How to Take the Bus from Nairobi to Malindi


If you plan on visiting Malindi and are traveling on a budget, the public bus is your best option. I took the overnight bus from Nairobi to Malindi. You can read below what happened during this bus trip and what you need to know.

Bus from Nairobi to Malindi and Prices

I took the 7:30 pm bus on a Sunday with Dreamline Express. This bus headed straight to Malindi. This is very important, because if you plan on visiting Mombasa on your way to Malindi, you should take a different bus. The bus leaves once daily at 7:30 pm.

The cost of a one-way trip is KES 2,200 for VIP seats and 1,700 KES for regular seats. They only accept E-Pesa payment for online bookings. I do not have an E-Pesa account, so I asked my host family to pay it for me and I reimbursed them.

There is another company called Modern Coast operating between Nairobi and Malindi. Their bus station is in the same area as Dreamline and they leave daily at 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Both are straight routes.

Nairobi to Malindi

Purchase the tickets

I highly recommend that you purchase the tickets at least 24 hours ahead of time, especially for VIP seats. There were only nine VIP seats on the bus I took, and they can get booked out quickly.

When my host paid for my bus tickets, the website showed an error but she received a payment confirmation on her phone. We called the Dreamline office. The lady at the office said there was a glitch on the website and my purchase was confirmed. She asked me to show up to the office with my passport and the seat number (please remember it when booking) before 7 pm. I did and got my tickets immediately.

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Location of Dreamline Express in Nairobi

The Dreamline Express Office is on the River Road in downtown Nairobi. It has cheap food, an energetic vibe, and a real Nairobi feel. It is also chaotic, congested, and disorganized; not a safe area for tourists to walk around. Many people have told me several times not to make unnecessary visits downtown because of the frequency of petty crimes, robberies, and theft.

Nairobi to Malindi

Downtown Nairobi, not a safe place to be on your own

How to get to the Dreamline Express office

To get to the office, I recommend that you use Uber. It is kind of difficult for Uber to drop you in front of the bus station because of insane traffic and congestion, so be prepared to walk for a few blocks.

While walking, be sure to stay 200% on guard and carry your luggage with you. Pay attention to your surroundings. Do not text, make phone calls, listen to music with your headphones, or let anyone help you with your possessions.

My Uber could not park anywhere near the office building, so he asked a stranger, who wore a torn-up blue-collared shirt and looked malnutritioned, on the street to take me there. It was pretty messy and mentally exhausting.

Another thing to note is that Nairobi gets dark around 6:30 pm, and it is unsafe to walk around the bus station after this time. I suggest that you reach the Dreamline Express office before 6:30 pm and wait there.

The office

The office building looks a bit old and has a sign “Dreamline” on the top. It is smaller than the size of my own room. There were no issues at all getting my tickets. There are plenty of seats inside the office for you to sit down and wait for your bus.

There is a makeshift shelf to put your luggage. It crumbled and fell off when I was there, as it was made of wooden benches stacked on top of each other.

Nairobi to Malindi

The makeshift shelf ended up falling off

Getting on the bus

Shortly after 7 pm, you will be informed to get on the bus. There will be buses going to other places, so pay attention and listen to your destination, especially close to 7 pm. Also, observe other passengers. If they begin to walk outside with their tickets, it indicates it is time to get on the bus.

At that time, there was still no available spot for our bus to stop in front of the office, so we had to walk outside and wait. I stood with other passengers in the dark. Finally, the driver started loading our luggage.

I sat in the second row at the front. Behind me was a whole family visiting Malindi with kids. They did not bother me; they only informed me of our arrival in Malindi the following morning.

Nairobi to Malindi

Inside our bus

Truth to be told, once on the bus, I felt very safe. The bus did not pick up anyone on our way to Malindi. It also had two drivers and it traveled at a reasonable speed, which eased my paranoia of getting into car accidents, which Kenya is notorious for.

The bus had air conditioning, reclining seats, and enough space for legroom. You could also put belongings in the overhead shelf, or the space below the seat in front of you.

If you have a big suitcase, they will be put in the compartment below and put a stick on it with your seat number. When you arrive in Malindi, you will retrieve the luggage with this number.

For your own safety, do not leave your passports and other valuables in your luggage. You must keep them with you at all times. Wait and watch your luggage being loaded to the space underneath. Get off the bus as quickly as you can upon arrival to get your luggage.

The bus ride

The ride to Malindi is 10 hours total, and there was a bit of traffic when leaving Nairobi. Our bus only stopped once for a bathroom break.

The bus dropped us off on the street in downtown Malindi. From there, I got a tuk-tuk to my hotel near the white beach, which cost KES150.

Malindi in Kenya

White sand beach in Malindi

Overall, I really enjoyed the ride to Malindi. Dreamline has air conditioning and VIP seats offering empty space and legroom. Ten hours on an overnight bus in Kenya can be exhausting. The traffic and car accidents are always my top concerns, but the drivers are responsible and keep passengers’ safety as their priority, which I am grateful for. I also found that our bus was on time, which was pretty nice.

Have you taken the bus from Nairobi to Malindi? Share your experience below.

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Julie Cao

Julie is the creator of Always On The Way. She lived in Hawaii and now resides in London (Ontario, Canada). In 2017, she went on an overland trip from Bogota Colombia to Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in the world. She believes travel is not only about visiting tourist attractions but more about getting to know the culture, people, and the place.

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