Since 2015 KTM has run a commuter train between Johor Bahru and Singapore. The trains run from JB Sentral to Woodlands in Singapore (and the reverse). The cost is much higher from Singapore to JB. For whatever reason that is how the buses are priced too, the price is for example 5 MYR from JB to Singapore and Sing$5 from Singapore to JB. Since 1 Singapore dollar is 3.1 MYR that makes the price much higher from Singapore.
The train ride itself takes under 10 minutes. The schedule is subject to change but runs more frequently in the morning (from JB) and in the evening (from Singapore) and infrequently during the day. It is geared toward commuters from Johor Bahru to jobs in Singapore which is why the times may seem a bit odd at first glance.
Remember you have to pass through customs before getting on the train. They have made the process faster by having you go through both country’s customs office before boarding the train. With the bus you have to go through customs, go over the bridge, then get off the bus and go through customs again and then get back on the bus. This obviously wastes time. The JB extension to the Singapore MRT (whenever it finally gets started and then completed) will use this improved process of clearly both customs at the same time.
Frankly I find the KTM website too confusing to use. You may also purchase tickets via this site. Even on this site you have to be careful to get the right ticket (the results will include some that are not going between JB and Singapore – maybe that will be fixed when you look, but be careful).
The current schedule is (remember this may well change so try the links above for current information)
Johor Bahru to Singapore Train Schedule
If you live in Johor Bahru and work in Singapore (or have some other need to commute frequently, student etc.) you would fill up your passport quickly if you got stamps in your passport for each entry and exit.
The Malaysia Automated Clearance System (MACS) uses a sticker (with embedded with a RFID chip) that is attached to the passport and scanned upon entry and departure from Malaysia. So this removes the Malaysian stamps.
MACS has been developed to cater to non-Malaysian investors, business persons and professionals. A Malaysian sponsor company is required. Working for a business in Iskandar that also required you to work in Singapore would likely qualify. This requirement is stated in some places but seems to be ignored often especially for those with a Singapore passport (which makes sense, say you are just someone who lives in Singapore and has a weekend home in JB shouldn’t you be able to use MACS?).
You can apply and receive your MACS sticker at the main Johor Bahru CIQ (ask when you are there I can’t find a direct link on their web site).
Singapore has the Enhanced Immigration Automated Clearance System (eIACS) for Singapore citizens, permanent residents and Long Term Pass holders and Work pass holders. See the link for various conditions. It might only be available for those with Malaysian, USA, UK, Chinese or Australian passports (I am not sure on this part).
Please add your comments on your experience or suggestions related to commuting between Singapore and Johor Bahru.
Related: Timeline for Extending Singapore’s MRT to Johor Bahru Slips Into 2020, or Beyond – Taking the Bus from Johor Bahru to Singapore – Online Resources for Living in Johor Bahru – Singapore and Iskandar Malaysia
The haze conditions have been bad and getting worse in Malaysia and Singapore the last few weeks. Not since the extremely bad haze in 2013 have things been so bad.
Once again the main culprit is burning of forests in Indonesia. The map shows the darkest haze over the sources of the fires in Indonesia In the last week Melacca, Sengalor and even parts of Sarawak have had even worse pollution than Johor Bahru.
From the Department of Environment of Malaysia which publishes API* readings hourly for 4 sites in Johor (as well as the rest of Malaysia). A reading above 100 is unhealthy, above 300 is hazardous. In Malaysia this week readings have been above 150 several times and above 100 quite often.
The situation is expected to continue until the rainy season puts out the fires in January. There is firefighting ongoing but it is not able to put much of a dent in the massive outbreak of polluting fires.
During 11th Annual JB Arts Festival I stopped by the White Box which is on the top floor of Danga City Mall in downtown Johor Bahru. A few weeks later I listened to a talk on backpacking around South America and Europe at the Black Box.
JB sketchers display with some of the participants work. Join in their monthly outings and more activities.
These have become permanent spaces (for the time being anyway). Since the mall has many unrented spots this is a very wise idea; making use of otherwise wasted space and also brining in potential customers for businesses at the mall.
Tribal Stove is absolutely wonderful
Yes it has great food, which thankfully there is a a great deal of in many place. What makes Tribal Stove someplace not to miss is it is the rare combination of great and generally inaccessible food.
I often find great restaurants in tourist destinations. And sometimes it is even local in a sense – but nearly always (not all, but almost) I can get very similar good dishes in any large city across the globe.
Tribal Stove had truly distinctive dishes that were also great. They have quite a few dishes, some of my favorite are wild jungle salad and tapioca leaves. The restaurant serves cuisine from Kelabit Highlands in Sarawak.
Maybe my all time favorite meal. The 3 sample items were great.
