Johor Bahru is served by Senai Airport (JHB), about 30 kilometres northwest of the city centre. This well-serviced airport has a food court, restaurants, pharmacy, ATMs and moneychanger, post office, phone company booths selling SIM cards and car rental agencies. A GST refund scheme operates for tourists, so if you’ve spent up big check on your refund. Short- and long-term parking is available at the airport.
Airlines fly popular domestic routes as well as internationally to Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea and China.
Malaysian Airlines: Kuala Lumpur
Air Asia: Domestic to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuching, Sibu, Miri, Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, Langkawi; International: Ho Chi Minh, Surabaya, Bangkok, Guangzhou, Jakarta.
Malindo Air: Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Subang
Asiana Airline: Seoul
Spring Airlines: Shenzhen
Sichuan Airlines: Guangzhou
The white Causeway Link shuttle bus (AA1) will take you to JB Sentral (54 minutes; 8 ringgit). The first bus departs at 06:10, then from 07:00 hourly to 19:00, then 20:15 and the last bus at 22:30. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket counter or online. Causeway Link bus 333 will take you to Larkin Sentral bus terminal (and vice versa). From Senai, buses run from 09:30 to 19:00 every two hours, and from Larkin 8:30 to 18:00 every two hours (3.50 ringgit).
Airport taxis operate from the east wing of the airport and use a coupon system available from the taxi counter. A taxi to JB Sentral is 44 ringgit and will take about 30 minutes.
JB Sentral train station is conveniently in the city centre connecting to City Square and Komtar malls and the CIQ Immigration complex.
A regular shuttle train runs to Woodlands in Singapore, a much quicker option to cross the causeway than the bus. Trains depart at 05:30, 06:00, 06:30, 07:00, 08:30, 09:00, 11:00, 12:30, 15:30, 17:00, 19:00, 21:00 and 22:15 and take five minutes (excluding time at immigration). Tickets are 5 ringgit. This service is very popular and crowded. Tickets show seat numbers, but the system is “free seating” with mostly standing room only (be ready to run and be pushed and shoved). Tickets sell out early, and can be booked online up to one day before or at the counter at JB central up to the day of travel. At Woodlands you’ll pass through Singapore immigration. Be aware, this land crossing has no duty-free allowances so if you are carrying alcohol or cigarettes you will need to declare them and pay duty, or face a hefty fine. At Woodlands immigration there is no connecting train, but local bus services connect to Singapore’s MRT.
At the time of our research in March 2017 the north-south line to Kuala Lumpur was closed as they were replacing diesel trains with new electric trains. Trains can only travel as far north as Gemas where the new electric track begins. To travel from JB to KL you will have to catch a train to Gemas, then connect to the ETS (Electric Train Service) from Gemas to KL Sentral. From KL you can connect to Ipoh for the Cameron Highlands, Butterworth for Penang, Alor Setar for Langkawi and Padang Besar for further connections to Hat Yai in Thailand. Trains to Gemas depart at 10:00, 16:00, 19:00 and 22:50 and take about four-and-a-half hours (21 ringgit). Trains Gemas to KL depart at 07:30; 15:00 and 21:10 take about two hours (31 ringgit). From Gemas you can also change to the line connecting to Kota Bharu (Wakaf Bharu). Check schedules on the KTMB website.
JB has two bus terminals: JB Sentral in the city centre (also home to the train station) for buses to Singapore and local city buses including to Senai Airport and also connecting to JB’s other bus terminal Larkin Sentral, five kilometres north of the centre. From Larkin, buses connect all over Malaysia and beyond.
From JB Sentral, bus services to Singaporerun every 10 minutes. You’ll need to go from the immigration checkpoint to be stamped (electronically thumb printed) out of Malaysia, then once in Singapore, you’ll have to remove all luggage off the bus to enter the country. Alcohol and cigarettes (as well as other goods) attract a high duty that will have to be paid as you enter (even if you bought your duty-free booze in Singapore on the way in). This land crossing has no duty-free allowances. Hold onto your bus ticket as you’ll need it to re-board to continue to your final destination. Buses to Singapore include SBS Transit bus 160 to Jurong East and 170X to Kranji MRT Station, and SMART bus 950 to Woodlands. Causeway Link bus CW5 is an express service to Newton Circus every 15 to 30 minutes from 05:00 to 22:30 (3.40 ringgit).
Causeway Link’s Senai Airport shuttle (AA1) departs at 05:30, then hourly from 06:00 until 20:00 and takes 45 minutes (8 ringgit). A number of local buses depart to Larkin Sentral including the Causeway Link express LM1 bus that continues to Hello Kitty Town and Legoland.
Larkin was a confusing mess in the process of a major upgrade when we visited in March 2017. The 20 million ringgit reno will hopefully see something more akin to its efficient city cousin, due for completion at the end of 2017. A quote from a building manager in the Malay Mail said, “'I promise you, 18 months from now, Larkin Sentral will not be the same any more."
Bus tickets to destinations all over Malaysia and to Singapore and Thailand can be pre-purchased online or from one of the numerous ticket booths which have signs for destinations and departure times. Departures to Kuala Lumpur and Melakaare frequent and it’s not necessary to book in advance except during holiday periods. For overnight bus tickets to Butterworth or Kota Bharu it’s advisable to make a reservation, especially on weekends. Tickets anywhere need to be booked in advance during holidays like Chinese New Year. Most long distance buses provide TV, a meal, plugs to charge your gadgets and WiFi, and regularly stop for pee, stretch and snack breaks.
Popular destinations include: (prices are average fares)
Melaka: Every 30 to 60 minutes 07:30 to 21:00 (3 hours; 21 ringgit)
Kuala Lumpur: every 30 minutes 06:30 to 24:30 (4-5 hours; 35 ringgit)
Penang: 10:30, 21:15, 22:00 (10 hours; 70 ringgit)?
Mersing (for Tioman Island): 08:00, 10:30, 11:45, 12:45, 14:30, 17:45, 18:45, 21:30, 23:00 (2 hours; 18 ringgit)
Kuantan: 09:00, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:45, 15:30, 17:30, 18:45, 21:30, 23:00, 23:30 (5 hours; 30 ringgit)
Kota Bharu: 09:00, 20:30, 20:45, 21:00 (9 hours; 65 ringgit)
Hat Yai (Thailand): 13:30, 18:30, 19:00 (13 hours; 88 ringgit)
Many buses depart to destinations in Singapore, but the most convenient for the majority of travellers is the express services to Queen Street in the centre of town departing every 15 to 30 minutes 04:00 to 23:00 (1 hour 3.40 ringgit).
Ferry services to Batam and Bintan islands in Indonesia depart from Berjaya Waterfront Ferry Terminal: 88 Jalan Ibrahim Sultan, Stulang Laut, Johor Bahru; T: (0722) 11677. Booking advisable. Port taxes and fees add an extra 15 ringgit to your ticket, and can be paid at time of purchase. Note that there is a one-hour time difference between Malaysia and these Indonesian islands.
Ferries depart to two destinations on Batam, Batam Centre and Harbour Bay.
Batam Centre: Every 45 minutes 07:15 to 18:30 (1.5 hours; 69 ringgit one way, 110 ringgit return).
Harbour Bay: 07:30, 09:30, 10:30, 11:30, 13:30, 14:30, 16:30, 18:15 (1.5 hours; 69 ringgit one way, 110 ringgit return).
Tanjung Pinang (Bintan): 09:30, 13:00, 17:00 (2.5 hours; 86 ringgit one way, 144 ringgit return).