Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Travelling in Malaysia, from one state to another, is easy by using the public bus network. While local bus stations serve within a particular state, intercity bus terminals connect one state to the others. Intercity bus/train terminals in tourist-popular cities are usually named as "Sentral" ("Central" in English). Larkin Sentral is the intercity bus terminal in Johor whereas JB Sentral is the train terminal in Johor Bahru. There are also Melaka Sentral (bus only) and KL Sentral (bus, train & metro lines).
To get to any states in West Malaysia from Singapore, you will need to get to Larkin Sentral. Apart from having buses to other states to the north of Johor, Larkin Sentral also has buses to Desaru, Pontian and Muar within Johor.
Surprisingly, not many Singaporeans know about Larkin — they usually take buses from Queen Street in Singapore directly to their destinations. While it is convenient to get on a bus in Singapore, the fare paid is actually 3 times more expensive than taking a bus in Malaysia due to the exchange rate.
Read on if you are wondering how to get to Larkin Sentral.
PART ONE: From Singapore to Larkin Sentral (Terminal)
Before you go, find the best times to cross the Singapore-Johor causeway without being caught in long human queues and traffic congestion.
1. Take Bus to Woodlands Checkpoint
There are several buses from different bus interchanges in Singapore to Woodlands Checkpoint for crossing over to Johor Bahru (JB). But only 4 buses go all the way to Larkin Sentral, the bus terminal in the State of Johor for intercity buses to other Malaysian states. The rest of the buses stop or U-turn at the checkpoints or JB Sentral Bus Terminal (next to Johor Bahru Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex or JB CIQ for short).
The 4 buses to Larkin Sentral are as follows:
1. SBS Bus 170. Departs from Queen Street Bus Terminal and stops at bus-stops en-route to the Checkpoint, so it has long travelling time. It stops at opposite Kranji MRT Station too. But no stopping in JB till Larkin Sentral. The fare from Queen Street is S$2.50 in cash (S$1.95 by EZ-Link Card). Frequency: 15 minutes.
* SBS Bus 170X. A shorter-distance service of Bus 170 that ply between Kranji MRT Station and JB CIQ. The fare is S$2.20 in cash (S$1.45 by EZ-Link Card) to Larkin Sentral and is transferable with Bus 170. Frequency: 5 minutes before 8:30am.
* SBS Bus 170A. Another short-distance service between Queen Street Bus Terminal and Woodlands Train Checkpoint. It does not cross the border.
2. Causeway Link CW1. Ply between Kranji MRT Station and Larkin Sentral. The fare is S$1.50 (cash only). Frequency: 15-30 minutes.
3. Causeway Link CW2. Departs from Queen Street Bus Terminal and takes express route to Woodlands Checkpoint. The fare is S$3.30 (cash only). Frequency: 15-30 minutes.
* Both CW1 and CW2 are non-stop in Singapore but stops at bus-stops en-route to Larkin Sentral after JB CIQ.
4. Singapore-Johore Express (SJE). Departs from Queen Street Bus Terminal and takes the same express route as CW2 to Woodlands Checkpoint. No stopping along the way till Larkin Sentral. The fare is S$3.30 (cash only). Frequency: 30 minutes.
For those of you who stay in the south or eastern part of Singapore, taking CW2 or SJE from Queen Street Bus Terminal may be an easy option at S$3.30 — don't lose the ticket stub, you will need to show it to the bus driver when re-boarding the bus at the checkpoints. Note that travelling on the roads can also be time consuming especially during peak hours.
For those staying in the west, central and north, it does not make sense to go to Queen Street for the express buses. Get to Kranji MRT Station and take SBS Bus 170X outside the station or Bus 170 opposite the station. I prefer Bus 170X due to its higher frequency before 8:30am. Expect a long queue during peak hours and weekends. Do use your EZ-Link card.
Alternatively, take other bus services to Woodlands Checkpoint and hop on any SBS buses or the CWs after Singapore Immigration.
Cost: S$1.45 to S$3.30
(Other costs of getting to Kranji MRT Station or Queen Street Bus Terminal are excluded)
2. Clearing Singapore Immigration
All buses will stop at Woodlands Checkpoint, alight and proceed to clear Singapore Immigration. Those taking Bus 170 and 170X must tap your EZ-Link card when alighting to suspend the journey or you will be charged a new fare when reboarding.
During peak hours or on weekends, allow 30 minutes to 1 hour to clear immigration.
3. Crossing the Causeway
After clearing Singapore Immigration, proceed to the ground level to re-board the bus. Those taking SJE should re-board SJE only. Those taking CW1 or CW2 can queue and board any CW buses that come along.
