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  • Writer's pictureRick

JB Bus Guide: Singapore to Larkin Sentral in Johor Bahru

If you are travelling from Singapore, Larkin Sentral is the bus terminal you will need to get to before going further to any other states beyond Johor in West Malaysia. Apart from having interstate coaches to other states to the north of Johor, Larkin Sentral also has intercity coaches to Kluang, Muar, Batu Pahat, etc, and numbered domestic buses to Desaru, Kulai, Pontian, etc, within Johor state.

Travelling in Malaysia, from one state to another, is easy by using the public bus (or coach) network. While domestic bus stations operate within respective states, interstate bus terminals connect one state or city to the others.

Interstate bus/train terminals in major cities are usually named as "Sentral" (or "Central" in English). Larkin Sentral is the interstate bus terminal in Johor whereas JB Sentral is the domestic bus and train terminal in Johor Bahru. There are also Melaka Sentral (housing both domestic and interstate buses) and KL Sentral (all-in-one with buses, trains & metro lines).

Surprisingly, not many Singaporeans know about Larkin Sentral — they usually take tour coaches from Singapore directly to popular destinations in West Malaysia. While it is convenient to book a coach in Singapore to travel to West Malaysia, the fare paid is usually at least three times more expensive than taking a coach in Johor due to the exchange rate — a RM10 fare in Malaysia may be S$10 or more, excluding Goods & Service Tax (GST), in Singapore.

When going on a budget trip or travelling frequently in West Malaysia, knowing how to get to Larkin Sentral to access the bus network is essential in order to save some money.

PART 1: From Singapore to Larkin Sentral

Before you go, find the best times to cross the Singapore-Johor Causeway without getting caught in both human and traffic congestions at the customs. Spending 2~4 hours queuing / jammed at the customs during a weekend or leisure trip is not sound planning. It can be worse if you have a scheduled train or bus to catch.

Read: Best Times to Cross Singapore-Johor Causeway (during normal weekends)

#1. Take Bus to Woodlands Checkpoint

There are several bus services from different pick-up points in Singapore to Woodlands Checkpoint for crossing over to Johor Bahru. However, only 4 services will go all the way to Larkin Sentral, the rest of the buses stop at Johor Bahru Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex (JB CIQ).

The 4 buses to Larkin Sentral are as follows:

1. SBS Transit 170 departs from Queen Street Bus Terminal and stops at bus-stops en-route to Woodlands Checkpoint, so it has a long travelling time. It calls at the bus stop opposite Kranji MRT Station too. The service is non-stop in Johor Bahru till Larkin Sentral. The fare from Queen Street is S$2.80 in cash (S$2.14 by EZ-Link Card).

SBS Transit 170X is a shorter-distance service of Service 170 that plies between Kranji MRT Station and JB CIQ. The fare is S$2.30 in cash (S$1.55 by EZ-Link Card) to Larkin Sentral and is transferable to Service 170. This service has higher frequency.

SBS Transit 160 serves the route between Jurong East Station and JB CIQ and calls at the bus stop opposite Kranji MRT Station too. It does not go to Larkin Sentral. The bus service is transferable to Service 170 / 170X between the two checkpoints.

Kranji MRT Station in Singapore. Board Bus 170X outside the station.

2. Causeway Link CW1* plies between Kranji MRT Station and Larkin Sentral. The fare is S$2.60 (cash) or S$2.00 (cashless payment such as EZ-Link, ManjaLink, etc) to Larkin.

3. Causeway Link CW2* departs from Queen Street Bus Terminal and takes express route to Woodlands Checkpoint. The fare is S$4.80 (cash or cashless payment) to Larkin. Even though this service costs more than SBS Transit 170 from the same bus terminal, it is faster since it is non-stop all the way to the checkpoint.

Note: CW2 is the only cross-border bus service that operates round the clock. Night services operate from 11pm to 4:15am at 45 minutes interval.

* Both CW1 and CW2 are non-stop in Singapore but stops at bus-stops en-route to Larkin Sentral after JB CIQ.

