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Driving to Malaysia. Ways to make it stress-free



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Every year, Malaysia receives more than 221.3 million domestic tourists and a large chunk of those are Singaporeans driving or motorcycling across the border to visit friends and family.

If you're planning to travel by car or by motorcycle, there are some specific things you ought to keep in mind to ensure you have the best trip possible.

Read on to learn everything you and your travel companions need to know as Singaporean motorists getting ready to visit Malaysia.

Before you go

Before you leave for Malaysia, there are some specific things you should do to make sure you're ready for your journey.

Here are some key tips to help you get prepared:

Get vehicle insurance

Car insurance or motorcycle insurance is mandatory for all vehicles in Malaysia. Without proper vehicle insurance, you could also find yourself paying a lot of money should you get into an accident along the way. Not only that, it's illegal to go without vehicle insurance.

Check to make sure your current insurance policy covers you in Malaysia. If it doesn't, you may need to look into expanding your coverage.

Remember always to carry your driving licence when travelling overseas. This isn't necessary for Singapore anymore since data is all online but is a must when driving overseas.

Check your driving licence for any Malaysian fines

Remember too to check if you have any speeding fines or driving offences incurred when you were last driving in Malaysia. These can easily be overlooked. Find out how to check if you have any previous driving offences and fines in Malaysia.

Get travel insurance

Things can go wrong when travelling overseas so getting travel insurance is a must. It might be the loss of your valuables, or you may have an accident and need to pay for medical bills. In the event of a serious accident, travel insurance can cover emergency medical evacuation and overseas hospital expenses.

It's easy to overlook travel insurance, especially if you're hopping over the border to Johor Bahru for a day trip but it's worth paying a little extra for peace of mind. If you travel to Malaysia often or if you go overseas regularly then consider getting an annual travel insurance plan. It can be a lifesaver if you have an accident or if you suffer a theft or loss of your belongings.

Find out more about how travel insurance can help you when driving across to Malaysia.

Get your permit

To enter the country, you'll need a Vehicle Entry Permit (or VEP for short).

You can make an initial application for a VEP online. When you apply, you'll get a notification letting you know where and when you collect it, which is currently in Malaysia. Be sure to apply early so you can get it before your trip.

Once you get your permit, display the tag in your vehicle so that it's visible to customs agents.

For more information about getting a VEP.

Fill your tank

Of course, we all know Malaysia is known for having low petrol prices, and lots of motorists cross the border just to fill up their tank.

To discourage this, you're required to have three-quarters of a tank of gas when you arrive, so make sure you've filled up beforehand.

Prepare to pay tolls

You'll have to pay tolls when you cross the Causeway in Malaysia. You'll need a Touch N' Go card. You can both purchase and top it up at Johor Customs (at the CIQ Complex, specifically).

Download a Malaysian GPS system

It's always a good idea to download a Malaysian GPS system. Look for one that comes with offline use. That way, you won't be limited if you don't have an internet connection (as may be the case if you're using Google Maps).

We recommend Waze, which is a user-updated map that is commonly used by locals, so you get real-time updates on traffic conditions and accidents.

Travel at the right time

Certain times of day are better for travel than others. To avoid crowds and long wait times at customs, avoid travelling during peak hours.

This includes early mornings and late afternoons and evenings when travelling on weekdays, as well as late mornings and late evenings when travelling on weekends.

Safety

We've heard the horror stories of carjacking, thefts and robberies. But on the whole, Malaysia can be a safe place if you take proper precautions to safeguard yourself and your belongings.

Be vigilant, and you should have a trouble-free trip.

Here are some ways you can help ensure your personal safety.

  • Plan your route beforehand
  • Install a GPS tracking system to your car so it can be traced if stolen.
  • Always lock your car when you are away.
  • Never leave any valuables in the car. Even if your bags do not contain valuables, they will attract thieves.
  • Park the car in a hotel or secure private parking space if you are planning to park overnight.
  • Invest in a steering wheel lock to secure your parked car.
  • If possible, do not come out of your car to settle any road disputes; drive off to the nearest police station instead.

Find out more about motorcycle theft in Malaysia.

Money

Do prepare some Malaysian ringgit (MYR) in advance as many roadside stalls and shops outside of the shopping centres don't accept any form of wireless payment.

Most shopping malls around Malaysia have money changers, and their rates can be better than the money changers in Singapore. This is down to the higher demand of Singapore Dollar (SGD) given how it has been consistently stronger against the Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) in the past years.

Data roaming

Data roaming charges can mount up so do be aware how much your service provider is charging and try to get a special deal on roaming overseas. If you're a frequent traveller to JB, consider getting yourself a local SIM card, which is available at most shopping malls.

Car rental

If you're going to rent a car, then check with the rental company to see if the car is approved for travel into Malaysia. There is usually a daily rate for the time spent in Malaysia. Do not try to drive into Malaysia without letting the rental company know because their cars are usually installed with GPS trackers, so they will know if you travelled out of Singapore. You'll not only incur penalties, but your car insurance will be invalid. And remember it is illegal to drive or ride without valid vehicle insurance.

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