Getting your bike on a bus in Malaysia isn’t as easy as in the rest of Southeast Asia. It will require some preparation, and may be impossible, depending on your luck.
The first hurdle is to get the ticket.
Try asking at the bus station but be aware that some express buses will stop near a restaurant or shop in town and bypass the bus station altogether. Look for signs advertising express bus tickets and destinations as you roll around a town. Otherwise, people at the bus station should be able to advise you.
It’s at this stage that you may run into trouble, as Phil, Linda and Luca did in 2011. They tried to get bus tickets between Kuala Lumpur and Kuantan on the east coast but didn’t have much luck.
“The helpful staff at our Kuala Lumpur guesthouse made a few phone calls on our behalf. All but one bus company gave outright refusals to take bikes onboard. When we visited that particular bus company stand at the station, they gave a very non-commital answer about the bikes but said their buses were full for the day. We then tried the numerous other companies at the station and were told by all that bikes couldn’t be taken, despite the fact that they were bagged, with handlebars turned, pedals inverted, saddles down, etc.”
Phil, Linda and Luca ended up using Air Asia to fly to their destination.
Assuming you do get a ticket, the luggage compartments on Malaysian buses are smaller than in many other countries. It won’t be possible to just roll your bicycle into the luggage bay under the bus. Give yourself 10-15 minutes to:
- Remove all bags
- Take off the front wheel
- Turn the handlebars
- Lower the seatpost
Don’t expect any help from the bus employees during all of this. They’re more concerned with taking your money! You have to be prepared because, as the ticket seller told us, “they aren’t going to wait for you”. This reflects the fact that Malaysia is a relatively developed country. They are keen on avoiding delays and following rules.
When the bus arrives, your bike will only get on if there is enough space. If the luggage area is full, you’ll have to wait for the next service. They won’t just strap your bike on the back with ropes like happens in Laos!
Expect to pay about half the ticket price as an additional fee for your bike or 10 RM per bike on shorter journeys. As an example, from Tapah to Kuala Lumpur – a trip of about 2 hours – we paid 11 RM for each ticket plus a 3 RM fuel surcharge and 10 RM for each bike. The bike fee is paid directly to the driver, while the rest goes to the ticket seller.