* After resuming operations on 1st May 2022, both CW1 and CW2 will stop at JB CIQ. Passengers going to Larkin Sentral will need to change to CWL using the ticket stubs. It is not known whether this will be for long term or will revert back in future.

4. Singapore-Johore Express (SJE) departs from Queen Street Bus Terminal and takes the same express route as CW2 to Woodlands Checkpoint and is non-stop both in Singapore and after JB CIQ till Larkin Sentral. The fare is S$4.80. Note that SJE services will not pick up new passengers enroute between the two terminals and at the checkpoints.

For those who stays in the south or eastern part of Singapore, taking CW2 or SJE from Queen Street Bus Terminal may be an easier option — don't lose the ticket stub, you will need to show it to the bus driver when re-boarding respective buses at the checkpoints.

For those staying in the west and north, it does not make sense to go to Queen Street for the express buses. Get to Kranji MRT Station and take SBS Transit 170X outside the station or SBS Transit 160 / 170 opposite the station. Expect long queues during peak hours and weekends. Do use your EZ-Link card for concession fares.

Alternatively, take other bus services to Woodlands Checkpoint and JB CIQ, and hop on SBS Transit 170 or CWL after Malaysia Immigration to Larkin Sentral. Purchasing of new fares may be required.

#2. Clearing Singapore Immigration

All buses mentioned above will stop at Woodlands Checkpoint, alight and proceed to clear Singapore Immigration. Those taking SBS Transit 160 / 170 / 170X / SMRT 950 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. It takes less than 5 minutes during non-peak hours.

#3. Crossing the Causeway

After clearing Singapore Immigration, proceed to the ground level to re-board the buses. Those taking SJE should re-board SJE only. Those taking CW1 / CW2 can queue and board any CW buses, including CWL, that come along.

Those taking SBS Transit 160 / 170 / 170X / SMRT 950 can queue in any of the 3 lanes and board any SBS Transit / SMRT buses that come along. 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 services by different operators (will need to buy a new ticket in Singapore dollars).

After boarding the bus, it will cross the Singapore-Johor Causeway. Buses and other heavy vehicles will use dedicated lanes to JB CIQ. On Sundays and public holidays, there will be much lesser heavy vehicles, making buses the fastest mode of transportation on the Causeway.

#4. Clearing Malaysia Immigration

On reaching JB CIQ, alight once more and proceed to clear Malaysia Immigration. Those taking SBS Transit / SMRT buses should tap the EZ-Link card again to "suspend" the journey.

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 your work permits as required by Malaysia Immigration. Singapore Immigration officers will also ask to see it to ensure work permit holders meet the requirements by Malaysia Immigration to avoid inconvenience after crossing the Causeway.

Starting from 19 Jan 2023, Singaporeans can enrol and use the e-gates at Malaysia's checkpoints to clear immigration via the MACS 2.0 scheme. Passport validity is also revised to not less than 3 months from expiry when using the e-gates.

During peak hours or on weekends, expect 1 to 2 hours to clear immigration. It takes less than 10 minutes during non-peak hours.

#5. Re-Board Bus to Larkin Sentral

After clearing Malaysia Immigration, head straight to the bus platform ("Platform Bas") at the ground level to re-board respective buses.

Those taking SJE should re-board a SJE service at no extra cost. Those taking CW1 or CW2 can board CWL that goes to Larkin Sentral with the ticket stubs. Those taking SBS Transit 160 / 170 / 170X / SMRT 950 should board SBS Transit 170 to Larkin Sentral (distance charging applies for EZ-Link card holders).

However, if SBS Transit 170 is taking a long time to arrive, switch to other bus services (except SJE) that are heading to Larkin Sentral. After reinstatement in 2022, the fare for CWL to Larkin has been revised to RM2.60.

#6. Get Ticket to Other Destinations

At Larkin Sentral, if you are going to destinations in other states or in northern Johor, walk into the bus terminal to find the Centralised Ticketing System (CTS). Get the correct tickets before boarding the long-distance coaches at assigned departure gates (usually Gate 5-13) and boarding time.

You can buy tickets at the manned counters with identification document. Expect long queues during peak period.

