Is Going to Malaysia to Buy Groceries Worth the Trouble?


Joanne Poh



When Singaporeans cross the Causeway into Malaysia, they immediately whip out their wallets, because everything is just so much cheaper there. In fact, many Singaporeans who live near the Causeway and the Second Link have been known to drive into Johor Bahru just to stock up on groceries.

However, with the introduction of 6% GST in Malaysia earlier this year and an RM20 entry fee for Singapore vehicles entering Malaysia, is it still worthwhile to hop across the border just to buy a few packs of chewing gum? Here are the costs to consider.



The Malaysian ringgit is at an all-time low. Since Malaysia’s introduction of the 6% GST earlier this year, the ringgit has plummeted. Just before the introduction of the GST, grocery prices in Malaysia were already about 30% lower than they were in Singapore. While prices have risen since implementation of the GST, this is offset significantly for Singaporean consumers by the fall of the ringgit.


Entry fee

Starting on 1st Oct this year, all drivers wishing to enter Malaysia will have to pay RM20 (6.58 SGD). You will first need to register your vehicle for RM10 (2.17 SGD) before then. If these prices seem ridiculously low now, you can thank the ringgit for bringing prices down by over 50% since the entry fee was announced. Still, it does mean it’s not worthwhile making the trip across the Causeway just to buy a few small items.



How much you spend on petrol to get to JB will depend on where you live in Singapore. If you live in Jurong or Woodlands, buying groceries in Malaysia is very viable as you won’t be spending that much on petrol. However, if you live in Pasir Ris, that’s another story, as you’ll have to drive almost 30km just to get to the checkpoint. To drive a Toyota Corolla to Johor Bahru City Square, you’re looking at about 5 SGD worth of petrol one way.


Direct taxi

While Singapore taxis are not allowed to cross over into Malaysia, there is a special taxi service departing from the Queen Street Bus Terminal that takes you all the way to Johor Bahru for 48 SGD per cab or 12 SGD per person if you use the share-a-cab service.  To get back to Singapore, you’ll have to catch another cross-border cab at Larkin Sentral and pay RM80 (26.31 SGD) per cab or RM20 (6.58 SGD) per person if you share a cab to Queen Street Bus Terminal.



If you don’t mind a more inconvenient journey, you can take a bus to the Woodlands checkpoint and then take a taxi when you reach Johor Bahru. Costs will depend on which shopping centre you’re going to, but if you just want to visit City Square you can walk from the immigration. However, few people who seriously want to save money on groceries take this option as without a car it’s difficult to buy in bulk.


Cost of a grocery shopping trip to JB

Petrol from home in Queenstown to shopping mall in JB and back – 6 SGD

Entry fee – RM20 (6.58 SGD)

Value of groceries one must buy so that cost savings equal cost of travelling to JB, assuming prices are 30% lower – RM121.60 / 40 SGD

Despite the relatively low price (given the weak ringgit) of the new entry fee, assuming grocery prices are 30% lower, Singaporeans still have to buy more than RM121.60 or 40 SGD worth of groceries to make their trip worthwhile. If you’re driving, this shouldn’t be an issue at all. Looks like it’s time to stock up on abalone and bird’s nest.

Do you go to Malaysia to buy groceries? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.

  • chua gary

    You will need a car to make your shopping trip tin JB worthwhile. Better still travel with 3 others for dining pleasure. Spend at least 500 RM per trip. Buy your medicine and prescribed drug at JB pharmacies. Last week, I bought a blood pressure monitor (Omron) and checked the price in SG. It was indeed much cheaper in JB. I save $24. Similarly I also found prescribed much cheaper across the board in JB. Petrol saving is not much and with traffic jam in and out of JB, it definitely not worth it.

    • Disappointed Malaysian

      If you are robbed there, then is it even more worth?

  • Altex lan

    The government have created a lot of problem. they release the CPF at 55. So this ah lau all buy car and they drive to Malaysia to top up. Creating a lot of jam. They jam the road every where. why do Singapore go to Malaysia in a jam? all about saving money. If the goverment never release the CPF ,this problem will not occur. Those ah lau who buy car with their CPF called them self :thang nang” .This poor Jepun descendant fill so proud to own a car.

    It is how you obtain the car. your salary or CPF. if CPF get lost..

  • ChanSP

    Doing this for few years now, shopping from local markets to Giant to Tesco to Aeon. Prices are going up so it’s no longer worth it unless it’s for household of at least 5. And even then got to buy at least 3-4 weeks’ supply, since we can’t afford to go in every week to buy.

  • Joycelyn Chua

    How can we measure the value of time spent? A local supermarket trip takes 1.5 to 2 hours, a JB trip would take at least half a day isn’t it?

  • Disappointed Malaysian

    It depends what you are buying. Not everything cheaper. You did not check the prices on each items properly.
    Most of the things are about the same price after conversion rate. There are only some things that are cheaper up to 40% but after the GST and customs toll hikes, these had dropped down to 30% cheaper. Bear in mind that only some products are 30% cheaper and most others are the same price as Singapore. Most people who stay near Woodlands always goes in Malaysia to pump petrol and shopping because the journey is quite near. If you stay at the west, east and central, then 25km are not worth except if you buy in huge bulk of items that are 30% cheaper. Remember that most people got robbed because of their greediness over few dollars savings over the border.

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