Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The painless way of entering into Johor Bahru from Singapore.

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The Causeway in the early years

Pic KC

Pic KC

The crossing from Singapore into Malaysia via the Causeway (opened in 1923), is often a source of nightmares for many motorists travelling between the 2 countries. Huge snarling jams are the order of the day and during public and school holidays, this is compounded three fold. I have been stuck for almost 4 hours before! Factor in the locust-like swarm of small, smoky and buzzy motorcycles into Singapore (transporting many migrant workers) in the early morning and this ritual is repeated again from 4-9pm in the reverse direction, the Causeway certainly is to be avoided at all costs by most people. Tolls too have been increased recently and there is talk about compulsory registration for Spore vehicles that cross into Malaysia. All these obstacles really negate going into JB to enjoy the cheaper food and shopping despite the very favorable 1 to 3 exchange rate. Unless of course you are a cyclist!

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Choosing the proper time, it is possible to cycle into the heart of JB from Kranji MRT station, clearing 2 customs and all these done in under 30 minutes comfortably. It is a 2.5 km ride from Kranji MRT to Singapore Immigration, another 2.5 km across the Causeway to arrive into Malaysian Immigration, and another 2 km into JB proper. YC, KC and I had the chance to test this crossing today (a Tuesday)  as we planned to lunch with our dear friend and cycle buddy, Claudine who resides there.

We met at 1045am at Kranji MRT station like we always do. This serves as our usual meeting point as it is only 10 mins ride away from the Causeway.  Do not attempt to cross after 3pm or you will find yourself swarmed with a hundred thousand motorcyclists and you will get suffocated from fumes! You have been warned.

Here's how we did it. I hope this article helps our local and overseas cycling friends to cross into Malaysia smoothly.

Riding along Woodlands Ave 3, we made a left into Woodlands Road just after 100m and continued pass the Esso Station until we reached the flyovers.

At this traffic light junction, make an immediate left turn up the flyover. This is actually strictly for cars as motorcycles have to enter via BKE. But for cycling, this is the best way as this car lane will merge with the motorcycle lane after about 200m. The tricky bit is where we have to carry our bikes across the road divider to the motorcycle lane and we needed to be very careful here as motorcycles really zoom by at high speeds.

Note the bicycle lane sign appearing finally!

Continue on, the immigration counters are just around the corner and be careful to take the left lanes as the right ones are for the automated counters. A quick check with 2 immigration officers confirm that these lanes are NOT to be used by cyclists as of now. Cyclists can only officially go through the manual ones. Once you get your passport stamped out, do ask for an immigration red form if you plan to return to Singapore should you need it. It is a relatively easy exit out of the huge ICA complex and onto the Causeway. I tried taking a photo of this but was stopped and politely told to delete my photo by a kind lady officer. Rules are rules and we must respect them however, I wonder about the many cars and motorcyclists who have video cams filming every minute of their crossing.

Once on the Causeway, it's pretty much a no man's land and is quite a pleasant flat 1 km ride. This Causeway was blown up during WW2 by the British to prevent the Japanese from crossing and I found out recently that my friend Rod Wither's late father in law was part of the British Army demo team responsible for this in 1942.

Continue cycling till the end of the Causeway and you will find the extreme left lane that is dedicated to motorcycles or Motosikal. Cycle up this way and it is a fairly gradual long climb. Once again, stick to the left and be careful for speeding motosikals. It will then start to descend and do be careful of the metal graters on the road especially if you have thin tires as they may get caught. Crossing them at an angle is highly recommended. This will eventually lead to the Malaysian immigration counters.

There are no forms to fill entering Malaysia and getting your passport stamped is quite straightforward. There is a bit of a climb once again getting out of the complex and passing through the custom inspections. They seem to be quite relax here and that is a breath of fresh air. 

When we cleared, we took a wefie and nobody minded. Welcome to Malaysia and indeed, Malaysia boleh!

Upon exiting the customs, we took the extreme left that led to JB Sentral (railway station) and Pusat Bandaraya (Centre of Town) and before we knew it, we were in the heart of JB.

We arrived exactly at 1130 am, taking just 30 mins from point to point, at the famous Kin Wah Kopitiam at Jalan Tan Hiok Neo in Chinatown where we saw Claudine waiting for us, grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

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Pic - Nikel Kor

It was kind of her to treat us to an amazing lunch of roast meats and I felt really bad as Claudine ALWAYS pays when we are there. We also enjoyed toast, coffee and ice cream.There are so many great places to eat in JB at much cheaper prices and arguably more flavorful too. The Johore Kaki Blog is a wealth of information here. No wonder many hard core JB lovers are willing to brave the long jams to go over there and stretch their dollar.

However for us cyclists, crossing at the right time, we can truly enjoy all the delights of beautiful JB smoothly and painlessly. At least for now! Sweet dreams sometimes are made of these...


镇雄 said...

Thanks for the sharing, I wonder will the traffic be the same during weekend.

Oldyonfoldy said...

Dont count on it as the weekends will be swarmed. That's for sure!

Check this app out for real time report on the traffic sitrep at the Cway.

Jack Chen said...

Possible to update with showing how to return to the Malaysian Customs and back to Sg?

anon said...

Anyone keen to do this route on aweekday, please take me along!

Treat and Trick said...

Hey some key photos aren't showing! Great thread about cycling to Malaysia especially with the new and updated toll charges for motorised vehicles ^^

Oldyonfoldy said...

Thks Phat Meow. Dunno why that was so. Fixed!

Mohammed Abdulatef said...

Thanks for sharing, wanna ask whether you have paid anything at the toll in sg or jb

Wallace said...

Important photos are missing on this post..

Oldyonfoldy said...

Wallace, thk u for yr comments. You have to blame BlogSpot for that. Many of my older posts seem to suffer from this fate and I have no clue what to do.