For long distances, planes are your best bet but the ticket prices can be quite expensive if you do not do a lot of planning. I usually buy my air tickets for budget airlines about 6 months in advance when there is a sale. I try not to buy full price tickets because it’s not worth the money.
Pros of planes for weekend travel:
Comfortable (compared to 6 hours of bus or train)
Not affected by traffic jam
Cons of planes for weekend travel:
Expensive ticket price [Solution: Buy tickets only during promo periods, do not buy luggage for budget flights.]
Terrible arrival/departure timings [Solution: Check other airlines or skip the destination]
If you have good train connections to the places you want to visit, taking the train might be a good option. I love taking night trains because I save on the cost of a night’s accommodation.
Pros of trains for weekend travel:
Relatively cheap prices (at least in Malaysia)
Not affected by traffic jams on the road
Trains with bunks==better sleep
Cons of trains for weekend travel:
Limited tickets for weekend travel [Solution: Buy your tickets in advance]
I put night bus instead of I figure that you will need night buses for long distance travels.
Pros of buses for weekend travel:
Cons of night buses for weekend travel:
Bad sleep [Solution: Even I cannot solve this. I just suck it up]
Affected by traffic jams [I was once 5 hours late because of a massive jam. Lesson learned: Take the train ]
My mom and I had a mini road trip to the most northern part of Borneo island [LINK: Kudat Marina]. I would choose trains and buses over driving for a weekend trip because it’s more tiring. But if the place you are going to doesn’t have good
Pros of driving for weekend travel:
You have a car to drive around
Cons of driving for weekend travel:
Driving is quite tiring, especially for long hours
If you’re planning an island getaway for the weekend, taking a boat is probably your only choice so I won’t go into the pros and cons.
I haven’t been on any island trips for the weekend but the planning process should be the same: pick a nearby place and a good package so you don’t spend too much money.
Besides encouraging comments, I’ve also gotten A LOT of questions about this particular train route. Some questions were stuff I didn’t think about when I was writing the post while others were questions about stuff I’ve already mentioned in the post (this drives me nuts).
Instead of answering the repeated Qs, I’ve gathered the questions here.
1. Where can I book train tickets from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur?
If you are booking online, the link is https://intranet.ktmb.com.my/e-ticket/Login.aspx Sign up for an account and you can check past reservations.
You can also visit the train stations to buy the tickets but I don’t recommend doing that for night trains.
2. My online booking didn’t go through. HELP!
Check your bookings in your account. I’m not sure what the phone number for KTMB is.
3. I picked Kuala Lumpur as my destination, why isn’t there a night train?
Pick Sentral Kuala Lumpur, not Kuala Lumpur (which is one stop after KL Sentral).
4. Is it safe to travel on the Malaysian train?
Have you watched too many wild wild west movies? I don’t think there are any robbers ambushing the trains. It’s safe.
A trip from Tokyo Station to Kamakura would cost 890 yen. So in theory, I’ve saved a little by heading straight there instead of taking the day trip on another day.
Transfer rebate with Suica
If you are using Suica to pay for your transport, it automatically gives you rebates when you transfer from trains of the same company.
Stick to the same company on trains
Planning your transport within Tokyo is really tricky. There are just too many lines and too many different train companies.
Many times, I had to transfer from one train line to another to reach my destination. I accidentally took different train lines for a ride and it cost me more than it would if I had transferred from the trains of the same company.
So, I suggest taking trains from the same company when you travel. This might mean an extra 5 minutes, but it’ll cost 200 yen less.
However, I’m not quite sure what this line means: “Hence passes issued in Singapore come with a rental deposit of S$10 which is fully refundable if the card is returned within 5 days from the date of issuance.”
Update: You’ll need to give an extra S$10 when you buy the card. You’ll forfeit the money if you decide to keep the card. (Too expensive!)
To see if my gut feel is right, I’ll do the math of travelling on an EZ-Link card for 3 days.
For accomodation, let’s pretend that we’re staying at Raffles Hotel which I cannot afford (but bear with me).
