(Photo Credit: Pexels)
Travelling to Malaysia this Chinese New Year? Follow these tips for a hassle-free journey.
Whether you are travelling to Malaysia to visit family or simply going on holiday, driving to our Northern neighbour during the Chinese New Year period can be a hectic and tiresome affair. Getting stuck in a jam or losing your car to vehicle theft are some common fears that most Singaporean drivers have when driving to Malaysia.
To help put your minds at ease, we've pulled together some tips that might be handy when planning for your trip.
Check them out below.
1) Plan Your Drive to Avoid the Jam
(Photo Credit: Straits Times)
A long line of cars waiting at the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoint are a common sight over the weekends. However, traffic delays are expected to increase three-folds during the festive period.
In fact, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has already issued a statement to warn travellers of longer delays at the two checkpoints over the next week. Other than an influx of visitors, tighter security checks will also be carried out, contributing to the already lengthy delay.
According to the ICA, outgoing traffic will build up from 10 to 15 February, while traffic will be heaviest both in and out of Singapore from 16 to 20 February.
If you are looking to avoid the jam, it is highly advisable to plan your trip around the aforementioned dates. Take a few extra days off work if needed.
For those that have no choice but to travel on those dates, we recommend reaching the checkpoint early, ideally before 5am. In addition, consider using the Tuas Second Link instead of the Woodlands checkpoint. There's a possibility of it being less congested.
To check the current road situation at the two checkpoints, click here.
2) Check Your Car Before Making the Trip
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The last thing you'll want is for your car to break down in the middle of the road—or worse—while waiting in line at the checkpoint. To prevent such an unpleasant scenario from happening, it is recommended to have your vehicle checked by a mechanic before the trip.
Other than getting your tires checked, remember to show your car's engine some love by having the engine oil and coolant topped up. Getting your wheels aligned and brake pads examined wouldn't hurt either.
To determine if your tires need changing, look for the following signs:
1) Tire treads that are less than 1.6mm in depth.
2) The sidewall of the tire has been damaged.
3) Holes in the tread that are greater than 6mm
4) Vibrations when driving.
It is also wise to keep a spare tire, car jack and emergency in the trunk of your vehicle. You'll never know when you'll need them.
3) Check the Validity of Your Passport
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This goes without saying, but your passport should have at least six months' validity before leaving the country. This will help you avoid any possible inconvenience at the Malaysia custom.
For those unaware, Malaysia is one of several countries that follows the " six month validity" rule for passports. However, this ruling isn't exactly strictly enforced. Several members from HardwareZone have claimed that they have entered Malaysia with passports that have less than six month validity.
If you aren't able to renew your passport in time, you could try luck and pray for a lenient custom officer. Otherwise, there's a small chance that you'll be turned away at the border.
4) Know What You Can't Bring Into Singapore and Pay GST
(Photo Credit: Immigration & Checkpoints Authority)
For those planning to bring CNY goodies back into Singapore, please ensure that they meet the relevant guidelines set in place.
According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), meat, meat products, and eggs from Malaysia are strictly not allowed into Singapore. The same applies for fresh and frozen oysters.
However, food products for personal consumption, such as such as bak kwa (Chinese pork jerky), can be brought into the country if it is below 5kg in weight and its total value is no more than S$100.
To learn more, please check out the table below:
(Photo Credit: Straits Times)
Another thing to be mindful of is the Goods and Service Tax (GST), which is subjected to all goods being brought into Singapore. For those travelling out of Singapore for less than 48 hours, GST will be exempted for goods valued less than S$150. If you are away for more than 48 hours, you'll be exempted from paying GST for goods valued up to S$600.
A fair warning, Singapore Customs does not take GST evasion lightly—just last month, a woman was arrested at Changi Airport after failing to declare and pay for the GST of her branded goods. Getting arrested for something so trivial will certainly damper the festive spirit.
5) Take Necessary Precautions When Parking Your Car
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Car theft can happen to anyone and there's no way to eliminate it completely. However, there are certain precautions you can take to lower the chances of that happening to you.
As recommended by the Vehicle Theft Reduction Council of Malaysia, a four-layered car protection approach should be taken.
First level - Common sense: If you feel unsafe in a particular area, avoid driving or parking your vehicle there. Speaking of parking, always park your car in a well-light area. Locking of doors and windows should also be mandatory in Malaysia and you should avoid leaving valuables in plain sight. In addition, try to park your car head in to reduce the chances of your car being towed. Oh, and if you're driving a luxury car, you might want to rent a less conspicuous car that bears a Malaysian number plate.
Second level - Locking devices: An external locking device will help deter any potential thief from stealing your vehicle. Popular locking devices include a steering wheel lock, brake pedal lock, and gear shift lock. If locking devices aren't an option, remember to engage the steering lock feature of your car. To learn more about this feature, please refer to the user manual of your vehicle. If you are having difficulty releasing the lock, check out the following guide.
Third level - Immobilising devices: Installed into the circuitry of your car, these devices will prevent thieves from hot-wiring your car. These devices include smart keys, kill switches, ignition disablers, and fuse-cut offs.
Fourth level - Tracking devices: Monitor your car's movement easily by installing a tracking device inside your vehicle. Making use of GPS technology, these devices allow you and the authorities to track your car's location should it be stolen.
Although not related to parking, another valuable advice is to purchase a comprehensive car insurance that covers driving into Malaysia. Should anything happen while travelling, the insurance company will help you cover any losses.
What are some of your tips for driving to Malaysia? Let us know in the comments.
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Read more: 7 Safety Tips for Driving to JB: How to Protect Your Car and Yourself
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