Thursday, 18 February 2010

Singapore to Kedah and back in 50 hours

Some close friends stay at Jitra, Kedah in Malaysia and they are currently expecting their first child. On a whim, we decided to embark on a blitz trip up to Kedah and surprise them with a short visit. Since there is hardly any concrete information on travelling in Malaysia by road, I've decided to chronicle the data and experience so as to serve as a reference point for some firsthand information.

The plan was hatched on Saturday, 13 February, at about 11.00am, and having had some work to tie up, we decided to leave later that night for an overnight drive in our 3-year-old Kia Picanto 1.1L car. In all, 5 of us travelled together on this trip.

We left home in Clementi at 10.55pm and proceeded to the North-South Highway via the causeway. With the evening being the eve of Chinese New Year (i.e. reunion dinner), crossing the causeway at Woodlands was a breeze and we were on the Highway within 30 minutes of departure.

We travelled mostly at about 125kmh (fluctuating between 110kmh and 140kmh) and made 30-minute stops at the Ayer Keroh rest area and Pedas Linggi vista point (just after Ipoh). Leaving with a full tank from Singapore, we stopped a further 2 times to top up our fuel (ExxonMobil Synergy F-1 - RON97 at RM$2.05 per litre) twice near Ayer Keroh (25L) and again near KL (20L) - the fuel tank capacity is about 30 to 35 litres.

The toll charges amounting to about $103 from Singapore to Kedah meanwhile were as follows:
  • S$1.20 (causeway) + RM$2.90 (causeway)
  • RM$2.10 (Plaza Tol Kempas)
  • RM$37.20 (Plaza Tol Skudai to Plaza Tol Sungai Besi)
  • RM$1.30 (KL) + $0.80 (KL)
  • RM$43 (Plaza Tol Jalan Duta to Plaza Tol Juru)
  • RM$13 (Plaza Tol Sungai Dua to Plaza Tol Jitrah)
For the inexperienced, do note that you will need a 'Touch n Go' card for paying the toll charges (except the toll charges at Woodlands checkpoint which needs to be paid via NETS Cashcard).

The journey on the NS Highway (including stops) was about 9 hours in all and we reached our destination (Plaza Tol Jitra) at about 8.30am on Sunday, February 14, travelling about 820km from home (with me alone driving). It must be noted that due to unfamiliarity, I proceeded to Kuala Lumpur (KL) and exited at Plaza Tol Sungai Besi before rejoining at Plaza Tol Jalan Duta towards Kedah. I should have followed the route towards KLIA (airport) instead which would have bypassed KL altogether and continued towards the north without any exit into KL.

We spent the day and night at our friends' place enjoying their company before leaving for home at about 12.30pm on Monday, February 15, after a late breakfast. We drove through the town to Alor Setar (Kedah's capital) about 10km away to top up our fuel (17L) before entering the NS Highway at Plaza Tol Alor Setar North at about 1.20pm.

Following the road signs for Seremban and JB instead of KL, we inadvertently bypassed KL on the journey back. Although not necessary, we also topped up our fuel near Plaza Tol Juru just to be safe (7.5L) and again somewhere near KL (22L). We stopped about 2 times as well - once at a rest stop near Juru and another at the Ayer Keroh Overhead Bridge Restaurant - for about 45 minutes each. The traffic was also notably heavier on the way back during the day than when driving up during the night - we travelled mostly at about 12okmh (fluctuating between 100kmh and 135kmh).

The toll charges meanwhile for the return leg were much more straightforward and amounted to about RM$102:
  • RM$12.20 (Plaza Tol Alor Setar North to Plaza Tol Sungai Dua)
  • RM$87.70 (Plaza Tol Juru to Plaza Tol Skudai)
  • RM$2.10 (Plaza Tol Kempas)
We reached JB at about 10.20pm and bought some food and topped up our fuel (25L) a final time before approaching the CIQ complex (i.e. immigration). After clearing the immigration and customs, there was a bit of a traffic jam entering Singapore in which we were stuck for about an hour. Finally, we reached home at about 12.20am having travelled about 820km (with my bro-in-law driving about 300km of this).

In all, the distance travelled was about 1650km both ways and we used about 116.5L (about 4 full-tanks), giving a fuel consumption of 14km/L (or 7L per 100km) - this is a conservative estimate and actual performance should have been better. The average speed (including stops) on the highway was about 86kmh (1560km/18hrs) and we were on the road for a total of 20.5 hours.

The toll charges were cheaper going up (RM$97.40) as we went through KL city as compared to when we took the detour back (via the KLIA route) and made no exit (RM$102.50) - the difference being about RM$5. However, the fact that we took longer breaks during the return leg and were held back by traffic more frequently yet were able to take the same amount of time to travel back, suggests that it may be the better option as compared to going through KL city.

In all, our blitz round-trip lasted just shy of 50 hours with a total travel cost of about RM$450 or S$186 (not including food expenditure) for 5 adults.

1 comment:

Raymond said...

thx for the insights...very useful info for anyone heading up to Kedah