Raffles Hotel to Singapore Zoo $1.89
Singapore Zoo to Orchard MRT station $1.72
Orchard Road to Clarke Quay MRT $0.83
Clarke Quay back to Raffles Hotel $0.88 Total spent: $5.32 + (non-refundable $5)=$10.32
Raffles Hotel to Chinatown $0.88
Chinatown to Little India $0.88
Farrer Park to Raffles Hotel $0.83 Total spent: $2.59 Day 1 + Day 2 expenses= $7.91
+ (non-refundable $5) =$12.91
Raffles Hotel to HarbourFront $1.26
Monorail from HarbourFront into Sentosa $3.00 [Micheal said the pass does not cover this charge.]
Sentosa back to HarbourFront (Free)
HarbourFront to Raffles Hotel $0.83 Total spent: $5.09 + $3 Monorail Day 1 + Day 2 + Day 3 expenses= $16
+ (non-refundable $5) =$21
There’s a small flaw with my calculations though: Most of my transport cost involves taking the bus. I like taking buses but some travelers might shun buses because there are too many routes.
[Update (12/6/2012):] If we add the $3 for Sentosa Monorail, it gets a little more expensive. Turns out, the STPass is quite a good value for travellers. This is due to the unrefundable $5 in the EZ-Link card. But you have to make sure that you will take enough public transport to cover your STPass.
I have to admit that the STPass does look a lot prettier than a regular EZ-Link. So if you are travelling to Singapore, maybe you can give it a try.
UPDATE: As Gurpal mentioned below, the card is only available at selected MRTs and at specific timings. Boo.
Have you bought the Singapore Tourist Pass before? How was your experience?
(Caution: Content is not optimized for blog posts.)
I had the chance to take the overnight Malaysia train on Feb. 10 from Johor to Kuala Lumpur to meet my friend who was visiting from Ho Chi Minh.
As it was my first Malaysian night train, I was excited even when buying the tickets. The train that I will be taking was called Senandung Sutera. Singapore’s Prime Minister’s Office translated it as Silken Serenade which I took to mean the train would emit a low hum while on the tracks.
I’m not a train romantic but since it was my first overnight train in Malaysia, my imagination run wild.
In your dreams
I imagined that I would leave for my train with a small hand carry and a gorgeous vintage travel dress (much like Nellie Bly’s round-the-world outfit).
On the train, I would sleep like a baby as the train gently rocks me. In the morning, I would wake up fresh from the night’s sleep. I would then alight the train with light steps and in my hand, I carry the small lady-like hand luggage.
In my gorgeous vintage travel dress, I would step out on the platform while the wind blows and tousles my hair. Something like what these ladies are doing.
Of course, things never quite work out the way I want it to. For one, I have two luggages–a backpack and a gaudy Lesportsac sling bag. Then, I have unflattering glasses and messy hair. My only consolation is that I do have a nice sundress. Good enough, I suppose.
I was introduced to Paul Theroux’s by a travel writer on Twitter. The tweet wasn’t directed at me and I’m not even too sure who it was.
The tweet made Paul Theroux sound like The Best Travel Writer in the World™. I then decided to check out The Great Railway Bazaar from the library.
Synopsis: Writer takes train after train after train from London all the way to Japan (with some flights in between), passing by Europe, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia and back through Russia. Continue reading “Read: The Great Railway Bazaar”→
UPDATE [JANUARY 2015] KTM STAFF TOLD ME THAT THE NIGHT TRAINS ARE STILL RUNNING. HOWEVER, THEY REFUSED TO BELIEVE ME WHEN I TOLD THEM I CANNOT BUY THE TICKETS ON LINE. KTM CUSTOMER SERVICE IS HORRIBLE. TSK TSK.
THE SELECTION APPEARS ON THE WEBSITE BUT SEATS CANNOT BE CHOSEN. LET’S ASSUME IT’S CANCELLED, UNLESS SOMEONE CALLS KTM TO CONFIRM.
1. Leave from JB Sentral instead of Woodlands, Singapore
Actually, you can stop reading from here because this is the best tip I have. As noted in my previous post announcing my trip, you will save half the amount if you leave from Malaysia instead of Singapore.
Since the Singapore and Malaysia train stations are just a causeway away, it really makes more sense to travel to JB Sentral on public bus and board there. Plus, the KFC at JB Sentral is 24-hours, eat all the fried chicken you want!
If you really want to leave from Singapore (so you can skip the torturous bus ride across the causeway), I’d suggest you buy a cheap seat (about S$17) from Woodlands CIQ-JB Sentral. When the train reaches JB Sentral, you can hop off and go to your carriage. (The ticket checking for the JB passage starts when the train moves.)
