6 Things You Should Know Before Travelling From Singapore to Johor Bahru

bus-sg-to-jb

Did you know there are 12 theme parks just in Johor Bahru? Yup, there’s the popular Legoland and Austin Heights Water & Adventure Park, to the new Game On indoor theme park, there are options for the young and young at heart! There even used to be a Sanrio Hello Kitty Town but sadly, that’s closed now. 

While going to JB can be a ‘basic’ Singaporean thing to do (along with wearing Uniqlo and always about NS and HDBs), there’s no denying that JB is cheaper for us when we want to buy certain things or just have some awesome Malaysian food. And if there’s anything that helps us save money, we at MoneySmart are totally down for it! 

And since Malaysia says that Singaporeans no longer need to complete the Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC) from 1 Jan 2024, we can just use the e-gates instead of queuing for ages at the manual passport counter. However, there seem to be some kinks in the system where it doesn’t work for some people, so just beware of the risks!

Here are 6 things you should know before travelling to JB: 

 

1. Travelling From Singapore to Jb by Bus, Car, Train, and Taxi

There are 4 main ways to get to JB, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Public bus

The most popular options for public buses include regular SBS Transit and SMRT buses, as well as Causeway Link (CW) buses that take you to customs:

From Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange: 950

From Queen Street Bus Terminal: 170, 170X,

From Jurong Town Hall Interchange/ Opposite Kranji MRT station: 160

CW buses: CW1 (from Kranji MRT), CW2 (Queen Street Bus Terminal), CW3, CW4S (Jurong Town Hall Interchange), CW5 (Newton Circus), CW6 (Boon Lay Way bus stop), CW7 (Opp Tuas Link Station)

There are also other buses by private companies such as Transtar and Singapore-Johor Express but these are less frequent so we won’t cover it here. 

What you’ll need is to have your EZ-link or credit card for the Singapore buses. If you take a CW bus, you’ll want to have cash ready or a Visa credit card. CW buses don’t accept Mastercard or other card providers yet. 

Grab also offers a Grab Bus which costs $3 to $11 per person depending on your pickup location.

Bus is by far the most popular and cheapest way of getting to JB, although you’ll have to contend with the long queues at customs on weekends, school holidays, and on eve/public holidays. 


ALSO READ: Singapore Transport Fares to Rise By Up To 11 Cents—8 Tips to Save Money on Bus & MRT Fares


Own vehicle

If you own a car or motorbike, good for you. Just zip straight up to Woodlands or Tuas Checkpoint and go through customs all without leaving your vehicle. Just that you may have to contend with long lines depending on when you go. 

The journey for drivers just got smoother with the new QR code system from Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) .

  • Simply download the MyICA app 
  • Generate a QR code 
  • Scan the QR code at immigration 

*Even though the QR code means your passport doesn’t get checked, ICA cautions travellers to bring their passports along in case any identity verification is needed at Malaysia’s checkpoints. 

You’ll also need to apply for a Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP). Car owners also need an adio frequency identification (RFID) tag, while motorists only need the VEP. The RFID tag for motorists will be rolled out later. 

Find out more about the VEP with our guide.

Train 

From Woodlands Train Checkpoint to JB Sentral, the KTM Shuttle Tebrau gets you across the border in just 5 minutes. 

The best part? You get to avoid queuing at customs and at the bus terminals with the train. 

But the catch is that tickets for the train go FAST. You’ll want to book way ahead if you’re planning to visit JB on a weekend or during peak periods. 

Ticket prices from Singapore are also more expensive:

  • Woodlands to JB: S$5 
  • JB to Woodlands: RM5 (~S$1.42) 

If you want to save, it may be more worth it to buy only a one-way train ticket and go in to JB by bus. 


ALSO READ: Taking the Train from SG to JB? The Ultimate Guide to KTM Ticket Prices, Train Schedule, and More (2024)


 

Taxi

Planning a gals’ day out or a bachelor’s party? You might want to consider hiring a taxi so you don’t have to squeeze onto the train or bus. But bear this in mind: Only Singapore and Malaysian-registered cross-border taxis with valid Cross-Border PSV Licences, ASEAN Public Service Vehicle Permits (PSVP), and Autopass cards are permitted to ferry passengers into or out of Singapore.

You can find these taxis at Ban San Street Terminal in Singapore and Johor Larkin Terminal in Malaysia, which are the designated pick-up and drop-off points for cross-border taxi services. Alternatively, you can book cross-border trips through licensed Singapore taxi operators.

While it might be tempting to book cheaper cross-border rides through social media platforms like Facebook or Telegram, or via booking platforms like Klook and Shopee, remember that it’s illegal. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) strongly advises against using unlicensed providers for cross-border transport and is working with them to remove advertisements of illegal cross border services.

