Malaysia, Singapore, Singapore Weekends, Travel Tips

How to Go to Johor Bahru by Bus from Singapore

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Johor Bahru is the closest Malaysian city to Singapore. In fact, Johor Bahru is only separated by a 2.7km bridge over the Johor Straits from the Woodlands Checkpoint in the north of Singapore.

Johor Bahru as seen from Johor Strait
Johor Bahru as seen from Johor Strait

Due to its proximity, Johor Bahru (also lovingly known as JB in Singapore) became a popular destination for Singapore residents to spend a quick weekend in. It is also a crossing point for those of us who are looking for short getaways from Singapore.

Crossing over to Johor Bahru is easy. I’ll cover what you need to know in this post!

Tips for Crossing over to Johor Bahru

Here are a couple of pointers that will make your journey to JB smoother:

Bring your passport with a minimum of 6 months validity – Yes, even though it’s such a short trip that doesn’t feel like an international journey, you’re still crossing over to a different country – so you need your passport. Additionally, make sure you have at least 6 months’ validity on your passport!

Check if you need a Malaysia visa – If you hold a China or India passport, you need to get a visa to enter Malaysia. You can check Malaysia visa requirements here.

Fill in Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC) – Unless you’re holding a Singapore passport or Malaysian Long Term Residence, you will need to fill in MDAC starting January 1, 2024. You can fill out MDAC here within 3 days of your planned departure to Malaysia.

Queue at Johor Bahru Checkpoint – While exiting Singapore as a resident should be easy enough, you might encounter a long queue at the Johor Bahru Checkpoint. If that’s the case, check counters 3-4, 7-8, 11-12, or 15-16 for a potentially faster queue. These counters are usually manned by two officers and might move faster. But before joining the line, make sure both officers are present!

Johor Checkpoint
Queue at Johor Checkpoint

Avoid peak times and holidays – Crossing the border is easy, but when it’s holiday time, it could take up to 4 hours to clear the immigration on both sides. I will elaborate below on the best time to go to Johor Bahru.

Using E-Gate at Johor Baru Checkpoint – If you hold a Singapore passport, good news! You can use the automated E-Gate to enter Malaysia. However, on the first visit, you still need to go to the manual counter to get your passport verified. On the subsequent visits after that, you can use the E-Gate.

Bring cash and your physical credit card – In most shops and restaurant you’ll be able to pay with credit card, but payment using Apple Wallet may not go through. I had this happen in one of the shops I was buying things from, but I was still able to use my credit card and wave it on the machine.

Coming back to Singapore? Fill out the Arrival Card – If you’re coming back to Singapore as a tourist and you do not hold residency here, you’ll need to fill out Singapore Arrival Card (SGAC). You can fill out SGAC here.

Best Time to Go to Johor Bahru from Singapore

With a high volume of economic and tourism activities happening between Singapore and Malaysia, the land crossing between Singapore and Malaysia at Johor Bahru is undoubtedly one of the busiest border crossings in the world.

Many Malaysian residents live in Johor Bahru and work in Singapore. Because of this, on weekdays, most traffic will be coming from Johor Bahru to Singapore in the morning, and vice versa in the afternoon when people are off work. I have seen the terrible traffic from 3 PM from Singapore to JB.

On weekends, it’s the opposite – most traffic will be Singapore residents who want to do a short weekend trip in JB or other parts of Malaysia. The busiest time on the weekend will be going from Singapore to Johor Bahru after 8 AM on Saturday and coming back on Sunday around 4 PM.

So, the best time to cross from Singapore to Johor Bahru is on weekdays, from Monday to Friday in the morning by 10 AM, and coming back to Singapore in the afternoon by 4 PM. Otherwise, you might face long queues at the checkpoints. On Weekends (Sat and Sun) or Public Holidays, I would go from Singapore to JB as early as possible in the morning – as early as 6 – 8 AM. And if you’re coming back to Singapore on Sunday, I’d try to cross the border by 2 PM.

How to get to Johor Bahru from Singapore

Getting to Johor Bahru from Singapore is a well-oiled machine. It’s no wonder many Singaporeans love visiting JB on weekends! Here are a few easy ways to get to JB:

1. Causeway Link Bus (My preferred way)

The fastest way to travel to JB by bus is using the Causeway Link Bus, which gives you direct access from various points in Singapore to the Johor Checkpoint, without stopping anywhere else.

Causeway Link Bus at Queen Street Terminal
Causeway Link Bus at Queen Street Terminal

If you happen to live near one of the routes, I highly recommend Causeway Link because it is the easiest way. Here are a few locations where you can board the Causeway Link Bus in Singapore:

  • CW1 from Kranji MRT
  • CW2 from Queen Street Terminal near Jalan Besar MRT. CW2 is the only one that operates 24 hours. There is always a bus leaving every few minutes during the day, and every 45 minutes after midnight.
  • CW3 and CW4 from Jurong East Bus Interchange
  • CW5 from Newton Circus Carpark near Newton MRT Exit B
  • CW6 from Boon Lay MRT

Causeway Link Routes and Schedule: View routes and schedule here. You can also click on any of the bus routes to see when the next bus will be arriving!

