The border between Singapore and Malaysia is one of the world’s busiest border crossings. The island nation of Singapore hugs the coastline of Malaysia, and there are only 2 bridges connecting the two. The majority of the cross-border traffic flows through the infamous Causeway. Nevertheless, many people cross it every day including commuters, international tourists, and locals. As a traveler, there are a few different choices available for how to cross the border. Review the different options and be prepared for this cross-border journey.
Crossing the Border Between Singapore and Malaysia by Bus
The bus is the cheapest option and is great for travelers who are on a budget and who are flexible on time. All cross-border buses depart from Queen Street Bus Terminal (also called the Ban San Bus Terminal) in Singapore and bring passengers to the Larkin Terminal in Johor Bahru in Malaysia.
The bus journey can take anywhere from 40 minutes to up to 2 hours. At the bus stations, there may be a line of people waiting to board, but the buses run so frequently things move pretty fast.
There are 3 major bus companies that cross the Singapore-Malaysia border:
- The causeway link CW2 – The causeway link runs frequent buses from 6 am to 11:45 pm. It is the most popular cross-border option for everyday commuters. The fare costs S$3.30.
- The SBS Transit 170 (Red plate) – This is the original cross border busline and is the one most familiar one with locals. The buses run from 5:20 am to 12:30 pm. The fare costs S$2.50.
- The Singapore-Johore Express – Buses run from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm. This bus differentiates itself from the others by having more comfortable seats. However, the buses run less frequently during the day.
What to Expect During the Bus Journey from Singapore to Malaysia
Since the bus is crossing an international border, passengers will be asked to exit the bus with all their belongings twice during transit. There is one checkpoint on the Singapore side at Woodlands and a second checkpoint on the Malaysian side.
Be sure to take all personal belongings off the bus to go through inspection. At both of these checkpoints, travelers will be asked to show their passport and immigration documents, and their luggage will be inspected.
Once approved through the checkpoint, passengers can use their bus ticket to board any other bus offered from their initial bus company. It does not have to be the same vehicle, simply board the next available bus and it will depart once it is full.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Traveling by Bus to Malaysia?
Travelers should be prepared that the buses are pretty basic, and there are no seat assignments. One drawback is that all cross-border buses terminate at Johor Bahru, which is one of the first cities on the route after crossing the border to Malaysia. From there, travelers can book an express bus to travel to different cities in Malaysia, such as Kuala Lumpur. Lastly, the border check inspections can sometimes take a very long time.
Immigration Tips for Crossing the Border From Singapore to Malaysia
Be sure to have all immigration paperwork completely filled out and legible. Keep any entry and exit cards that are issued because they may be needed again. To make inspections go smoothly, pack as lightly as possible.
The visa policies for travelers who enter from Singapore depend on the nationality of the traveler. Citizens of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Serbia, and Sri Lanka are required to have a visa to enter Malaysia.
They can apply before travel using the eVisa process. The eVisa can be obtained entirely online and will permit a stay in Malaysia for up to 30 days. Malaysian visas can only be obtained inside Singapore by visiting the country’s national embassy or via the official government website.
Nationals of China and India who have a Singapore visa and who are entering Malaysia directly from Singapore can be issued a Malaysian Visa on Arrival.
Singapore to Malaysia by Train
Another option is to take the train which connects the Woodlands Checkpoint in Singapore to Kuala Lumpur Sentral. This is the more costly option, especially when buying tickets on the Singapore side. There are 3 trains per day in each direction, so be sure to check the timetables ahead of time.
Just like with the bus, passengers will have to disembark twice for the customs and immigration stops which can take a while.
Singapore to Malaysia by Plane
Of course, there is always the option to fly. This is by far the most expensive option, but it is the fastest and allows travelers to avoid the multiple overland border checks.