It is hard not to fall in love with the capital of Malaysia: one of the youngest capitals of Southeast Asia wins hearts with its bold youthful and cosmopolitan character. The rich colonial heritage coexists in harmony with state-of-the art skyscrapers, lush parks are a welcome oasis of tranquillity to escape to after the world-class shopping marathons, and ethnic dishes of Chinese, Indian, Muslim and Western cuisine make your mouth water. The Petronas Towers, the highest twin towers in the world, rise proudly in the heart of the capital, commanding views over the modern bustling city.
How to get from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore
The route between the two cities is well travelled. Buses and trains whisk passengers from Malaysia to Singapore and vice versa any time of the day and night. While travelling by train is an experience in itself, some buses provide you with all the possible modern comforts and the travel time is considerably less.
From Singapore to Kuala Lumpur by bus
It is an easy five-hour bus travel from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Travel time is highly dependent on how long your border formalities take; but in general the whole trip should not last more than six hours.
There are a number of bus operators serving the route between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur with buses departing from different locations in the city throughout the day. The most popular pick-up point in Singapore is Golden Mile Tower in Beach Road, northeast from the city centre, where many transport companies have set their offices. The nearest MRT station is Nicoll Highway (exit A), from where it is just a four-minute walk to the Golden Mile Tower. Bus 100 brings you even closer – it stops within just a couple of minutes walk from the GMT.
Transtar Travel and Billion Stars Express both operate buses from Golden Mile Tower. Transtar Travel brings their passengers to TBS in Kuala Lumpur, and Billion Stars Express offers additionally two other stops: Berjaya Times Square, close to the very popular Jalan Bukit Bintang, filled with hotels of different price-ranges, and One Utama, in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Transtar Travel has five buses a day (7.30am, 10am, 2.30pm, 7pm and 10.45pm) and sells tickets at a considerably higher price than other companies do – SGD53/MYR156 – but there is a good reason for that. The company offers first-class service with single seats on the both sides of the aisle, all of them equipped with foot rest and personal entertainment system; food and drinks are served on board, too. In general, if you can afford it, it is a great investment to make your journey from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur as comfortable as possible.
The only bus of Billion Stars Express departs at 10.15pm and calls to TBS in Kuala Lumpur first, proceeding to Berjaya Times Square, to the east of KLCC, and One Utama. The price of the tickets depends on your destination and varies from SGD17 to SGD35 (MYR50-MYR100).
Tip: Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) is the main transportation terminal in the southern part of Kuala Lumpur. There are information kiosks and counters to help you find your way around Kuala Lumpur, free Wi-Fi at Level 4, ATMs, convenience stores and a large food court at the terminal. The most convenient way to reach the city centre from the bus terminal is to get to Level 3 and walk over the link bridge to the main lobby of TBS-BTS (Bandar Tasik Selatan), from where KLIA transit, LRT and KTM Komuter bring passengers to the city.
Another popular starting point for the buses to Kuala Lumpur in Singapore is Concorde Shopping Centre. It is located in 317 Outram Road, west from the city centre and about 3 km from Orchard Road. Buses of Golden Coach Express depart from their office at Concorde Shopping Centre from 8.30am till 2pm hourly or half-hourly; there is also a night bus at 11.59pm. In Kuala Lumpur, Golden Coach Express buses head to Berjaya Times Squre and Pudu Raya, east of KLCC; tickets cost SGD25/MYR74.
Though coaches of Billion Stars Express and Golden Coach Express are not as luxurious as those of Transtar Travel, they are still of quite a high standard with just three seats in a row instead of usual four. That means more space and higher level of comfort for passengers. All buses serve snacks and beverages, offer some kind of an entertainment program and make at least one toilet stop en route apart from the stops at the border.
Tip: All the afternoon buses bring you to Kuala Lumpur by the time it gets dark. All evening buses arrive between midnight and 4am. Whichever of these buses you choose, it is a good idea to book your accommodation in Kuala Lumpur in advance and, in case of late arrival, inform your hotel or guesthouse accordingly. If you prefer to shop for the place to stay on the spot, opt for any of the morning buses or – even better – for the midnight Golden Coach Express which delivers you to the Malaysian capital early in the morning, emmmm, fresh and shining bright.
Crossing the border to Malaysia
Normally it is easier to cross the border in the direction of Malaysia than vice versa. There is much less hassle with border formalities in Singapore when you are leaving the country. Malaysian immigration office is organized better than their Singaporean counterparts, so expect to spend minimum of time on the border crossing.
Note: At the moment, many nationalities are granted 90 or 30 days visa-free permit to stay in Malaysia; but it always pays to check in advance.
From Singapore to Kuala Lumpur by train
From May, 2016, there is no more direct train service between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. You can no longer take the convenient #24 train which used to leave Singapore at 10.30pm arriving to Kuala Lumpur the next morning before 8am. Your train journey will involve three separate trains: from Woodland checkpoint in Singapore to Johor Bahru Sentral in Malaysia (20 minutes); a shuttle train from Johor Bahru to Gemas (4 hours 20 minutes); and finally from Gemas to Kuala Lumpur Sentral (two hours 20 minutes). The last leg is served by high-speed ETS trains. Taking into consideration all the waiting time, your train journey from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur will take about nine hours which is actually twice as slow as any bus ride between the two cities. It is though considerably cheaper to travel by train: all the three tickets should not cost you more than MYR70 while the majority (not all!) of bus operators sell their tickets a higher price (MYR90 and up).
With an endless list of museums, churches, mosques and temples, historical buildings, shopping opportunities and natural attractions in and around the Malaysian capital, the time spent in Kuala Lumpur is never enough. You can make your visit as diverse and busy as you wish but by all means try to find some time for a very special experience which visiting of any of the following places can enrich you with:
Petronas Twin Towers are easily a whole-day destination. From getting up to the Skybridge on the 41st-42nd level and to meditating to the intricate dance of the fountains at the foot of the towers after dark, you will hardly find a moment for boredom.
Menara Kuala Lumpur may seem just a humble relative of its more famous counterparts elsewhere but it definitely offers the best view of the city with Petronas Twin Towers right in front of you. The revolving restaurant is a great place for an elegant lunch or diner, too.
Kuala Lumpur boasts many green areas and zoos, but Kuala Lumpur Bird Park located in the scenic Lake Gardens is an absolute stunner, especially if travelling with your little ones in tow. The natural aviary with freely flying birds transports you right in the heart of a rain forest.
Batu Caves with the iconic image of Lord Murugan look cheerful and colourful from outside with all those Hundu deities meeting visitors at the entrance gates just at the foot of the stairs, but the system of million-years caverns at the top does impress even more.
- Central Market is every shopping lover’s start destination which combines food venues, shops, entertainment programs all under the same roof of an amazing art deco masterpiece. Central Market gives you a real taste of KL shopping which goes far beyond the exquisite boutiques of Suria KLCC next to Petronas towers.
Your onward travel from Kuala Lumpur
Venturing further north from Kuala Lumpur, popular destinations which can be reached overland from the Malaysian capital, include Penang and the southern Thai city of Hat Yai where you can catch a train heading to Bangkok.