Causeway Link Bus costs $2.60 – 6.00 one way depending on which route you take. You can use Visa Paywave to pay the bus fare. Please note, unlike the Singapore public bus, you only need to tap your card once when boarding the Causeway Link Bus. You do not need to tap your card again when alighting. This is because they charge a flat rate instead of a distance-based rate.

Once you cross Woodlands Checkpoint, you can take any Causeway Link bus to Johor Bahru Checkpoint for $1.80. If you’re going to Larkin Sentral (to catch another bus to other parts of Malaysia) then you can use your Causewaylink ticket to board CWL.

2. Singapore Public Transportation

Yes, it’s possible to cross the border with public transportation too! The public transportation is slightly cheaper than the Causeway Link Bus, but not by much – it is capped at $2.37 per journey.

There are many ways to get to Woodlands Checkpoint by public transportation, but the easiest way would be the following direct services:

  • Take the MRT to Kranji MRT station, then resume the journey with Bus 170X
  • Take the MRT to Woodlands MRT station, then transfer to Bus 950

There might be queues for these buses as they are quite popular, but they’ll come by frequently.

Once you get through the Woodlands Checkpoint, you can board any public bus to resume your journey to Johor Checkpoint.

3. Private Car Transfer

If you are traveling as a big family or carrying a lot of luggage, you might want to get a private car instead. I did not see anyone carrying luggage when I was traveling by bus.

It is not the cheapest, but it is the most comfortable way – They will pick you up where you live and you don’t need to get out of the car to cross the border. All the immigration checks will be done while you are still sitting in your car!

Book a Private Car: I had a good experience with SG JB Taxi on my trip to Desaru. Alternatively, if you want to try taking the bus to JB but need a car back, you can book a private transfer from JB to Singapore via Klook on your way back!

Desaru Coast Crossing Border
Crossing the border by Car

How to get around in Johor Bahru

The easiest way to get around in Johor Bahru is by Grab. From Johor Bahru Checkpoint, you can get picked up from JB Sentral at the CIQ Jalan Jim Quee pick-up point.

CIQ Jalan Jim Quee Pick up Point
CIQ Jalan Jim Quee Pick up Point for Grab Cars

In my experience of going to JB on a weekday, I did not have any issue getting a Grab car. I was always able to get a car within 10 minutes of booking and the fares are very cheap relative to Singapore. I paid RM 26 for a 12 km journey.

How to cross the border to Johor Bahru from Singapore (and back!)

On my recent visit to JB, I went on a Thursday morning. I chose to go to Queen Street Terminal and take CW2 since it is the closest to where I live.

Taking the CW2 was easy. You only need to line up near the bus (if there is a line) and board the bus using your preferred method of payment. In my case, I used Visa Paywave via Apple Wallet on my phone. Note that Visa Paywave will be charged in MYR since Causeway Link is a Malaysian bus!

Causeway Link Bus at Queen Street Terminal
Causeway Link Bus at Queen Street Terminal
Inside the CW2 Bus
Inside the CW2 Bus to Woodlands Checkpoint – it looks identical to any other public bus in Singapore

We boarded the CW2 bus at 9:47 AM, and it left shortly after to Woodlands Checkpoint. We arrived at Woodlands Checkpoint by 10:19 AM. Very fast.

Arriving at Woodlands Checkpoint
Arriving at Woodlands Checkpoint!

Clearing the Singapore immigration was easy for us as Singapore residents. We just went through the automated gate on the far right. By 10:26 AM, I was back in the bus area queueing for the Causeway Link Bus to Johor Bahru Checkpoint.

Queue for the Causeway Link Bus to Johor Checkpoint
Queue for the Causeway Link Bus to Johor Checkpoint
Inside the CW1 Bus
Inside the CW1 Bus to Johor Checkpoint

We arrived at the Johor Bahru Checkpoint at 10:48 AM. There was a long queue, but it moved fast and we cleared immigration using a manual counter by 11:09 AM.

Johor Checkpoint
Johor Checkpoint

After that, we simply followed the signs to JB Sentral, where I’ve asked my Grab car to pick us up. And off we went to our adventure in JB!

Crossing over to JB Sentral
Crossing over to JB Sentral

On the way back to Singapore later in the afternoon of the same day, we did the same thing but in reverse. The Causeway Link Buses were already waiting for us so there was almost no wait.

Boarding Causeway Link Bus to Woodlands Checkpoint
Boarding Causeway Link Bus to Woodlands Checkpoint

The whole thing was so easy that I wondered why I did not do this more often.

And that’s my experience crossing the Singapore – Malaysia border and back! I hope this post is useful to you. As always, please feel free to leave comments below.

Until next time!

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Filed under: Malaysia, Singapore, Singapore Weekends, Travel Tips

Written by Melissa

Hi there! 👋🏻 I'm the "Girl" in Girl Eat World. I love eating, traveling and sharing my travel experiences in this blog. During the day, I work as a designer in tech. More about me →

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