The narrow Straits of Johor divides Singapore from Malaysia. The two countries can look at each other all afternoon. The original “bridge” between the two is the Johor-Singapore Causeway, built almost a hundred years ago. A second link opened in 1998 to connect Singapore’s west coast (Tuas) to Malaysia. The Causeway I passed through earlier is the most popular one, which connects directly into downtown Johor Bahru, which is Peninsular Malaysia’s southernmost city. I also read it’s considered the southernmost city on the Eurasian continent.
So why visit Johor Bahru?
- They say… for the shopping! Cheaper stuff.
- Cheaper massages (read my experience at JB Thai Odyssey here)
- KFC! Because KFCs in Singapore are horrible!
- Use as a launchpad to travel deeper into Malaysia
What do you need to cross into Malaysia from Singapore? Obviously you’d need your passport, your Singapore IC/FIN/Employment Pass (if you have one), and some Malaysian ringgit. I exchanged S$30.00 from AR Money Exchange at Junction 8. I got MYR 75.00, which I believe is more than enough for a quick hop to Johor Bahru.
Also useful is a phone with international roaming. Even with how narrow the Straits of Johor is, StarHub vanished on my phone quickly. And for employment pass holders in my category… we are not entitled to international roaming. It’s very stupid and unfair. I’ve already complained to StarHub.
Here’s what I did to get to Johor Bahru from Singapore.
KRANJI MRT –> BUS 170 –> WOODLANDS CHECKPOINT –> JOHOR BAHRU CHECKPOINT
First, I took the train to Kranji MRT station. Coming from Bishan it would only take about 30 to 35 minutes passing through northern suburbs like Yishun and Woodlands.
Alighting at Kranji, I exited the station and crossed the pedestrian overpass to get to the Bus Stop Opp Kranji MRT. SBS buses 160 and 170 call here. There were only a few people there on a Saturday mid-afternoon. Some had luggages with them so I knew I was in the right place!
NOTE: Since my destination in Johor Bahru was just outside the customs, immigration and quarantine complex (CIQ Complex), I could take either Bus 160 or 170. Bus 160 terminates in KOTA RAYA while Bus 170 terminates in LARKIN (a bit further into JB if I’m not mistaken).
Bus 170 arrived and it was about 70-80% full including those of us who were standing. There was a traffic jam of big trucks on the road. Good thing that in Singapore, there are dedicated bus lanes! The bus made its way into the western part of Woodlands and we arrived at the Woodlands Checkpoint in less than ten minutes.
NOTE: When you tap out at the checkpoint (on an SBS bus) the machine will display “Checkpoint – Ride Suspended” since you have to clear immigration before boarding another SBS bus again after immigration. LOL don’t panic okay!
Alighting at Woodlands Checkpoint, you proceed up an escalator to Singapore immigration. I presented my passport and my employment pass. No stamping at all.
After immigration, there’s an escalator leading back down to the bus bay where you board whatever bus company brought you there. There’s the yellow Causeway Link bus, tourist buses, etc. I queued up at the SBS buses area (you can see my photo below, 160 KOTA RAYA, 170 LARKIN TERMINAL).
NOTE: Even if you boarded let’s say a Bus 160 earlier, apparently you can get on Bus 170 or vice versa since they are both SBS. Buses arrived in timely fashion earlier. I only had to queue for about five minutes. Also take note, you can board the bus from the middle. So don’t go scratching your head when you notice the crowd getting in from the middle. 😛
I thought the Causeway would be longer like getting from Georgetown to Penang. Once the bus was on the land bridge, you could already see the buildings in Johor Bahru.
I noticed that the immigration building at the Malaysia side is farther inland. It’s called Bangunan Sultan Iskandar or CIQ. I love how the building names sound in Malaysia.
The ride getting from Woodlands Checkpoint to the Malaysian equivalent only took about ten minutes, with no traffic. I noticed the pipelines on the side of the Causeway. I was wondering where the rail tracks were.
Alight from the bus and take an escalator up to Malaysian immigration.
The building is massive! It’s like Malaysia putting out a huge welcome carpet. The structure looks like an international airport. The immigration hall was impressive and enough to take a bit of the stress away when I saw the long queues.
What do you need to show Malaysian immigration? Just present your passport. 🙂
The officer stamped my passport with ninety days. Since I’m working in Singapore, he asked me to present my employment pass to him. I wonder why that’s part of their protocol.
After Malaysian immigration, just follow the signs to lead you back to the bus area.
I decided that I didn’t want to explore deeper into Johor Bahru, and instead just walk around the area around the CIQ. Several malls are in the vicinity including the Johor Bahru City Square Mall. I blogged about it here.
Cost of transit. Taking Bus 170 from Kranji MRT to Johor Bahru Checkpoint costs about S$0.98 (MYR 2.50 or PHP 34.00) according to the Public Transport fare calculator. It’s inexpensive. Will that be the cheapest border crossing I’ve ever made? No visas, no airport fees. 😛
Returning to Woodlands?
Everything I just said BUT you have to walk in reverse. 😛
Make your way to the CIQ and follow all the signs that say “WOODLANDS”. It’s basically going up escalators again towards Malaysian immigration. After immigration, head towards the escalators on the LEFT which lead you to the SBS buses. There are several signs anyway. The bus bay is not that big, so it shouldn’t be hard to find what bus you want to take back to Singapore.
I stayed with SBS for this journey but I’m looking forward to visiting JB again and using other means of transport.
My other posts about Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Read more about visiting Johor Bahru
- Johor Bahru on WikiTravel
- Travel from Singapore to Johor Bahru (Johor Travel)
- Choosing a bus from Singapore to JB (by YQTravelling) -great details about taking buses to JB 🙂
- Day Trip to Johor Bahru by Alice Travelogue – my inspiration for visiting JB for the first time