Chinese Lunar New Year is just around the corner. If you are thinking of hopping over across the Causeway for Chinese New Year shopping to enjoy cost savings, City Square Mall would be most appropriate. The main atrium of City Square Mall is now full of booths with bakeries and gifts companies promoting Chinese New Year festive products. All kinds of new year goodies, cookies, tidbits, hampers and such are available.
Free samplings are generously offered to prospective buyers of new year festive goods. Different stalls have different promotional discounts. Some of them require signing up as members to enjoy more substantial discounts for purchase above a certain amount.
Of course City Square Mall has been dressed up for Chinese New Year celebrations. The atmosphere at the mall is great. Heading over to City Square Mall is one of the most convenient options where the Johor Customs and Immigration Complex is directly linking City Square Mall via JB Sentral. This would no doubt alleviate those who fear becoming victims of crimes during this festive period. Going over to City Square Mall does not require exposure to outdoor criminal elements in Johor Bahru because the way to the mall is almost all indoor except through an overhead bridge connection.
Heading back to Johor Customs and Immigration after shopping is also very easy and convenient via the same way back and then onward journey back to Woodlands Check Point in Singapore. Shopping this way is also not weather dependent as there is no outdoor travelling required.
For those who prefer to head over to KSL City Mall, taking a bus from JB Sentral bus station is all that is needed. Bus S1 and IM17 will reach KSL City Mall in about 20 minutes where buses will depart about every 20 to 30 minutes. These buses will alight passengers at the entrance of KSL City Mall and no additional walking along the road is required to reach the mall. So this is another pretty safe option as well.
Snatch thefts along the road would be almost absent unless you wish to walk along the roads to explore the area then watching out for criminal elements on motorbike would be necessary. It is not wise to carry handbags, especially expensive branded bags or wear jewellery decked up like a walking Christmas tree on the road. This is a sure way to invite trouble and create your own crime adventure.
The event hall on the ground level of KSL City Mall is taken up by bakeries and gifts companies where many booths are set up offering a wide range of festive goods for Chinese New Year shoppers. Again free samplings are available to prospective shoppers. Likewise discounts are also usually offered to sweeten the deal to sell more festive goods.
The promotion and sales of festive goods at KSL City Mall are about the same as that in City Square Mall. There are more festive goods on display and sale outside the entrance of the lower ground level. A big tent is also set up across the street over there with more of Chinese New Year goodies on sale. A new eatery at the entrance selling XO duck, chicken, pork and char siew with rice or noodles is pretty good as well and the prices are also quite reasonable.
The difference between KSL City Mall and City Square Mall is that the former has many more smaller shops and stalls selling all and sundry, especially hand phones accessories as well as a Tesco supermarket on the lower ground level. However, returning back to Johor Customs and Immigration by bus will take time and more effort especially with hands full after all the festive shopping. As such, City Square Mall might be sufficient as both malls are essentially selling about the same things. Hence, there won’t be much cost savings shopping at KSL City Mall.
Unless there are other activities such as staying a night at KSL Resort Hotel for a day break as well as doing a lot more shopping at Tesco supermarket, that might be worth the trouble coming over to KSL City Mall. Hence, KSL City Mall is more suited for those who drive here for shopping where more stuff could be purchased to bring home. Otherwise, this might be too tiring a mission where what we could carry back is limited to a pair of hands having to do a lot more walking and taking more time for bus transfers both ways where the same could be achieved over at City Square Mall.
In any case, the bus S1 can be taken at the entrance outside the ground level where the bus would depart every 20 minutes with another 20 minutes of travelling time back to JB Sentral. Bus fare is RM 1.50 each way. By the way for those who drive to KSL City Mall, don’t use the Touch n Go card to enter the car park. Take a ticket and redeem two hours of free parking when you spend above RM 15 shopping at Tesco supermarket.
So it is not too early now to do some new year shopping across the Causeway. However, do note that bringing back meat products such as bak kwa are not allowed by Singapore ICA. You may have difficulty clearing customs where all bags will be scanned before leaving the Woodlands Check Point. Alcohol will attract taxes and needs to be declared as well. So choosing hampers to bring home will need to be careful about the drinks included whether it is alcoholic or not.
Another thing to note is that clearing Johor Customs and Immigration will take a while longer lately due to increase in numbers of Chinese New Year shoppers taking advantage of the favourable exchange rate between the Singapore Dollar and Malaysian Ringgit doing festive shopping across the Causeway. Unless you have MACS where you can quickly get through immigration through one of the three self-service counters on the extreme right, be prepared to spend a little longer time at the manned immigration counters. Needless to say, the situation during weekends would be a lot worse.
So if you are prepared for some of these challenges, shopping across the Causeway can be fun as well as resulting in substantial cost savings for Chinese New Year goods.
Hence, happy shopping for a happy 2016 Lunar New Year.