We’d decided after 10 or so days of island hopping the east coast we’d save travelling the west coast (Phuket, Krabi, Phi Phi etc) for the end of the trip. So, where now?
Our next country we’d planned to go to after Thailand was Cambodia, and our original plan had been to fly from Phuket to Bangkok then Bangkok to Siem Reap (Cambodia). As we were now not going to Phuket till later, we looked into our different options. So far in the trip we’d planned all our travel and it has all been relatively straight forward, however now we could switch it up a little bit!
We were in Koh Tao (read more about that here!). From Koh Tao could get a ferry to Surat Thani and fly back to Bangkok then to Siem Reap, but this was quite expensive. we could also get a ferry to Chumphon and a train up to Bangkok, but the flight to Siem Reap had now gone up to £50, which was more than when we’d first looked. So we kinda ruled out going back to Bangkok as our first option.
A friend suggested we get the train down to Malaysia, as flights from Kuala Lumpur were much cheaper. We looked and yes, a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap was £24! We hadn’t considered going to Malaysia but now it had been suggested we both really wanted to go. We had a look online and found out that the train that takes you straight into Malaysia no longer runs, so you have to get the train to Padang Besar on the Malaysian/Thai border to go through immigration then get another train from there. A sleeper train goes each night from Chumphon at 11.30 and arrives at 8.30am the next day, so we decided to get this. We were a bit worried as when we tried to book online it said these services had to be booked 60 hours in advance, but we decided to take the risk and hopefully get one at the station.
Travelling From Koh Tao into Malaysia
We got the ferry from Koh Tao at 2.30pm to Chumphon which got us to the ferry port at 5pm. This cost us 500 baht per ticket. From here we got a free shuttle bus to the train station which took about 15 minutes. We went to the station and luckily could buy our tickets for that nights train there and then! This cost us 1500 baht for two second class beds (one upper bunk one lower). Near the station were a few different restaurants so we went and got some dinner and used the WiFi to work out the rest of our plan. We decided to go to Penang for a couple of days as Georgetown looked like a really cool place, then head down to Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days before catching a flight. After hanging around Chumphon for a few hours we got onto our sleeper train, which actually really wasn’t that bad! I wasn’t sure what to expect but the bed was actually comfortable, especially the bottom bunk which was really big. We’d downloaded stuff to watch so set up camp in the bottom bunk and got comfortable. I didn’t get the best nights sleep but it definitely wasn’t the worst, and it meant saving a day travelling by doing it over night. I’d definitely do it again! Especially considering the price was so cheap, and we’d saved a night of accommodation.
We arrived into Penang Besar the next morning and went through immigration at the train station to cross the border, which was really easy (UK citizens don’t need a visa for Malaysia). We waited for the next train to Butterworth (Penang), where we got a ferry to Georgetown. The train took about an hour and a half, then the ferry was 20 minutes. If you don’t fancy seeing Penang you can also go straight to Kuala Lumpur from Penang Besar, but I’d definitely recommend stopping off to spend a day or two in Georgetown!
Charlotte Rick x