13 March 2022
MALAYSIA REOPENS: What you need to do and where to go

The AutoApp editorial team share destinations up north that they would want to visit most when Malaysia reopens in April.

We all could certainly do with some good news. Recently, a modicum of this came in the form of the Malaysian government announcing that it will fully reopen its borders on April 1st. (We hope with all our hearts that this isn‘t a cruel joke.) After nearly two years of pandemic-enforced travel and social restrictions, sky-high fuel prices and a war breaking out, the recent announcement comes as a much-needed silver lining and gives us something we all can look forward to.

Hurray! I can drive to Malaysia on 1 April

Not so fast. If you plan on driving across the Causeway — as many of us here are dying to — it seems that the only way to travel overland is by bus on either Transtar or Causeway Link. For now, if you return from Malaysia by car, the occupants of the vehicle would still be required to serve a stay-home notice.

Update: On March 24th, the Prime Minister’s Office Singapore issued a joint press statement announcing that all modes of transport will be opened between Singapore and Malaysia. So this effective means that we will all be able to drive across to our favourite Malaysian destinations from April 1st!

OK, What else do I need to know?

To enter Malaysia without quarantine, you will need to:

  • Have at least 6 months validity on your long-neglected passport.
  • Be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, if you are over the age of 12, and ensure it is verified on the Malaysia’s MySafeTravel portal.
  • Take a pre-departure test (RT-PCR) and arrival test (RTK-Antigen under professional supervision) 24 hours after arrival, and
  • Download the MySejahtera contact tracing app.
  • Complete the SG Arrival Card before your return to Singapore.

Nonetheless, one can dream… Malaysia, here we come!

Ever since the announcement, the AutoApp team has been abuzz with anticipation about going north. While no firm plans have been made yet, here are some of the places the team is looking forward to visiting the most.

If you’re looking for some ideas on where to go from 1st April, check out these recommendations!

Sheldon is heading to…

Ho Seng Kee Noodles in Johor Bahru

Although I love driving in Malaysia, especially along the eastern coast, the first go-to that comes to mind is actually very close to Singapore. It’s Ho Seng Kee at Johor Bahru City Square. My family has been going to HSK for our wantan mee fix since the 1950s! First discovered by my grandfather when this eatery was just a stall in a coffee shop in the historic quarter of JB, my sons are the fourth generation of Trollopes to be fans of their homemade noodles.

What really sets HSK apart from any other wantan mee establishment is that everything is made in-house. The noodles, the wantan (dumpling) skins, char siew, and even the chili sauce is made from natural ingredients. This gives HSK wantan mee a unique flavour and texture. The noodles are hand-cut, yet fine which gives them a nice, springy texture while they’re also nice and thin which allows the flavourful broth in which they are cooked, to be absorbed by the noodles, which are made with a high-quality wheat flour and duck eggs.

So if you’re setting off on a longer journey or don’t want to spend too much time travelling, Ho Seng Kee will be worth making a trip for.

Vivek is heading to…

Old Seremban Town’s Sweet Delights

Visiting relatives up north is of priority. Most of them are in their golden years, and the forced separation since 2020 has been tough for all of us. Also, indulging in my favourite Haji Shariff’s Cendol and cakes from Kedai Kek Dan Biskut Wah Tung in old Seremban town when time permits.

Brin is heading to…

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to visit the fam!

Unlike my fellow colleagues, I’ve never been one to make quick trips across the causeway in search of good food, even prior to the pandemic. Mainly because I’m a rare breed of Singaporean to whom most food tastes pretty much… good? Unless it’s like, real bad… in the will-definitely-cause-food-poisoning sense. *apologises profusely in Singaporean*

That said, if there’s one thing I’m really looking forward to, it’s being able to travel to Sabah in East Malaysia! Apart from being home to many of my relatives, it’s also a breathtakingly beautiful place. From the stunning Mount Kinabalu, peppered with cosy mountainside retreats, to the crystal-clear waters at beaches lining Pulau Sipadan and Manukan, there’s a whole lot to love about Sabah.

Of course, awe-inspiring nature aside, the people of Sabah have rich and diverse cultures that’s a thing of beauty in itself too!

Jon is heading to…

Any twisty, traffic-free B-road

Like most of my colleagues at AutoApp, I too have relatives across the border. In fact my mum’s side of the family hails from Malaysia, and of course I’m aching to see them again (it’ll be especially emotional because my grandma passed away one year ago), but that wouldn’t be my entry to this article because apart from being the gateway to the Mulu caves, there’s not much that’s interesting to share about her hometown of Miri, Sarawak.

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Coming in a close 2nd behind family in my list of most-missed things is the open road. To me, there’s nothing more soul-enriching than giving a car a rigorous workout on a quiet road that twists and dips like a piece of spaghetti laid down across the landscape. Feeling the body shimmy slightly as the tyres struggle to maintain contact over a crest, or hearing the engine sing as it approaches the upper reaches of its rev range: those are some of the moments that make me feel most alive.

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The fact that this has always been a social experience for me as well – because I’ve always gone on such drives with close friends – only adds to the appeal and the longing, because at the heart of it all, what’s more fulfilling than fellowship, of partaking in an activity with friends who share the same interest?

Sam is heading to…

Kelong Acheh Resort for sun, fish, and sea

Considering I can count the number of trips I’ve made to Malaysia on one hand, it stands to reason that my recommendations might not be the best… All that said, there is one place from a memory in my early teens I would love to revisit.

Angling has long been a family hobby, and Kelong Acheh is a fishing resort where I had my first off-shore angling experience. While much has changed in the last 18 years, the rustic fishing outpost north of Mersing, Johor still offers an unobstructed view of the open sea on all sides.

Those familiar with shore fishing in Singapore waters will be delighted to hear that the catch in these parts come pretty hefty. And, even if you decide not to eat what you catch, the kelong will usually have a net full of tamban (a type of herring often used as bait for larger catch) that the in-house cook will fry up every day.

As long as you’re not expecting a luxurious resort, Kelong Acheh Resort is an excellent place to kick back and relax, and maybe catch a fish or two. The bunks are air-conditioned, water pressure in the shower is sufficient, and meals are also provided at the kelong. You could almost think of it as ‘glamping’ in the open sea.

Still cautious or undecided about travelling overseas? Kick back at home and stay entertained with these Netflix travel programmes, visit some chill spots around Singapore, or bring that holiday vibe home!