Those taking Bus 160 (servicing between Jurong East Bus Interchange and JB Sentral), 170 or 170X can queue in either the 160 or 170 lane. When either Bus 160, 170 or 170X arrives, lane 170 will board the bus via the front door, lane 160 will use the middle door. Tap your EZ-Link card again to resume the journey.
No extra charges will be incurred here — except if you decide to change to another bus of a different company (will be buying a new ticket in Singapore dollars).
After boarding the bus, it will cross the Johor-Singapore Causeway. Expect slower traffic during peak hours.
4. Clearing Malaysia Immigration
On reaching JB CIQ, alight once more and proceed to clear Malaysia Immigration. Those taking SBS Buses should tap the card again.
Note that Johor Bahru immigration is a border-crossing with NO visa-on-arrival, so make sure you have free or valid visa before going there. Passports must have at least 6 months of validity period. Work permit holders must bring along their work permits as required by Malaysia Immigration. Singapore Immigration officers will also ask for it to ensure work permit holders are not strangled on the Causeway if Malaysia Immigration rejects their entries.
During peak hours or on weekends, expect 1 to 2 hours to clear immigration.
5. Re-Board Bus to Larkin Sentral
After clearing Malaysia Immigration, head straight to the bus platform ("Platform Bas" as signed) at ground level to re-board the bus. Those taking SJE should re-board a SJE. Those taking CW1 or CW2 can board any CWs that goes to Larkin Sentral with the ticket stubs. Those taking Bus 160, 170 or 170X should board Bus 170 to Larkin.
Alternatively, if there are other bus services in sight, you can change to those buses for just RM1.00 to Larkin Sentral.
6. Get Ticket to Other Destinations
If you are going to destinations in other states or further north in Johor, walk towards the back of the bus terminal (the side that is further from the bus bays) where all ticketing booths are relocated. Get the correct ticket before boarding the long distance coach at the stipulated boarding time.
If you are going to towns nearer to Johor Bahru, such as Pontian or Kota Tinggi, buy tickets on the buses (domestic buses have service numbers).
* As of Nov 2017, Larkin Sentral is undergoing renovation in phases. Locations of the buses and coach-ticketing booths have changed considerably and may have further changes until the whole renovation work is completed.
PART TWO: From Larkin Terminal to Singapore The return process is merely the reverse of getting to Larkin Terminal from Singapore but with slight differences.
1. Take Bus At Larkin Sentral
At Larkin Sentral, you will have the same choices for buses to Singapore:
1. Singapore-Johore Express. RM3.40 to Queen Street Bus Terminal.
2. Causeway Link CW2. RM3.40 to Queen Street Bus Terminal.
3. Causeway Link CW1. RM1.90 to Kranji MRT Station.
4. SBS Bus 170. RM2.50 (S$0.81) to Queen Street Bus Terminal or RM2.20 (S$0.71) to Kranji MRT Station. Using EZ-Link card, you will be charged S$1.95 and S$1.45 respectively. So, if you want to save money, pay in cash in Malaysia ringgit and use the ticket stub to re-board the bus at the checkpoints. If not, just use the EZ-Link card for convenience.
Board Bus 170 at bus bays B1-B4. It will head non-stop to JB CIQ. Again, another alternative at this point — if Bus 170 is unavailable — will be to take any of the other buses (SJE or CWs) bound for JB CIQ for RM1.00. After the Malaysian customs, you will have more choices to get to Singapore.
One suggestion: there is a flexibility at this point. If you know you will get caught up in a traffic jam during peak hours (normally after 4pm), you can opt to board a local bus to certain place in JB, like City Square Mall near to JB Sentral, to have dinner and walk around. Once the peak hours are over, say 8 or 9pm, get to JB CIQ and continue the journey to Singapore. Main considerations will be the time you can spare and your luggage (better to use a backpack instead of a towed luggage).
2. The Final Lap
Regardless of whichever bus service you are taking to Singapore, once you reached JB CIQ, you will need to alight and clear Malaysia Immigration, board and cross the Causeway and alight again to clear Singapore Immigration.
For those taking direct coaches from Malaysia to Singapore, you will need to memorise the coach registration number and get back on the same coach. If you do not intend to go all the way to Queen Street, change to a local bus after Singapore Immigration. And if you want to save money, change after Malaysia Immigration and pay in Malaysia ringgit (RM2.00).
For those taking Bus 170, you will be able to drop at any bus-stop along its service route. Most people will drop at Kranji MRT Station and switch to the faster MRT trains.
CW2 and SJE will head straight to Queen Street after the stop at Woodlands Checkpoint.
Happy travelling via Larkin Sentral.
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