Singapore-Malaysia VTL guide
Before Covid-19, many of us would have definitely travelled across to neighbouring Malaysia at some point in our lives.
Be it to visit loved ones, for a day of feasting and shopping in Johor Bahru or even some theme park fun in the cold weather of Genting Highlands, it’s undeniable that Malaysia holds a special place in many Singaporeans’ hearts.
Here’s what to expect if you’re planning for a trip to Malaysia via the Vaccinated Travel Lane, including the cost breakdown and what to prepare:
More articles on VTL travel here:
The Singapore-Malaysia VTL at a glance
Image credit: The Smart Local Malaysia
Unlike other VTLs that Singapore has with other countries, the Malaysia VTL is the only country offering two modes of transport – by land and by air.
For air travel, this works like any other VTL; you will have to travel on designated VTL flights in order to avoid quarantine requirements.
For land travel, travellers will have to take designated bus services across the Causeway and back. So no self-drive for now, but fingers crossed we might be able to in the near future!
When returning to Singapore, all Singaporean citizens and PRs can interchange their mode of travel – for example, travelling to Malaysia by land and returning to Singapore by air, or vice versa.
If you are a non-Singaporean/PR, you will have to specially apply for both Vaccinated Travel Passes for Land and Air (more details at SafeTravel) if you plan to interchange travel modes.
That being said, let’s dive into the specifics on how to prepare for your trip:
1. Booking your mode of travel
VTL air travel
For air travel, there are only six airlines that provide VTL flights: Singapore Airlines, Scoot, AirAsia, Jetstar Asia, Malaysia Airlines and Malindo Air. Be sure to double and triple check that the flights that you are booking are designated VTL flights.
VTL flights from Singapore to Malaysia
VTL flights from Malaysia to Singapore
We did a check on some average return flight prices for a solo week-long trip to Kuala Lumpur after Chinese New Year, but your prices will vary depending on when you travel:
- Singapore Airlines – S$976.70
- Scoot – S$747.01
- Malaysia Airlines – S$815.30
Take note that if you’re entering Malaysia and you’re not a Malaysian citizen, you will have to show proof of your return ticket when you arrive at KLIA. The same requirements will apply for non-Singaporean citizens or PRs entering Singapore. This seems to be the case only for air travel for now.
VTL Land Travel
Image adapted from: Causeway Link
For land travel, you’ll have to purchase bus tickets from designated bus service providers Causeway Link or Transtar Travel. Each departure ticket to Malaysia will cost S$15 for adults and S$8 for children, and each ticket to Singapore will cost RM20 (~S$6.50) for adults and RM10 (~S$3.30) for children.
Be sure to book early when tickets are available, because they are extremely popular and sell out very quickly after being released.
2. Buy travel insurance with Covid-19 coverage
While we’re finally able to travel again, the harsh reality is that we are still living amid a pandemic, so it’s compulsory for travellers to have travel insurance with Covid-19 coverage.
Short-term visitors (i.e. foreigners) to both Malaysia and Singapore will need to have an insurance policy that covers at least RM100,000 (~S$32,200 to enter Malaysia and S$30,000 to enter Singapore) in the event they need to be treated or quarantined due to Covid-19.
Example of a premium for a one-week trip
Image adapted from: FWD Singapore
This won’t apply for nationals and long-term pass holders of both countries, but it’s always recommended to be on the safe side and get yourself insured when travelling. After all, these policies often cover other matters such as loss of baggage, overseas medical costs, and flight cancellations.
- Anywhere between S$20 – S$60, depending on your duration of travel and coverage amount. You can check out several travel insurance providers such as FWD, NTUC Income and AIG for their packages.
3. Book your pre-departure PCR test
Here comes the first in a battery of tests. Since 7th Dec 2021, both Malaysia and Singapore have since tightened testing requirements for all travellers, including those on the Singapore-Malaysia VTL. Be warned though… there are a lot of Covid-19 tests.
Unlike the VTLs Singapore has with other countries, the Malaysia VTL requires you to take a pre-departure test 48 hours before your scheduled departure, as compared to the usual 72 hours required by other countries. Tests can be done at any MOH-approved clinic or test provider.
- Air travel: You will need to take a PCR test, which can range from S$130 – S$180, but the cheapest one that we’ve found costs S$107 at SATA CommHealth clinics.
- Land travel: You can either take a PCR test or a professionally administered ART. For the latter, this costs S$15.
There’s also the option of having the PCR test done via housecall with clinics such as Speedoc which offers 24-hour house calls. This option is pricier at $195, but can be a godsend for people who have no time to slot in a clinic run before their departure day.
There are also options for express PCR tests, but they would cost you upwards of $200 and would have to be booked in advance.
Once you get your results, you’ll have to upload your pre-departure test and vaccination certificate on Notarise to get it digitally authenticated. The process is relatively straightforward and they will notify you via email when it’s done.
4. Download the MySejahtera app
Image adapted from: MySejahtera
When travelling to Malaysia, you have to download the MySejahtera app (available on Google Play or the Apple App Store). The app is fairly straightforward to use, and functions like TraceTogether – it will show your vaccination status, which is important as it’ll allow you to dine-in at restaurants and enter malls.
