The closing of an old unique railway station in Singapore
The last few weeks of Malaysia’s defiant train station in Singapore are coming to an end.
(*Edit: on Thursday, June 30 2011 at 10.31pm Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in Singapore officially closed. Find out more about this once great infinite visa run, and how to cross the border in this article. Also included, the new 2013 Malaysia Singapore/ Singapore Malaysia train schedule.)
Tanjung Pagar railway station in Singapore is actually, officially, Malaysian territory. The real border is thirty minutes away, the tracks the train runs on are Malaysian and the station is still officially a part of Malaysia.
The reason for this is a 999 year lease between Singapore and Malaysia. One that the politicians have finally agreed to terminate on July 1st 2011.
In exchange for surrendering the Tanjung Pagar station to Singapore, Malaysia will get three plots of land in Singapore. Something that’s worth a lot these days.
The only overland border of its kind*
So here I am, just in time, and with a purpose. To take one of the only overland border crossings in the world where you get stamped into the next country, before getting stamped out of your current country. To make it more interesting, you don’t even get a Malaysian stamp in your passport.
Tanjung Pagar railway station has been the subject of much political wrangling for many, many years. With both sides shuffling rules around to out do the other without causing serious problems.
To cut this long story short. It’s over on July 1st 2011. The official railway station for entering and leaving Singapore will now be located at Woodlands. A bus is meant to bring passengers from the station to the nearest MRT station for access to Singapore city.
Meanwhile, for the remaining few weeks, if you want a unique lack of a passport stamp into Malaysia, hurry up and take the train out of Singapore to Malaysia.
Then watch as a few, very, “long-term” tourists in Malaysia do the same thing for the last time. One of the last, good “silent” visa runs, you could do for many years whereby the officials could say nothing because international law deemed it was not a legitimate border entry either.
*Note: some great readers have passed on some information regarding a few other “irregular” borders around the world, see comments for more.
How to get a cheap train ticket from Singapore to Malaysia
I decided to take the night train, departing at 22.30 from Singapore. It’s prompt.
A word to the wise, if at all possible buy your tickets from Malaysia, not Singapore. It’s much cheaper to buy a train ticket from Singapore to Malaysia inside Malaysia, than it is in Singapore. (this will apply when the station moves as well)
The pricing is like this: (note that Singaporean fares are the same, but in Singaporean dollars, therefore, a lot more expensive)
- Superior seat RM34 / S$34
- Premier sear RM68 / S$68
- Night sleeping berth upper/lower RM40/45 / S$40/45
- Cabin upper/lower RM118/139 / S$118/139
Singapore to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia train schedule 2013
Departing Singapore (Woodlands) 08:30 Arriving Kuala Lumpur 15:50
Departing Singapore (Woodlands) 14:00 Arriving Kuala Lumpur 22:00
Departing Singapore (Woodlands) 23:30 Arriving Kuala Lumpur 07:30
Note the train can be anywhere between 30 mins to 2 hours late
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia to Singapore (Woodlands) train schedule 2013
Departing Kuala Lumpur at 08:30 Arriving Singapore (Woodlands) at 16:30
Departing Kuala Lumpur at 14:00 Arriving Singapore (Woodlands) at 22:00
Departing Kuala Lumpur at 22:30 Arriving Singapore (Woodlands) at 07:00
Note the train can be anywhere between 30 mins to 2 hours late
You can buy some e-tickets online via the official Malaysian KTM Intercity rail website
Here is a link to the offical KTM Intercity train timetable from July 2013 (pdf)
How to get from Woodlands railway station to Singapore city information 2013
- Coming from Malaysia via train you will depart at Woodlands and go through immigration (all passports are now stamped).
- Once through you now need to a bus that will take you to Woodlands MRT station which is linked to the rest of Singapore’s MRT network.
- Buses 178, 903, 911, 912 & 913, 950 all go to Woodlands MRT station. The journey time is about 10-15 minutes.
- Buses 178, 911, 912 & 913 have shorter times at a cost of S$0.69. The other buses can cost up to S$1.10
- Bus number 170 goes straight to Queen Street terminal which is near Bugis and Little India however factor in traffic with the time of your arrival.
- At the MRT station a ticket will cost you S$1.10 – S$2.30 depending on your station. Do consider a EZ-Link card at the MRT station if you plan on making multiple MRT rides.
- Total journey time should be around 60-70 minutes which includes average immigration, bus and MRT times.
- A taxi will cost approx S$30-35 from downtown Singapore to Woodlands train station.
- Change some money either before arriving or departing Singapore as there’s no money changer at the station.
Immigration procedure from Singapore to Malaysia by train in 2011 (note: all passports since July 1st 2011 are now stamped)
At about 22.15 an official will gently whisper that immigration is open inside the station. You might miss it if not for the slow-moving crowd.
Locate the official in said crowd and ask for a departure card. This is now as important as your passport (more later). The official will then randomly shout “Ten minutes to boarding!”
At which time you will see a few tourists start to panic and cause all sorts of commotion as they fumble for passports and pens to fill out their forms.
Fill the form and proceed to one of three medium-sized queues. Wait your turn and approach a sentry point, hand over your passport to a smiling official.
Then watch as they roughly flick through your passport for no reason other than for the sake of it. Then, watch as they stamp your immigration card, and hand you a passport without stamping in any evidence whatsoever that you have entered into Malaysia.
Leave without questioning.
Or stand around and watch some overly prepared “smart” tourist get into a fuss over this and demand their right for a stamp while leafing through their guide book in a mild panic.
Welcome to Malaysia, you are now entering Singapore??
All aboard the train, you will wait until 22.30 for a thirty minute ride to Woodlands. This is the new, official, train-station for the Malaysia / Singapore border via train.
Depart train quickly to avoid the mass of people. Queue for a Singaporean exit stamp in your passport. Get a happy goodbye smile from the official and then turn to the waiting lounge. Sit and wait for 30 minutes for everyone else.
When the doors open, let the crowds run first. Seats, and beds on the trains are allocated so there’s no rush!
Congratulations you have now entered Malaysia again but got no stamp to prove it after leaving Singapore and Malaysia just 30 minutes ago. Next stop, Kuala Lumpur.
How to leave Malaysia when you have no entry stamp on your passport
I will admit to briefly mentioning to a young North American couple if they got a 90 day entry stamp or not? Only to watch them flick through their passports over and over again, before comparing each others and then start to panic.
Sorry, slow night, and I explained it to them after a few minutes with a nice German who was laughing too.
Always, always check your entry stamps immediately after getting stamped into a new country. Especially, when traveling overland
The key to all this is that white departure card. This is what you must keep to show the immigration officials when you depart Malaysia. Along with your train ticket as a secondary measure.
There have been problems at the border when people have lost their cards and not realised they had no stamp in their passport. So make sure you don’t lose it.
The future of overland train crossings from Singapore to Malaysia
All this will be irrelevant come July 1st 2011 when the official train border will be at woodlands. I believe the same schedule will exist. If not, I will update it here.
However, for me, I enjoyed this journey. It wasn’t about the travel part this time. It was about the last of an old overland border train. The last of the “secret” long-term visa runs. And, for the third time for me to be in a country with no passport stamp of proof. The first was Tibet, and then China. It’s these little things that make overland travel so much fun when done this way.
Meanwhile, I have no Malaysian stamp on my passport, and I hope not to lose my white immigration card. I’m traveling fast, with a lot to do, I only hope I can get out again!
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A different kind of dark past bumps into me