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Monday, February 11, 2019

Travelling to and from Singapore by Train and Bus

Inside the train

The kids are teens now and they have not traveled by train before. So, this year instead of travelling to Penang by car, we decided to travel to Singapore by train for Chinese New Year. The strange thing about travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore is you have to make two train changes to get there.

KL Sentral

Train Tracks
First you travel by ETS train (the faster Electric Train Service) from KL Sentral to Gemas (in Negeri Sembilan), then change to a regular train to JB Sentral and finally change again to shuttle train from JB Sentral to Woodlands Checkpoint, Singpore ie your train journey from KL to Singapore will be in 3 parts and you have to book your ticket separately in this manner. You also have to time your journey so that you don't have to spend too much time waiting for your trains during your interchange. There are only two trains a day from KL Sentral to Gemas ie at 12.00 am or 12.00 noon.

1. KL Sentral to Gemas (2 1/2 hours journey. Ticket price is RM31 for adult and RM20 for child)
2. Gemas to JB Sentral (5 hour journey. Ticket price is RM21 for adult and RM15 for child)
3. JB Sentral to Woodlands Train Checkpoint (also known as Woodlands CIQ) (5 minute journey. Ticket price is RM5 for adult or child)

Gemas Station
You can book your tickets online from online booking sites like Easybook or BusOnlineTicket or from KTMB directly.

Train Route

View from the train

Since ours was a last minute trip with poor planning, we had to travel on the first day of Chinese New Year and we could not get return tickets because they were fully booked. We also did not managed to get shuttle train tickets from JB Sentral to Woodlands Checkpoint as they were fully booked. We ended up travelling as follows.

1. KL Sentral to Gemas (12pm to 2.30pm). There are no eateries at the Gemas station. If you are looking for food, you'd have to walk out of the station. For a stop over station, that's rather inconvenient.
2. Gemas to JB Sentral  (3.30pm to 8.30pm).
3. After getting passports stamped at JB Sentral (Malaysia exit immigration) we took bus no. 170 to Woodlands Checkpoint to get our passports stamped at Singapore arrival immigration).  We paid for  our bus ticket to the bus driver in Malaysian ringgit. So it was not too much trouble. Just some walking, following signboards and asking around with no waiting time required.

I remember there used to be a canteen coach where you could sit, order food and eat when I was on a train as a  young child. They don't have that on these trains. There's a counter where you can buy drinks and snacks or food and eat at your own seat.

The train can be quite cold so a cardigan, sweater or jacket at hand would make the journey more comfortable.

After stamping our passports at Woodlands CIQ, as it was late and we were tired, we took a taxi straight to the hotel instead of bus and MRT.

The next morning we walked to Orchard MRT Station to purchase the Singapore Tourist Pass. This was really useful for us to make use of public transportation like the MRT and buses in Singapore. We could hop and off any bus or MRT whenever we felt like it. It was really convenient. Note however that there is a refundable deposit. However, not all MRT ticketing stations can do the refund and not all of them are open at convenient hours. So we had to get our refund at the most convenient station and then purchase one way MRT tickets to get to the place where our bus awaits for our return trip to KL.

During our short stay, we had to purchase our return bus tickets as we only got one way train tickets to Singapore. We went to the Golden Mile Complex Bus Terminal on bus No. 100. This is where you can find the offices for most bus operators. We decided against it because the traveling was out of the way for us.

I downloaded the Moovit App to help me with my bus ride. It was really useful as the app gave me info on which bus to take as well as live updates on my ride and where I should get off. That's cool.

In Bus No. 100
Finally we settled for First Coach as it was more convenient for us since the bus departs from Novena which is only two stops away from Orchard. We took the bus which departed Singapore at 11.30 am. One hour later it arrives at Tuas Checkpoint. After stamping out of Singapore which takes about 15 minutes for everyone, we headed to Johor Checkpoint for another round of arrival to Malaysia stamping at immigration. The bus makes a one time 20 minute stop at Pagoh R & R and there are no toilets in the bus so you should plan your water and food intake accordingly. We arrived in Bangsar at 5 pm. Traffic was heavy but smooth. First Coach also has arrivals at One Utama shopping complex for different times of departure from Singapore.

Our total travelling expenses

1. From KL Sentral to Singapore by train -  8 1/2 hours including transit waiting time (Fee = RM228 for 4 adults)
2. From Singapore to KL by bus - 5 1/2 hours including one 20 minute stop (Fee = RM436 for 4 adults. Note that fee is higher because of our poor planning and purchasing ticket from Singapore. Buying tickets from Malaysia is RM360 for 4 adults)
3. Tourist pass for 4 adults for 3 days is RM240 (Again, we had poor planning and overbought. We did not use the 3rd day.)
4. Taxi from Woodlands CIQ to hotel is RM60
5. One way ticket from Orchard MRT to Novena MRT for 4 pax = RM18

Total money spent on transportation for 4 pax is RM982. It is a good experience for the teens to travel by different modes of transportation instead of driving all the time.

I write this because my memory is poor and this helps jolt my memory should we wish to travel by train or coach again. Hopefully, it helps readers to learn from our mistakes too. Of course, travelling expenses will not be exactly the same as shown. It depends on the time of travel and where you are travelling to etc.

Next up. Where we stayed and what we did in Singapore.

2-day trip to Singapore with older kids - Day 1 Chinatown and Sentosa Island



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