You will also have to use this to update your self-administered ARTs (more on that later). Apart from those functions, the app also offers some useful information, such as the daily number of Covid-19 cases, and whether you’re at risk based on the places you’ve checked into.
Important tip: Do not wait till the last minute to verify your vaccination status on the app. You’ll have to upload your vaccination cert and details, and it will take up to five working days for it to be processed. The process will look like this:
- Head over to your profile on the app
- Tap on “MySejahtera Helpdesk” (option N)
- Select “I have received my vaccination overseas and would like to obtain my digital certificate”
- Follow the instructions from there to fill in the necessary details and upload your vaccination cert
Travellers also have to register at Malaysia’s MySafeTravel portal, at least seven days before your flight.
5. Arrival swabs
When you arrive in Malaysia via air travel, you’ll have to take a PCR test at KLIA/KLIA2, and wait at a holding area for anywhere between one to three hours until your results give you the all clear.
We recommend booking your test ahead of time for faster processing, just after you check in and before you depart Singapore. This would save you money in case you have to forfeit your test because you missed your flight or were unable to travel prior.
For land travel, you will have to take a supervised ART test at Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal.
- Air: Between RM370 (~S$117) to RM470 (~S$152) for a PCR test
- Land: RM90 (~S$29) for an ART
6. Subsequent tests while in Malaysia
Once you’ve cleared your arrival test, you’re free to go about your activities, but take note that you’ll have to take daily tests over the next five days. We did say there would be a lot of tests!
Image credit: Josiah Neo
Do take note of the following testing requirements. For reference, your arrival day is considered Day 1:
- Day 3 and 5: Professionally administered ART swabs at approved swab facilities. They will cost around RM120 (~S$38) per test.
- Day 2, 4 and 6: Self-administered ART swabs using approved test kits. You can purchase these ART kits in Malaysia for around RM31 (~S$10) per kit, and upload your results to the MySejahtera app.
Update: As of 1st March 2022, Malaysia has dropped the requirements for inbound travellers to undergo ART tests from Day 2 to 6.
7. Book your pre-departure test before leaving Malaysia
When you’re ready to return to Singapore, take note that you’ll have to do a pre-departure test at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure time. This can either be a PCR test or a professionally administered ART swabs done at MOH-approved test providers. This can cost upwards of RM200 (~S$65) for PCR tests, and RM117 (~S$38) for ARTs.
Remember to get a record of your test results in English, which clearly states your name and date of birth or passport number.
8. Arrival test when you’re back in Singapore
On arrival back in sunny Singapore, you’ll have to take an on-arrival test; the first of many to come.
For air travel, this will be a PCR test at Changi Airport that you can book in advance on the Safe Travel Concierge. Travellers will also have to fill up the necessary arrival forms and health declaration to clear immigration.
After you’ve done your arrival PCR test, you’ll have to hold off chionging for more shopping or catching up with your friends. You’ll be required to head straight back home or your place of accommodation via taxi or private hire car and stay there until you receive the all-clear.
For land travel, you will take a supervised ART test when you arrive at Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange or Queen Street Terminal, and your results should be known relatively quickly.
- Air: S$125 for a PCR test
- Land: S$15 for an ART
9. Subsequent tests in Singapore
A Quick Test Centre in Pasir Ris
Image credit: Jessica Fang
While back in Singapore, you’ll only need to do an unsupervised self-administered ART on Day 2 and Day 7 – only if you’re going out. There’s no longer a requirement to submit your ART results, but you’ll have to test negative before you head out.
Costs: ~$10 per ART kit
Other tips for the Singapore-Malaysia VTL
On a whole, the tightened testing requirements for both Singapore and Malaysia are pretty significant, with a total of 15 tests, which pretty much makes it a daily affair if you’re not planning to travel for more than a week. Even if your nose is pretty accustomed to being swabbed, the costs can add up quite significantly.
To save money, look for several opportunities to combine testing requirements where possible. For example, you can combine your pre-departure test to Singapore (step 7) with one of the professionally administered ART swabs on Day 3 or 5 in step 6, saving you a test or two.
Of course, this would mean that you can’t stay in Malaysia for more than a week. At a glance, here are all the hidden costs:
While you can get your vaccination status verified on the MySejahtera app, it won’t hurt to print out all your relevant documents that you’ll need, such as your flight details, insurance policy, and notarised vaccination certificate (available through HealthHub) and pre-departure PCR test.
And that’s it – our breakdown for the Malaysia VTL, for those looking for a getaway or even to reunite with loved ones.
Given that the Omicron variant has shaken travel arrangements quite a bit recently, you will have to factor in sudden last-minute changes to your plans, and so it’s also important to be nimble in your trip planning. Fingers crossed, we’ll be able to return to some form of normalcy for leisure travel in the near future!
Check out some of our tips on what to do in Malaysia here:
- Scenic hiking trails in Malaysia
- Instagrammable spots in Kuala Lumpur
- Things to do in Langkawi
- Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark
- Things to do in Danga Bay
Cover images adapted from: The Smart Local Malaysia, Josiah Neo, Causeway Link
Original article published on 29th Jan 2022. Last updated on 4th March 2022.