Getting 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 West Malaysia several times.
Larkin Sentral is where you will need to get to before going further to any other states beyond Johor in West Malaysia from Singapore. Apart from having inter-city buses to other states to the north of Johor, Larkin Sentral also has buses to Desaru, Pontian, Kluang, Muar, etc, within Johor state.
Travelling in Malaysia, from one state to another, is easy by using the public bus network. While local bus stations operate 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 bus and 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 tour coaches from Queen Street, in Singapore, directly to their destinations in West Malaysia. While it is convenient to book a coach in Singapore to travel to West Malaysia, the fare paid is usually three times more expensive than taking a coach in Johor due to the exchange rate — a RM10 fare in Malaysia can be S$10 in Singapore.
When going on a budget trip in West Malaysia, knowing how to get to Larkin Sentral is essential in order to save money.
PART 1: 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 at the customs . 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). However, 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 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 stops at the bus stop opposite Kranji MRT Station too. The service is non-stop in JB till Larkin Sentral. The fare from Queen Street is S$2.80 in cash (S$2.14 by EZ-Link Card). Frequency: 15 minutes.
SBS 170X is a shorter-distance service of Service 170 that ply 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 with Service 170. Frequency: 5 minutes before 8:30am.
SBS 160 serves the route between Jurong East Station and JB CIQ and makes a stop at Kranji MRT Station too. It does not go to Larkin Sentral. The bus service is transferable with Service 170 / 170X.
* SBS 170A was withdrawn on 1st May 2022.
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$2.60 (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$4.80 (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.
* 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 in future.
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. 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 — 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 and north, it does not make sense to go to Queen Street for the express buses. Get to Kranji MRT Station and take SBS 170X outside the station or SBS 170 opposite the station. SBS 170X has higher frequency before 8:30am. Expect a long queue 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, hop on SBS 170 or CWL after Malaysian Immigration to Larkin Sentral.
Cost: S$1.55 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 160 / 170 / 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 / 170 / 170X can queue in either Bus 160 / 170 / 170X lanes and re-board any SBS 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 service (will need to buy a new ticket in Singapore dollars).
After boarding the bus, it will cross the Singapore-Johor 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 / 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 that are heading to Larkin Sentral. After reinstatement in 2022, the fare for CWL has been revised to RM2.60.
#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 tickets 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 3 & 4.
PART 2: From Larkin Terminal to Singapore
The return process is merely the reverse of getting to Larkin Sentral from Singapore but with slight differences.
#1. Taking Bus At Larkin Sentral
At Larkin Sentral, you will have the same choices for buses to Singapore at Gate 1 & 2:
SBS Bus 170: Board at bus bay B01. 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. Using EZ-Link card, you will be charged S$2.14 and S$1.63 respectively. So, 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. If not, use EZ-Link card for convenience and to use distance charging if changing to other transports later.
Causeway Link CWL: Board at bus bay B02. 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 (a drastic increase from RM1.00 in 2018 to RM1.50 in 2020 to the current RM2.60).
Singapore-Johore Express (SJE): Board at bus bay B03. The fare is RM3.40 to Queen Street Bus Terminal in Singapore.
If SBS 170 is unavailable, an alternative way will be to take CWL bound for JB CIQ. After the Malaysian customs, you will have more choices to get to Singapore but new ticket will be required.
One suggestion: 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 some places in JB, like City Square Mall near to JB Sentral (City Bus 39 and 227), 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 towing your luggage around (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 to clear Malaysia Immigration, re-board the bus 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.
For those taking Bus 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.
Happy travelling in West Malaysia via Larkin Sentral.
Reduce time spend at the checkpoints: