for me to create an itinerary for some reasons. One of them is because I wanted to visit Singkawang but there was no clear information regarding the transportation from Singkawang directly to Kuching.

I thought I would have a privilege in terms of getting information as I'm Indonesian, but I barely could find any information even in my language. I even took some time to shoot some questions in some groups only to realize that no one got a clear information about this either.

Well, it's actually not that difficult to get to Sarawak from West Kalimantan. But that if you think about going there straight from Pontianak. From Singkawang, it's something else.

(RED) The route that I eventually took from Singkawang in West Kalimantan to Kuching in Sarawak. (BLUE) The whole route of my last Borneo trip. – Map source

Things might have been easier if only I didn't want to go to Singkawang. But I did, so I had to put a little more effort to find out, just so I could finally share you my knowledge here. 😉

By Flight

As I mentioned before, it is relatively easy to get to Sarawak from Pontianak.

For example, if you want to go to Kuching from the capital city of West Kalimantan, there's some daily flight from Pontianak to Kuching by AirAsia.

Even if you want to go to some other cities in Sarawak like Sibu or Miri, you could also go for the flight via either Kuching or Kuala Lumpur.

By Land

Also from Pontianak, there's a daily bus to Kuching by Eva. Operated by the Malaysian bus firm, you could book the ticket online through Easybook. This would have been my last shot if I couldn't manage to find a way to get to Kuching from Singkawang, but thank God I found a way. 😉

Supposedly, there's a public bus from Aruk to Kuching. In theory, I could get to Aruk first to catch the bus. But then again, it was my first time to step on Borneo and even the locals couldn't tell me clearly about where the bus stop is or how I could get there. So really, as an Indonesian, I gotta say we suck in that part. Boo!

Banner 2

Lucky that I decided to lurk on what I could get for more information around Singkawang and I found this random Facebook fan page Info Singkawang. I dropped them a message to get more information and they gave me the number of shared taxi provider for Singkawang-Kuching route.

Apparently, it's quite common for people in Singkawang to use this shared taxi provider to take them to Kuching. So, this service is what I chose to take for my transportation option.

The car used for Singkawang-Kuching journey, taken from Biawak, Sarawak immigration office.

Shared Taxi Experience from Singkawang (West Kalimantan) to Kuching (Sarawak)

For this journey, I got connected with Jie To through his Whatsapp number on +62 852 5229 9216.

It's a point-to-point service, so the driver picked me up at my hotel in Singkawang. It departs daily, early in the morning.

When I spoke to Jie To the first time, he informed me that the time of departure is usually at 4 in the morning. However, on the day of my departure, the driver texted me in advance to inform me that he'd pick me up at around 4.30 AM. And he did.

They charged me IDR 350,000 (around $24 USD) for the trip, where I had to share the car with 2 other passengers.

Some snapshot I took in the journey.

At first, I was a bit hesitant when Jie To told me the type of the car. It was because I had a relatively big luggage with me and I didn't want to feel uncomfortable for taking too much baggage space in the car. But apparently, there wasn't a problem as they left the whole back row for the baggage.

The Journey

Honestly, since I started really early in the morning and I barely slept the previous night, I spent most of the journey sleeping. 😛

We stopped somewhere for the breakfast in some area before the immigration. I had chicken porridge for breakfast, and then we stopped at the immigration in Sambas, where the Indonesia-Malaysia border is.

You see the monument at afar? It's the Indonesia-Malaysia border.

According to the other passenger who shared the taxi with me, the difference between our journey and the bus from Pontianak to Kuching is the border used for the immigration. From Singkawang, they usually pass the border in Sambas, while the bus from Pontianak usually gets through Sarawak via Entikong.

She also thinks Sambas border is better since the immigration office is relatively new so it's more organized.

The Immigration

Based on my previous experiences even before the journey, I knew that passing country borders by land is usually more challenging. Especially compared to the immigration experience when you go abroad by flight.

I mean, I've been getting randomly checked at Malaysia-Singapore border when I was en-route to JB from Singapore. Also, the last time I got to Singapore from JB with my brother, he got interrogated by the immigration in Woodlands for almost 2 freaking hours!

Therefore, I was expecting it to be a bit difficult. But apparently, it was soooo smooth and easy. In fact, if anything, I felt like the Indonesian immigration was more strict compared to the Malaysian one. And I'm Indonesian.

Like, the Indonesian immigration asked me some questions to ensure that I wasn't going to Kuching as an illegal immigrant. The immigration officer asked me things like when I'd go back home and what I was gonna do in Kuching etc. The Malaysian immigration officer legit just checked my face and stamped my passport.

Some view from Biawak, Sarawak immigration office. The area taken in the picture is the border in Malaysia.

Review & Verdict

I'm really glad that I decided to take the shared taxi from Singkawang to Kuching. Since it's a point-to-point service, they took me to my accommodation in Kuching so there was no need for additional traditional expense through Grab.

In terms of the price, it was also quite fair. The only thing that I suppose could improve is the system and also the information about this service. Like, seriously… I couldn't even get any info in Indonesian through Google, let alone for foreigners who barely speak Indonesian.

