Singaporeans who drive into Malaysia will know the drill. You enter Malaysia with as little fuel as you dare risk without getting caught, head over to a restaurant for an inexpensive but mightily satisfying seafood meal, stock up on some household necessities such as milk powder, milo, detergent, toilet paper followed by a car wash and do a full top up of petrol for your car before heading back to Singapore.
Getting all these things done in Johor Bahru allow Singaporeans to save a bit of money thanks to our favourable exchange rate. With the Singapore Dollar (SGD) trading at about S$1 = RM3.50 based on the current exchange rate at the point of writing to the Malaysia Ringgit (MYR) (as of 2 November 2023), Singaporeans believe they can get much more value and an enjoyable road trip for their hard-earned money in Malaysia.
However, with the introduction of the RM20 (S$6) road charge for foreign vehicles entering Malaysia from Singapore, the price for cars to enter Malaysia has gone up, thus reducing the amount we can save when we go into Malaysia.
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The Cost To Drive Into Malaysia Today?
Here is the cost to drive into Malaysia for one Singapore car to enter and exit Malaysia from the Woodlands Checkpoint.
|Singapore Woodlands Check Point (Departure)||S$0.80|
|Singapore Tuas Check Point (Departure)||S$2.10|
|Malaysia Check Point (Arrival)||RM20 (~S$5.70)|
|Malaysia PLUS Toll Charge||RM2.90 (~S$0.83)|
|Malaysia Check Point (Departure)||–|
|Singapore Woodlands Check Point (Arrival)||–|
|Singapore Tuas Check Point (Arrival)||S$2.10|
|Total||S$7.33 – S$10.73|
In total, vehicle owners pay at least about $7.33 for their round trip to Malaysia.
If we assume that travelling from your home to the Causeway, and then into Malaysia takes 25km one-way, then we need to factor in an extra 50km worth of fuel for that trip. If your car fuel consumption is 10km/l, you will use 5l of petrol for the trip, of which 2.5l would be at SGD fuel price and the remaining 2.5l at MYR fuel price
|Price of Petrol (SGD)||S$3 X 2.5 = S$7.5|
|Price Of Petrol (MYR)||RM3.35 X 2.5 = RM8.375 (S$2.40)|
|Total Petrol Cost||S$9.90|
Remember, Singapore cars are not allowed to pump using the cheaper (and subsidised) RON 95 in Malaysia. You have to choose RON 97 or above.
Once we add petrol cost to toll fee, the cost to drive into Malaysia is about S$17.23 for a round trip to Johor Bahru (JB), Malaysia.
How Much Must You Spend To Recover The Cost To Drive Into Malaysia
Given that drivers travelling to Malaysia already start off with a cost of $17.67, the question now turns to how much one needs to spend in Malaysia for it to be worth their time travelling.
While the foreign exchange (Forex) rate between SGD and MYR is about 1SGD = RM3.50 today, it doesn’t automatically mean Singaporeans save about 3.5 times more when they spend their money in JB.
According to the website Expatistan, which measures the cost of living between different cities including JB and Singapore, JB is about 72% cheaper compared to Singapore.
However, when it comes to food (groceries, meals) and personal care items, we are looking at prices that are between 52% and 68% cheaper. On average, let’s just assume it’s about 60% cheaper.
It’s still a significant saving but not as much as the three and a half times that some people might assume.
On a rough estimate for a basket of goods, for every RM350 (S$100) spent in Malaysia, you would expect the same basket of goods to cost about S$250. It’s not rocket science, and you may save more (or less) depending on what you actually buy, and where you buy it from.
Travelling all the way to Malaysia to spend RM350 (S$100), and save about S$150, for which about S$17 goes into the toll and fuel charge means you save about S$133. This isn’t too bad for a trip that will likely take you at least half a day or more.
Here is an overly-simplified breakdown of how much you may spend in Malaysia, JB, and how much a similar basket of goods could cost in Singapore, how much savings that translates into, and how much you are saving for each hour spent there based on an 8-hour trip.
|Amount Spent IN JB||Similar Basket Of Goods In Spore||Estimated Amount Saved, After Toll And Petrol||Saving Per Hour (assuming 10-hour trip)|
|RM200 (SGD 57)||S$142.50||S$68.50||S$6.85/hour|
|RM300 (SGD 86)||S$215||S$112||S$11.20/hour|
|RM500 (SGD 143)||S$357.50||S$197.50||S$19.75/hour|
|RM750 (SGD 214)||S$535||S$304||S$30.40/hour|
Due to the time it will take you to cross the causeway jam and back, you will likely need to cater about 10 hours for a grocery trip plus at least one meal in JB. To us, it starts being worth your time (and money) to travel to JB if you are able to save at least more than S$10 per hour. Think of it as a job, and how much you would expect to be paid to do that extra work.
For example, if your intention is to buy a basket of goods (e.g. groceries, meals, petrol) which would cost you about S$357.50 in Singapore, you may be able to get the same basket of goods at Johor for about RM500 (S$143), thus giving you savings of S$198.50, or about S$19.75 per hour after toll and petrol costs.
If that amount increases to a spend of S$535 in Singapore, you may be able to get the same basket of goods in Malaysia for RM750 (S$214), thus allowing you to save S$304 after toll and petrol, or about S$30.40 per hour.
Reduced GST Relief Since 19 February 2019
As announced in Budget 2019, travellers who spend less than 48 hours outside of Singapore will get GST relief on only the first S$100 worth of goods purchased overseas, instead of S$150 previously. Additionally, those who spend 48 hours or more outside Singapore will get GST relief on only S$500 worth of goods, instead of S$600 previously so bear this in mind.
Do note this is based on a per-person limit.
Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) To Be Mandatory From 2nd Half 2020
All foreign vehicles entering Malaysia are required to have a Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP). In order to comply with this regulation, drivers will need to apply for a VEP and receive a RFID tag, which will be installed on the vehicle’s windshield or headlamp.
A Personal Preference
Whether the additional savings you enjoy is worth the amount of time you spend in Malaysia, plus the additional risk of travelling into JB, is a personal preference. For some people who might have spent $357 or more in Singapore, heading to Malaysia to get their goods at a cheaper price could be worth their personal time. For others, it may not the case.
Do note the savings shown in this article are based on a simplistic assumption about the costs of goods and how much you save, or spend, will vary depending on the individual.
This article was first published on 20 November 2016 and has been updated to include the change in the exchange rate between the Singapore Dollar and Malaysian Ringgit (SGD 1 = MYR 3.50) as well as other requirements.
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