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Day Trips to Singapore from Senibong Cove Marina, Malaysia

By SY Yindee Plus — last modified Dec 10, 2014 12:35 PM
We didn't want to miss visiting Singapore but we needed to avoid Singapore waters because we don't have an AIS transponder or a large budget for the marinas there. Staying at one of the marinas on the Malaysian side of the Johor Strait seemed an option and this is how we managed several day trips to Singapore.

Published: 2014-12-10 00:00:00
Countries: Malaysia , Singapore

Day Trips to Singapore from Senibong Cove Marina, Malaysia

Singapore's Super Trees: © SY Yindee Plus

Getting to CIQ in Johor Bahru

First stage is to get from the boat to the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) building in Johor Bahru Central which is right next to the causeway to Singapore. This is about a 25 minute taxi ride. We paid between 17 – 30 RM ($5 - $8 US) from Senibong Cove Marina. A bus from the local town, Permas Jaya, would be more economical if you can't fill a cab, but requires a 20 minute walk to the town first. Our best taxi driver was Mr Yee who spoke excellent English, had the cleanest car and was meticulous about running his meter. His cellphone number is +60 127751519.

Malaysia Immigration

There are no instructions at the CIQ building and not many people who speak English. Over four separate days we worked out the following process: Go up the escalator and follow the flow of people or signs to 'Woodlands'. Sometimes a couple of officials will ask to see your passport before the formal immigration desks, sometimes not. The Malaysian immigration was quick and efficient each time, a stamp in the passport and we were out.

Bus to Singapore

After this, it doesn't matter if you go to platform A or B (of the bus station) as they all meet up downstairs. You need to have lots of small Malaysian currency because the drivers aren't allowed to give change. We paid between 1.50 – 3.50 RM each. The fare for the ride is printed on the signboard for most buses.

There is no walkway across the causeway and no metro service either. If you are not traveling by private car or taxi, then you have to take a bus. But the buses don't just cross the causeway and then turn round; they do the whole route to any number of destinations in Singapore, so you have to decide where to buy a ticket to. The first time we went, we bought tickets to downtown Singapore (Queen St) and that is the cheapest option (3.40 RM / 90 cents US each) as the bus fare pays for the whole trip. We found the buses overcrowded though and had to stand for the whole journey.

The next time, we caught the bus to Kranji at 1.50 RM each (the closest MRT station to the causeway) and then did the rest of the journey on that. The MRT is easy to use and not expensive ($2.60 SGD / $1.90 US to downtown) and we managed to sit down for at least some of the journey, which takes about 45 minutes. One other day we went to Woodlands MRT, which is a much larger station, with lots of cafes etc and a bus station but the easiest was Kranji.

At Kranji, the bus stops right outside the MRT station, there are ATMs there and food outlets too. Food is much cheaper on the outskirts of Singapore, so buy some snacks here to eat later in the day. The most important thing to note is that it doesn't matter which bus you get on at the Malaysian side; as long as you buy a ticket for the right destination (i.e. each bus sells tickets for all it's company's route). Then when you've cleared Singapore immigration, you have to find the correct bus which matches your ticket! Confused? We were. But it doesn't take that long to work out what's going on.

Singapore Immigration

The bus takes you across the causeway and then stops at Singapore Immigration. Perversely, there's a sign saying 'no alighting' at the point where you alight. Follow the other folk, up the escalators and into the immigration hall. You need to present an immigration card with your passport so collect one from the counter on the right (and take a few for another day too). Mostly we went straight through or waited a very short time, but one day we waited about 45 minutes (later we found out it was a public holiday). Even if you're just going to Singapore for the day, you still have to fill in the address section: write the tourist attraction you are going to visit. After another passport stamp and a baggage security check (airport-style), go down the escalator and turn back on yourself to the bus depot.

You have to wait in line there, following the painted lines on the ground or signage, for the bus which matches your ticket. You may wait some time as they have to pass customs and immigration too.

How long does it take to get to Singapore?

The whole process, from marina to downtown Singapore took 3.5 hours on the busiest day and 2 hours on the quickest. It was pretty exhausting and we needed days off in between, especially as weren't getting back to the marina until 11:30pm. We thought about booking a family room in a hotel for one night between our last two days, but the entire travel costs for a day amounted to less than $40 US and a hotel room was at least $85.

A cost-effective way to visit Singapore

So we found our whole Singapore experience relatively inexpensive, which was completely the opposite to our friends at the Singapore marinas. The things you can't avoid paying for, like transport and food, can be very cheap if you avoid high dollar restaurants and taxis. We only did tourist attractions that cost very little or were free (lots of them) and we ate at Asian foodcourts where the food was wonderful and very cheap.

The advantages of visiting Singapore like this were:

It enabled us to see some of the sights on a pretty small budget;
the boat stayed in a cheap marina ($14 US a night for our 43' mono) so we could take days off without feeling that we had to be sight-seeing all the time to get value for money;
the re-provisioning for the boat was in Malaysia not Singapore so not expensive;
and it was actually very interesting to witness the daily commute of thousands of Malaysians who work in Singapore each day.

Disadvantages were:

It was a tiring way of visiting;
it added lots of immigration stamps to our passports although the authorites were considerate and tried to bunch them all on the same page;
we didn't get time in each day trip to see Singapore late at night as we had to leave downtown by 8pm to be sure to catch late MRTs / taxis etc.

Susan Bright
SY Yindee Plus

http://www.yindeeplus.net/Yindee_Plus/Welcome.html
The Bright family on their cutter-rigged sloop Yindee Plus began their extended cruising from the UK in 2008. Their blog has lots of interesting reports and twin sons Sid and Wilf have their own blogs also.

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