West Kalimantan to Sarawak by Road - The BeauTraveler

I personally would recommend the service if you happen to come across my blog as you want to cross the Indonesia-Malaysia border through Singkawang as I did. 🙂

The only minus of this service is that it comes without insurance, so maybe you might want to reconsider taking this service if you're the kind of traveler who couldn't travel without it.

So, do you have any other experience crossing Indonesia-Malaysia border? Maybe from Entikong? Let me know what you think, and see you in my next post to continue my story on Borneo trip. Cheerio! 😀


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11 thoughts on “Border Crossing in Borneo: Traveling Overland from West Kalimantan to Sarawak”

  1. Hello My name is Zainudin Johari and I enjoyed your writings. I want to visit Sambas in Kalimantan. I will start my Journey from Kuching. What is your advise? Is there a bus that I can get to Sambas from Kuching? or would you recommend a shared Taxi ? Thanks.

    1. hi zainudin, thank you so much for dropping by! 🙂

      so, here’s the thing… the information about transportation from kalimantan to other parts of borneo including sarawak, brunei, and sabah are quite limited from indonesian side. however, there was some news that i read about DAMRI (indonesian public bus company in case you haven’t heard of it) operating a bus from pontianak to kuching via sambas through aruk border, basically the same route i used with the shared taxi for this journey.

      however, i personally wouldn’t recommend it. i used DAMRI for my trip from pontianak and singkawang, and all the trip was messed up. it wasn’t exactly a shuttle bus, the trip was delayed up to almost 2 hours and it was basically a ‘hop on hop off bus’ where they took passengers in the middle of nowhere.

      for this route, i guess a shared taxi is the one i’d strongly recommend as even the locals from west kalimantan and its surrounding would suggest too. i have the phone number of the company that i use for this trip in case you need it so i can share it to you on email. let me know if you need more info about this. 🙂

  2. Need help and advice how could i go Ngbang via Kuching? Should it be Kuching->Singkawang->Ngbang or Kuching ->Entigong->Ngbang? In term of distant, which are shorter and further? Also, any recommendation of taxi direct from Kuching to Ngbang? if yes,what will be the price or contact which you could provide? How safe to travel via taxi from Kuching to Ngbang?

    1. did you mean ngabang? you see, i’m not quite sure about your question as i’ve never been to ngabang before. in fact, i’m not quite sure where ngabang is from kuching or singkawang. if anything, i will send you the number of person you could contact for the details. chances are, they might as well offer a car rent service from kuching to ngabang. i’ll give you more information by e-mail. feel free to reach out if you need some help to connect with them. 🙂

  3. Hi there, beautraveller.
    I was researching about doing a bit of travel in West Kalimantan from Kuching and came across your blog pages. Info about Kalimantan is rather thin on the ground. Looking at going Pontianak, Sinkawang and exploring a bit of the Kapuas river. How would I go about getting, say, a local driver to take us around, someone who can speak some English. There are 3 of us. You mention using a private taxi to get to Kuching. Would a private taxi driver be willing to be a travel guide if we hire him for a couple of days?

    1. Hi Kerry, thank you so much for reaching out. As for hiring a private taxi driver, it is possible as they usually charge their daily rate for this. However, if you expect a private taxi driver who could speak English and be a travel guide at the same time, I’m not too sure as you probably need to reach out to the car rental company first.

      I’d suggest you try to contact Jie To through Whatsapp on this number: +62 852 5229 9216. This is the private taxi driver that I used for the route Singkawang to Kuching. Maybe ask whether it’s possible to find a driver that could assist you during your travel there. Someone who could speak some English etc?

      Otherwise, you can also install Gojek and Grab app to be used in Pontianak, and also Grab in Singkawang. In case you’re not familiar with the apps, those are basically Uber-like apps that you can use as long as you know the point of your destinations. While those apps are helpful in terms of transportation, they might not be helpful if you still need a travel guide for this.

      If a local tour guide is necessary as a part of your travel, I can also connect you with someone local in Pontianak. The only problem is that he rides a motorbike, so I guess a car is still needed since it’ll be the 4 of you in total. Hit me up if you want me to connect you with him, he was definitely super helpful during my travel in Pontianak, and he speaks English! 😀

  4. thanks so much for the info. I’ll get in touch with Jie To first. No, a tour guide is not strictly necessary as we can read up about the places we want to go to. We just want a vehicle with a driver to take us around or even hire a car in Pontianak and drive ourselves. A driver is more for convenience than anything else. Thanks for the prompt response.

    1. Hi, so I’m not too sure whether there’s any permission needed to self-drive to Singkawang. Are you driving with your own car? Or are you planning to rent the car by the time you reach Singkawang? I think you might need a permit for your car (if it’s Malaysian) if you want to drive the car on your own. Other than that, you probably need to check your driving license because I’d assume only international driving license is permitted to drive around. Road-wise, I think you’ll be fine driving around Singkawang. 🙂

  5. Pingback: 6 Great Day Trips From Miri That You Should Explore - GlobeTrove

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