|Travelling: Johor Baru|
Johor Baru, while geographically a stone's throw from Singapore, is in Malaysia and a very different place. The first question you may have is "How do I best get there ?". The answer to this question really depends on your priority when travelling there. Here are a few options, commencing with the cheapest and most humble option - the bus! There are also some information links on how to get to JB and what to do when you get there at the bottom.
To go to JB (and perhaps elsewhere in Malaysia), it is best and cheapest to buy your tickets to JB and then buy an onward ticket from there, paying the same dollar-to-dollar price in Malaysian ringgit rather than S$. The current exchange rate is around 2 ringgit to the Singapore dollar. SBS Bus No. 170 (S$1.20 and not air-conditioned, note) and the Singapore-JB Express (S$2.40 and a bit faster) leave from the station at the corner of Queen St. and Sultan St about every 15 minutes. Give yourself extra time though, as the lineup is a bit long. Alternatively, you can take the MRT to Kranji and catch the bus there, if you want a cooler journey.
Also, expect delays at either side of the border when taking the causeway. You have to vacate the bus, go through passport control leaving Singapore and entering Malaysia and then re-board. It is important that all members of the party have the white Singapore immigration forms filled in before going through. When you pay for your bus ticket, do also keep your receipt! They check at the borders and you may not be allowed to re-board the bus if you don't have it. Also, be sure to bring a pen to fill in the border forms as they are not often provided.
If you want a slightly more comfortable path across, right next to the Queen St. bus station is a taxi stand where shared taxis (S$7 per person) can take you into JB with the convenience of not having to drag your stuff through customs on both sides. This price isn't fixed - it assumes four people are travelling. This is definitely a better way if you have a lot of stuff. The taxis can let you off in downtown JB right near the ticket agencies for buses to anywhere in the country. However, if you take a taxi, you may well be faced with a long wait for the journey back - or it has been known for enterprising locals to take you back in their car, albeit for an inflated fee.
Like the taxi, this is also a more comfortable option than the bus and not expensive either. The railway station in Singapore is situated at Keppel Road, (Bus #100 from Beach Road) and tickets to JB only cost around S$2.00. Since the land is Malaysian-owned, you are officially "in Malaysia" when you board the train and must show passports etc. before doing so. You can take the train at around 8.20am in the morning and return is mid-afternoon - be prepared for it to be crowded, especially on weekends.
Yes, it is possible to walk over the causeway between Singapore and its nearest neighbour, although on a typically baking hot Singapore day, I wouldn't recommend it. If the weather doesn't bother you and you are feeling energetic, go right ahead and make sure you bring your passport.
If you are newly arrived in Singapore as an expatriate, or even on holiday, the significantly lower prices in Johor Baru may well surprise you. In the spirit of kiasuism (a local word meaning gaining material advantage for onesself), many locals head over the causeway at the weekend to pick up cheaper groceries such as cooking oil, sugar etc. However, although petrol is a lot cheaper in Malaysia, any car attempting to leave Singapore with a petrol tank which is less than 3/4 full runs the risk of being fined a significant amount - this is to protect the Government's revenue.
Links to Johor Baru infohttp://members.tripodasia.com.sg/free/index.html
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