Flying between Singapore and Malaysia is cheap and easy, but getting to Malaysia from Singapore overland is a great alternative way to slow travel and backpack your way across south east Asia and take in more of the countries you are visiting as well. Here is the perfect guide to crossing the border from Singapore to Malaysia.
Being one of the best transport hubs in the region, many Backpackers travelling through south east Asia will at some point find themselves in Singapore, and it is such an amazing city it is worth spending at least a few days in. But at some point travellers will want to continue their journeys into Malaysia, or other backpackers may want to spend a few days hopping over the border for a change of scenery. Whatever your reason, getting from Singapore to Malaysia is simplicity itself, once you know what you are doing of course, and here is the perfect guide to crossing the border from Singapore to Malaysia.
Now flying is the obvious option for getting between the two destinations, and it genuinely is a good one. The budget airline Air Asia dominates the skylines here with average fares at around £20 – £30 (with frequent sales giving heavy discounts), but there are plenty of other options too and it is often possible to get good discounts from the main carriers like Singapore Airways and Silk Air. Flying is a really good option.
But it isn’t the only one.
Travelling by cross border bus.
This is one of the cheapest and most popular options for travelling from Singapore to Malaysia.
There are several express cross border bus operators that leave from Singapore into Malaysia, either heading directly to Kuala Lumpur, arriving at Pudu Central (formerly known as Puduraya Bus Station), or stopping at other destinations along the way such as Johor Bahru and Mallacca, or specific destinations such as Mersing (ideal if you want to go to Tioman island from Singapore) or even Penang.
There are a wide range of options that take in a spectrum of price and comfort.
You can take general public transport to the border which in Singapore may be basic but will still be clean and efficient and these are generally commuter buses with local workers that will stop at Johor Bahru on the Malaysian border. You can easily get further express bus options to specific destinations from there, or take in the Sanrio Hello Kitty Town or LegoLand Malaysia while you are in the vicinity! This will save you an extra few pounds if you are on an ultra tight budget and don’t mind the extra hassle and time.
Beyond this, The average prices for the most basic express buses with very few comforts are around £4 – £5. These are great to travel to specific destinations within Malaysia with locals and possibly strike up a conversation or two, but aren’t the most comfortable ride for a 5 or 6 hour journey.
The average price for a luxury bus (with many roomy, reclining seats equivalent to first class on an aeroplane) is around £15. Still extremely cheap by any standards (including flying) and are a comfortable way to settle in for 5 or 6 hours with a good book.
Where to go and important tips!
Most express buses going across the border will leave from the Singapore Johor express terminal, but depending on which bus you get or company you go with there are a number of other departure points too so just check your ticket beforehand if you bought it online.
It is very easy to turn up to any of the bus stations and get your ticket on the day, however if you want a specific type of bus on a specific route (say a luxury bus to Kuala Lumpur) it may be a good idea to get the ticket a day or two before to ensure you can get your specific choice.
You will be expected to get off the bus twice at the Singapore Malaysian border to clear immigration. Once at Woodlands on the Singapore side, and once at Johor Bahru on the Malaysian side. Both can be extremely confusing places, especially Johor Bahru, so make sure you find an official and ask if you get lost, they are more than used to it.
It is very important to note that if you are on an express bus and not staying in Johor Bahru, the bus you continue onto your destination with may not be the same bus. So it is essential that you take ALL your belongings with you and keep your ticket!
If your bus left without you while you were at immigration (which is common), then wait for the next one from that company and use your ticket on that one instead.
Travelling by train.
Train journeys are always an experience in and of themselves, and getting the train from Singapore to Malaysia is no exception.
Now unfortunately the Singaporean government shut down the beautiful art deco train station in Singapore in 2011, so now you have to get to Johor Bahru first and catch the train from there (which is easy enough, just see the other transport options). Now this technically means you are getting the train from Malaysia to Malaysia, but it doesn’t really matter.
There is a shuttle train from Woodlands to Johor Bahru but to be honest it is better to just go straight to Johor Bahru and buy the tickets you need from there as it will be cheaper.
Once you get to Johor Bahru train station, you have a choice of a number of trains that run regularly through the day and night depending where you want to go.
All trains go from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur, then if you want to travel further the line goes up to Penang from KL, and then from Penang onto Bangkok.
Depending on where you want to end up you buy tickets for each part of the journey. So if you wanted to travel all the way to Bangkok for example you would buy all tickets (JB to KL, KL to Penang and Penang to Bangkok), and then just stay on the train (or hop on and off as needed).
For Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, you will need to pass through Gemas, so you will buy a ticket from JB to Gemas, then Gemas to Kuala Lumpur.
The trains are comfortable (just put on an extra layer for the incessant air con if you feel the cold) and they are spacious. You get to see a lot of the Malaysian countryside on the way and are a relatively cheap way to travel between Singapore and KL. It takes around 4 hours and will cost you about £11 in total (changing at Gemas with two tickets).
Bear in mind that these lines are constantly being improved and there is a High Speed Railway Project in progress, so these times and prices are subject to change.
You should have already gone through immigration at Johor Bahru so there is no need to worry about it getting to Kuala Lumpur.
A car is the least best option and probably the most expensive, and I really would not recommend hiring a car in Singapore. The public transport system is just so good you don’t need one, and if you need to drive through Malaysia you can hire a car in Johor Bahru. It is far cheaper. Especially when some companies charge extra for taking the car out of Singapore. Just make sure you get the option to drop it off in other places unless you want a round trip back to Singapore.
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