Travelling South East Asia overland is fairly easy, it is a well-worn route, by many backpackers. I spent a few days in Singapore, then needed to head North into Malaysia.
Malaysia is connected to Singapore by a 1km long bridge (the Causeway link Bridge), from Singapore Woodlands to Johor Bahru (JB), and it is frequently used as a mode of passage from one country to the other.
I initially had planned to get a night train from Singapore to KL, but then realised that it was no longer in service, or not that I could book online. So I had to get a bus, which I booked the day before, costing $30 (Singapore). Little did I know, you can actually pay about $2.50 to get to JB just after the border by local bus, and catch the same bus from there, you pay in Malaysian Ringgit, which when converted to Singapore Dollars works out a lot cheaper.
How much does it cost to get to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore by bus?
There are various bus companies that offer this service, and the price ranges from $30 to $60 (Singapore Dollars) or more. It depends how much luxury you want. All buses are air conditioned, but some come with fancy extras such as free Wi-Fi. I got the Air Asia Star Mart Liner for $30. It was really comfy. I had two seats to myself, which recline almost flat, and have massage pads.
My only issue with the bus was that the air con was freezing, and I was wearing leggings and a light top. Some of my travel companions also snored very loudly.
Where do you catch the bus?
Buses depart from the Golden Mile Complex, not far from Nicoll Highway MRT station (turn right at the top of the road out of the MRT station and its 5 minutes walking on the right). You can book online, or at the counter in the complex. I don’t think there is any real need to book in advance, there were plenty of seats. I bought my ticket the day before.
The golden mile complex is quite a sight to behold on a Saturday night. It looked ok on a Friday afternoon, but come 11.15pm, it was different. I arrived, sweating with mu rucksack attached to me, checked in for the bus and went in search of toilets to get changed in, and have a quick strip down wash. The toilets were located at the back of the complex, next to the Karaoke bar, several older Singapore woman, stumbled in drunk, with their pants halfway down their ankles already (classy chick). I grabbed a bottle of water and something to snack on, then went to change in the toilets. They were filthy, and I reluctantly used the sink to have a quick wash.
How long does it take to get to Kuala Lumpur by bus?
The bus journey is 5 hours, but this can vary, depending on the amount of people that need to clear immigration, and traffic. The last bus departs Singapore at 11.59pm, and should arrive by 5am.
Note: the bus will drop you at Times Square Complex, where there is an LRT station, a hotel and some shops (which won’t be open). I found a 7-11 with an ATM, so I grabbed some cash, before being fleeced of 30RM (about $10) for a short taxi ride to where I needed to meet my couch surfer host.
Overall, not a bad first experience of crossing a country overland.
Tips for your journey:
- There are no toilets on board, but you’ll stop at the border check point where there are toilets of questionable cleanliness.
- Bring a blanket or warm layer as the air con can be freezing
- Bring snacks and water (some bus companies give you a small free water)
- Ear plugs are also good to drown out the noise of fellow passengers