As someone who stays and works in Singapore, I am constantly looking for short getaways to neighboring countries.
The nearest city from Singapore would be Johor Bahru, one of the major cities in Malaysia. There are many ways you could travel from Singapore to Johor Bahru, such as by public bus, by shuttle tebrau train, by taxi, by hired car or by driving.
The travel duration from Singapore to JB 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 and the vehicles don’t give way to pedestrian.
In this post, I will write about how to go from Singapore to Johor Bahru by public bus. You can pay the fare using EZ-Link, ManjaLink (only Causeway buses) or by cash.
If you pay bus fare by cash, please pay with exact money because no change will be given. After paying cash, 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, you can pay on the bus or pay at the counter (for Causeway buses). The Causeway (CW) bus counters are usually available at every starting point of the buses’ routes. So, for Causeway (CW) bus, you go to counter to buy ticket instead of paying on the bus.
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. Both checkpoints are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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 (such as Bukit Indah, Iskandar Puteri), you may choose Second Link.
Which Border has Less Traffic?
Typically, first link is more congested than second link. However, it doesn’t mean that I will choose second link over first link all the time. What I usually do before crossing the border is checking the traffic cameras at both checkpoints and checking Google Maps for estimated traffic condition.
The traffic cameras are updated every minute so it’s pretty accurate. If you see a traffic jam, do investigate whether it’s jam on car lanes or bus lanes. Sometimes, the car lanes may have heavy traffic but the bus lane is literally empty. What traffic cameras can’t show you is the traffic condition at JB Checkpoint, because these cameras are installed by Singapore side, not Malaysia. So, if you see a clear bridge, don’t be too happy first. Instead, check the traffic condition at Google Maps, maybe there’s a traffic jam at Malaysia side.
How to check traffic condition in Google Maps? Choose “traffic” function in Google Maps. On mobile, it’s located at top right corner, under the arrow. On desktop, it’s under the menu located at top left corner. The function will show you traffic condition in colors. Dark red means extremely heavy. But again, heavy traffic refers to car traffic, not bus traffic. There’s a lot of guestimate when trying to predict bus traffic.
List of Buses from Singapore 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 (not recommended due to long journey).
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/q4FY7AB3AkTQm5vRA
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).
Tips: When you’re in a rush but unable to board bus 950 due to long queue, take bus 856 instead. Bus 856 will bring you to Woodlands Train Checkpoint; from there, you can walk to Woodlands CIQ (7 mins walk) through the Train Checkpoint building.
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/rD6PoXEWtiJdEKv16
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$ 3.00 by ManjaLink, S$ 3.30 by Ez-Link, S$ 3.50 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). Now, you can use EZ Link, Manjalink or cash for CW2 bus. If you use cash, remember to buy your cash token before queueing. Tip for CW2: if you don’t mind standing on the bus for the entire journey (could take up to 1 hour plus in the evening or weekend), you can skip the long queue, wait til all the people in the q stop boarding, then board the bus. Yep, most people in the long q will not board if there are no more seats, they don’t want to stand and would rather wait for the next bus.
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 definitely prefer CW2.
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/p2MXmrS5jitFm2YK7
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 LinkCheckpoint: 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.
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/9SdpTXd7ihjTc5ND6
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.
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.
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.
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.
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/C7UQtsJyaQX7oZbz6
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.
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/UkzJJNXw7ubGoKHq6
7. From Changi Airport (Terminal 2 and 4)
From Changi Airport, you can take Transtar Bus TS1 from Terminal 2 and Terminal 4. Fare: S$ 9.00 by EZ-Link; S$ 10.00 by cash (pay when you board the bus). The bus starts at Terminal 2, Terminal 4, several stops in between, and eventually ends at JB Sentral Checkpoint. The full routes, schedule and fares can be found at http://www.transtar.travel/cross-border-services/. 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.transtar.travel/cross-border-services/. 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.
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/UBjRCzTN3UYiV7ub8
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.
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/rUppiHtCk3TBgqyp8
10. From Marina Square (Walkable distance from Promenade MRT Station)
Bus TS3 brings you from Singapore CBD (Central Business District) to Johor Bahru CIQ via first link (Woodlands) and vice versa. It’s suitable for Johoreans who work in Singapore but stay in Johor Bahru, as well as tourists who stay at CBD or Chinatown but wants to visit Johor Bahru on a day trip. Take note that the bus only operates in the morning and evening.
To get to Pan Pacific Hotel, you can take MRT to Promenade and then walk for 450m. You can also board the bus from Downtown MRT Station, Clarke Quay and several other bus stops. You can find bus TS3 full route and schedule here. The price is SGD 6 by EZ-Link; and SGD 7 by cash. The exact fare is to be paid on board; no change will be given.
