Sunday, 28 June 2015

6 Unsurprising Tips about Taking Coaches to Malaysia

For most Singaporeans, taking a tour bus or coach to Malaysia is the cheapest and most basic form of holiday. For the price of a SEA Aquarium Ticket or a mid-priced restaurant meal, you can escape to pretty much every tourist hotspot in Malaysia within hours. For the seasoned traveler, these tips will be nothing more than a little recap.

Malaysia Singapore Express Bus

1) Avoid departing on Friday evenings and returning on Sunday evenings

I’m sure you know why. During these 2 timeslots, there are thousands of workers who are returning back after a week of work, and a deluge of families and individuals looking for a short holiday. This means that the queue at immigrations is…substantial at best. Even for bus lanes, which are much faster than the car lanes, queues can last over an hour.

The best time to cross the Singapore-Malaysia border is on Tuesday to Thursday late mornings. If the peak period is unavoidable, then select a service that uses the second link. Rule of Thumb: Coaches are faster than Cars!
Coach ticket KL
If you arrive too late, all the ticketing counters may be closed and you will have to purchase your tickets when you depart - a risky move

2) Do not drink too much water

Alright, I always tell you readers to drink more water at theme parks, but this is not a good choice when you are taking a 5 hour bus trip. Reason: Toilet breaks are few and far between. I have personally endured 1 hour on full bladder, and it sure is not fun. You can request the driver for an exclusive personal stop, but I can assure that you will not be very well liked among the other passengers.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid drinking within 30 minutes of departure, and restricting to one 500ml bottle for the entire trip. Go to the toilet just before departure, and make full use of all official toilet breaks. Some of my friends say that eating sweets can help, but this is more of a personal preference.

3) Its almost never too late to book a ticket

For most coaches to Malaysia, there will be a few seats left even in the final hours before departure. This means that you can literally show up at Golden Mile Complex in an hour and board a coach within the next. Exception is during the peak periods mentioned in point 1 above, and for routes to less travelled routes.

So, enjoy your last minute planned vacation, and travel Second Drop style by paying a visit to Sunway Lagoon or Genting Highlands. For online bookings, such as via, it is quite safe to purchase tickets about 24 hours before departure.

4) If the Coach is Double Decked, take the Upper Floor.

Double decked coaches are very common for routes to KL and Genting Highlands, and taking the upper floors will ensure that you have a great view of the plantations and mountains of Malaysia. For my taller friends out there, the upper deck also has a slightly higher ceiling than the lower.

The lower deck is best if you are travelling with seniors/wheelchair bound friends, or if you travel in a group size such that you can have a private floor to yourself. Usually, the Super VIP Class seats will have 6 seats on the lower floor, while Executive/First Class coaches are truly exclusive 4 seat lower floors.

Singapore Malaysia Coach SuperVIP
This is a typical seat on a Singapore KL Express Bus. The width is about 60cm and pitch about 1.2m, which is comparable to short haul business class seats.

5) There is no noticeable difference between the Premium Brands and less well known Coach Lines

When most people think of coaches to KL, they think of Konsortium, Grassland Express and Transtar. These companies are good, but there are others which can offer an identical service for lower cost. Some Coach companies, like 707 and KKKL even have scheduled departures at less conventional timings which can fit your timetable better – at a lower price. Don’t worry about seat comfort. As long as you see SuperVIP, Standard Class or something similar, it means you are getting seats similar to older airline Business Class – without the wine of course.

NOTE: Beware that some bus lines only operate to Johor Bahru. Make sure your ticket explicitly says Singapore, regardless of which company you travel by.

This bus line operates to Johor Bahru, as the livery implies. However, many operates serve BOTH JB and Singapore so you need to check your ticket carefully.

6) Don’t forget to account for the travel time

In general, coaches in Malaysia operate at about 95-100kph. So, a general rule of thumb is to take the distance and divide by one hundred; this will give travel time in hours. Of course, you must not forget about immigrations and the journey within Singapore. This will easily add another 2 hours. Here is a good guideline of the time taken, assume non-peak periods.

  • Singapore to Malacca: 4 hours
  • Singapore to KL: 5 hours
  • Singapore to Genting Highlands: 6.5 hours
  • Singapore to Cameron Highlands: 8.5 hours

Improved Road Infrastructure in KL and other parts of Malaysia allows for faster journey times, but it still takes time.

Alright, there is nothing surprising about these tips, but they can still help you a lot when planning for your mini vacation to Malaysia. Please do share in the comment if you have any other tips, surprisingly or not. In true Second Drop style, don’t forget to check out some amazing attractions in Malaysia like Legoland, Sunway Lagoon and Batu Caves, and also don’t forget to like the Second Drop FacebookPage!