One of the easiest, cheapest, most comfortable way to get from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur is by train. The trip is about 6-7 hours, cost MYR 33 (USD$10) for 2nd class seat , MYR39 (USD$12.50) for 2nd class sleeper, MYR94-135 (USD$30-43) for 1st class deluxe sleeper (private cabin sleeper with private shower /toilet and LCD TV). Note that this is cheaper than the 4-5 hr bus ride which cost about USD$24, and definitely cheaper than the cheapest Air ticket you can find. Plus, train travel usually comes with beautiful scenery of the countryside, munching on train station food, or perhaps a nice/efficient/cheap sleep with an overnight train.
The train is clean, fair condition, good services, and has decent food. It is very safe, and probably is the safest way to get from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.
It is cheaper to buy the ticket in Malaysia or originate your trip out of the nearest town in Malaysia. Originating or purchasing tickets in Singapore will cost you 2.5x. More details on this below under How to Buy tickets.
Currently there are 3 trains from Singapore (Woodlands) to Kuala Lumpur (KL Sentral – Sentral Kuala Lumpur)
Train #2 EKSPRES RAKYAT: Depart daily from Woodlands at 9:12AM, arrives to KL Sentral at 2:56PM (Class 1, 2)
Train #12 EKSPRES SINARAN SELATAN: Depart daily from Woodlands at 2:18PM, arrives to KL Sentral at 8:25PM (Class 1, 2, L, S)
Train #24 SENANDUNG SUTERA: Depart daily from Woodlands at 11:55PM, arrives to KL Sentral at 6:30AM (Class 1, 2, L, F, S)
I recommend the overnight sleeper (Train 24) which leaves Singapore Woodlands at 11:30PM and gets into Kuala Lumpur at 6:30am, just in time to day tour the city. This train save you a night of hotel in Singapore and perhaps make your trip a bit more efficient as you are on the move while sleeping.
Key to classes
- L or ADNFD = Deluxe sleeper - 1 or 2-bed compartments with private shower & toilet, air-conditioned.
- F or ADNFB = 1st class sleepers – Bed compartments with washbasin, air-conditioned.
- S or ADNS = 2nd class sleepers – Upper & lower berths with curtains for privacy, air-conditioned.
- 1 or AFC = 1st class seats – Reasonably luxurious, reclining, air-conditioned.
- 2 or ASC = 2nd class seats - Comfortable, air-conditioned.
Prices as noted at the beginning of the article. The 2nd class sleeper is a great deal.
How to buy tickets
The easiest , cheapest, and best way to buy the ticket is to just book from http://www.ktmb.com.my/ , which you can pay by credit card and print out your own ticket (or collect the tickets at any Malaysian KTM railway station including Singapore Woodlands). You can also buy it from the station or call the KTM (Malaysian Railways) call centre.
The reservation open 60 days before departure and YES you need to have a reservation (one cannot just hop on and off).
When booking the tickets online, make sure to choose Sentral Kuala Lumpur, not Kuala Lumpur, as those are 2 different stations and your train options are different.
As noted earlier, if you originate your trip from Singapore as the fare will be done in Singapore dollar and will cost you about 2.5x what it would have cost if you originate from Malaysia. Basically, you should originate the trip from JB Sentral in Johor Bahru, thus buying tickets from JB Sentral to KL Sentral. You can then find a way to get from Singapore to JB Sentral. There are many buses to JB Sentral from downtown Singapore. Click here for article on Singapore – Woodland – JB Sentral Buses
A simple method that I recommend is just to buy 2 tickets (1 from Singapore Woodland to JB Sentral and another one from JB Sentral to KL Sentral). This way, you will only be charged more for the short 5 minutes Woodland-JB Sentral section and pay Malaysian cheaper price for the longer JB Sentral-KL Sentral section. For example, you can buy a 2nd class seat from Woodland-JB Sentral, then 1st class sleeper from JB Sentral-KL Sentral. Once the train gets to JB Sentral (5 mins ride), then walk over to your 1st class cabin. Note that as of January 2013, you can no longer buy the short Woodland-JB Sentral portion of your ticket online, but you can still do so in person at Woodland or by phone through the call center and pick up your ticket at Woodland on the day of your travel. You should be able to just walk up on your day of departure and buy this cheapest 2nd class seat Woodland-JB Sentral portion.
Note that many web search will say that there are no food/drinks at Woodland station and they recommend you to be prepare with materials from elsewhere. This is not miss-leading. It is correct that there are absolutely nothing inside the train station or the ticketing area. However, 100 meters across the street from the ticketing area, you will find a large shopping center/food complex, where there are many grocery stores, hawker stalls, and plenty of food and tiger beer to keep you spirit alive.
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See video of the train cabin and what to expect upon arrival below