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/Jps3ru5dLm9ahWbD7
11. From The Star Vista (Walkable distance from Buona Vista MRT Station)
Bus TS6 is an alternative of bus CW3. Typically, residents who stay and work in the west part of Singapore would go to Jurong East (see point 4 above) and take bus CW3/CW4/CW4S to Johor Bahru via second link. Now, people who stay/work near Buona Vista MRT, One Nort MRT, Kent Ridge MRT, Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim, Gul Circle MRT, Tuas West Road MRT, Tuas Link MRT can save time by taking TS6.
Bus TS6 terminates at Gelang Patah Bus Terminal, from which you can catch another bus or ride a Grab (sign up for Grab here and use my code “GRABTREVALLOG” to get discounts for your ride) to other parts of Johor Bahru. You can find bus TS6 full route and schedule here. The price is SGD 4.5 by EZ-Link; and SGD 5 by cash (similar price with CW3). The exact fare is to be paid on board; no change will be given.
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/wJFYXKVcR3cXTVDt5
12. From Tuas Link MRT Station
Tuas Link MRT station is the westernmost MRT station. It is really near Tuas Checkpoint, however, you can’t walk to Tuas Checkpoint from here. Instead, you need to take Causeway bus CW7. It costs $4 by cash, $3.8 by EZ-Link and $3.5 by Manjalink. When using EZ-Link do note that you need to tap on the card reader located at the counter, not inside the bus. Also, EZ-Link can only be used in Singapore, not in JB. If you’re using cash and Manjalink, you can do so inside the bus.
To go to the bus boarding point, take the Exit A at Tuas Link MRT Station.
Location on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/akWF2hg35eSagu9i8
When to Tap In & Tap Out?
If you’re using EZ-Link, here’s the general rule about taking public bus in Singapore: You need to tap in every time you board a bus, and you need to tap out every time you alight from a bus. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your final destination or you’re doing a transfer of bus, you have to tap in and tap out every time you enter and exit the bus.
Here’s a step-by-step procedure:
- Tap-in when you enter a bus from, for example, Kranji
- Tap-out when you exit at SG Woodlands checkpoint
- Get your passport stamped
- Queue at bus station below the immigration
- Tap-in when you enter the bus at Woodlands Checkpoint
- Tap-out when you arrive at JB CIQ
- Get your passport stamped
- If you’re going to Larkin Terminal, go to bus station below immigration at JB CIQ. Wait for your bus. Tap in when you enter the bus. When you arrive at Larkin, tap out again.
- If you’re going to JB Sentral or City Square, just walk and follow the direction
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.
How to Cross Border at Midnight When Public Buses Don’t Operate?
First of all, I don’t recommend crossing the border between 12 midnight to 5am when the public buses don’t operate because it’s just too risky. But if you really really have to do so, I recommend you take taxi/grab to the Woodlands Checkpoint (not Tuas). After your passport is stamped, go the the bus waiting area. Chances are, you’ll find Bus Pekerja or inter-city buses.
If there are many people waiting for bus, join the queue. Bus Pekerja usually charges around RM 1 to RM 2 for the short ride between the checkpoints. If there are not many people waiting for bus, approach the bus drivers and ask them whether they can allow you to join their bus to JB Checkpoint. Prepare cash in advance because these buses don’t accept EZ-Link or cards.
What if there are no bus at all? I hate to suggest this but you have 2 options: wait until there’s a bus or walk across the bridge (which is a terrible and dangerous idea).
Going to Singapore 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.
Since Larkin Terminal is undergoing renovation in 2017 and 2018, the platform for buses is not fix yet. One day, you can find SBS/CW buses in platform D, other days they’re are at other platforms. So, just look around or ask people!
Going to Other Parts of Malaysia from JB Larkin Terminal
From Larkin Terminal, you can board other buses to go to other parts of Malaysia. You can buy the tickets from ticket counters that are located inside the building. DO NOT buy bus ticket from the men who approach you when you walk around Larkin, most of the time they are trying to sell you expensive tickets on buses that have many stopovers.
At the moment (Dec 2017), there are 2 ticket counter location at Larkin. The first one is the Centralised Ticket Counter. However, now this Centralised counter only sells ticket for CERTAIN bus only. You can find tickets for more buses when you go further inside the building. Follow the arrow that says “tiket kaunter.”
You can also buy bus ticket online from platforms such as easybook.com or busonlineticket.com. Some bus operators require you to check-in at bus counter to get your seat number. If you come from Singapore to Larkin, you can’t predict what time you arrive at Larkin due to traffic so it’s risky to buy online.
However, for PEAK period (Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year, National Day, etc), bus tickets will be sold out early, so it’s better to buy online or buy in advance from the counter.
Last updated: 18 March 2019
Disclaimer: All information is correct as of the time of writing. Any subsequent changes might not be reflected here.
PS: Have any questions regarding traveling in Singapore, Malaysia or Southeast Asia? Join Trevallog Community on Facebook where we discuss about traveling in Southeast Asia.