Travel Diary: Johor Bahru Malaysia by Buses and Trains

10:16 AM

When you live in a country surrounded by huge bodies of water like the Philippines, there's no other way to reach our neighbor countries but by air travels. After few years or working and staying in Singapore, crossing borders have been very easy. If you wish to maximize your stay in Singapore and get multiple passport stamps in a single trip, then you better off chose either, Batam and Bintan Indonesia? or Malaysia via Johor Bahru.

I recently went to Malaysia for a quick getaway with my brothers. To be exact, we went to Johor Bahru or commonly known as JB. It is not as popular as Kuala Lumpur but due to its proximity in Singapore, lure of cheaper goods and services, rapid developments, it's starting to gain popularity. JB is the closest Malaysian state near Singapore which you can actually travel by land. Besides car or cab, there are cheap bus options and coach services from Singapore that heads to Johor Bahru.

That kind of convenience makes it a destination for Singaporeans, foreign workers, or Singapore tourists to stop by Johor Bahru for a day of shopping or spend a weekend.

With the Johor Premium Outlets (JPO) and recent opening of Legoland Malaysia last September 15, more and more tourists are curious to visit Johor. Apart from these two, behold Kittizens, we heard Sanrio Hello Kitty Town will also open on October 26 :)

For tourists, the easiest way to get to Johor Bahru from Singapore is:
* by MRT / Bus from Kranji MRT: 
  • Queue up for the SBS Bus 160, 170 ride. You can pay in cash or by using your EZLink card or through Malaysia's Causeway Link (CW1): Payment by cash. 
  • The queue might be a bit long during weekends but buses arrive every 15 minutes, so if you don’t get into one, don’t worry, the wait for the next one won't take too long
  • It will cost you about SGD 1.20
* There are also coach and tour operators in Singapore that heads straight to Johor Premium Outlets, Legoland, Kuala Lumpur or Genting. Transtar Express and Compass Coaches are among many operators. This could be the most fuss-free way as you can sit comfortably between immigration stops and don't have to squeeze yourself in the public buses.

Expect delays at either side of the border. You have to vacate the bus, go through immigration leaving Singapore and entering Malaysia and then re-board. It won't be that complicated, just follow what most people do! haha kidding.. ok i'll try to detail it.

1. The buses from Kranji MRT station will lead to the Woodlands Checkpoint. Everyone taps out of the bus and alights from the buses and proceeds to the 2nd level where the immigration exit point is. Make sure you bring your passports and your employment passes or immgration white card / disembarkation cards for Singapore tourists. Make sure you carry all your things with you and don’t ever leave your belongings on the bus (same instructions for those riding coaches)

2.After immigration, proceed to the ground level where the buses are waiting. look for signages leading to bus 170, 160 and ride it for the next stage of your trip. You don't have to find the exact same bus where you alight. You can ride any 170, 160 bus. Tap your EZLink again or if you paid by cash, show your ticket to the driver.

3.The next bus ride will take you from Woodlands Checkpoint to the Johor Bahru Sentral. This is where you literally cross the border. Singapore is connected to Malaysia via a bridge. My friends and I kinda feel funny over this area. We call it the Purgatory. :D Coz you are neither in SG nor Malaysia, neither Heaven nor Hell.

4.Anyway, upon reaching Malaysia immigration, you will again alight and proceed to the second level of the Johor Bahru Sentral where Malaysian Immigration is located. Surprisingly, we weren't asked to fill out immigration slips :) 

5.After immigration, you are already in Malaysia! It is connected to a mall, Johor Bahru City Square.
My brother's photo is.. right.. funny!
At the 1st level, there are bus interchanges and taxi bays. You can proceed to your hotel or wherever your destination is.

Or if you are on a coach service heading to other Malaysian estate, after immigration, proceed to the 1st level where your coach is parked and waiting. 

Or you can continue taking Bus 170 going to LARKIN terminal where you can take buses from Kuala Lumpur or Malacca.

I need to note how fast it had improved over the past 4 years. When we passed JB to get to KL 4 years ago, it was still under construction and reminded a lot like Quiapo, Recto LRT2 station. Now it's very much advanced and looks very modernized.

When in Johor Bahru, Pointers:
* Be very careful with your belongings and aware of your surroundings. Put your bags in front of you. Not that I am discriminating, but due to some bad experiences by other tourists, yes I walked the streets of JB with extra care, like I would when I am in Manila.

* Ask taxi drivers to use the meter. Although taxi fares are a lot less cheap than cab fares in Singapore, you would save more money by meter then just add some more if you feel like giving tip, rather than arrange for fares right away.

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