The set menu (photo above) of tea, a meat dish with 2 vegetable sides, soup and rice that was US$5 (15 MYR). It was amazing. It would be great at $20. I happened to be lucky enough to get my favorite vegetable there with my first order.
The meet dish in the triple was very good, the rice I didn’t care for. But the two vegetable dishes were amazing – truly great. One the right is Lamud Busaq Keluduh (Bario Wild Flower Salad) – wild ginger flower, petai and wild chives flavored with Bario Higland salt. I believe the dish on the left was Udung Ubih (Wild Tapioca Leaf) – cassava or tapioca leaf pounded and shredded and cooked to perfection over a slow heat. The middle dish was, I believe, beef with crisp vegetables.
I have been trying other dishes which are also great but those 2 are not to be missed (you can get “small” dishes of those for $3, see photo below – two pretty easily make a meal in my opinion). If the prices triple this place is still not to be missed.
There is no restaurant I recommend to travels more strongly than I recommend Tribal Stove. If I could have one restaurant transplanted to my location so I could eat their in my home town it would be Tribal Stove. There is nothing remotely close.
Sadly one of the features of living in Johor Bahru is having to accept unreliable service.
My 9:30 AM taxi isn’t here (after 9:50 AM). The only phone numbers online for the JB-Singapore taxis that I can find are never answered. I don’t mean like they take a long time or sometimes are not answered. I mean I have never had a call answered. Now he called and just said he isn’t going to do it I have to find some solution myself half an hour after they were suppose to be here.
FoodPanda, which is a good idea, just doesn’t deliver what you order sometimes. It is like a lottery. Maybe they will deliver maybe they won’t. Earlier this week they just didn’t.
Also earlier this week a called a local cab which just never showed up. I have tried various companies and this one is the least bad. But still will just sometimes not show up at all. That is it, you are just left stranded.
Bad service is everywhere around the globe. But in the USA you can usually avoid it other than in politically protected monopolistic companies (Comcast, Verizon etc.) and airlines. For example, you can get around normal car dealers. If you care about decent service you just don’t deal with companies that provide lousy service.
But in JB I find it very hard to do. You just are stuck with very limited options and finding those that offer reliable service is just either not possible or beyond my capabilities quite often. If anyone knows a reliable “yellow cab” from JB to Singapore please let me know.
There are many good things about living in JB. But the poor reliability of companies is tiresome.
My favorite local delivery place closed months ago (or at least the phone number doesn’t work anymore): Gerai Makan Laut Chun Siang.
I found this new place that is good but I don’t have as many dishes I like. The Indonesian prawns are great. I like the samba sotong ok (in photo). Click on the menus to see larger images (so you might be able to read it). It seems to me it is Chinese food with maybe a bit of Malaysian style.
Sambal sotong and bitter gourd from Rong Hwa in JB.
They do have a couple nice vegetable side orders (though nothing I like as much as the fried broccoli at the old place), my favorite is baby kai lan. Bitter gourd (in photo) is strong (I like the bitter gourd in fried eggs better.
The Spice Kitchen in Bukit Indah is yet another excellent Indian Restaurant in Johor Bahru. I would eat here a great deal if I lived in Bukit Indah township in Johor Bahru.
The food is great and the interior is nice. It has the exposed ceilings with duct work showing that my brother loves and overall is just a nice feel.
Bad air pollution levels have returned to Singapore and Johor in the last month. So far the recent air pollution problem has been moderate compared to June of 2013 (or Beijing). The readings have been in the “moderate” problem area but those are noticeable visually and when you are outside breathing the air is obviously more polluted than normal. I don’t usually use my air conditioning but I have the last week due to the air pollution.
The air pollution readings are published by Malaysia and Singapore. Air pollution will get a bit worse at night (assuming everything else stays the same) due to air pressure.
Air pollution has dramatic health consequences. The World Health Organization released a study last month stating that 7 million premature deaths annually are linked to air pollution.
Regionally, low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.
The damage done by air pollution to health include respiratory diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, changes in lung function. There is mounting evidence that exposure to air pollution has long-term effects on lung development in children.
With effect from 1 April 2014, Singapore has moved to an integrated air quality reporting index, where PM2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 micros or larger) will be incorporated into the current Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) as its sixth pollutant parameter. The PSI will therefore reflect a total of six pollutants – sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM10) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3).
The 3-hour PSI will take into account PM2.5 concentrations. In addition, NEA will also publish the 1-hour PM2.5 concentrations every hour.
From the Malaysian site today (their update was dated September 2013)
DOE is in the midst of finalising the new Malaysian Air Quality Guidelines to include the standard limit of PM2.5 in the ambient air which based on World Health Organisation (WHO) 2006 Guidelines.