A Day Journey to Kukup

Long, one-day rides can be very nice adventures when time is too short to go for multi-day or week tours. Singapore provides the cyclist several great opportunities for this if s/he is willing to pedal 150-200km. It’s easy to take a ferry to one of the Riau Islands early morning and come back at night, or you simply can cross the bridge at Woodlands to Malaysia and come back the same day. This latter what I did when I rode to Kukup, at the southwestern tip of the Malaysian Sultanate of Johor and then rode back to Singapore.

A mosque somewhere in Johor

The trip was 208km long, and including the border crossing, and stops to take photos, chat and grab supplies took me about 10 hours. I avoided the motorways, and instead tried to reach Kukup via alleys, village and plantation roads. The map that I downloaded for my Garmin from ‘Open Street Maps’ proved to be extremely helpful finding these latter. I used my Giant TCR carbon road bike with 25c tires as I was riding on tarmac entirely. The road conditions are not always the best, and certainly, aren’t comparable to Singapore, but are still suitable for bikes with skinny rubber.

My road bike while stopping for a coffee

During the first 20km I rode from the south to the north of Singapore to reach the border. After wasting about an hour at the checkpoint (a couple with motorbike got busted, that slowed down the queue) I was cycling through residential areas of Johor Bharu, the capital of the Sultanate of Johor. Before Pontian I turned southward and was riding through plantations and small villages. While the main roads of Johor tend to be very crowded, the plantation roads are very quiet, yet are entirely paved.

A quiet plantation road

Kukup is a small Malaysian port town with a mixed Malay-Chinese population. The area is famed about a small Island with one of the largest uninhabited mangrove forests in the world just a few hundred meters offshore. Opposite to the island, there is a traditional fishing village with wooden houses built on stilts over the water – something that is a rarity in Malaysia, but still very common in Indonesia. I stopped in Kukup for about 40 minutes to shoot some photos and eat an excellent coconut pudding at a small Chinese stall in the market.


A Chinese temple somewhere on the way to Kukup
Awesome coconut pudding in Kukup

I followed almost, but not entirely the same route back to Singapore. Before reaching the border I passed by the colonial district of Johor with some attractive old buildings that remained from the time of the British.

Police station in Johor Bahru in a British-era building
St. Joseph Catholic Church in Johor Bahru


All in all, this 200km ride was a refreshing jaunt out of the concrete jungle of Singapore.



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