As someone who stays and works in Singapore, I have to admit that I am constantly looking for short getaways to neighboring countries. The nearest city from Singapore would be Johor Bahru (JB), one of the major cities in Malaysia. You could travel to JB from Singapore (SG) via public transport or by driving. The travel duration depends greatly on traffic condition. And nope, there is no flight between JB and SG. Some people, on rare occasion, do walk across the border. However, please do not walk because it is dangerous as there is no pedestrian footpath. In this post, I will write about public transportation by bus. Do note if you pay bus fare by cash, please pay with exact money because no change will be given; you will then be given a ticket that you must keep throughout the journey until you reach your destination. If you don’t have exact cash and are taking CW buses, you can go to CW counter to buy the ticket instead of paying on the bus; the counters are usually available at every starting point of the buses’ routes.
Understanding 2 Border Checkpoints
There are 2 Border Checkpoints between Singapore and Johor Bahru. The main and older one is SG Woodlands CIQ & JB CIQ; this is also commonly referred as “Causeway” or “First Link.” The building name for JB checkpoint is “Sultan Iskandar.” For simplicity, I will use the terms “SG Woodlands Checkpoint” and “JB Sentral Checkpoint.”
The second and newer one is SG Tuas CIQ, and JB Second Link CIQ; this is commonly referred as “Second Link” or “Tuas.” The building name for JB Second Link checkpoint is “Sultan Abu Bakar.” For simplicity, I will use the term “SG Tuas Checkpoint” and “JB Second Link Checkpoint.”
When you choose which bus to travel with, you need to consider your final destination in JB. The traffic tends to be heavier at Woodlands, but during peak period such as Public Holiday, both borders are equally heavy.
If you are planning for shopping, cafe hopping, food hunting, mall hanging out, you may choose to go to JB Sentral. JB Sentral is the area near JB Custom which consists of Johor Bahru City Square, Komtar JBCC, JB Sentral Bus Terminal, Jalan Wong Ah Fook, and Jalan Dhoby, all within minutes of walking.
If you are planning to go to Larkin Terminal to take other buses to continue to other parts of Malaysia, you may choose either Woodlands or Second Link.
If you are going to other parts of JB that are near Second Link, you may choose Second Link.
List of Bus Departing from Singapore and Leaving to Johor Bahru
1. From Kranji MRT Station
At Kranji MRT Station, take exit C to the bus stop. Money changer with reasonable rates is available here, as well as a food court. On weekends, expect huge crowd so leave your house early.
Here, you can take SBS Bus 170 blue plate, officially referred as SBS Bus 170x (Fare: S$ 1.39 by EZ-Link card; or S$ 2.00 by cash) or Causeway Link Bus CW1 (Fare: S$ 1.50 by cash only).
For information, there are 2 types of SBS Bus 170: red plate and blue plate. Blue plate (or officially 170X) leaves from Kranji and ends at JB Sentral Bus Terminal with only a few stops in between (see http://www.transitlink.com.sg/eservice/eguide/service_route.php?service=170X for the full list of stops and fare). Red plate (bus 170) leaves from Queen Street Terminal (see point #3 below) and ends at Larkin Terminal with many bus stops in between.
Bus CW1 only have 4 stops: Kranji MRT Station, SG Woodlands Checkpoint, JB Sentral Checkpoint, and Larkin Terminal (Refer to https://www.causewaylink.com.my/singapore-bus for full CW buses information).
My personal favorite is to take SBS Bus 170X because I would take MRT to Kranji, and then continue with bus 170X, so it is considered as a transfer, therefore I will get discounts on the transport fares (if the transfer is done within 45 mins). To understand about the transfer, you may visit here. I would choose CW1 only when there is a long queue for 170X but there is little or no queue for CW1.
2. From Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (Walkable distance from Woodlands MRT Station)
From Woodlands MRT station, walk to Woodlands Bus Interchange (follow the signs to Bus Interchange) and take SMRT Bus 950 (Fare: S$ 1.43 by EZ-Link card; or S$ 2.20 by cash). The bus ends at JB Sentral Bus Terminal. Refer to http://www.transitlink.com.sg/eservice/eguide/service_route.php?service=950 for the full list of stops and fare).
SBS bus 950 is my 2nd personal favorite (after 170X), especially when it is peak period (weekend or evening).