There are automated e-ticketing kiosks as well and it takes just a few easy steps (less than 5 minutes) to purchase tickets using cashless methods only. Passport details are no longer needed. Queue at the manned counters if using cash payment.

The easier way will be to buy your ticket online, via BusOnlineTicket or Easybook and collect it at the manned counters with identification. Online booking services may also provide more information on availability, schedules, fares, etc.

If you are going to districts nearer to Johor Bahru, such as Pontian, Kulai, Kota Tinggi or Masai, buy tickets on the buses (domestic or "stage" buses have service numbers in front of them) at Platform A.

Enjoy your journey!

PART 2: From Larkin Sentral to Singapore

The return process from Larkin Sentral to Singapore is merely the reverse of getting to Larkin Sentral from Singapore but with slight differences.

#1. Go to Gate 1 & 2

Regardless of the types of bus you are taking, you will be dropped off at Platform A on returning to Larkin Sentral. Walk into the bus terminal to find the Singapore Departure Hall at Gate 1 & 2.

At the entrance of Singapore Departure Hall, a "boarding pass" of RM1 is required on entry — it is a facility charge that is applied to all bus services departing from Larkin Sentral, except domestic buses. Bus fares to be paid onboard the Singapore-bound buses.

Note: Moving forward, payment for the RM1 boarding pass will be cashless, only Touch n' Go and credit / debit cards will be accepted.

#2. Take Bus Bounded for Singapore

You will have three choices for cross-border bus services to Singapore:

SBS Transit 170: Board at bus bay B02. The fare is RM2.80 (approx. S$0.90) to Queen Street Bus Terminal or RM2.50 (approx. S$0.80) to Kranji MRT Station. If you want to save money, pay in cash in Malaysia ringgit and use the ticket stub to re-board the bus service at the checkpoints. Otherwise, use EZ-Link card (in Singapore currency only) for convenience and to make use of distance charging if changing to other transports in Singapore.

Causeway Link CWL: Board at bus bay B01. The fare to Queen Street Bus Terminal is RM4.80 and change to CW2 at JB CIQ. The fare to Woodlands Checkpoint / Kranji Station is RM2.60 and change to CW1 / CW2 at JB CIQ. The fare is also RM2.60 to JB CIQ.

Singapore-Johore Express (SJE): Board at bus bay B03. The fare is RM4.80 to Queen Street Bus Terminal in Singapore.

If SBS Transit 170 is unavailable, an alternative way will be to take CWL (RM2.60) bound for JB CIQ. After clearing Malaysia Immigration, you will have more choices of bus services (except SJE) to get to Singapore but new ticket will be required.

Note: If you know you will get caught up in traffic jam during peak hours (normally between 3pm to 7pm), you can opt to board a local bus to some places in JB, like City Square Shopping Centre near to JB Sentral (use myBAS T13), to have dinner and walk around. Once the peak hours are over, say 8pm, get to JB CIQ and continue the journey to Singapore. Main considerations will be the time you can spare and towing your luggage around.

#3. The Final Lap

Regardless of whichever bus services you are taking to Singapore, once you reached JB CIQ, you will need to alight to clear Malaysia Immigration, re-board the bus after clearance 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's registration plate number and get back on the same coach. If you do not intend to go all the way to Queen Street, change to any public buses after Singapore Immigration.

For those taking SBS Transit 170, you will be able to drop at any bus stops along its service route in Singapore from Woodlands Checkpoint to Queen Street. Most people will drop at Kranji MRT Station and switch to the faster MRT trains.

CW2 and SJE will head straight to Queen Street non-stop after the last pick-up at Woodlands Checkpoint.

And "Welcome home!"

Reduce time spend at the checkpoints:

22,492 views1 comment

1 comentario

29 abr 2023

Good effort in writing this, although I tried to follow the instructions to get back from JB to SG and wasn't successful. Larkin is a mess and you have to ask people where to get the SG buses from. It was also not clear that you get the CL buses (and the other SG buses) AFTER clearing Malaysian immigration procedures. So you have to walk along quite a few corridors at Larkin, get processed, and then get the bus. I think you need to say this.

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