Getting From Singapore To Desaru – We Compare The Costs Of 6 Modes Of Transport

How to get from Singapore to Desaru: a guide

It’s not that difficult for us Singaporeans to tackle wanderlust whenever it strikes. Look around and you’ll find a myriad of destinations you can squeeze a short getaway to over long weekends. Ferries, short-haul flights, and buses will take us anywhere from JB to Bali in a jiffy. And one more place to consider is Desaru.

Thanks to the convenient direct ferry service from Singapore, it’s become pretty popular, so deciding whether or not you should visit is a no-brainer. The real question is: how do we get there? Is the ferry really the best option?

We explore the alternatives based on cost and travel time below:

All you need to know about Desaru

For the uninitiated, Desaru lies in the state of Johor, about an hour’s drive from JB. The best months to visit Desaru are from June to October when the weather is pleasant. Avoid going from November to February when rainy days are more frequent.

If you’re wondering why Desaru is famous, the answer is simple – there are plenty of things to do in Desaru. Thrill seekers can head to the Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark and nature lovers can check out the fruit farm or go bird-watching.

Families with kids must add Desaru Mini Zoo and Desaru Ostrich Farm to their itinerary. All in all, you’ll need 2-3 days to explore the various activities. Within Desaru, the best way to get around is via car – whether your own or with a private hire driver. Do note that Grab is not that easily available within the coastal town.

– Direct from Singapore –

Private MPV hire from Singapore

S$160 for a 6-seater car, one-way

For large groups, hiring a private car transfer from Singapore is an easy and cost-effective way to get to the pristine beaches of Desaru. It’s a zero-stress and zero-fuss affair – all you need to do is pack your bags, passports, and swimwear and wait for your vehicle to arrive.

Image credit:
Nusa Transport

This service takes you door-to-door, from your void deck to the hotel lobby in Desaru. There’s no need to get out of the car during immigration or lug your heavy luggage around. Even if you do have an international driving licence, this is still a nifty option to consider since you’ll have an experienced driver to deal with any Causeway traffic on Tuas or Woodland checkpoints on your behalf.

Image credit:
Nusa Transport

Book a one-way service from S$160, or a 2-way service from S$300 via SGMYTRIPS. For getaways with friends, you can top up an additional S$5/stop to pick everyone up from their homes. Other options include Nusa Transport and Johor Trip, both of which also offer transfers from S$160

One downside is that you’ll still be at the mercy of peak period jams at the checkpoint. Also, only 7-seater vehicles are available across all the reputable service providers we could find online at the time of writing. So if you’re looking for a solo trip or a couple’s getaway, you may want to consider some of the other options instead.

Cost per pax: From S$26.70 with min. 6 travellers, one-way
Duration: 2-5 hours depending on the Causeway jam and pickup location

Ferry from Tanah Merah to Desaru Coast

S$108 for a 2-way ticket

Enter: the ferry that’s been all the hype lately. Perfect for those who prefer to avoid the horrid causeway jam at all costs, Desaru Link Ferry Services take you straight from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal to Desaru Coast Ferry Terminal by sea.

Albeit on the more expensive end of the spectrum – at S$70 one way and S$108 for a return trip – the 338-seater ferry operated by BatamFast is arguably one of the most straightforward modes of transport. A one-way journey takes about 90 minutes and departs from Singapore at 8.30am and Desaru at 5.30pm once daily, from Thursdays to Mondays only.

Just be sure to arrive at least an hour before your boat departs to give some time for immigration. Hand-carry luggage is also restricted to 10kg/pax, with extra costs for excess baggage.

Upon arrival in Desaru, you can catch a free shuttle bus to the golf course and Desaru Coast hotels, namely:

  • Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast
  • The Westin Desaru Coast Resort
  • Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas
  • One&Only Desaru Coast

Get your BatamFast tickets to Desaru.

Cost per pax: S$70 one-way or S$108 2-ways
Duration: 2.5 hours (1.5 hour boat ride + 1 hour prior check-in and immigration)


Finally, there’s the option of self-driving for those among us fortunate enough to own a car in Singapore. This is the most convenient mode of transport since you’ll have plenty of flexibility to make pit stops along the way, and there’s no need to rush to catch your ferry or bus. 

Off-peak, it’s probably quicker if you cross the border via Woodlands Checkpoint. On Friday evenings and weekends, it may be a better idea to make a detour to Tuas Second Link to avoid major traffic jams. You can see our guide on when to cross Woodlands Checkpoint for a better breakdown of peak vs non-peak hours.

Also ensure that:

  • Your petrol tank is at least ¾ full.
  • You have downloaded the Touch ‘n Go card or eWallet app (App Store | Google Play) for toll fees.
  • Your car insurance covers trips to Malaysia.
  • There isn’t a major traffic jam – visit Jalan Now for a live feed of the causeway traffic at both Woodlands and Tuas Second Link.
  • You have applied for a Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) at least 5 working days before your trip. There’s a 1-time Road Charge payment of RM20 (~S$5.69) and the permit lasts 5 years. While authorities don’t always check, getting caught without one can result in a fine of RM150 (~S$42.67).

