We had a 9 days trip starting from Thailand and headed over to three more countries, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Here some information on how you could get to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Bangkok, Thailand – and crossing their borders as well.
There are more options than what I will state here. For this trip we had, I’ll provide two options for you.
Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur by Train and Bus
From Bangkok, go to Hua Lamphong Railway Station. By taxi is the easiest, about 60-65 baht only.
There will be two types of ticket counters – one for mixed tourists – local and foreigner, another is exclusively for foreigners – this one has staffs with better English. No matter what counter you go in, they’ll provide you same service, though.
Book for a sleeper train (with aircon) from Bangkok to Padang Besar (border of Malaysia). Train number should be Train 37. For 18 hours of travel, sitting for long is not advisable so you really have to watch out for tickets for the 2nd class seats. The seats are convertible to a bed if you wish to, just ask the train staff to do it for you.
This will cost you 850 Baht ($25) for the upper berth, and 920 Baht ($26) for the lower berth (prices as of February 2016).
If you are a couple – book the UPPER and LOWER berths so you’ll get to have both seats and be with each other for the whole trip. This is what we did.
This train departs at 3:10 pm (GMT + 7, Thailand time) and arrives at Padang Besar 8:53 am (GMT + 8, Malaysia time).
Once you have arrived at the border – Padang Besar station, you will have to undergo immigration process. This will take time especially if there are lots of people with you on the train crossing to Malaysia. Just present your Passport with the departure card, answer a few questions they will be asking, wait for the stamp, scan your bags/luggage, and you’re off to Kuala Lumpur. This process took us 2 hours to finish.
Proceed to the second floor and book your train tickets to Kuala Lumpur (if you get to have one). The train ride will just be 5.5 hours. After that, welcome to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!
Sometimes, tickets from Padang Besar to Kuala Lumpur are easily sold out especially on weekends and holidays so you have to book in advance. For our trip, we made a detour because tickets were sold out (told ‘ya).
Prepare your Malaysian currency here, they won’t accept Thailand Baht as payment. For the alternate rides to the city, check Option 2.
If in case Padang Besar tickets were sold out, you may book a ticket to Hat Yai station – the last station before Padang Besar. Same scenario as the above but differently priced tickets and has more flexible time schedules. Price varies from 555 Baht ($16) to 945 Baht ($27) depending on the berth location and time of departure or train number.
If you are a couple – book the UPPER and LOWER berths so you’ll get to have both seats and be with each other for the whole trip.
The travel time from Hua Lamphong station to Hat Yai station is about 16 hours.
From Hat Yai station, look for a bus station or bus headed to Padang Besar. The travel time would be about 2-3 hours. If there are no bus available, you have to take the train by the next day from Hat Yai to Padang Besar.
Once you have arrived at Padang Besar, proceed to the immigration office, present your passport, scan your bags, and book a train ticket to Kuala Lumpur. Proceed to the 2nd floor for the ticket office.
Sometimes, tickets from Padang Besar to Kuala Lumpur are easily sold out especially on weekends and holidays so you have to book in advance. We are unable to do that so we didn’t get to catch tickets for train schedules that day.
So what we did, we booked a ticket to Butterworth station instead. Ticket cost was 11.40 MYR (<$3) each. The travel time for the train to Butterworth from Padang Besar was two hours.
Arriving at Butterworth station, we immediately checked if tickets to Kuala Lumpur are available, unfortunately, the earliest we could have was the 10:00 pm train schedule for that day and that is not an option for us. But we have another option which is the bus station.
The bus station to various Malaysia locations including Kuala Lumpur was just located outside the train station. The bus ticket to Kuala Lumpur cost us 45 MYR ($10) each. There are even cheaper ones but we don’t have much time so we asked the first ticket booth we saw.
The bus left after about 10-20mins – they have schedules so they won’t wait until the bus is full. The bus ride was smooth and the couch was comfortable enough to endure long bus rides. The travel time it took us from Butterworth Bus station to Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) was 6 hours. The bus went off at 3 pm and arrived at the location by 9 pm.
» All buses from other parts of Malaysia heading to Kuala Lumpur stops at TBS.
» All in, our total travel time from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur was about 30 hours which includes processing and all in between.
» Hua Lamphong to Padang Besar by train > Padang Besar to Butterworth by train > Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur (TBS) by bus > Kuala Lumpur (TBS) to Chinatown (drop off to Pudu Sentral) by bus.
Note: Prices as of February 6, 2017.
Both options will drop you off at KL Sentral station where TBS is as well for the bus.
If you’re headed to Chinatown, take a bus to Pudu Sentral located at the ground floor (they call it Level 1). It will only cost you 2 MYR ($0.45). This will drop you off near Chinatown which is like 200m away only.
If you’re headed to Bukit Bintang, better take the train (or Monorail) straight to Bukit Bintang station (station number MR6).
Book your Chinatown and Bukit Bintang hostels and hotels here (click me).
Traveling tips for border crossing and in general
1. Always bring your passport with you. Securely.
2. ATM withdrawals are good if you don’t mind charges on your card. This is one way to get their currency.
3. Answer the immigration officer questions with confidence.
4. Bring food before boarding the train. They have a restaurant inside but I researched bad reviews so we just brought our own food.
5. On the train to Padang Besar, someone will offer to change your THB to MYR at a very low rate – be cautious. I didn’t let myself fall for this.
6. The cafeteria on Padang Besar station offers currency changes as well, 10 Baht = 1 MYR. Not bad though still low.
7. If you don’t want to exchange currencies at the station, there’s a money changer and 7/11 store with ATM outside the station. It’s a 15-minute walk from there. This is what I did – I withdrew money from the ATM. It costs 175 Php per withdrawal so take out the highest possible money you could.
8. Book tickets as early as you could for the train to Padang Besar.
9. If you failed to book tickets because of schedule conflicts, wait until the desired date of departure as some people are backing out and refunding their tickets.
Some useful experience on booking your train tickets:
The first day we were in Bangkok, there was just a single slot available for the train to Padang Besar. So I booked Hat Yai on the second day. I checked again at the station on the day of our departure (3rd day) and luckily, there were more slots by then to Padang Besar.
I asked the staff to change our ticket from Hat Yai to Padang Besar with additional cost (+190 Baht) on how much the difference was from Hat Yai station to Padang Besar.
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