Why cross the Singapore-Malaysia border by bus when there are several budget airlines flying around Southeast Asia which would have been more convenient? The simplest response would have been because I’m traveling with my kids to LEGOLAND Malaysia and that is the best possible route.
The more complex explanation would be because we’re traveling in Southeast Asia, one of the most popular budget-friendly destinations in the world. You’re not supposed to spend a lot here. (Except for Singapore. It can easily empty your purses when you’re least suspecting. Which is why we left as soon as I noticed.)
So while I’m at it, I’d save as much as I possibly can. I’m not crazy rich (though crazy Asian) but I can easily book another flight to anywhere in Malaysia if I had to. But I didn’t; that’s just not how the way it is. I’d cross the border by bus because that’s what budget traveling is all about. Crazy Asian tourist.
Crossing the Singapore-Malaysia Border by Bus 170X
I can’t understand why people would go the hassle of booking bus tickets ahead when the easiest way to cross the Singapore-Malaysia Border to Johor Bahru is via SBS Bus 170X from MRT Kranji Station (NS7). Google Maps have been suggesting this route, and you can even use your existing Ezlink card (fare is SGD1.39 or SGD2 in cash). The bus will take you to the JB Sentral Bus Terminal in Malaysia via SG Woodlands and every other bus will.
Now, there were a few rants from several internet entities about the long queues for the bus outside the MRT Kranji station but there wasn’t any when we were there. And besides, several buses come and go in just a matter of minutes so even the longest lines can dissipate very fast.
If you’re the kind that complains a lot, there is also an option to take the authorized taxis at Queen Street but you may have to complain about the prices, too. One of my friends who did that wasn’t really the complaining type, he just wanted convenience for his kids, but he did complain about the SGD75 one-way fare. Perhaps life really is full of surprises.
The first bus leaves at 5:30 a.m. and the last one at 11:55 p.m. But you would not want to take that last trip as you still have to pass two border controls.
The first one is for when you’re exiting Singapore. When passing through the immigration, you must take all your stuff from the bus but you need not take the very same bus onwards. Just go to the bus queues or follow where the crowd goes and take any other SBS Bus 170X. There are physical signs everywhere, you will be fine.
The second one is for when you’re entering Malaysia. This is your final stop so all stuff must go with you, too. After passing the immigration, you’re entering Malaysia at the JB Sentral Bus Terminal.
We cleared the Malaysian immigration in less than an hour from the Bus stop at MRT Kranji Station.
Where to Exchange Money and Buy Data SIM Cards
Exchange your Singapore Dollars (SGD) to Malaysian Ringgit (RM) before leaving Singapore. There is a currency exchange counter when you exit MRT Kranji Station, it’s the same area where you would queue up for the bus to Johor Bahru. For exchanging non-Singapore currencies, do it at the Forex kiosk right past the immigration in Johor Bahru.
For Data SIM Cards, you can buy one at the shopping mall across JB Sentral Station called JB City Square. There are several available carriers without too many package options to choose from. They’re all the same. Pick the one with your favorite color.
Why pick a data SIM card? You’ll need it for booking Grab Taxi which is your best transport option in Malaysia.
What to Do in Johor Bahru
Now that you have crossed Malaysia from Singapore by bus and have probably posted your feat on Facebook or Instagram or both, it’s time to explore Johor Bahru. If you’re traveling with your kids, this is the right destination for you.
Families would usually do Johor Bahru as a day trip from Singapore when their sole purpose is a visit to the LEGOLAND Resort. Some would stay for a night because of time constraints and to have a short visit to Sanrio Hello Kitty Town while at it.
I suggest staying in Johor Bahru for at least three days and two nights to relieve the kids from travel stress.
Day 1 – Arrive in Johor Bahru in the afternoon (since you’re coming from Singapore). Settle your stuff in your chosen accommodation and visit Sanrio Hello Kitty and Thomas Town. Visit Puteri Harbor and explore the rest of the neighborhood.
