I have not traveled that much in Southeast Asia as I used to back 4 years ago. I think I am out of date about traveling around those big cities in my neighbor countries. Except for Singapore, I often have business trips and the country or its city itself is quite small to navigate myself.
I started my trip to Malaysia after 3 years since my last visit from Singapore. I took a night bus on Lunar New Year Eve, which did not take me that long, around 6 hours. In normal times, you should expect to add around 1-2 hours more due to long queues at immigration counters both sides (Singapore and Malaysia).
Briefly my journey from Saigon, Vietnam – stopover in Singapore – Ipoh, Malaysia
- Take a budget flight (Airasia/Tigerair) to Singapore | Changi International Airport
- Take a taxi/MRT to a transit place, where I can rest before taking any long bus ride to Malaysia. Technically, I can take a taxi straight to that bus, which costs a lot and applicable when I arrive at Singapore quite late and my bus ride to Malaysia is at midnight.
- An alternative way is to take a MRT train and to walk to the Golden Mile Complex – a majority of bus companies run from. The Golden Mile Complex is located south of Little India, not far from Arab Street. The nearest MRT stop is Nicoll Highway on the orange CCS line. Exit the MRT station, cross the pedestrian platform, then turn right onto Beach Road. The Golden Mile Complex is a short distance on the right; you must cross the road again at the elevated pedestrian walkway. More pieces of advice or other information, you can find here.
- When arriving at Malaysia, those buses can stop and drop off their passengers at many places. Make sure that you study those drop-off places beforehand and coordinate with your friends who plan to pick you up or nearby MRT stations to navigate yourselves to your final destinations.
- From Kuala Lumpur, I can find my way to KL Sentral, a huge hub to go everywhere in and out Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur Sentral – An exclusive urban centre built around Malaysia’s largest transit hub, offering global connectivity, excellent investment opportunities, business convenience and an international lifestyle. Its infrastructure supports six rail networks – the KLIA Express Rail Link, KLIA Transit, RAPID KL (Putra), KTM Komuter, KTM Intercity and KL Monorail Services.
How is my journey from Saigon, Vietnam to Ipoh, Malaysia like?
- Take a budget flight as usual (Airasia is my first choice as its hub is based in Malaysia) to KLIA 2 – the new low-cost terminal that replaced the old LCCT, started operations on May 2nd, 2014 and designed to handle up to 45 million passengers a year. Measuring almost 2.76m sq. ft. (257,000 sq. m), which is about the size of 24 football fields, it is currently the world’s largest purpose-built terminal for budget and low-cost carriers. Here my navigation troubles come!
Last March was my first time arriving at KLIA2. It took me around 45 minutes to find immigration counters getting my passport stamped and to find an exit gate meeting a rental car driver. I felt as if I had been in a treasure hunting game show or something like Amazing Race show.
- To depart from KLIA 2, you can read a whole article, see some maps and some tips as well here.
- A brief guideline issued by Airasia for landing and taking off from KLIA 2 here. KILA itself also give another guideline in details here (although no information where immigration counters located for arrival passengers)
I still cannot remember exactly how I could get to the arrival immigration counter. Only thing I remember that is L4, which I got from a security staff in a domestic area. After I got off from the plane, I followed some signs saying baggage claims because I did not see any international arrival signs and ended up my journey at the domestic exit area. I was told to get to gate L4. I followed sign L and looked for number 4 in hopeless. I kept asking security staff who had limited English (oh boy!) until I met one Airasia staff who helped to escort a whole group of us heading to those arrival immigration counters. Next week I am coming back Ipoh and will go through all of those steps again. I will definitely take note and photos to make sure I won’t look that silly in the airport.
Got dropped off right in front of Departure Hall, I quickly moved inside and looked around for departure screen to find my boarding gate. Task: failed! Immediately I came straight to a security guard and asked him where departure immigration counters. I made my way there alright without knowing where my boarding gate was. Luckily, many Vietnamese passengers around me and I asked them whether they took the same flight with me and the boarding gate. Then, with the information in hand, the rest of my journey to get on board was very easy.
Again, I do not know where the heck to check my boarding gate on site with those big departure screens (international and domestic). It was kinda annoying. Next week, I will use internet/mobile app to check instead. Anyway, I believe, within this month, I can navigate myself easily around those arrival and departure areas.
The map below is KLIA2 – it looks quite simple but believe me, it is a whole jogging/racing trip (both arrival and departure) for you due to an unclear navigation sign system.