However, you might still come across listings on these platforms and wonder, “What’s the big deal?” Well, the vehicle you’re sitting in might not be insured, leaving you vulnerable in case of a traffic accident. And imagine the hassle if your driver gets nabbed during the commute…

During our recent enforcement operation, four drivers were caught providing ❌ illegal ❌ cross-border chauffeured…

Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Drivers who continue to offer such services face a fine of up to $3,000, a jail term of up to 6 months, or both. The vehicle used may also be forfeited.

Our advice? Play it safe and stick with licensed cross-border taxis for a hassle-free and legal journey!

 

2. Peak Travel Times

Be strategic about when you go. If you can, avoid peak hours, weekends, eve and public holidays. 

According to multiple sources, peak hours from Singapore to JB are: 

Weekdays, 8am – 10am, 6pm – 8pm

Saturdays: 8am – 9pm (the time when Singapore day trippers and weekend warriors head in to JB)

Sundays: 2pm – 10pm (the time when Singaporeans are coming back from JB)

Here are some tips to make your journey to JB less arduous: 

  • Avoid rush hours where daily commuters between Singapore and JB head home after work
  • Avoid Friday evenings, Saturdays (around 8am – 1pm), Sundays (around 3pm to 8pm) eve of and public holidays, long weekends
  • Check the traffic conditions online
  • Download apps such as Checkpoint.sg or Beat the Jam to check traffic flow 

Of course, sometimes it’s really just based on your luck and there’s no predicting how bad traffic can be. 

 

3. Safety 

While JB may be a familiar place for many of us, it’s still important to prioritise safety. After all, we’ve heard horror stories of how people have had their belongings stolen right out of their handshad their cars broken into, and even attacked by men with chairs

Despite all these incidents, many people also go to JB without trouble. 

Some safety tips: 

  • Don’t have your phone out while walking around, don’t make a call in public
  • Don’t leave your phone or valuables on the table or seats when eating
  • Don’t wear expensive jewellery
  • Don’t park on the street
  • Try not to be out walking on the streets at night
  • Stick to the shopping malls as much as possible
  • Check that your passport has been stamped if going by the manual passport counter

Redditors have even shared tips for drivers such as getting a steering wheel lock so your car doesn’t get towed, parking with the front of the car in, not keeping the wheel straight when parking to prevent getting towed, taking out the cashcard from the reader, etc.

 

4. Etiquette

A large part of safety also comes with etiquette. As with anywhere you travel to, be respectful of local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites and basically, behave as you would in your own country. You don’t want to be the loud and rude person laughing and talking loudly. 

Basically, don’t be a nuisance to those around you — and this applies to when you’re in Singapore too. I’m looking at the .. erm generation who watches videos at top volume on public transport. 

Also, just be nice to service staff. Oh, and avoid discussing sensitive topics like politics and race.

 

5. Exchange Rates

We’re all used to dividing by 3 when mentally calculating the cost of things in Malaysian ringgit. 

With the exchange rate being SGD 1 to $3.4+, the rate is quite negligible whether you’re changing money in Singapore or Malaysia, especially if you don’t plan to change too much. 

If you want to change in Singapore, check Cashchanger.co for a comparison of the latest rates, before heading to the money changer of your choice. 

Changing Malaysian ringgit in JB may make more sense since there is more stock of ringgit in the destination country. But it’s best to avoid the money changers at JB Sentral. Cashchanger also shows the rates of some money changers in JB that you can use to gauge the cost. 

If you’re really particular about which money changer you go to, be sure to read reviews beforehand. 

Keep in mind that exchange rates fluctumattate constantly so it’s best to be realistic and not to expect major savings unless you’re changing $10,000 or more.

If you don’t want to deal with too much cash, there are also multi currency cards like YouTrip, Revolut, Wise and more. 

 

6. Plan Which Area You Want to Go to

We’re used to getting around Singapore conveniently within 1 hour or so, but JB is pretty huge and it takes time to travel from place to place, especially if you plan to eat, shop, watch a movie, get a massage/nails/hair done, etc. 

Grabs also may take a while to arrive — from as fast as 5 minutes to as long as 25 minutes — especially if you’re in a crowded area with lots of people waiting for their own rides. I mean, have you seen the mess and long traffic lines at JB Sentral and City Square Mall?!

Conversely, you could be in an ulu area where it could take some time for the driver to get to where you are, so buffer in some time if you are going to be travelling around. 

For instance, Bukit Indah is on the western side of the Woodlands Causeway and Legoland is even further west, whereas Taman Mount Austin is northwest. So if you want to take the kids to Legoland, you probably won’t be able to realistically have dinner at Austin within a day, unless you’re staying over and are driving on your own.

 

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