This article was first published on 20 November 2016 and has been updated on 10 February 2020 to include new updates on the deferred implementation of the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP), as well as reduced toll charges for entry.
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 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 on about S$1 = RM3 to the Malaysia Ringgit (MYR), 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$6.70) 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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How Much Does It Cost To Enter Malaysia Today?
Since 1 February 2020, toll charges for entry into Malaysia has been reduced. The toll charges for cars, buses and taxis at Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints will also be reduced from 2 March 2020.
Here is how much it costs today 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 (5am – 10am, 3pm – 11pm)
$1.10 (other hours)
|Malaysia Check Point (Arrival)
Malaysia PLUS Toll Charge
|Malaysia Check Point (Departure)||–|
|Singapore Check Point (Arrival)||–|
|Total||$8.50 (rounded up)|
In total, vehicle owners pay $8.50 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$2 X 2.5 = S$5|
|Price Of Petrol (MYR)||RM2.3 X 2.5 = RM5.75 (S$2.90)|
|Total Petrol Cost||S$6.90|
Once we add petrol cost to toll fee, we would have spent about S$15.40 for a round trip to Johor Bahru (JB), Malaysia.
How Much Must You Spend To Recover The Cost Of Going Into Malaysia
Given that drivers travelling to Malaysia already start off with a cost of $15.40, 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 3 times today, it doesn’t automatically mean Singaporeans save 3 times more when they spend their money in JB.
According to website Expatistan, which measures cost of living between different cities including JB and Singapore, JB is about 60% cheaper compared to Singapore.
However, when it comes to food (groceries, meals) and personal care, we are looking at prices that are between 48% and 42% cheaper. On average, that would be 45%.
It’s still a significant saving but not as much as the three times that some people might assume. This number is in line with an article we wrote earlier this year about how much a Singaporean friend of ours save because he is living in JB.
On a rough estimate for a basket of goods, for every RM300 (S$100) spent in Malaysia, you would expect the same basket of goods to cost about S$181. 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 RM300 (S$100), and save about $81, of which $15. goes into the toll and fuel charge, isn’t all that great a deal once you consider the time you’ve spent for the excursion.
Here is a simple 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 8-hour trip)|
|RM200 (SGD 66)||S$120||S$38.60||S$4.825/hour|
|RM300 (SGD 100)||$181||S$65.60||S$8.20/hour|
|RM 500 (SGD 167)||$303||S$120.60||S$15.075/hour|
|RM 750 (SGD 250)||$454||S$188.60||S$23.575/hour|
In our opinion, it only starts being worth your time (and money) to travel to JB if you are able to save more than $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 $303 in Singapore, you might be able to get the same basket of goods at Johor for about $167, thus giving you savings of $120.60, or about $15.0755 per hour after toll and petrol costs.
If that amount increases to a spend of $454 in Singapore, you may be able to get the same basket of goods in Malaysia for S$250, thus allowing you to save $188.60, after toll and petrol, or about $23.575 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 $100 worth of goods purchased overseas, instead of $150 previously. Additionally, those who spend 48 hours or more outside Singapore will get GST relief on only $500 worth of goods, instead of $600 previously.
Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) To Be Mandatory From 2nd Half 2020
In April 2019, the Malaysian Government announced that from 1 October 2019 onwards, they will require foreign vehicles entering Malaysia 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.
As part of the VEP registration, each VEP will be linked to a Touch ‘n Go wallet, which will be used to automatically pay for Road Charges. VEP applications are valid for 5 years. However, due to the bottlenecks in installing the RFID tags, the implementation has beeen deferred for another 6 months, as announced in January 2020.
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 $300 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.
Are you a regular visitor to Malaysia? How much do you reckon you spend and save each time you travel there? Are our estimates in line with yours? Share with us your experience on Facebook.