2012 • 5 • 22
Aside from being one of the richest and most highly developed countries in Asia, Singapore is also a transportation hub, boasting a world-class international airport (Changi) and one of the busiest ports in the world. Its organized transport system makes it a good jump-off point to other destinations outside the city, particularly Malacca (Melaka).
Malacca, locally called Melaka, is the oldest state in Malaysia, thus the title, “The Historic State”. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also one of the country’s most important tourist destinations. Its long history saw the rise and fall of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British as they conquered the place, leaving long-standing structures and cultural influences that are still alive and visible and creating a melting pot of cultures that is truly one of a kind. Although this city is rapidly developing into an urban hub, at its core is a heritage area divided into two parts by the Melaka River. On the river’s eastern bank lies the Chinatown and on its western bank, the center of the European settlement during their rule.
The historic city of Malacca may be in the heart of Peninsular Malaysia but it is only 4-5 hours away from Singapore. This means that if you’re visiting Singapore, you may consider paying this magnificent destination a visit, too. Be it a day trip, an overnight stay, or a whole weekend, a stop in Malacca will surely prove to be an enlightening and rewarding experience.
The Singapore-Malacca route is one of the well-trodden backpacking trails in Southeast Asia; thanks to the ease of transport, relatively short distance, and tourist-friendliness of the two cities.
Here are some options on how to get to Malacca from Singapore.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
This is the best and cheapest option. There are several bus companies serving the Singapore – Melaka route as many Singaporeans flock to Melaka on weekends for a quick getaway. There are normal buses and luxury buses.
The travel time is approximately 4 hours, depending on the traffic situation and the border-crossing process. The fare ranges from S$20 to S$50, depending on bus class and operator.
1. Purchase your ticket.
You can either buy from your chosen bus company ticketing office or book online through its website. Note: When you book online, take a screenshot or print the confirmation. You can also book via 12go here: SINGAPORE-MALACCA BUS!
Here’s a list of some of the bus companies operating the Singapore – Melaka route:
- KKKL Express Singapore
- Starmart Express
- Delima Express
- Golden Coach Express
- Golden Coach (S)
- Superior Coach & Tour
- Luxury Coach Service
- City Express
- 707 Inc
- Grassland Singapore
- Lapan Lapan Travel
- WTS Travel & Tours
- The One Travel & Tours
- Billion Stars
- Sri Maju Group
- Un Express & Travel
2. Go to the designated pick up point.
The pickup point varies depending on the bus company. Booking companies usually indicate and highlight the bus stop where you can catch the bus. You can also check with the bus company. But the usual bus stop/pick up point is one of the following:
- Queen Street
- Golden Mile Tower
- China Town
- Park Royal Hotel
- Concorde Hotel (Orchard Road)
- Bugis MRT Exit D
- Kovan Hub 206
- Boon Lay
- Big Box
Reminder! Be there thirty minutes before the indicated departure time of the bus, to be safe. We once booked with Easybook and arrived early but we later learned that our bus already left ahead of schedule. There was a glitch in the booking site and our booking had not been cascaded to the dispatcher; hence, they thought they got the right number of passengers when they dispatched the bus earlier than the indicated departure. This is why you need to take a screenshot of your booking confirmation, so the bus company can accommodate you should this happen.
3. Go through Immigration check at the border.
Less than 30 minutes into your journey, you will reach the Singapore-Malaysia border. Do NOT forget to bring your passport with you and have it ready. That also means you shouldn’t sleep immediately after boarding.
When you reach the Immigration checkpoint, you need to get off the bus and go through the immigration process. Take all your belongings with you. Remember how the bus and the driver look. Take note of the plate number so you can easily find it on the other side later.
- From Woodlands Checkpoint (Singapore), get on the bus to Johor Customs (Malaysia).
- You will have to get off the bus again to get your passport stamped.
- Find your bus and wait for the other passengers to be cleared.
The process can take about an hour but it depends on the volume of passengers. But try to be as quick as you can to avoid inconveniencing other passengers who might be waiting.
4. Get off at Melaka Sentral.
Normally, the buses (especially those coming from City Plaza) terminate at Melaka Sentral, which is, you guessed it, Malacca’s central station.
However, some buses have a different final stop, so check which stop is the closest or most convenient to your destination or hotel.
5. Take a cab or bus to your hotel.
When you reach the Melaka Sentral (Malacca Central Terminal), you may take a bus to the historic center, if your hotel is located there. Fare is RM 1.50.
You’ll also find a queue of taxis waiting for passengers. Tell the driver your destination and he can take you directly to your hotel. Note that they don’t use meters much (or at all?). Fare is usually around RM 25.
