We were on our way to Malaysia from Singapore. There were three ways to go at it: by plane, train, or bus. After weighing out all the options, we decided to take the bus. It was the cheapest option and afforded us the chance to see a bit of the Malaysian countryside before arriving in Kuala Lumpur.

There were several bus companies offering daily trips for the 4 to 5-hour bus ride from Singapore direct to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. We discovered we could spend half the bus fare if we crossed over to Johor Bahru, Malaysia first and then catch a local bus from there.

Our new plan got us to consider taking an overnight stopover halfway between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Melaka was an easy winner since it’s after all a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kranji MRT Station at the outskirts of Singapore

Singapore to Johor Bahru, Malaysia Bus

Loaded with all our travel carry-ons, we took the MRT to the Kranji Station near the Singapore-Malaysia Border. It was quite nice to see the cityscape change from dense commercial areas to peaceful suburbs. I was really impressed with Singapore’s well devised urban planning. It was the closest I can compare to an urban utopia. Seeing mid to low rise residential buildings evenly spaced out by a LOT of greens, Singapore seemed like a great place to live in.

Exiting the Kranji Station, we crossed the pedestrian overpass to the other side of the street. At Kranji, there are two (SBS Transit public non-express) buses going to Johor Bahru: Bus #170, which goes to Kotaraya 2 Bus Terminal, and Bus #160, which goes to Larkin Bus Terminal. We were supposed to get on Bus#160 since the buses bound for Melaka depart from the Larkin Terminal.

It was already around 4:20pm.  The first bus that passed by was a #170. We got on the bus anyways since the information guy at the Kranji MRT Station told us we could switch buses at the Malaysian side. We were dropped off first at the Singapore immigration checkpoint at Woodlands.

Singapore Immigration Checkpoint

We got a bit of a scare when my sister was asked to proceed to the immigration office. She couldn’t find her white arrival card in her passport. Problems at any immigration checkpoint are always very scary. We anxiously waited for 15 minutes before she was allowed to proceed. Thankfully, she was able to find the arrival card in her bag. It must have slipped out of her passport.

After getting all of our passports stamped, we got on a bus to cross over to the Malaysian side. It was probably not the exact bus we boarded earlier … just the same route. All of the buses regardless of the number will drop off passengers at the Malaysian immigration checkpoint anyways.

Malaysia Immigration Checkpoint

Philippine passport holders do not need to apply for a visa when traveling to Singapore and Malaysia. It is a perk Filipinos enjoy when traveling within the Association of South East Asian (ASEAN) nations.

The Malaysia Immigration building was really huge and modern. After breezing through the Malaysian immigration counters, we walked to the bus stop. There were two lines. One for bus #170 and the other for #160. Since we were headed to Larkin Terminal, we switched to bus #160. Remember to keep the bus ticket on hand.

Bus to Melaka at the Larkin Terminal

At the Malaysian side, we noticed how much different our environment had changed. It was obvious that we had already left the first world. The Larkin Terminal looked more like it could be in the Philippines. I have got no complaints. Everything was cheaper! Stuff at Malaysia (like food) cost half the price compared to Singapore.

We exchanged some of our money to Malaysian Ringgit and hopped on the three-hour bus to Melaka.

Arrival at Melaka

It was 8:30pm when we arrived at the Melaka Sentral Bus Terminal. It was dark and the place looked empty already. Thankfully there was still one #17 (Green) bus. It was probably the last bus of the day. There were still a few taxis but I gather they’d be more expensive. The bus #17 loops between Melaka Sentral and the city center. The ride took approximately 30 minutes (RM1.50 fare).

We should have dropped off at the Christ Church area but it was so dark that I didn’t notice going past it. I had a feeling we were already straying too far off, so we decided to get down especially after seeing the comforting sight of a well lighted McDonalds joint. It was in front of a big mall called Mahokta Parade. While eating dinner, I had some last minute research on places to stay in Melaka thanks to the free WiFi.

We got on a taxi and told the driver to take us to Discovery Cafe. The driver, like a lot of people in this former British-colony, spoke “good” English. I requested to have the taxi meter turned on. Apparently, taxi units in Melaka don’t have meters installed. He gave us a contracted rate. I forgot how much it was but we agreed to it since it wasn’t awfully expensive.

The driver took us back to the city core and stopped on a dark street. At the back of my mind, I was thinking … Nowhere in hell would we knowingly drop off at that seedy looking neighborhood. Thank goodness for my knack of looking places up on Google Maps. I had an idea where we were and knew we weren’t in the vicinity of Discovery Cafe. True to my instinct, Discovery Cafe was still a few blocks away.

Discovery Cafe

We made an inquiry for a vacant room at Discovery Cafe’s roadside bar. It had a very chill mood, which I liked. The rooms weren’t located in the same building as the cafe / bar. A guy led us through a narrow alleyway across the street. It was a bit scary blindly following the guy at that time of night.

He led us upstairs to our room. It was an air-con room with two double-deck bunk beds (common bathrooms) and cost RM90 for the whole thing. Discovery Cafe had very good rates and they even offer free breakfast.

Day-time photo of Discovery Cafe

Alleyway going to the Discovery Guest House

Discovery Guest House

Discovery Cafe, which transforms into a bar at night

Open area of Discovery Cafe

All of us took a good night’s rest. We planned on taking a quick walking tour along the Melaka River before hopping on another bus to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Read my Singapore do-it-yourself tips and guide at Detourista.com.