2. But come back to Woodlands not JB
Am I confusing you? Yes, you leave from JB but come back to Woodlands. Why? The ticket from Malaysia to Singapore is in RM so it’ll still be cheap. You’ll also skip the horrible traffic jam on the causeway, especially if it’s commuting hours.
3. Choosing where to buy tickets
Back to ticket buying, I’ll assume that you are based in Singapore. Buy the ticket online instead of heading to JB Sentral’s ticketing counter. Plus, you’ll be charged in Singapore dollars if you buy directly at Woodlands.
My guide here will focus on buying online. KTMB’s Web site is a bit old school–it even has frames. But it gets it job done.
First check the timetable to figure out which train to catch. I picked the 23.55 train from JB because it arrives at 06.30 in KL. Saves me travelling time during the day. Then sign up for an account to book your tickets.
4. Selecting the tickets online
This part is slightly confusing because of KTMB’s naming convention:
JB Sentral=Johor Bahru train station
Sentral Kuala Lumpur=KL Sentral
Woodlands CIQ=Woodlands station
Pick the timing that you want to leave. Then you choose the type of sleeper/seat you want. I’d recommend the sleepers for overnighting to KL. There are 5 types of seats/sleeper.
ADMFB: Air-conditioned Day Night First-class Berth
ADNFD: Air-conditioned Day Night First-class Deluxe
ADNS: Air-conditioned Day Night Sleeper
AFC: Air-conditioned First Class
ASC: Air-conditioned Second Class
I’ve only been on ADNS’s upper bunk. It was quite a pleasant ride/sleep, minus the shaking and snoring man.
The page says you will need to key in passengers’ names and identificaiton number. They never checked mine against the ticket so if you are in a hurry, I think you can just put fake names/ID number.
5. Payment and proof
Pay using a regular credit/debit card to buy the tickets.
They will not send you a proof of confirmation, so remember to save the page. I usually save my Web pages in PDF form so it prints out nicer. I use PDF Creator which shows up as a virtual printer in my Print tool. (Don’t click the toolbar when installing).
Printing out the ticket is necessary. DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.
6. Things to bring on train
Waiting for the trip to arrive is the hardest step. Here’s something you need to know about the trip: There is no food and drink station onboard so bring your own munchies and liquids.
Attention! During my trip in October, I found out that KTMB stopped providing blankets. Please bring something warm for the ride, it gets really cold.
Safety pins to pin your sleeping curtain will be very helpful. I found myself peering into curtains on my way back from the loo. Not much privacy for whoever was in it.
The only bus that seems to be on duty around 23.00 is the SBS and SMRT buses. So there is not much choice in the bus leaving Singapore to JB. Oh, the train might break down, like it did on my trip. Just sit/sleep through it with a smile.
BONUS! JB Sentral map
Many have been asking me about how to get to JB’s train station. I’ve used Google Map to show you that it’s really really easy to reach JB Sentral (where the station is).
During my 10-day trip to Japan last October, my mom and I spent 6 days in the Kansai region and visited Kyoto, Fushimi-Inari shrine, Uji, Nara and Osaka.
Since we wanted to see many sites in Kyoto as well as the Jidai Matsuri, we used Kyoto as a base and took day trips to the other Kansai cities. But if you are more of a city person, you’d probably like staying in Osaka better than Kyoto.
Our itinerary was like this:
Day 1: Arrive in Kyoto
Day 2: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari – Uji – Nara – Kyoto [Kansai Thru Pass]
Day 3: Kyoto
Day 4: Kyoto – Osaka – Kyoto [Kansai Thru Pass]
Day 5: Kyoto – Nara -Kyoto [JR]
Day 6: Kyoto (Jidai matsuri)
My mom and I are temple, old building lovers so three days in Kyoto was fine. (Although we did spend a large part of our last day napping in the public bus.)
I’ve bought a return trip ticket to KL for the Feb 11 weekend. This will be my first time taking the overnight train in Malaysia.
I named the trip the “KL light bulb trip” because I’m joining N and her boyfriend (whom I’ve not met) who are both coming in from overseas. “Light bulb” in colloquial Chinese means a third person among a couple. (Coincidentally, my first overnight train trip in China was with N.)