There’s no train operating directly from Singapore to Melaka. The nearest train station from Melaka lies around 40 kilometers away. Hence, the train is not the advisable mode of transportation. It is the slowest option and involves multiple transfers.
But if you still want to try this for whatever reason, this is how to get to Melaka from Singapore by train.
- Purchase a train ticket. You can book in advance at the KTMB website.
- Make your way to WOODLANDS TRAIN CHECKPOINT. Note that this is different from MRT Woodlands Station, which is located a bit far from the Woodlands Train Checkpoint. If you didn’t purchase a ticket in advance, you’ll find the ticketing office in the ground floor.
- Go through Immigration and customs checks. Take all your belongings with you.
- Take the KTM train (Tebrau Shuttle train) to JB (Johor Baru) Sentral Station. The fare is S$5 and travel time takes about five minutes.
- From JB Sentral Station, take a train to Tampin (Pulau Sebang) Station. There are only three schedules. The fares are MYR25 (adults) and MYR17 (children). Do not miss your train. Total travel duration is approximately five hours.
- From Tampin Station, you need to walk to the bus station and board a bus (No. 26) to Malacca. You can also take a cab but negotiate with the driver for the fare. Travel duration is about 45 minutes.
We can’t indicate in this post the specific departure and arrival times of these trains because they keep on changing. But you can check the updated schedule on this site: KTMB TRAIN TIMETABLES.
WHERE TO STAY IN MALACCA
- TheBlanc Boutique Hotel. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
- Modern Cave Boutique Stay. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
- The One Vacation Home. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
- 19straatheeren. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
- Once In Peninsula. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
- Nomaps Hostel. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
- Yote 28. Check Rates & Availability! ✅
Search for more Malacca Hotels!
Our Experience Taking the Bus
We booked a bus ticket for three with Golden Coach Express via Easibook.com using a credit card. We thought that was it.
On the day of our trip, we were already at the Keypoint Building Bus Stop, where the bus was supposed to pick up passengers going to Malacca. And then a series of unfortunate (but hilarious) events happened.
Our bus was scheduled to leave at 8:45am but we were already there at 7:30am. We waited and waited for the bus. We asked the driver of another bus where the bus to Malacca is parked. He answered with a heartbreaking, “It already left.”
Wuuuu. What we gonna dew???
The friendly bus driver suggested that we go inside the Keypoint Building and find the office of Golden Coach Express and maybe they could help. We did just that and we were entertained by two women from the bus company. They confirmed that the bus already left.
“But it’s only 8:25am,” we said. “That bus is scheduled to leave at 8:45am. We’re early.”
“The bus left already because we thought we were not waiting for any more passengers,” one of the women reasoned.
“Aw. But we booked via Easibook.com,” my friend Ces said.
“Yes, we already paid via credit card and we have a ticket.”
We showed them our ticket and they confirmed that it was a legitimate transaction. Apparently, our booking was not reflected in their system. The women apologized and said that it wasn’t the first time this happened. They were really apologetic but they were really nice. While one women made a few phone calls, the other (the Malaysian girl) was giving us tips. When the other woman put down the phone, she told us that we should just take the bus going to Kuala Lumpur and then transfer to the other bus going to Malacca when we reach the border. We agreed.
While on the way to the Malaysian border, my friends Astrid and Ces and I laughed off the entire thing. We even came up with a Plan B — should we fail to find the Malacca bus, we’d just go to Kuala Lumpur.
Before we knew it, we were already at the border as announced by the bus driver. We got off and passed through both the Singaporean and Malaysian Immigration. Our problem now was how to find the driver of the other bus, who was told to wait for us at the border. There was no sign or whatever so we began looking for the bus, which we couldn’t find either. After several minutes, a man approached Ces and Astrid. He was the driver and he led us to the bus, parked in a far side of the area.
The first thing we noticed was that the other passengers were so mad at us for “returning to the bus late.” They thought we were with them when they came here and that it took us forever to get through the Immigration. Apparently, the bus driver did not explain the situation.
We endured the entire five-hour trip with other passengers bitching about it. It was really uncomfortable. We couldn’t blame the other passengers. It was not their fault. But it was not ours, either.
All is well as soon as we reached Melaka Sentral, though. Whenever my friends and I talked in Tagalog, someone always asked us “Tagalog? Tagalog?” Turned out that there were many Filipinos working in Malacca but most of them are from Mindanao (Zamboanga and Sulu) according to one guy who worked at the terminal that we met. He said they usually asked whether someone spoke Tagalog or Cebuano when they know that person is Filipino. He’s from Sulu and he’s such a sweet guy.
Malacca locals are very friendly, too. The taxi drivers we talked to while trying to find the buses to Chinatown were very welcoming, throwing jokes here and there to make us feel at home. They also shared tips and stories about their Filipino friends.
Additional words by Asta Alvarez