Travellers who have yet to book their coach tickets to Malaysia for Chinese New Year may soon run out of luck.
Tickets for trips on Feb 13, 14 and 15 have almost sold out, according to a number of coach companies contacted by The Straits Times. Popular destinations include Kuala Lumpur, Taiping and Malacca. Chinese New Year falls on Feb 16 this year, but families gather for the all-important reunion dinner on the eve.
Mr Joe Lim, executive director of Konsortium Express & Tours, said that tickets for Feb 13 to 15 to Malaysia began selling out last November. Over the festive period, the company will have about 25 to 30 buses crossing the Causeway daily, far more than the usual six to eight every day.
Transtar Travel managing director Elson Yap said that 70 to 80 per cent of tickets for Feb 13 and Feb 15 had been snapped up, and none was available for Feb 14.
Prices had also risen dramatically, he said. Tickets that would normally cost between $20 and $55 now range from $80 to $150.
Mr Yap noted that many of those returning home were not necessarily celebrating Chinese New Year. "A lot of Malaysians work in Singapore, and when the factories and offices all close, they will go back home," he said.
Meanwhile, those hoping to catch a train ride up north just in time for the reunion dinner are also in for disappointment.
25 to 30
Number of Konsortium Express & Tours buses crossing the Causeway daily during the Chinese New Year period.
When The Straits Times checked the website of Malaysian rail operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu yesterday, there were no longer tickets available for Feb 14. It was still possible, though, to buy tickets for the 10pm and 11.15pm train services on Feb 15, and for the whole day on Feb 13.
Product manager Lim Lee Mei said tickets for the morning ride on Feb 15 were already sold out on Thursday last week when she logged on to the booking website.
She was not too worried though as she lives in Kota Tinggi, just a 40-minute drive from Johor Baru. Ms Lim, 44, hopes to catch a bus after lunch on Chinese New Year Eve because she expects traffic to have eased significantly by then.
In any case, she is determined to get home even if she has to walk across the Causeway.
"By hook or by crook, I will get back home before 6pm," she said.