There are many tourists usually thinking of visiting Singapore and Malaysia together. These places are so near each other that it would be a missed opportunity to explore only one. It's like getting two destinations for the effort of one.
In the past, we flew from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. However, this time, we were excited to visit Johor Bahru, a city right across from Singapore.
To reach Johor Bahru, we had two choices: bus or train. After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to go by the train.
We took the KTMB Shuttle Tebrau train. This train only has stops at Woodlands Train Checkpoint in Singapore and JB Sentral in Malaysia. For those interested in this journey, here's our experience from start to finish!
The first step is to buy train tickets online. Although it's possible to buy them at the station, they often sell out quickly, especially on weekends or holidays. So, we decided to purchase it online on the official KTM website. Here's how to do it:
Once you have completed the payment, the receipt will be emailed to you. There's no need to print this receipt; present your passport is when entering the station. To learn more about the purchasing process, please refer to the article below:
On our departure day, we went directly to Woodlands MRT Station. This station connects the MRT North - South Line and the Thompson - East Coast Line. Located in the northern suburbs of Singapore, it's a bit of a journey from the city center.
Upon reaching Woodlands MRT Station, we chose to eat lunch first in the nearby Causeway Point area. There, we found numerous appealing food and drink options.
After our lunch, we went to the Woodlands Bus Interchange, located near the station. Despite being busy, it's quite spacious and well-equipped, so it was comfortable.
The terminal has several bus bays or gates. Each bay displays the bus number that stops there. We just had to wait in the line at the designated bay for our bus.
To reach the Woodlands Train Checkpoint, six different buses are available: numbers 856, 911, 911T, 912, 912T, and 903. For an understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of each of these buses, see the article below:
We picked bus 856 as it makes fewer stops than the others. However, it runs less frequently, so we waited a bit longer. Upon the bus's arrival, we got on through the front door and used our EZ-Link cards, just like boarding any bus in Singapore. The buses here are either single or double-decker.
Since these buses don't have luggage space, we stood in the middle with our suitcases. It can be quite cramped, especially if other passengers also have large bags or suitcases.
Our 15-minute bus ride brought us to Woodlands Train Checkpoint. There's a counter here for buying Tebrau Shuttle train tickets, but we had ours already. So, we headed straight to the 2nd floor.
Upstairs, a KTM officer checked our passports. For those who buy tickets online, passports serve as the ticket. After checking our passports, the officer directed us to the Singapore immigration area.
At the Singapore immigration, we were quickly directed to use the automatic gates. Here, we scanned our passports and had our photos taken. This part was easy and fast.
Then, we moved to the Malaysian immigration section, right next to it. Unlike Singapore, Malaysia still uses traditional officer-manned booths.
The line here was longer, so we waited about 10 minutes. At the booth, we just had to scan our fingerprints and show our return tickets.
After getting our passports stamped, we proceeded to the Malaysian customs. They asked us to scan our bags through a machine. This process was also swift, and we soon made our way to the train platform.
Our train was scheduled for 3pm, and it was only 1:45pm. We arrived early to avoid rushing. With time to spare, we sat in the waiting room near the platform.
Just as we settled down, an officer urged us to board the train. We explained that our tickets were for the 3pm departure and planned to wait.
The officer seemed puzzled, saying it was time for the 2pm train's passengers to board. Now, we were the ones confused.
We hadn't been informed that entry was organized by departure times. Even the KTM officer who checked our passports didn't mention it.
Amidst this confusion, a senior KTM officer then instructed us to board the 2pm train. So, we rushed to the train, as we were the last passengers to get on.
On the KTMB Shuttle Tebrau train, tickets don't have assigned seat numbers, so passengers can sit wherever they like. Since we boarded last, most seats were taken.
I chose to stand, like several other passengers. This wasn't a problem as the journey from Singapore to Malaysia is only 5 minutes.
The train's interior showed signs of age, likely from years of use. During our short trip, we enjoyed views of the sea between Singapore and Malaysia. Soon, we arrived at JB Sentral.
Upon reaching JB Sentral, we quickly left the train and followed other passengers upstairs. There were no more checks here, as all inspections were done before boarding.
We had officially arrived in Johor Bahru. JB Sentral offers various transport options like trains and buses to different parts of Malaysia. It also houses souvenir shops, SIM card vendors, and currency exchange booths.
That concludes our train journey to Malaysia. We believe this mode of travel is ideal for weekend getaways or holidays, as road travel can get quite busy.
Taking the train is especially convenient for those with a lot of luggage, as it avoids frequent boarding and alighting for immigration checks. However, on weekdays or if you're travelling light, opting for a bus might be a flexible alternative.