Review: Transtar Luxury Coach KL to Singapore
We Test the Transtar ‘First Class’ Coach Experience
We’d seen the photos and were excited to travel in ‘first class’ luxury. How did our visa run on the Transtar Solitaire Coach turn out? Did it live up to our super high expectations?
I booked the tickets online with Transtar directly. We were able to select our seats and meal preferences in advance and using my (UK) credit card was not an issue. I’d had a few questions before booking and used their email enquiry form which they responded to quickly and politely. I was able to show the receipt on my mobile instead of printing it out too.
Coaches from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore pick up from various locations around the city. The closest one to us would have been the Puduraya terminal but as we’d decided on Transtar we had to make our way to their office on Jalan Imbi in Bukit Bintang. We hopped on the free GO KL bus and arrived there in plenty of time. We were shown to an air conditioned room with a water machine, tea and coffee and a TV playing YouTube clips. There were sofas and clean toilet facilities and all in all the waiting room was nice. We did not expect to have to wait for almost an hour though.
Thats right, the coach was late. To be fair they did keep us updated and it did arrive near to the time they predicted. The reason they gave was traffic in another part of Kuala Lumpur. Once it had arrived we were quickly shown on board and we were off.
Their office in Singapore is located in the Golden Mile Complex. There are many coach companies based there and we found it without an issue. I don’t know if they have the same sort of waiting facilities as in Kuala Lumpur because we just got straight on for our return journey.
The seats were lovely. Firstly, they are absolutely enormous. There is only 1 seat on each side of the central aisle and they almost fully recline and have a separate foot rest. All the functions are controlled with buttons and each seat has several different massage functions too! A fold out table, small pillow and a blanket were also provided.
Transtar gets extra bonus points for providing a (working) electrical socket for each seat. The plug is a 3 pin (the same as the UK) as is the standard in Singapore and one of the most common in Malaysia.
On Board Entertainment
There is a personal entertainment system for each seat that comes with a set of in-ear headphones and a Playstation like controller. We found the films, TV and music functions to all work well but the none of the games functioned on either of our systems on both the initial and return journey. Henry was a little disappointed about this even though the games were very old (they did load but could not be accessed with the controller, as if the controller was not plugged in.) The selection of films was surprisingly up to date. We found out why when we crossed the border into Singapore and were told over the PA system that the films would no longer be shown in order to comply with Singapore law – i.e. the films were illegal copies.
It was good that the personal entertainment system was there because it would be pretty hard to amuse yourself for 6 hours with just the view. The view was mostly very dull indeed. You would not miss anything by doing this journey in the dark.
Food and Drink
Each seat had a small bottle of water in place upon boarding and soon after we were underway a member of staff came to take orders for hot drinks. Unfortunately they had no coffee without sugar so for my subsequent drinks I went with jasmine tea.
The food was pretty good on the outward journey. I’d opted for a vegetarian meal we both got a sort of sweet and sour affair, Henry’s was chicken and mine tofu. The food on the return journey was not quite as tasty but still passable. We were also given a small snack (biscuits) mid afternoon on both legs of the journey along with another hot drink.
The one thing that is really missing on the Transtar ‘Solitaire’ coach? A toilet! You’d think with everything else on offer that an on board toilet would be a given, but no. It was not a problem for us as there are 2 scheduled stops. Firstly there is a toilet stop after a few hours on one of the motorways in Malaysia which was perfectly acceptable and then you obviously stop at the border too where there are plenty of toilets (tip: the ones on the SIngapore side are nicer).
The air conditioning worked well on both coaches and in fact I actually got quite chilly on the way back, even wearing trousers and long sleeve top. Consistent with our other experiences of travelling in Malaysia, they do like to keep passengers cool.
Crossing the border between Malaysia and Singapore was pretty smooth on both occasions. You take all of your belongings with you, get stamped out of one country and into the next. You then follow the signs to find the coach again. It was not too busy and we has no problems at all.
All the seats had lap belt which we were encouraged to use at all times. I felt that the driving on both legs was fine, nothing alarmed me anyway! The only thing that worried me was on the first trip the windscreen right in front of Henry (who was right at the front) had a large crack in it. That would not pass an MOT test in the UK, thats for sure.
One thing to be aware of with this company and all companies plying this route is the difference in cost between the two journeys. I can’t explain why it is the case but tickets from Singapore to Malaysia are almost twice the price of the ones going in the other direction. This applies to trains as well.The prices seem to have increased since January. These prices are per person.
KL > SG: We paid 36 SGD (£17), the current price (March 2014) is 46 SGD (£21)
SG > KL: We paid 52 SGD (£24.60) the current price (March 2014) is 59 SGD (£28)
We paid nothing to get to the pick up point in Bukit Bintang in KL and caught a bus from the Golden Mile Complex drop of point in Singapore to Chinatown where we were staying. The bus was very affordable. On the way back we got a taxi to the Golden Mile which, being a taxi in Singapore, was also very reasonable because he was more than happy to use his meter.As we were provided with food and drink we didn’t need to buy anything for either of the journeys.
Overall, we would recommend the Transtar coach journey but I’m not sure we would do it again. The cost was somewhat higher than with other coach companies and although the seats were great and it was nice to have a power socket and films to watch I’m not quite sure it justifies the high price tag.
You can see more of the coaches in the short video I made about our 2 days in Singapore.
Have you been on one of these luxury coaches? Was it worth it for you?
Transtar Luxury Coach Trip Review: January 2014