Hi, it my first time backpacking this summer and I am heading to Thailand first, then flying into Kuala Lumpar. I will be spending a few weeks in Malaysia, then going to Singapore for a few days. Any hints or highlights on where to go? Also can you get from Malaysia to Singapore overland without flying or ferry? I’ve heard of a bridge?
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Hi, Malaysia and Singapore are fantastic places! Very easy to travel through, great food, great culture, friendly people and amazing sights! You will have a great time!
The bridge you are talking about is known as the causeway, and yes you can get from Malaysia to Singapore overland through it. There are plenty of long distance buses and coaches that ply the route very cheaply. On the Malaysian side of the causeway, you will have to go through Johor Bahru, which is a transit place, nothing worth staying for but it is handy for transport links. If you get a coach you will have to get off to get your passport stamped at immigration, keep an eye on which coach is yours and make sure you get back on the right one, otherwise you may be charged for another ticket. Don’t leave ANY belongings on the coach when you get off, because there is a chance your coach may leave without you. I have seen it happen. It isn’t a big deal, as you can simply get another coach, but will be a major hassle if you leave your belongings on it.
As for Malaysia, KL is a fantastic city to explore for a few days, then if you aren’t sick of islands after Thailand you can head up to Penang, Georgetown, then onto Langkawi? Or the Perhentian islands on the other side?
Alternatively if you want a little light Jungle trekking you could head to Taman Negara.
Mallacca is a beautiful, laid back little town and well worth spending a few days in. It is a very handy stop between KL and Singapore too.
You could easily fill three weeks up with these places.
I would strongly recommend spending an extra day or two in Singapore though if you can (and your funds stretch to it), it is an extremely underated city, but it is absolutely amazing. It is one of my favourite cities in the world, and that is saying something!
Given that your first day there will be spent getting there, finding a place to stay and settling in (a transit day), you will want more than just two days in this fantastic city.
The food there is amazing, it is a well known foodie destination, and the hawker centers and street food is hard to beat! I recommend Maxwell court in Chinatown, and Smith street too for great, cheap eats. Shopping can easily take up a full day in Singapore if that is where your interests lie, there are plenty of malls along the famous Orchard road, but don’t forget the others such as Suntec city. Or you could head to the zoo (one of the best in the world) and night safari attractions, the new river safari is in its soft opening phase as of the 3rd April too. The lists really are endless, but these will EASILY fill up a few days.
There’s two bridges across to Singapore. Some inter-city buses to Singapore take the Second Link bridge (aka the Tuas Causeway, Tuas Bridge of Linkedua) which links directly into the Malaysian expressway network and bypasses Johor Bahru completely. As such it can be considerably quicker, particularly if you are traveling at peak times. A few local bus services from the western suburbs of Johor Bahru and Pontian also use this route.
The old causeway runs from Johor Bahru city centre and carries both road and rail traffic (the only mainline train station in Singapore still open is at the Singaporean end of the causeway). As well as intercity buses, most local buses between Singapore and JB also use this route. The Singapore-Johore Express (SJE) runs an express services from JB to Singapore city centre every few minutes. Air conditioned and comfy. Probabaly the best if you aren’t on a direct intercity bus from KL or wherever. Alas they have no website, but used to have an offices at Larkin Bus Station in JB, at Merlin Tower in JB city centre, and at Queen Street bus station in Singapore.
Whichever bridge you use, you will have to get off the bus with your luggage and clear customs at both ends.
For bus details, check out the following:
http://www.causewaylink.com.my/singapore-bus – CausewayLink. M’sian bus operator for JB-SG local buses (some express, some stopping)
http://www.transitlink.com.sg/ – TransitLink Singapore. Singapore urban buses SBS #180 runs to from Kranji MRT (Metro) station in Singapore (some start from Queen Street bus stn.) to JB city centre and Larkin bus station. Accepts Singaporean EZlink transit cards.
http://www.transnasional.com.my/destination.php – Transnasional. Malaysian inter-city bus operator, has one of the most extensive networks and is well established.
http://www.srimaju.com/ – Sri Maju buses. Another long established intercity operator.
https://www.aeroline.com.my/ – Aeroline buses. Newer company with a luxury/business travel focus. Double deck buses with a “business lounge” on the lower deck etc. I haven’t used them personally
Malaysian trains (KTM) also run intercity services into Singapore via the old Johor causeway, but the station is immediately at the Singaporean end of the causeway, and thus on the very northern tip of Singapore island, miles from the city centre. The station is pretty hard to get too/from (no attached Metro station, so it’s a bus ride, then a long MRT ride into town) so I would not recommend it.
Hello – I can highly recommend the Cameron Highlands if you are interested in trekking. The landscape is quite different to the majority of the region with much of the mountains given over to tea plantations and vegetable crops.
If you have time time for a 4 hour drive into the interior from KL, it makes a refreshing 3 day detour. There are a number of marked treks around the Tanah Rata / Ringlet area (although these are prone to minor landslides in the wet weather – take trek shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy – we had to fish around in a bog for one of ours!) which afford great views of the area.
If you aren’t feeling energetic, the tea plantations have pleasant visitor centres and shops serving very civilised afternoon tea!
Are you a diver? if so, Pulau Tioman is highly recommended off the east coast of Malaysia. it’s reachable within a few hours from KL or JB by bus and then by ferry from Mersing. The diving there is first rate, particularly for beginners, and there is a wide range of accommodation options – most of them offering PADI courses and equipment.
I have to second Tioman! It really is a great island and often overlooked in favour of the perhentians or langkawi. It is also really worth the effort to get to Juara beach on the East side of the island. As well as great diving you can also learn to surf there.
Have you left yet? You didn’t say when your trip is. I flew KL to Penang, and worked my way south. Loved Penang, stayed in Georgetown. Batu Ferringhi nightmarket is great, you can walk through rows and rows of genuine fake designer name handbags! Seriously though, it’s a real nice place to be. Long Beach food court for good cheap food (the atmosphere is wonderful), prices are written in both Malay and English. At the very end is the Hard Rock Hotel (and cafe) which is well worth visiting.
Guerney Drive i(Georgetown) s a food lovers delight.
Temples – there are many, Kek Lok Si is the most famous, you need a good couple of hours it just amazing.
Cameron Highlands for “normal” weather. It’s the only place which isn’t humid. I felt like I was back in Melbourne. Tanah Rata is the biggest town. There are many tea plantations. Tours to them are popular as is Mount Brinchang. Plenty of walks and treks around.
KL is very large, didn’t spend much time there. I did like Bukit Bintang. I can recommend the KL Hop On Hop Off bus – it’s a good way to see the city, and from memory a full loop was around 90 minutes.
I adored Malacca. Love history and old buildings and this was just up my alley. The best time is to arrive on a Friday, that way you can stroll along the Jonker Street nightmarkets over the three nights – Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. I did one side of the river on one day, the other side side the next. The tourist office is in Dutch Square. If you’re interested, you can read about my trip to Malaysia on my blog http://malaysiaandcambodia.blogspot.com.au/