Updated: Aug 14, 2020
Updated: 30 April 2019
How to get to Larkin Sentral from Singapore? It is a surprise that many Singapore travellers do not know about Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal despite having been to popular places in Malaysia several times.
Larkin Sentral is where you need to get to before going further to any states in West Malaysia from Singapore. Apart from having buses to other states to the north of Johor, Larkin Sentral also has buses to Desaru, Pontian and Muar within the Johor state.
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 or city to the others. Intercity bus/train terminals in tourist-popular cities are usually named as "Sentral" (or "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).
Surprisingly, not many Singaporeans know about Larkin Sentral — they usually take buses from Queen Street in Singapore directly to their destinations in West Malaysia. While it is convenient to book a bus in Singapore, the fare paid is actually 3 times more expensive than taking a bus in Malaysia due to the exchange rate.
When going on a budget travelling trip in West Malaysia, knowing how to get to Larkin Sentral is essential in order to save money.
PART ONE: From Singapore to Larkin Sentral
Before you go, find the best times to cross the Singapore-Johor causeway without being caught in long human queues and traffic congestion. Spending 2-6 hours at the customs during a holiday is not good planning.
#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 shorter-distance service between Queen Street Bus Terminal and Woodlands Train Checkpoint. It does not cross the border.
Kranji MRT Station in Singapore. Board Bus 170X outside the station.
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 at any bus stops 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. However, travelling on the roads can 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 to save money.
Alternatively, take other bus services to Woodlands Checkpoint and hop on any SBS buses or the CWs after Singapore Immigration to go over the causeway.
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, including CWL, 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 other bus service (will need to buy 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 EZ-Link card again.
Note: 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") at ground level to re-board the bus. Those taking SJE should re-board a SJE at no extra cost. 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 (distance charging applies for EZ-Link card holders).
However, if Bus 170 is taking a long time to arrive. Switch to other bus services (CW1, CW2 and SJE) that come along, the fare is just RM1.00 to Larkin Sentral.
#6. Get Ticket to Other Destinations
If you are going to destinations in other states or further to the north or east of Johor, walk into the bus terminal where the new centralised ticketing counters are. Get the correct ticket before boarding the long distance coach at the assigned gate, platform and boarding time. Note that passport numbers are required at time of purchase.
Alternatively, get your ticket from the newly-installed automated ticketing machines.
If you are going to towns nearer to Johor Bahru, such as Pontian, Kota Tinggi or Masai, buy tickets on the buses (domestic or "stage" buses have service numbers) at Platform B. You have to walk through Gate 1 & 2.
PART TWO: From Larkin Terminal to Singapore