Updated: Dec 3, 2018
Paying S$54 for 2-way transfers from Singapore to Malacca? Or you have not been to Malacca yet?
(How I arrive at S$54 two-way? Base on BusOnlineTicket.com, the fare to Malacca range from S$21 to S$33 on a Friday. So, the mid-point is around S$27 one-way.)
In this post, we share a cheap and adventurous way where you can get to Malacca for S$10 only by doing it yourself. The total two-way cost will only S$20! Once you know the way to do it, you can get to anywhere in West Malaysia on your own and at cheaper costs.
Before you go, find the best times to cross the Singapore-Johor causeway without being caught in long human queues and traffic congestion.
PART ONE: Getting to Malacca
#1. Get to Larkin Sentral
Firstly, go across the border and get to Larkin Terminal by using bus services 170, CW1, CW2 and SJE.
If you have not been to Larkin Sentral before, read this:
Cost: S$1.45 (from Kranji) to S$3.30 (from Queen Street)
#2. Get Coach Ticket to Malacca
After alighting at Larkin Sentral, walk towards the back of the bus terminal (the side that is further from the bus bays) where all ticketing booths are relocated.
Buy ticket for the coach to Malacca (more accurately, Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal) from applicable coach companies with the next earliest time of departure. The fare for a 44-seater is RM18.00 and 27-seater is RM20.90. With only RM2.90 difference (under S$1.00), it is better to go for a 27-seater with bigger and more comfortable seats. Note that any promotions below RM18.00 are usually for 44-seaters.
Cost: RM18.00 for 44-seater; RM20.90 for 27-seater
#3. Enjoy the Journey to Melaka Sentral
Travelling time to Malacca is around 2.5 hours non-stop or 3 hours with one rest stop. The coach will be using the North-South Highway and need to pay toll charges, so it may stop at one "appropriate" resting point — without incurring extra toll charges — at the discretion of the driver.
It is advisable to go to the washroom before boarding the bus and reduce intake of water on the bus until after 2 hours. If you really need to use a washroom, inform the driver or else he may just continue non-stop to Melaka Sentral.
#4. Switch to Domestic Bus 17
After reaching Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal, change to domestic Bus 17 (or Panorama bus) at Bay number 17 that is bounded for Ujong Pasir. If you are staying in the old town, tell the driver you are going to Stadthuys or the "red house". The fare is RM2.00.
If you are staying in hotels at some other locations, you need to find out how to get there — it may not be Bus 17. And in case you are not aware of taxi-ripoffs, avoid them if you can.
Once the bus arrives at Dutch Square, the driver will announce the stop to passengers. If not, you will know from the red buildings around. Alight here. The arrow in the photo below indicates where the bus will stop.
Note: To avoid disappointment in getting a return coach from Melaka Sentral back to Larkin Terminal or Singapore, especially on weekends or peak seasons, buy the return coach ticket upon reaching Melaka Sentral at the Intercity Bus Terminal. (I don't usually do this, so I can extend my stay in Malacca or get on some other buses to other cities whenever I want to.)
The One-way Fare
Total one-way cost to Malacca is: S$1.45 (or S$3.30) + RM23.00
(Exchange rate is S$1 : RM3.10 at time of writing.)
For those who travelled by Bus 170, the total cost is S$8.87 (with EZ-Link card) or S$9.62 (cash) from Kranji MRT Station. For those who departs from Queen Street, the cost is S$10.72 — you have to pay more for travelling longer distance.
IT'S SGD $10.00 ONLY!
And that is for the more comfortable 27-seater! If you go for 44-seaters, you will save a further S$1.00.
Apart from the additional change of bus at Melaka Sentral, the entire journey is similar to taking coaches directly from Golden Mile Complex or other locations in Singapore. This little hassle saves you S$34.00 (two-way) or more!
Save more with a budget hotel?
PART TWO: Returning to Singapore
Now, I will show you how to get back as well. The return process is merely the reverse of getting there and with slight differences.
#1. Take Bus 17 to Melaka Sentral
Assuming that you are staying in the old town, instead of boarding Bus 17 at Dutch Square where it will continue to Ujong Pasir (and likely to be caught in traffic jams) before circling back to the other side of the old town, walk towards the far end of Jonker Walk. You will see a bus-stop across the road, all buses that stop there goes to Melaka Sentral.
#2. Buy Ticket to Larkin or Singapore
If you have not pre-purchased your return coach ticket, get it at the Intercity Bus Terminal. During non-peak period, you will be able to just get the next available coach out of Malacca. The fare to Larkin Sentral will be RM21 for a 27-seater. But this time, you have the choice to take a bus directly to Singapore for RM25.00 or more depending on the drop-off location (do ask).
Cost: RM21 (to Larkin Sentral) or RM25 (to Singapore)
#3. Relax on the Journey Back
The journey from Malacca to JB is around 3 hours with NO rest stop (except for some stops in JB to drop off locals). This time, you really have to watch your water intake before the journey.
If you are heading to JB CIQ for Singapore directly during peak hours, the coach will probably be caught in slow traffic. You will need to hold your bladder until you can get to a washroom in JB CIQ. If you really need a washroom urgently when in the coach, sound it out to the driver before the coach gets nearer to Johor Bahru. He will be very unwilling to find a rest stop for you once the coach is getting nearer to JB CIQ.
Going to Larkin Sentral actually creates a forced stop for washroom before continuing the journey in another bus of preference (see #4).
#4. Take Bus At Larkin Sentral for Singapore
If you are back at Larkin Sentral, take bus services 170, CW1, CW2 or SJE to Singapore.
Read this if you have not done so:
Cost: RM2.20 (SBS 170 / CW1 to Kranji) or RM3.40 (CW2 / SJE to Queen Street)
And you are back in Singapore!
The Return Fares
The total return cost from Malacca direct to Singapore is RM26.50. For stopping at Larkin Sentral and change bus, the maximum cost is RM25.90 (or RM22.50 + S$1.95 using EZ-Link card). Both amounts are around S$9.00 after conversion.
Total fare for whole trip is less than S$20!
And this amount is for 27-seaters. You can slash off another S$2.00 if you don't mind taking the cheaper 44-seaters.
A total saving of S$34.00 compared to reservation of buses in Singapore — I can use this saving to stay an additional night in a budget hotel. And that's how I saved money going to Malacca 5 times a year!
After getting used to travelling to Malacca this way, it will be easier to plan trips further north to Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Cameron Highlands, Penang, etc, or west to Desaru, Taman Negara (National Park) and the resort isles.