Bus Guide: Singapore to Malacca and Return
Getting from Singapore to Malacca (Melaka) Old Town is easy using the public bus network in West Malaysia. Once you know how to do it, you can get to anywhere in West Malaysia on your own and at cheaper costs than taking tour coaches directly from Singapore.
PART ONE: Getting to Malacca
Before you start the journey, find the best times to cross the Singapore-Johor Causeway without being caught in human queues and traffic congestions.
#1. Get to Larkin Sentral
Firstly, go across the border from Singapore and get to Larkin Sentral in Johor Bahru by using cross-border bus services SBS Transit 170, Causeway Link CWL (or CW1 / CW2) or Singapore-Johor Express (SJE).
Read: Bus Guide: Singapore to Larkin Sentral in Johor (Do read the guide before continuing as some important information may not be repeated here.)
#2. Get Coach Ticket to Malacca
After alighting at Larkin Sentral, walk to the Centralised Ticketing System in the bus terminal to get the coach tickets. There are both manned counters and automated kiosks.
Get a coach ticket to Malacca — more precisey, Melaka Sentral — at the next earliest possible time of departure. The fare is around RM20.40 (44-seater) to RM22.40 (27-seater). With only RM2 difference, go for the 27-seater with bigger and more comfortable seats, if available.
The easier way will be to book online and collect the tickets at the counters with Malaysian ID cards or foreign passports.
Board the coach at the designated gate as specified on the ticket.
#3. Enjoy the Journey to Melaka Sentral
Travelling time to Malacca is around 3 hours with one rest stop or 2.5 hours non-stop. As the coach will be using the North-South Highway, there will be toll charges. Thus, it is at the discretion of the driver to choose an "appropriate" rest point without incurring extra costs.
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.
Note: To avoid disappointment in getting a return coach from Melaka Sentral back to Larkin Sentral or straight to Singapore, especially on weekends or peak travel seasons, buy the return coach ticket upon reaching Melaka Sentral at the Interstate Bus Terminal before continuing the journey to Melaka Old Town.
#4. Domestic Bus 17 to Malacca Old Town
After reaching Melaka Sentral, change to the Panorama Service 17 at the Domestic Bus Terminal Bay 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" (since all structures in the Dutch Square are painted red). 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 Panorama Service 17. And in case you are not aware of taxi-ripoffs, avoid them if you can. If you have mobile data, use Grab.
Once the bus arrives at Dutch Square, the driver will announce the stop to passengers. If not, you will know from the rows of red-painted old structures. The arrow in the photo below indicates where the bus will stop.
Enjoy your stay in Malacca until it is time to return to Singapore.
PART TWO: Returning to Singapore
The return journey is merely the reverse of getting to Malacca Old Town with slight differences.
#1. Take Domestic Buses to Melaka Sentral
Assuming that you are staying in the old town, instead of boarding Panorama Service 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 other end of Jonker Walk. You will see a bus-stop across the road, all buses (Service 15 / 17) that stop there goes to Melaka Sentral. The fare is RM1.20 (Service 15) or RM1.50 (Service 17, last noted in 2019).
#2. Buy Ticket to Larkin / Singapore
If you have not pre-purchased your return coach ticket, get it at the Interstate Bus Terminal at Melaka Sentral. During non-peak period, you will be able to get the next available coach out of Malacca.
The fare to Larkin Sentral will be RM22.10 for a 27-seater. But this time, you will have the choice to take a bus directly to Singapore. The fare will range from RM30 to more than RM60 depending on the types of coach (27- or 44-seaters) and drop-off points in Singapore.
#3. Relax on the Journey Back
The journey from Malacca to Larkin Sentral is around 3 hours with one rest stop or 2.5 hours non-stop. Again, 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 off the North-South Highway. The driver will be very unwilling to find a rest stop for you once the coach gets nearer to JB CIQ amidst traffic congestions.
Going to Larkin Sentral actually creates a washroom break before continuing the journey to Singapore in another bus of preference — we preferred this way of travelling.
#4. Take Bus At Larkin Sentral for Singapore
If you are back at Larkin Sentral, take SBS Transit 170, Causeway Link CWL (or CW1 / CW2) or Singapore-Johor Express (SJE) at Gate 1 & 2 to Singapore.
And you are back in Singapore!
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 Taman Negara (National Park) and the resort isles.
It is definitely cheaper to make the trip yourself.