3. From Queen Street Terminal (Nearest MRT stations: Bugis and Rochor)
Queen Street Terminal is about 15 mins walk from Bugis and Rochor MRT stations. It is located at Queen Street, between Arab Street and Ban San Street. From Bugis MRT, take exit A or B, walk along Victoria Street until you meet Arab Street, and turn left. From Rochor, take either exit A or B, walk towards Ophir Road, turn left to Rochor Canal Road, then turn right to Ban San Street.
There are 3 options of buses from Queen Street Terminal: SBS Bus 170 red plate (Fare: S$ 1.97 by EZ-Link card; S$ 2.50 by cash), Causeway Link Bus CW2 (Fare: S$ 3.30 by cash) and Singapore-Johore Express Bus / SJE (Fare: S$ 3.30 by cash).
SBS Bus 170 red plate leaves from Queen Street Terminal and ends at Larkin Terminal with at many bus stops in between, including Rochor Stn, Opp Little India Stn, Newton Stn, Stevens Stn, Botanic Garden Stn, Tan Kah Kee Stn, Sixth Avenue Stn, King Albert Park Stn, Hillview Stn, Opp Bukit Panjang Stn (refer to http://www.transitlink.com.sg/eservice/eguide/service_route.php?service=170 for full list of stops and fare). I would not recommend bus 170 because it stops at too many locations so you are wasting time on the road.
CW2 only have a total of 4 stops: Queen Street Terminal, SG Woodlands Checkpoint, JB Sentral Checkpoint and Larkin Terminal (Refer to https://www.causewaylink.com.my/singapore-bus for full CW buses information). Bus SJE route is exactly the same as CW2. Do note that if you take CW2, once you got your passport stamp at Woodlands Checkpoint, you could board any CW buses to go to JB Sentral Checkpoint. Seats for SJE bus are more comfortable compared to CW2. As for frequency of both CW2 and SJE bus, it is hard to predict. If I were to choose between CW2 and SJE, I tend to choose CW2.
4. From Jurong East Temporary Bus Interchange (Walkable distance from Jurong East MRT Station)
From Jurong East MRT, take exit A, and follow the direction to Bus Interchange.
There is 1 bus that goes to JB via Woodlands Checkpoint which is SBS bus 160 (Fare: S$ 1.84 by EZ-Link Card; S$ 2.50 by cash), but there are 3 buses that go to JB via Tuas Second Link Checkpoint: CW3 (Fare: S$ 4.00 by cash to Larkin), CW4 (Fare: S$ 4.00 + RM 4.20 by cash to Pontian Bus Terminal) and CW4S (Fare: S$ 4.00 + RM 4.80 by cash to Sutera Mall).
SBS Bus 160 ends at JB Sentral Terminal. I personally do not recommend you to take bus 160 because it passes through many stops before Woodlands Checkpoint. The full route and fare can be found at http://www.transitlink.com.sg/eservice/eguide/service_route.php?service=160. Meanwhile, CW buses do not have too many stops, but they only go to Second Link, not Woodlands.
Bus CW3 ends at Larkin Terminal by passing through SG Tuas 2nd Link Checkpoint, Gelang Patah Bus Terminal, Taman Bukit Indah, Perling Mall, Taman Tasik). The full timetable can be found in CW website, refer to the link in point #1.
Bus CW4 ends at Pontian Bus Terminal by passing through SG Tuas 2nd Link Checkpoint and Gelang Patah Bus Terminal). The full timetable can be found in CW website, refer to the link in point #1.
Bus CW4S ends at Sutera Mall by passing through SG Tuas 2nd Link Checkpoint, Gelang Patah Bus Terminal, Lima Kedai, Taman Sri Orkid, Taman Ungku Tun Aminah). The full timetable can be found in CW website, refer to the link in point #1.
5. From Newton Food Centre (Walkable distance from Newton MRT Station)
From Newton MRT, take exit B. After that, make a U-turn and follow the path to Clemenceau Ave. Turn right and walk along Clemenceau Ave until traffic light, cross the road, and walk through the open-air car park, then you will find CW5 bus stop. Follow the direction on Google Maps below.
Here, you can take Causeway Link bus CW5 (Fare: S$ 3.30 by cash). This bus only has 3 stops: Newton Food Centre, SG Woodlands Checkpoint, JB Sentral Checkpoint. It is the best choice if you are staying/working near Newton/Orchard and going to JB Sentral only. The full timetable can be found in CW website, refer to the link in point #1.
6. From Boon Lay MRT Station
From Boon Lay MRT, take exit B, walk straight until the main road (Boon Lay Way), then turn right, and you will see the bus stop. Refer photos below.
