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GENERAL INFO > ENTRY & EXIT POINTS OF SINGAPORE
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INTRODUCTION:
There are various ways to get to Singapore - by air, road, or sea. If you are entering Singapore from Malaysia by car like I did, there are a few things to be prepared before you enter.

ENTERING FROM THE TUAS CHECKPOINT (aka LINKEDUA):
This second link between Malaysia and Singapore was opened about a few years ago, envisaged to reduce the atrocious backlog of traffic that plies between Johor Bahru and Woodlands. There are ample signs from Malaysia's PLUS Highway that will guide you to Tuas Checkpoint. The driving was hassle-free on the 6-lane highway. Nonetheless, I noted that the lack of traffic from either side of the border, mainly because the toll charges are deemed excessive (about MYR8.00 if you are from Malaysia, or SGD3.70 if you are from Singapore).

Because of the little amount of traffic, the procedure of entering is slightly different than what I had experienced at JB-Woodlands Causeway (more on that later). Here, you need to simply park you car, get out of the car, get the forms from the immigration booths and fill them in. Then there is another booth where you need to purchase the Autopass Card (somewhat similar to the widely-used CashCard for MRT, LRT and SBS Transit) for SGD10.00 (with SGD4.00 preloaded amount + SGD6.00 non-refundable card deposit). If you already have an Autopass Card from your previous visit, then the purchase is not necessary.

The Autopass Card is important when you use Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) highways in Singapore. More on that later.

ENTERING FROM THE CAUSEWAY:
Much has been said about the horrendous traffic jam on both sides of the causeway. It is mainly a legacy issue which seems to be at a deadlock between the two countries. This 1-km link offers the cheapest entry and exit point but it comes at a great price. Depending the time of the day, traffic movement on both sides can be reduced to a complete standstill when Malaysian workers are entering Singapore by the busload, or Singaporean holidaymakers are returning back the favour by entering Johor Bahru for shopping and leisure (and cheaper petrol, of course!).

The procedure of entering and leaving is about the same. You need to have the necessary immigration forms. Here lies the problem: neither Singapore's nor Malaysia's immigration booths can provide you with the other country's immigration forms to fill in. That means you probably have to walk out of your car in the snail-paced traffic, get to the booths some hundreds of meters away, pick up your immigration forms, and then get back to your car. I actually saw a few road users resorting to this method to fill up some time.

Until the authorities of both sides resolve the many teething problems, I strongly suggest drivers to enter/exit from the Tuas Checkpoint.

CHANGI AIRPORT:
I try not to dwell on much about the well-known Changi Airport. The airport is served by 70+ airlines. Much have been said about the airport's efficiency when letting you into the country. For budget travelers, there is also an MRT line that will bring you from the airport to the city centre or anywhere you want to go in Singapore.

ENTERING FROM THE SEA:
There are ferry links from the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan into Singapore. These two islands are fast becoming a popular weekend destination for Singaporeans. There are also two boat services that ply between Malaysia and Singapore - one is from Sebana Cove near Desaru and another one is from Tioman Island, which is about 150km away. Since the road link between Malaysia and Singapore is good to a certain extent, the need to enter into Singapore by boat is probably just for the thrill seekers. There are probably a few other jetty points that I do not know of, but really, how many of us want to take a fast boat into Singapore anyway?

ENTERING BY RAIL:
Surprisingly, Malaysia's Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) operates its train from the heartland of Malaysia well into Tanjong Pagar in downtown Singapore. The city state actually has no rail company, hence the Malaysian entity operates the train service throughout.

Suffice to say that getting into Singapore by rail is a fabulous way to travel, if you are not in a hurry that is. The fare from Kuala Lumpur is MYR88.00, MYR34.00 and MYR19.00, respectively for First Class, 2nd Class and Economy Class. All coaches are air-conditioned, hence going to Singapore by Economy Class should not be something you be afraid of. Apart from occasional delays to equipment breakdown, rail travel is a decent holiday option for you. Do check with KTMB on the correct rail schedule, but the daily trains normally do not arrive at Singapore's Tanjong Pagar at ungodly hours.

There is no direct train service from Thailand to Singapore, with the exception of the burn-a-hole-in-your-wallet Eastern & Oriental (E&O) that plies between Bangkok-Penang-KL-Singapore. Don't let the price scare you if this is what you are looking for. For "regular" services, you may have to change train up to 3 times, at either Hadyai (Thailand), Butterworth (Penang) and Kuala Lumpur. Again, if you have the luxury of time, there are plenty of options for you to enjoy the heartlands of Thailand and Malaysia prior to entering Singapore.

ENTERING BY BUS:
It is safe to assume that there are buses leaving every hour from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. The bus companies vary, but the most common one is Transnasional which surprisingly have computerised reservation system that enables you to reserve and purchase at ease. These past years have seen the sudden emergence of luxury coaches operated by both Malaysian and Singaporean companies. The services are less frequent but they do travel in style. Massage chairs, spacious leg rooms, small LCD TVs and fancy cuisines are routine offering for this premium service. Expect to pay between MYR50-80 per way.

THE ELECTRONIC ROAD PRICING (ERP):
Finally, we get to the toughest part to swallow when entering Singapore by car. The ERP is devised by the Singaporean authority to restrict the flow of vehicles during peak hours in the city-state. Every time you enter an ERP Gantry "In Operation", an electronic sensor will note down your car number and charge you accordingly. The charges vary - from SGD0.50 per entry to SGD2.00 or so.

Seems like a lot of paying to do? No worries. Actually, for foreign-registered vehicles, you can opt for SGD5.00 ERP Day Scheme. That means, no matter how many times you pass through an ERP Gantry "In Operation", you will only need to pay SGD5.00/day upon your exit at either Tuas Checkpoint or Woodlands. If you do not drive through any gantry for any one day, you do not have to pay the SGD5.00.

When you are about to exit at either Tuas or Woodlands, the computerised system will retrieve your car movement record and bill you accordingly. You need to flash your Autopass Card for the payment. The immigration officers seemed to not worry about whether or not you have enough cash balance, so do ensure that you top up the Autopass Card at the nearest 7-11 well before getting to the checkpoint.

VEHICLE ENTRY PERMIT (VEP):
I almost forgot to mention this!

Depending on what day, you may have to pay SGD20.00 daily fee for bringing your car into Singapore. The VEP is specifically targeted for foreign-registered vehicles that enter into Singapore. Nonetheless, the VEP is only applicable on Mondays to Fridays 0200-1700hrs. That means if you enter Singapore on daytime on a weekday, you will have to pay the SGD20.00 amount. Note that if you enter after 1700hrs, you won't have to pay the VEP. The amount could be a significant expenditure especially if you are coming from either Malaysia or Thailand.

Another way to avoid paying for VEP is to drive into Singapore on Saturdays, Sundays and Singapore's Public Holidays.

Anther important information: Starting from 1st June 2005, all foreign-registered vehicles are allowed for ten (10) free entries into Singapore for each calendar year. This is a part of the city-state's measures to boost tourist arrivals. This means that even if you are entering on weekdays, you don't have to pay for the VEP. Your car registration will be recorded for the next subsequent visits until you have used up all your free entitlements.

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