Updated: Jan 24, 2018
Christmas Day of 2017 and New Year's Day of 2018 fell on two consecutive Mondays — that means two consecutive long weekends. By taking 4 days annual leave, one can have up to 10 days of holiday. It was a great opportunity not to be missed. Without thinking further, one would book a holiday in Malaysia and set off on 23rd December 2017 — a Saturday!
If one traveller could think of that, others would too. And not just travellers, Malaysian workers in Singapore also thought of that too — so they reserved their annual leaves till the end of 2017 and cleared them in one go. Everyone with the same idea for the rare long holidays congregated at the Singapore-Johor border on that Saturday.
If you have read our earlier article: Best Times to Cross Singapore-Johor Causeway (Woodlands), you will agree with us that massive traffic jams on the causeway was to be expected on that Saturday.
22nd December 2017 (Friday)
After working hours on Friday, more people than usual crossed the border to Malaysia. This was expected.
23rd December 2017 (Saturday)
As published in the news, the resulting traffic jam was 4 hours. People queuing for buses waited for at least 2 hours — that means a total of 6 hours to reach Johor Bahru immigration checkpoint from Kranji MRT Station.
During a traffic jam on the causeway, all buses would be caught in the jam too. Not only that, all major roads leading to Woodlands Checkpoint in Kranji, Woodlands and Marsiling would be packed with vehicles too.
Again, this was expected.
24th December 2017 (Sunday)
The traffic was considered smooth the whole day. As seen in the screenshots below using checkpoint.sg app, there was some traffic at 9:30am but diminished by 11am.
But there were more vehicles coming into Singapore — probably Malaysian travellers coming in for Christmas holiday, which is more vibrant than Malaysia.
25th December 2017 (Monday)
The traffic was ultra smooth.
By the way, the checkpoint.sg app is a great app to have for travellers to check the traffic conditions on the causeway, especially before going to the checkpoints. But it does not provide information about the human queues in the immigration halls.
The Following Week...
If you had expected the traffic conditions during the New Year's Day long weekend to be congested, than you had guessed wrongly. It was smooth-sailing for that weekend.
With most workers already on leaves and most travellers already gone for their holidays in Malaysia, there were far fewer traffic on Friday night (29th Dec) and Saturday (30th Dec) going to Malaysia — well, not all commuter-workers were on leaves.
On 30th December Saturday morning, even though there was traffic on the causeway at 9:30am (left of photo), there was no long traffic queue on the road leading to Woodlands Checkpoint (right). The traffic cleared by 1pm.
This was a special situation that happened only during the end of the year when most workers took leave together — factory-wide.
On 31st December 2017 (Sunday), I went over to Johor Bahru for a day trip, knowing that it will be very quiet on the causeway and around KSL City in JB. I was over the border in less than 30 minutes each way.
And New Year's Day was a day to be back at home and rest for most people, getting ready for first day of work and school the following day.
For the next two weekends that follow after New Year’s Day, there will be lesser traffic too since most people just came back from long holidays in Malaysia.
As discussed earlier in the post: Best Times to Cross the Causeway, it would have been better to take a Friday leave and cross over to Malaysia in the morning of Friday on 22nd December 2017 or go over on Sunday, 24th December. That would have avoided the 4-hour traffic congestion on that Saturday — 6 hours or more for those taking buses.
Learning from this episode, we can make better travel plans to Malaysia next time.
There will not be a double long weekends this year — Christmas 2018 and New Year's Day 2019 will fall on Tuesdays — but taking 4 days of annual leave will still give 8 days of holiday. If I am going to Malaysia for holiday during this period, I will go over on the Sunday before Christmas and back on the weekend before New Year's Day.
The next double long weekends for Christmas and New Year's Day will be in 2020. Both will fall on Fridays. Do plan wisely.
When to travel to Malaysia?