Life in TransitA Digital Nomad in Asia

Travelling by bus from Singapore to Malaysia via Larkin

While I usually buy a ticket directly to Melaka or Kuala Lumpur from Singapore, I decided to go to Malaysia today via the SBS 170 to Larkin route, and buy a ticket from Larkin to my next destination.

Besides being half the price, where the tickets are usually dollar for dollar the same in Ringgit as they are in Singapore Dollars – 30 RM vs 30 SGD to get to Kuala Lumpur – it was a new adventure to get to Malaysia rather than the time tested old way.

It was a new adventure to get to Malaysia rather than the time tested old way.

To get to the border checkpoint, I made my way to the Kranji station via the MRT. As you step outside the station, you will see two types of SBS Transit busses with the number 170.

The blue plates take you to Kotaraya while the red plates take you to Larkin.

You can board any bus to the Singapore and Malaysian border, though you have to board the correct one upon exiting the Malaysian side of the border to get to the correct final destination.

As soon as I step off the bus at Larkin, I was being hustled. They would not even give me the opportunity take a picture of the SBS bus I alighted from as they were trying to sell me a ticket, until I just walked away and made a bit of a loop to come back to shoot the bus.

After shooting a picture, I then quickly made my way inside to avoid the persistent hustling. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the hustlers hustling. That would have been quite the sight.

Inside, you might think you are buying your ticket from a counter but really it’s a hustler standing in front of the counter and the counter guy just plays along!

I had to wonder: do the counter people not want to sell a ticket or were the hustlers people to be feared?

The first “counter” I encountered, which was a girl offering me a price of 35 for “VIP”. I knew the price of the tickets was about the mid 30’s so I said I would take a look around instead.

I walked around a little and saw that Transnasional was RM 31.90 to Kuala Lumpur.

I always thought Transnational was a bit cramped anyway and right then, a guy calls me over and tries to sell me a ticket for 40 RM.

I refuse, saying the girl from that table he was writing his ticket on quoted me for 35 RM.

He agrees to sell me the ticket for 35 RM and tells me to come with him.

I tell him I am going to get a bite and he says to find him there after I get food.

When I come back, he is nowhere to be seen but another girl is know at the counter and asks me to go to counter 33 to get the “bus number”. I assume it is the license plate number for the correct bus.

The girl at counter 33 can’t care less as she is all about selling her own tickets. Or she doesn’t speak English. She just gives me this “don’t bother me” look.

I finally run into the guy who sold me the ticket and he takes me to a bus that wasn’t the “Global Coach” that he first described.

Seems like if I didn’t meet up with him, I would have missed my “random” bus.

In all honesty, it is way better to ensure you buy your ticket from the counter rather than from the hustlers or the booths. In fact, insist that you have a ticket to deflect the attention of the hustlers. Beware of the “booths” outside the counter. I bought mine from the booth because it was outside the TransStar counter and I knew TransStar was reliable. However, the booth vendor was not from TransStar.

This is quite the adventure trying to get to Kuala Lumpur from the Larkin bus station.

Now I’m sitting here in the bus with no idea when it will leave.

Ok, one of the hustlers just got into the driver’s seat and is relocating my bus – but we haven’t left yet.

One and a half hours past departure time and we haven’t left.

Though a couple of people have boarded the bus, asked if he was going to Pudu, then dropped off packages and a 20. Side job as a courier I suppose.

Posted in: Journal