The Best and Worst Times to Drive to Malaysia This CNY

Published by on . Updated on 18 May 2020

Woodlands causeway(Photo Credit: TODAY)

Chinese New Year is the only public holiday in Singapore that stretches across two days. This can even be stretched up to three days if you don’t have to work on the eve of CNY.

Thus, it seems like a good period to go for a short getaway, most commonly, up north to our closest neighbour, Malaysia. But, telling people that you are driving up to Malaysia during the CNY period will be met by snarky comments about the notoriously bad jams at Tuas and Woodlands Checkpoint during the busy period.

While it is true that jams at the checkpoints tend to get much worse during the CNY period, one could argue it is worth braving the jams going in. Especially since the alternative is biting your tongue and politely diverting tough questions from distant relatives you don’t even like.

For those for you driving up north this CNY, the key questions to answer is when and what time should you be leaving. Since we can’t see into the future for our answers, the next best alternative is to look back in the past.

Thanks to traffic mobile application, Beat the Jam, we have a few predictions on the traffic conditions this CNY.

(Disclaimer: The graphs are unedited and taken directly from Beat the Jam’s Facebook Page. They use data from past traffic trends, like last year’s CNY. In addition, some of the ‘Peak Hours’ listings below the graphs are not accurate.)

Eve of Chinese New Year (4 Feb, Monday)

Eve Cny(Photo Credit: Beat the Jam's Facebook Page)

According to Beat the Jam, the traffic going to Johor Bahru (JB) via the Causeway (Woodlands) can take up to an hour to clear in the early morning. The peak period would be around 5pm, where it could take up to three hours to clear customs.

At the 2nd Link (Tuas), traffic is expected to thin out in the wee hours in the morning before getting more congested at dawn. After a dip in the late morning, traffic would begin to pick up in the afternoon. The peak period would be between 3pm to 4pm, where it might take up to an hour and a half to clear customs.

Verdict: From what we can see, it seems that the best time to clear either checkpoint would be in the morning, specifically in the pre-dawn hours and the late morning.

First day of Chinese New Year (5 Feb, Tuesday)

Day 1 Cny(Photo Credit: Beat the Jam's Facebook Page)

Traffic on the first day of CNY is expected to be thinner as compared to the eve. At Woodlands, traffic should be light in the wee hours of the morning until dawn. After that, traffic should get heavy until around 10pm, with the peak timing being around 4pm.

At Tuas, traffic should be thin from midnight until 8am. From there, the traffic might get heavier, peaking at around 10am. After that, the traffic condition would drop and fluctuate, thinning out after 5pm.

Verdict: The best time to clear Woodlands would be in the pre-dawn hours and past 10pm. Avoid Tuas in-between the hours of 8am to 4pm and you should be fine.

Second day of Chinese New Year (6 Feb, Wednesday)

Day 2 Cny(Photo Credit: Beat the Jam's Facebook Page)

Going to Malaysia

At Woodlands, the quietest time would be in the predawn hours. Traffic might get heavier in the late morning before quieting down again prior to spiking again at dinnertime. The peak period would be around 9pm.

At Tuas, the whole day should bring relatively clear traffic, with the predictions saying that traffic would be heaviest at around 5pm.

Verdict: Avoid Woodlands in the late morning and in-between the hours of 8pm to 11pm. Tuas would be heaviest in the evening, but traffic would still be manageable then.

Coming back to Singapore

At Woodlands, the traffic might fluctuate up and down before 9am before increasing sharply for the rest of the afternoon. By evening, traffic might be lighter, but while still remaining relatively heavy. The peak period would be in the mid-afternoon.

At Tuas, traffic should be fine in the predawn hours until around 10am before getting heavier for the rest of the day. Traffic might start to thin past 6pm before getting slightly heavier after 9pm. The peak period would be early and late afternoon.

Verdict: It’s probably best to return to Singapore in the morning at either checkpoint.

Third day of Chinese New Year (7 Feb, Thursday, Working Day)

Day 3 Cny(Photo Credit: Beat the Jam's Facebook Page)

Going to Malaysia

At Woodlands, traffic should be light before 10am. It is expected to get heavier early in the afternoon. Traffic should then thin out for the rest of the afternoon and early evening, before spiking at around 10pm to 11pm. The peak period should be at noon.

At Tuas, the traffic should be relatively clear for the whole day. The traffic would then get slighter heavier in the late morning, mid-afternoon and at around 9pm.

Verdict: Avoid the hours of 12pm, 5pm and 11pm at Woodlands. The best time to clear Tuas would be early in the morning.

Coming back to Singapore

At Woodlands, traffic might fluctuate in the predawn hours before dipping from 7am to 9am. From there, it looks like traffic would get extremely heavy and stay there for the rest of the day. The peak period would be around 5pm.

At Tuas, traffic might fluctuate greatly in the morning and afternoon, before settling into a steady flow of heavy traffic at night. The peak period would be around 4pm.

Verdict: Unless you want to take a major chance with the heavy traffic at either checkpoint, it’s probably best to return home in the morning if possible, at around 9am.

Remember, these are just predictions based on data collected from past CNYs, and that the days of the week CNY falls on changes every year. Don’t forget, traffic can be really unpredictable, especially during the festive period. Before setting off, do remember to check the live cameras at the checkpoints, which our Motorist mobile app provides!

From all of here at, Gong Xi Fa Cai! To those of you who are heading up north, or even further afield, enjoy your trip and stay safe on the road or wherever your travels might take you!

I want to find the most affordable car insurance plan within 24 hours!

Read more: A Singaporean’s Guide to the Malaysia Touch ‘N Go Card and System

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Adrian Lee
this is a very useful guide, thanks Motorist!

almost 4 years ago

Wah jialat. the best is to not drive to JB during CNY period lor hehe

about 4 years ago