There are already many posts and guides out there with practical information on crossing the border from Singapore to JB Sentral (yes, that’s how its spelled) in Malaysia. This link is what I used to figure out how to get to JB Sentral, where I got on a train north to Malacca. This link tells you about the three different buses that will take you across the border, stopping at Singapore immigration and then Malaysian immigration before further into Malaysia. You can also take a private taxi or shared taxi from the same bus station to the Woodlands checkpoint.
Where to get on the bus
The most convenient place to jump on the bus is at Queen St. bus station, just outside exit A of Bugis metro station. Next to the bus station you can also find the taxi stand, with prices listed for a private car or a shared taxi with others. Once you decide which bus to take (for me, it was 6 am, so I took the only bus that was there), hop on and then enjoy watching the passing scenery.
Your first stop will be at Singapore customs. Here you must take all your belongings and get your exit stamp. Then you go back down to the bus station, find your bus stop and wait for the next bus. This could possibly be the same one, or if the customs line is long, you might have to wait for the next one. This bus will drive you to Malaysian immigration.
If you are taking a train from JB Sentral, you don’t need to get back on the bus. The station is connected to the immigration building by a short five-minute walk.
How long does it take to cross the border?
This is a bit of information I couldn’t find anywhere that I thought would be useful to those of you that don’t want to spend a long time waiting at the train station. I left at 6 am and was walking into the train station at 7:05, so in total, with stops and immigration, it was an hour door-to-door. But I imagine that traffic can be pretty bad during other points of the day, making the trip more like 1.5-2 hours. The drive from the bus station to Woodlands immigration took 35 minutes, with no traffic. There was no wait in line at customs either so going early has its advantages.
Tips for crossing the border
The bus costs 3.30 Singapore dollars per person. Your ticket allows you to get on and off at each immigration point using the same ticket. If you find that you need to get to JB Sentral very early or late in the day then I recommend exchanging a bit of your money in advance. The ATM at the station wasn’t working at the time, and none of the shops or restaurants would take Singapore dollars. So bring snacks or bring Malaysian ringgit to buy something to eat before getting on your train.
Train to Malacca
After living in Japan for a year, I wasn’t sure what to expect when riding trains in Malaysia. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I was able to buy my tickets online, and all I had to do was show them a PDF that I had saved to my phone, and they issued the tickets no problem. The train left and arrived right on time. All the stops were announced in Malay and English, and the conductor came to let people know when their stop was coming. My only complaint was that it got really cold, but I should have had a long-sleeved shirt for that purpose, something I was prepared for during the next leg to Kuala Lumpur.
The train took a little under six hours to arrive at the Pulau Sebang/Tampin station. Once you arrive, make your way to the exit where you have two options of getting to Malacca. Your first option is to walk or take a cab to the bus station, where you can grab a local bus that will take you to Malacca Sentral. From there board the bus that heads to Dutch Square because most likely your hotel or hostel is located close to the square. Your other option is to take a taxi from the train station directly to your hotel. We opted for a cab, although we had to do some good haggling with the driver. This consisted of us saying we were walking to the bus station and soon after that a cab came driving up with a more reasonable price.
Cost of train: 25 RM
Costs for a taxi: 60-100 RM.
Cost for the bus: 4.30 RM
If you have a heavy backpack or lots of luggage, and can spare the money ($15), it’s worth it to take a cab. That gets you from the train station to the door of your hotel, and in our case we got some random information on the way about the area.
Tips for the train
Make sure and bring something to cover your arms. It gets very cold in the air-conditioned train cars. As a rule of thumb, always bring some tissue for the bathroom. There are some drinks and food available in the café car, but having some snacks is always a good idea, and so is having a good book, but there is always something fun to see out the window too.
Have you taken traveled from Singapore to Malacca? Did you go by bus or did you take the train? What was your experience like?