Riverside colonial mansions rub shoulders with gleaming state-of-the-art skyscrapers; modern shopping malls in Orchard Road compete in popularity with bustling markets in Chinatown and Little India; majestic Marina Bay Sands towers rise high in the horizon and gigantic Super Trees leave you speechless. Streets dressed in glass and concrete coexist peacefully with green parks and the imposing Sentosa Merlion observes silently its lands. The former British colony has become Asia’s most expensive city after Hong Kong and Beijing; the only Asian country with the top AAA rating from all the credit rating agencies, Singapore is one of the four Asian Tigers. It is fun to reflect on how time flies and changes the faces of world cities sitting comfortably in Long Bar at Raffles Hotel sipping the famous Singapore Sling and, following century-old tradition, throwing nut shells right on the floor.
Very clean and somewhat tough with its strict rules, Singapore has its undeniable appeal, and it is not rare to hear from those who have just come back from their first visit to the city-state that Singapore feels to them as the perfect place for living.
From Malacca to Singapore
Taking into consideration good transport connections between Malaysia and Singapore, any travel between the two countries is usually smooth and straightforward. Malacca is one of the most popular weekend destinations in Malaysia for many Singaporean citizens and due to this fact buses going back to Singapore from Malacca on Sunday afternoon and evening carry loads of happy Singaporeans coming back to their city state after a weekend abroad. So it is an absolute must to book your trip in advance if you plan to travel to Singapore from Malacca on Sunday evening or on the last day of long holiday periods.
Though there is a railway station about 40 km from Malacca with trains heading to Singapore, buses remain the most obvious and convenient choice for travelling the route.
From Malacca to Singapore by bus
There are a lot of buses leaving for Singapore from Malacca daily – actually any time of the day. Note that there are several departure points in Malacca; likewise, in Singapore buses arrive to different bus stations. Before buying your ticket check which one is the most convenient for you.
The main point of reference for Singapore-bound buses in Malacca is Melaka Sentral with a wide choice of departures throughout the day. The main Malacca transportation terminal, Melaka Sentral is easily reachable by local bus (MYR1; look for #17 if you are in the historical centre) or by taxi (not more than MYR20).
Some buses start from Alor Gajah Toll, which is located 25 km northeast from Malacca City and for many travellers is better considered only in case if all the other options are not available any more.
The most convenient pick-up points for travellers staying in the historical centre are provided by Transtar Travel Express (3.30pm) and Superior Coach (2.30pm) bus companies. Both of them pick up passengers at Hotel Equatorial Melaka and Superior Coach also offers pick-up at Hatten Hotel Melaka, both of which are located in downtown of Malacca: Hotel Equatorial Melaka sits in Jalan Parameswara and Hatten Hotel Melaka is just about 200 m to the south from Equatorial in Jalan Merdeka.
Superior Coach (MYR87) may prove to be the most logical choice as it brings passengers to Lavender MRT station (green line) in Singapore. From there it is a direct ride to Raffles Place, and Bugis with good budget digs is only one stop away. Chinatown and Little India with lots of guesthouses for backpackers are not far, either.
Transtar Travel (MYR102) heads to Golden Mile Tower in Beach Road with Nicholl Highway MRT station within a 5-minute reach. Transtar Travel normally gets great reviews from travellers regarding the levels of comfort and service provided. Transtar Travel buses accommodate just 16 passengers with single seats on the both sides of the aisle. The seats are really enormous and comfortable, nearly fully reclining and with a separate footrest. There is personal entertainment station and electrical sockets for each seat. During the trip hot drinks, snacks and lunch or dinner consisting of a rice with chicken or meat and some vegs as a side dish are served. Note that there are no toilets on board but with two stops en route it is not a big issue. Though the journey is not that long, if you can afford spending a bit more, it pays to opt for Transtar Travel buses.
Note that travel time from Malacca to Singapore varies from 3½ hours to 5+ hours and is highly dependent on border crossing. Travellers report long lines at the Singaporean side of the border, so if you are taking any of the afternoon buses expect to reach Singapore well after dark. It is highly advisable to book your accommodation in Singapore in advance as you may find many of the best or the cheapest places sold out by the time of your arrival. It especially refers to weekends and holiday periods.
Golden Coach Express buses (4.30pm; MYR82) bring you to Concorde Shopping Centre (with Holiday Inn right at your disposal) or City Plaza (on Geylang/Changhi Road) in Singapore. Both are out of the centre and not too convenient if you are heading to the main tourist areas of Clarke Quay or Orchard Road afterwards.
Crossing the border between Malaysia and Singapore
Exiting Malaysia is quick; you get off the bus and have your passport stamped. On the Singaporean side you are supposed to go through immigration (be ready to spend a while queuing to the officer) and present your luggage for scanning. After that you will board the same bus again and continue the journey to your destination.
Note: While crossing the land border between Malaysia and Singapore you are prohibited to bring any alcohol with you without declaring it. Duties are hefty (about USD70 per bottle!) and failing to declare results in even huger fining (up to USD700 even for a can of beer). Be prudent and never ever try to bring alcohol over Malaysia–Singapore border as potentially it is going to cost you a fortune.
Tip: You are not allowed to bring cigarettes to Singapore, either, and there is a mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking carriers. To be on the safe side, never take anyone’s luggage through customs, especially if offered a compensation for your help. Never.
From Malacca to Singapore by train
The nearest to Malacca railway station is Pulau Sebang/Tampin. It is located some 40 km from Malacca City and is best reached by taxi or local bus. While you still can choose this option for getting to Singapore from Malacca, buses bring you to your destination faster and with less hassle.
To feel the real taste of the city, let modernity and history go hand in hand during your stay in Singapore. Shop till you drop in Orchard Road, dance till you are dead in Clarke Quay, gamble, lounge, splurge, and do not stop until you have tasted the best of Perenakan, Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes all around the city. Here are some ideas not to miss.
- The brand image of Singapore is Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino. Three 55-floor towers contain 2560 hotel rooms, a museum, two theaters and ice-skating rinks, seven restaurants and the cult infinity pool plus breathtaking city views.
- A ride over Singapore Flyer is an unforgettable experience. The gigantic 2008-built Ferris wheel is 165 m high, which is 30 m higher than the famous London Eye.
- Get your portion of adrenaline in Sentosa's adventure parks and attractions, watch the dancing fountains show and step on the southernmost point of the continental Asia. Take a cable-car ride and observe the enormous port stuck with loads of sea containers.
- The Singapore Zoo and Night Safari have long secured their presence in every visitor's must-see list. Even without the little ones in tow, do not hesitate to give the both a glance.
- Do they say that Singapore is not Asia? Oh, yes, it is! Savour the regional flavour in Little India or Singapore Chinatown.
And remember that no visit to Singapore is complete without paying respect to the city's founder, Sir Raffles. Greet him with a classic Singapore Sling at the signature Raffles Hotel. Prosit, dear Sir Raffles, and accept our most sincere gratitude for your outstanding creation.