Getting from Singapore to Melaka in Malaysia is surprisingly simple. You can catch a bus from Singapore directly there, or for a third of the price you can cross the border yourself to Larkin Sentral in Johor Bahru, and pay for a coach to Melaka in Malaysian Ringgit. Travelling on a tight budget, we did the latter.
There are many places you can catch the 170, but we chose the Botanic Gardens. We caught the MRT to the Botanic Gardens where we easily found the bus station exit, and the bus stand for the 170 bus, the SBS cross border service. This local bus takes you right through to the Larkin Bus Terminal in Johor Bahru, where the buses to Melaka leave. I’m sure you can buy tickets at Larkin Sentral, but we had booked ahead on www.easybook.comAlthough the one bus line takes you to JB Sentral, you do need to get on and off the bus a couple of times to go through both Singapore and Malaysian immigration. You need to take all your belongings because you won’t board the same bus, just the next 170 that comes along.
One thing to keep in mind: there are two local 170 buses in Singapore. The main one takes you to the Larkin terminal, so that’s the one you need to catch. Get the 170 not the 170X. They come about every 15-20 mins, and take about 40 minutes to the border, depending on traffic (especially across the causeway).Everyone gets off the bus at the Singapore/woodlands checkpoint. You will get back on the next 170 that comes along once you are through immigration.
We’d heard that the lines at Woodlands gets worse later in the day. We got there well before lunch and it still took about an hour to get through. We then found the bus stop, and waited about 10-minutes for a 170 to arrive. A few minutes later we arrived at the Malaysian checkpoint, where everyone once again got off the bus.
Malaysian immigration was a breeze, and only took a few minutes to get through. We followed the signs out to the bus stop… And once again waited for a 170 bus to come through. This time the trip was about 15-minutes, straight to the Larkin bus terminal.The one bus ticket covers the whole 170 trip, on and off each bus. So make sure you hold onto it. Our tickets cost $2.50 each.
Once at the Larkin terminal we grabbed a bite to eat, and boarded the KKKL Express to Melaka, at a cost of $52.66 for the six of us. Just over $60 with the 170 tickets included. If we’d caught a coach directly from Singapore we were looking at approximately $156… So a saving of nearly $100.When I first heard about this way of crossing into Malaysia I thought it sounded complicated. It’s not. It’s straightforward, saves money, and as our oldest son pointed out… it’s more fun too.