Day 2 – Visit LEGOLAND Malaysia (the main theme park).
Day 3 – Visit LEGOLAND Water Park. Either Johor Bahru late in the afternoon or stay for another night and leave in the morning.
Day 4 – Leave Johor Bahru by bus to Kuala Lumpur
That was the plan.
However, it was raining heavily when we arrived at our accommodation in Nusajaya. And having a good internet connection at the apartment, the kids glued themselves on their phones with zero intention to go outside. I just had to roam around the apartment’s vicinity to look for food. I found a restaurant and a supermarket close by.
It rained early the next day. And it continued to drizzle until the afternoon. Which only made us lazier to go out of our bed. We decided we’ll visit Sanrio Hello Kitty Town when the drizzles stopped which happened around 4:00 in the afternoon.
I wasn’t sure what we were doing but, despite the fact that the Hello Kitty Town is just a few minutes walk from our place, we reach it around 5:30 p.m. only to realize it closes at 6:00. Even the Red Bow Cafe was closed so the kids just had to content themselves shopping for Hello Kitty and Thomas merchandise.
There’s also U.F.O. Catchers (or what others refer to as claw machines) and spent a few Ringgits. My daughter was lucky to snag a Meowth on her first attempt.
Several other kids merchandise abound around the area but it started to drizzle again. We just had a few glimpses at the Puteri Harbor before we finally decide to go back to the apartment. Despite our being Southeast Asians, the Malaysian humidity was too much for us.
On our third day, I woke the kids up early with a plan to visit LEGOLAND Water Park rain or shine. We can’t risk going to the main resort knowing the rain might pour any time nature chooses.
And we were right. The rain poured around lunch time and I was secretly poking fun at the people on the roller coaster.
The best part of the water park? The 300-gallon water bucket pouring every four minutes at the Joker Soaker. Watch the clip below, “fun” starts after 20 seconds into the video.
Here’s a more up-close video version of the giant water bucket pour 300.
The LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort Park is Johor Bahru’s most popular attraction. It’s probably the reason why crossing the Singapore-Malaysia Border by bus became a thing. Otherwise, people would just fly from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur since a bus ride from Johor to KL will take another five or more hours. That said, due to Malaysia’s appalling humidity and weather unpredictability, LEGOLAND Water Park is your better option.
Where to Stay in Johor Bahru
We stayed at one of the many new condominium units at the Teega Residences in Nusajaya. It was just five minutes walk to Sanrio Hello Kitty Town and about 10 minutes to LEGOLAND Malaysia by car.
The best part is that we were able to book it for less than USD20 per night. Want to save more? Sign up on Airbnb through this link and you’ll get $31 off your first home booking of $67 or more and $12 towards an experience of $44 or more. Coupons expire one year from date of sign up, use it wisely. I did not.
The building staffs were really very courteous and respectful, they made us feel like royalties. The place was very clean and the host very responsive to our inquiries.
People on Facebook were commenting that we may have been the only people at the area because they weren’t seeing any others on our photos. I told them there were cleaning crews and a few construction workers, too.
To conclude this, I do not really recommend crossing the Singapore-Malaysia border by bus if Johor Bahru is not part of your travel itinerary. Onward bus trips from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur will take at least five more hours with light to moderate traffic.
Instead, book a cheap flight from Changi International Airport to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, or any other parts of Malaysia you intend to go to. There already are several budget airlines flying between Singapore and Malaysia which can be more convenient as compared to land travel.
However, if the Johor Bahru is one of your intended destinations, crossing the border by bus is your best option. Not only it is conveniently fast, but it’s also relatively cheap and the most affordable. Trust me, it’s better than the hassle of pre-boarding and other airport procedures.
TL;DR — The cheapest and shortest way to cross the Singapore-Malaysia border is by SBS Bux 170X in MRT Kranji Station.