I like big bus and I cannot lie: Tips for Singapore-Malaysia coach rides

I like big bus and I cannot lie: Tips for Singapore-Malaysia coach rides
Passengers from Malaysia boarding their VTL bus to Singapore at Woodlands Checkpoint on Nov 29, 2021.
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

Before the pandemic, I would regularly head to KL via bus one or two weekends a month to catch up with family and friends. Why? Way cheaper than flying lah, duh 馃槀

Now that borders have finally reopened (for real, this time; no more VTLs, finally), I decided to take a bus up to KL for the first time in over two years.

If you鈥檙e thinking about doing the same over the next long weekend, here's some info on things that have changed over the past two years, and others that have stayed the same, based on my recent bas experience.

Good things must share! You're welcome聽馃槍

馃帿聽Buying tickets

What鈥檚 changed: So much easier to buy tickets online.

What鈥檚 the same: You can still visit physical ticket counters - but why?

Pro tip: Buy your tickets on the BusOnlineTicket website. New members earn cashback, and you also earn reward points for every booking made. The points can be redeemed for a discount on your next holiday. Just have the ticket printed or ready to show to the driver on your phone.

Pro tip 2: If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. I鈥檇 spend a little more for a less noisy, more comfortable ride. I鈥檝e purchased cheap bus rides in the past, and you may be forced to switch buses midway through the trip or worse, get a visit from a roach.

聽Things to do/bring

What鈥檚 changed: Download the MySejahtera app, enter your vaccination deets, then fill up the pre-departure form in the app under 鈥淭raveller鈥.

What鈥檚 the same: Packing your essentials e.g. toiletries and undies.聽Best part about taking a bus is no weight restrictions on luggage!

Pro tip: Make sure the MySejahtera app shows your complete vaccination doses. Do bring along hard copies of your vaccination documents, just in case. While you don鈥檛 need to check in using the app, some (although very few) places require you to show your MySejahtera app status, so make sure that it is easily accessible on your phone鈥檚 home screen.

馃泝聽Immigration

What's changed: The shiny new immigration machines at the SG customs 鈥 it鈥檚 just like Changi airport if you鈥檙e going by Tuas.

What's the same: The familiar (read: same ol') immigration counters at the JB customs.

Pro tip: Remember that you have to bring your bags down for scanning when you鈥檙e at the JB customs (and when you鈥檙e heading back home, at the SG customs). So, if your bags are close to the bus baggage door, you will have an easier time unloading your stuff. Props to bus drivers who help to unload passengers鈥 baggages!

Pro tip 2: Stay in your queue at the customs and don鈥檛 jump to another 鈥 you will reach the counter faster than you think.

馃摱聽Getting mobile data

What鈥檚 changed: Plenty of new roaming plans for travel-hungry wanderlusters.

What鈥檚 the same: Many plans still quite ex.

Pro tip: Make sure you have roaming ready so you鈥檙e still connected to WhatsApp and social media the minute you cross the Causeway. Just sign up for a one-day plan, then get a local SIM card (or an eSIM for iPhone users) at your destination.

Switch off auto-play videos for Facebook and Instagram so you don鈥檛 overuse data. Also, your Grab app should automatically switch to the Malaysian version, so you can call a ride to get you to your place of accommodation.

Other tips

馃攱 Portable charger(s): Don鈥檛 forget to bring a powerbank 鈥 some buses may have a USB charger, but most don鈥檛. Better to be on the safe side so your devices are always powered up.

馃幃 Movies/games: Prepare some entertainment too, such as saving movies to watch on Netflix or fully charging your Nintendo Switch. It鈥檚 going to be a long bus ride.

馃槾 Comfort: Which brings me to the last but most important tip 鈥 take a small travel pillow with you. It will save you from a possible neck ache as a result of sleeping on the bus.

Bon voyage!聽馃殞

This article was first published in Wonderwall.sg.

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