A point-to-point bus ticket from Singapore to Muar may cost around S$20 or more. This is the easiest option if you want to avoid hassles and do not mind paying the higher fares in Singapore dollars.
* Note: All bus fares stated in this post may vary depending on the types of bus, number of seats, drop-off points and also the travel season.
If you want to be adventurous, enjoy some flexibility in managing your travel time or wish to make the trip to Muar / Malacca on your own, consider using the local transport system. Apart from gaining exposure to travelling around West Malaysia like a local, you may be surprised how much money you can save on each trip too, especially if you travel frequently beyond Johor Bahru (JB).
Larkin Sentral is where you need to get to before going further to any states in West Malaysia from Singapore. Apart from having inter-city buses to other states to the north of Johor, like Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, etc, Larkin Sentral also has buses to Desaru, Pontian, Kluang and Muar within Johor state but outside of Johor Bahru.
From Singapore to Larkin Sentral
The first step to travelling beyond Johor Bahru will be to get to Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal from Singapore by public buses. Several bus services are available:
1. Use SBS Bus Service 170 (en route from Queen Street), Service 170X (from Kranji MRT Station) or Service 160 from Jurong East Station to cross the causeway via Woodlands. Board Service 170 after JB CIQ to Larkin Sentral. Use EZ-Link card to enjoy concession fares.
2. Use Causeway Link CW1 (from Kranji MRT Station), CW2 (from Queen Street) or CW5 (from Newton Circus) to cross the causeway. Keep the ticket stub for reboarding at the checkpoints and board service CWL after JB CIQ to Larkin Sentral.
3. Use Singapore-Johor Express (SJE) from Queen Street to cross the causeway and to Larkin Sentral after JB CIQ.
4. Use other services, such as SMRT 950 (from Woodlands Station) and Cross Border Bus Service AC7 (from Yishun Station), to cross the causeway to JB CIQ. Change to SBS 170 or CWL to continue to Larkin Sentral.
Note that changing of bus service after JB CIQ to Larkin Sentral is possible by paying for the new fare (in ringgit) — it might be worthwhile to pay the extra fare to save some time.
(Do not skip any of the following sections as similar information are not repeated.)
Getting to/from Muar (Johor)
At Larkin Sentral, go to the centralised ticketing counters and get an inter-city bus ticket to Muar (passport is required). You can choose which bus service to use, the types of bus and also the desired departure time. A ticket to Muar starts from RM16.70 (one-way) — that's only about S$5.40 (using S$1 to RM3.10 exchange rate).
Advise: The journey to Muar is about 2.5 hours non-stop, make sure to visit the washroom before boarding the bus. During the journey, control water intake by sipping water to wet the mouth when thirsty instead of drinking mouthfuls of water.
The bus will stop at Bentayan Bus Terminal in Muar, which is within easy walking distance to Pekan Muar, the main town or business area of Muar. The pre-war town has a small shopping mall, food outlets, shops, etc. There is also a "Glutton Street" (贪食街) along Jalan Haji Abu with many great local delicacies. The giant murals on the walls are too large to miss too!
To return to Singapore, head back to Bentayan Bus Terminal and purchase the ticket for the next departing bus to Larkin Sentral, then change to SBS 170 or Causeway Link CWL to JB CIQ. Use SJE if heading towards Queen Street — it is faster.
Note that all cash fares are paid in ringgits at Larkin Sentral. When using EZ-Link card on Service 170, charges will be in Singapore dollars and uses distance-charging — determine if this option is cheaper or more convenient for you.
It cost around S$11+ (two-way) to use the local transport as compared to S$40 (two-way) from Singapore (excluding fares of cross-border buses).
Getting to/from Malacca
Similar to getting to Muar, get a ticket to Malacca at the centralised ticketing counters. A ticket to Melaka Sentral costs from RM22.00 (one-way).
Advise: The journey to Malacca is about 3 hours, with "probably" one rest-stop, make sure to visit the washroom before boarding the bus in case the driver decides to skip the rest-stop (it happened before). And control intake of water during the journey.
Note that the bus will stop at Melaka Sentral instead of Malacca Old Town where most Singaporeans will expect. Change to domestic Bus 17 to Malacca Old Town or Dutch Square (tell the driver you are going to "red square") for RM2.00.
To return to Singapore, take Bus 15 / 17 from Malacca Old Town (at bus stop along Jalan Kubu) to Melaka Sentral for RM1.20 for Bus 15 (or RM1.50 for Bus 17), then get an interstate bus ticket to Larkin Sentral or to Queen Street in Singapore at a slightly higher price.
For those staying in the north and west of Singapore and do not mind paying higher fares for convenience, you can also choose a bus that is heading towards Queen Street and drop off at Woodlands Checkpoint (just let the driver know that you are not reboarding the bus when dropping off at Woodlands Checkpoint).
It cost around S$15+ (two-way) to use the local transports via Melaka Sentral as compared to S$50 to S$90 (two-way) from Singapore to drop-off points nearer to Malacca Old Town (excluding fares of cross-border buses). There is always a price to pay for convenience.
Between Muar & Malacca
Malacca is about 1 hour from Muar and the fare is around RM5.00 for a 30-seater, and vice versa. With this piece of information, you can plan a short trip to visit both Malacca Old Town and Muar Town. You can also plan to stay in either town and make a day-trip to the other town.