Here, you can take Causeway Link bus CW6 via Tuas 2nd Link (Fare: S$ 4.00 by cash only). This bus has a few stops: Boon Lay, Tuas 2nd Link Checkpoints, Taman Bukit Indah, Giant Nusa Bestari, Taman Tasik, Larkin Terminal. The full timetable can be found in CW website, refer to the link in point #1.
7. From Changi Airport (Terminal 1, 2, 3)
From Changi Airport, you can take Transtar Bus TS1 from Terminal 1 (Coach Bay 12), Terminal 2 (Coach Bay 9/10) and Terminal 3 (Coach Bay 1). Fare: S$ 9.00 by EZ-Link; S$ 10.00 by cash (pay when you board the bus). The bus starts at Terminal 2, followed by Terminal 3, Terminal 1, several stops in between, and eventually ends at JB Sentral Checkpoint. The full routes, schedule and fares can be found at http://www.regentstar.travel/crossborder/. If you have questions when you’re on the ground, just approach the counter at Terminal 2, Level 1. Sometimes, timing or boarding bay may change, so it’s best to check with the counter.
8. From Resort World Sentosa (Nearest MRT station: Harbourfront)
From Harbourfront Station, you can wak throgh “Boardwalk” to Resort World Sentosa, or take Sentosa Express Monorail from Level 3 of Vivocity and alight at Promenade Station.
At Resort World Sentosa, take the escalator down to Basement and follow direction to “Coach Bay.”
Here, you can take Transtar Bus TS8 from Basement Coach Bay. Fare: S$ 6.00 by EZ-Link; S$ 7.00 by cash. The bus ends at JB Sentral Checkpoint. The full routes, schedule and fares can be found at http://www.regentstar.travel/crossborder/. If you have any questions when you’re on the ground, just approach the counter at the Coach Bay. Sometimes, timing or boarding bay may change, so it’s best to check with the counter.
Alternatively, you could consider another bus provider from 707 travel group. The counter for 707 is just nearby Transtar counter. The price is slightly cheaper than TS8 but the timing is not so frequent, and I am not sure whether this is a direct bus or with some stops in between.
9. From Yishun Temporary Bus Interchange (Walkable distance from Yishun MRT Station)
From Yishun MRT station, take exit C. You will need to take the escalator in front of NTUC Fairprice down to the tunnel, then take escalator up to Northpoint Shopping Centre. Inside Northpoint, follow direction to the bus interchange.
At Yishun bus interchange, one can take bus AC7 to JB Sentral Checkpoint, passing through many stops in between. Fare: S$ 2.20 by EZ-Link Card; S$ 2.50 by cash. More information on the full routes can be found here and here.
At Singapore Woodlands Checkpoint
When you arrive at SG Woodlands Checkpoint, go up the escalator, queue at the counters and get your passport stamped. Once you get out, go down the escalator, make a U-turn and you will find the queue for the bus. If you have taken SBS bus to Woodlands Checkpoint, you may board any SBS buses to go to JB Sentral Checkpoint. Likewise, if you have taken any CW bus to Woodlands Checkpoint, you may board any CW buses to go to JB Sentral Checkpoint. Just observe which bus comes first and go for it 🙂
At Johor Bahru Checkpoint
When you arrive at JB Sentral Checkpoint, make your way to the counter and get your passport stamped. No immigration card is required to be filled for entry into Malaysia. Once you are done with passport, get out from the counter area and walk straight. You will then have 2 choices: go to the bus stop at Basement and continue to other parts of JB with a bus; or walk to JB Sentral and enjoy your getaway. Just follow the signs along the way.
At SG Tuas Checkpoint & JB Second Link Checkpoint
Crossing border at Second Link is similar to that at Causeway. Once you get your passport stamped at Tuas Checkpoint, proceed to bus boarding area and board bus to go to JB Second Link Checkpoint. Once your passport is stamped at JB Second Link, proceed to bus boarding area and board the bus that will bring you to your next destination.
Going to SG from JB Larkin Terminal
If you are going to Singapore from Larkin Terminal, you can board SBS Bus 170, SJE bus, CW1, CW2, CW3 to JB Checkpoint; and CW6 to JB Second Link. The fare for CW buses is significantly cheaper if you board in JB compared to SG. Check CW website for more info on the fare.
Disclaimer: All information is correct as of the time of writing. Any subsequent changes might not be reflected here.