Cost per pax: Fuel cost and S$10-S$14.20 toll fees*:

  • Leaving SG: S$0.80 at Woodlands Checkpoint. S$2.10 at Tuas Checkpoint
  • Entering JB: RM20 (~S$5.69) arrival fees + RM2.90 (~S$0.82) Malaysia PLUS toll charge
  • Lebuhraya Senai-Desaru toll: RM9.90 (~S$2.82)
  • Re-entering SG: Free at Woodlands Checkpoint. S$2.10 at Tuas Checkpoint

*Toll fees above are calculated for cars. Find out more about Checkpoint toll charges.

Duration: About 2.5 hours depending on traffic

– From Johor Bahru –

Here’s a little pro tip for the lot of us who prefer to pinch our pennies. The transport options are much more affordable once you’ve crossed the border. If your schedule is flexible, break your trip into 2 by getting from Singapore to JB via Woodlands Causeway then taking a Grab ride or bus from there.

You can save hundreds of precious dollars and have more budget to splurge on Desaru’s fresh seafood.

Getting to JB from Singapore:

  • Take a KTM Train (S$5) – Easiest way to cross the border
  • Take a bus to JB (from S$1.40) – Buses from multiple locations around Singapore including Queens Street Terminal, Kranji MRT, and Jurong East
  • SBS Buses – Take Bus 856/A, 903, 911/T, 912/B or 950 to Woodlands Checkpoint

Taking a Grab

From ~S$37/car, one-way

Booking a Grab in Malaysia isn’t as daunting as it may seem, and is ultimately a pretty safe way to get around – according to trusty Google, and a nifty bit of personal experience. It takes just around S$10/pax to get from JB to Desaru if you’re travelling in a group of 4 or 6 – much cheaper compared to many of the other options.

Image credit: Kezia Tan

It’s relatively easy to find a driver willing to chauffeur you across the state, and prices should range around RM130 (~S$37) for a JustGrab for 4 pax or RM210 (~S$60) for a larger car for 6 pax.

Do note that prices can surge during peak hours. During surges, it’s probably a good idea to chill at a JB cafe or relax in your hotel lobby until the prices drop. You may also experience some traffic jams within the city centre during weekends but overall, the journey should take about 1.5 to 2 hours tops.

Cost per pax: From ~S$10 one-way
Travel time: 1.5-2 hours (excluding transport from Singapore to JB)

Bus package

From ~S$8.53/pax for a return trip

Image credit:

Budget travellers, you’re in for a ride – Causeway Link has buses that’ll shuttle you from JB Sentral to Desaru Coast and back. The best part? You can get a seat on this bus at RM30 (~S$8.53) for a 2-way trip. Otherwise, one-way tickets are priced at RM15 (~S$4.27) per person.

Compared to taking a Grab, these packages are more economical for solo or small-group travellers.

Bus schedule
JB Sentral – Desaru Coast Riverside: 8.30am, Daily | Fri-Sun 2.30pm
Desaru Coast Riverside – JB Sentral Bus Terminal: Mon-Thu 3pm | Fri-Sun 11.30am & 5pm

Cost per pax: From S$8.53 for a return trip
Travel time: 1.5 hour one-way

Book a Causeway Link bus ticket.

Renting a car from JB

From ~S$40/day

Image credit: @gemcarrentaljohorbahru via Instagram

Now, if you want to maintain that flexibility of driving a car but don’t have your own, then consider Johor car rentals. There are numerous companies offering their services but some of the more reputable ones include:

Car rental company Price
Hatchback From RM180/day (~S$51.27)
Drivor Car rental From RM170/day (~S$48.42)
Gem Car Rental From RM130/day (~S$39.88)

Say you’re a group of 5 and opt for the Perodua 5-seater car, it can come to just ~S$8 per person. Families travelling with young kids can also add on infant seats and stroller rentals.

Cost per pax: From ~S$8/pax
Travel time: 1.5-2 hours (depending on car rental pick-up point)

Singapore to Desaru transport options

Nothing fixes Monday blues like a relaxing getaway. If your stress levels are in the red, it’s high time you grab your passports and head over to the idyllic beach resorts of Desaru. Thankfully, there are plenty of options to get us there and back in a jiffy in 2024. 

Whether you’re visiting as a solo traveller or a large group, you now have everything you need to know to book your ferry, bus, or car.

While you’re in Johor, check out the following guides:

Cover image adapted from: Klook
A portion of this content may contain referral links to products. However, all opinions are ours.
First published on 1st March 2023. Last updated by Aditi Kashyap on 19th April 2024.

Kezia Tan

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