Coming from: Johor Bahru, Johor State, Malaysia
Going to: Woodlands, Singapore
Documents required: Passport
Waiting time: 3 min (Malaysia), 26 min (Singapore)
Distance from Bern: 27.498 km
I took this trip to discover the remote and rarely visited border crossings all over the world – such as this gem at the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border. The border from Malaysia to Singapore was quite the opposite – the Mallorca of the borders! Huge terminals, looking like airport buildings, manage to digest masses of border crossers in a matter of minutes. No wonder: They need to deal with all the Malaysians which work in Singapore and return home to Johor Bahru daily.
Airport feeling: Border terminal on the Malaysian side.
Using the terminals also feels like using an airport: Inside the terminals, yellow signs guide foot passengers (and on another level cars) to the control booths, which are located in a huge hall. In an efficient procedure, passengers are quickly processed and continue by foot to the gate – where they board one of the tens of buses which leave from the basement of the terminal. The ride takes only a couple of minutes, and on the other side the same procedure begins again. It’s like flying, without the airplane part in between.
So here’s the protocol of my own crossing:
5:52 pm: I join the queue in Malaysia’s Sultan Iskandar Customs and Immigration Complex.
5:55 pm: The Malaysian exit stamp is in my passport, I proceed to the bus boarding area in the basement.
6:00 pm: Departure of my Causeway Link bus to Kranji MRT station in Singapore.
6:08 pm: Arrival at Woodlands Checkpoint of Singapore. I fill out the immigration form, an unnecessary piece of bureaucracy still common in too many countries.
6:15 pm: I join the queue at Woodlands Checkpoint. On billboards, Singapore’s authorities threaten potential traffickers with harsh warnings (“death penalty”).
6:41 pm: Singapore’s entry stamp is in my passport.
6:45 pm: I arrive at the boarding area and can’t find my bus again. Obviously, the bus I had come with had already filled up and departed, but I expected another vehicle of the same line (Cw1) to turn up, which was not the case.
7:00 pm: I lose patience and take another Causeway Link bus instead, which luckily brings me into the city centre of Singapore.
Singapore’s Woodlands Checkpoint looks like a modern fortress.
Transport: Busses across the border leave constantly from Johor Bahru’s Sultan Iskandar Customs and Immigration Complex to various destinations in Singapore, among others Queen Street Bus Station and Kranji MRT Station (1.50 to 4 MYR). In the other direction, it is probably best to go to Kranji MRT Station by MRT and catch a bus across the border there. Make sure to keep the ticket for the second leg of the journey, after the border crossing. A shuttle train links Johor Bahru with Woodlands in Singapore every 1-2 hour, taking five minutes. When I inquired, however, tickets were already sold out for the whole day.
Accommodation: Singapore and Johor Bahru are both metropolises, so there is plenty of choice. The hotels in Singapore are probably the most expensive in the region.
Food: Same applies for food. In Singapore, everything is available. Johor Bahru has more Malay, Chinese and Indian food, plus some hipster venues in the renovated old town.
Money exchange: There neither money changers nor ATMs at both border terminals. Money can easily be exchanged around Singapore’s Queen Street Bus Station, while in Johor Bahru I did not see any exchange offices (but there are banks).