If you’re looking for a comfortable, budget-friendly and environmentally friendly way of traveling from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (or vice versa), consider traveling by train! But traveling from Singapore to Malaysia by train isn’t as straightforward as you might think. It involves as much as three different trains and the Singapore Metro to get you where you want to be. So it’s not the most convenient way of traveling, but it is a nice way to see some more of the Malaysian countryside. In this blog, I’ll explain all the steps necessary to get you from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur by train. 

First of all, it’s important to know that when you buy a ticket, you choose a date and time you want to travel. There’s no flexibility, your ticket is only valid on that particular date and time. Which means, if you miss your train, you’ll have to get a new ticket (which often isn’t possible on the same day). 

Please note, if you want to travel from Singapore to Malaysia or vice versa, you’ll need to get your ticket weeks before the date you’re actually traveling! Especially in the weekends, the trains tend to fill up quickly! A lot of locals use it as it’s the fastest way to cross the Singaporean – Malaysian border. If you go by bus, for instance, a two-hour wait for customs isn’t uncommon…

You can book your tickets directly at the operator KTM, or use 12Go.asia. The last option is way more user-friendly. I found the KTM website often doesn’t work.

Ok, so to get from Singapore to KL by train you’ll need to follow these steps:

  • Step 1: get your tickets
  • Step 2: go to Woodlands Train Checkpoint
  • Step 3: validate your tickets
  • Step 4: go through customs (twice!)
  • Step 5: board the train (& repeat 🙂 )

Step 1. Getting train tickets from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur

When getting your tickets for the train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, you’ll probably encounter your first hick-up. When you type in Singapore to Kuala Lumpur on any date into 12Go.asia for instance, you’ll see options to go by bus and plane, but no train! What gives?

Well, before 2011 you could just buy one ticket from Singapore to KL and enjoy the ride. But things change, in this case, for the worse if you ask me… As I mentioned before to get from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, you’ll have to board three trains and therefore, buy three separate tickets. Which makes it kind of challenging! Let me sum it up for you. You’ll need these tickets:

It will be quite challenging to complete this journey in one day, as some of the trains don’t run that often. The train from Singapore to Johor Bahru does go 13 times a day (08.30, 09.45, 11.00, 12.30, 13.45, 15.00, 16.15. 17.30, 18.45, 20.00, 21.15, 22.30 and 23.45). But the train to Gemas only makes 4 departs from Johor Bahru (10.10, 14.00, 19.15 and 10.30). If you would take the earliest available option, you would arrive in Gemas at 14.54. 

Met de trein van Singapore naar Kuala Lumpur
Time to change trains at Gemas Station
Photo by Clay Gilliland [CC BY-SA 2.0]

From Gemas, you’ll have to take another train to Kuala Lumpur which only leaves twice a day (at 8.05 and at 15.15). 

The only way you could make it in one day is if you take the 08.30 or 09.45 train to Johor Bahru, the 10.10 to Gemas and the 15.15 to Kuala Lumpur. Especially in the last part, there’s no room for delayed trains, or you’ll find yourself stuck in Gemas for a day. If you do manage to make it work, you’ll arrive in Kuala Lumpur Sentral at 17.31. 

Or do like we did and make a stop in Melaka for a few days! It is about an hour from the nearest station Tampin to the city, however. But, you don’t have to change trains at Gemas. The train from Johor Bahru actually continues to Tampin station!

Traveling by train Singapore to Kuala Lumpur stop in Melaka
Melaka is a great stop along the way to Kuala Lumpur

Ok, now that we’ve got the ticket part covered, let’s get on that train!

Step 2. Getting to Singapore Woodlands

The thing we hugely misjudged when we were ready to take the Singapore to Kuala Lumpur train, is the time it takes to actually get to the Singapore Woodlands Train Checkpoint. The fastest way to get there is usually by metro, but when we were in Singapore, there was some sort of construction work going on, which meant we had to take the bus for 3 stops. And when we got there (really stressed, because our train would leave in 20 minutes), we found out that the train checkpoint actually is another bus ride away… Yeah… 

So, getting to the Singapore Woodlands station if everything goes as planned, will roughly take you about 45 minutes to an hour, coming from downtown Singapore. On top of that, you’ll have to take a 10-minute bus ride to the Woodlands Train Checkpoint. 

Train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
If you see this, you’re at the right place!
Photo by Joshua [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Step 3. Validate your ticket

You’ve made it to the Woodlands Train Checkpoint, but before you continue, you’ll have to get your ticket validated at the KTM counter. If it’s busy, it can take some time, but the job itself is done in a few minutes. 

Simply show the staff the ticket on your phone and they will hand you a hardcopy. 

Step 4. Clear customs, twice!

When traveling from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur you’re crossing a border, and that means you’ll have to clear customs. In fact, at Woodlands, you’ll first have to see the Singapore immigration officer and a few minutes later you’ll stand in line for Malaysian customs and (hopefully 🙂 ) get a new visa. Your bags get checked and that’s it, you’re allowed to board the train to Malaysia. 

Step 5. Board the train to Malaysia

The train will probably be waiting for you once you clear customs. Even though there might be a seat number on your ticket, there is just free seating. And it’s only a 5-minute trip, so you won’t have that much time to sit anyway. 

Because we were really late, I was afraid we wouldn’t make the train, but when I told the customs officer, he reassured me that the train will wait for us. Which I found rather weird, but later I realized it may have something to do with the ticket validating earlier. That’s how they knew we were already at the train station. 

However, I wouldn’t risk it! Don’t be like us and just be on time 🙂  I would recommend at least 45 minutes before your train leaves. That should give you plenty of time to get your ticket validated and go through customs.

Continue your journey to Kuala Lumpur

When you arrive at Johor Bahru, things are pretty straight forward. The next trains will have assigned seating, so make sure you pay attention to that. Another thing to think about is the clothes you’re wearing. They can crank up that AC pretty high, so make sure to carry a sweater or something else to keep you warm. 

Unfortunately, the view during the journey from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur isn’t all that great, as you’ll mainly pass huge palm oil plantations. Did make us realize why we try to not use products that contain palm oil back home!

What does a train ticket from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur cost?

Well as you’ll have to purchase three separate tickets, you’ll have three prices. The ticket from Woodlands to Johor Bahru is 16 Malaysian Ringgit (or $3,90). However, if you travel from JB to Woodlands, you’ll only pay MYR 5! The trip from Johor Bahru to Gemas will cost you 21 ringgit and the last part of the journey will cost you 31 ringgit. So depending on the direction you’re traveling, this journey will cost you 68 ($16,50) or 57 ringgit ($13,80) per person. 

As you can see, trains in Malaysia are really cheap, so if you have plenty of time, I do recommend trying out their train network at least once. 

KTM Malaysia train map

What to do in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur?

If you need some more tips on things to do in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, check out our other blogs:

The best things to do in Kuala Lumpur: a 3-day guide
A weekend in Singapore: this is what we’ve spent

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Traveling by train in south east asia

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Britte

Traveling has been one of her favorite things for years now, but she’s not done discovering the world. Pushing boundaries, exploring the adventure and meeting new people everywhere, that sounds like a dream to her. For her, traveling is a way to discover yourself.