December 2014 – Travelling on train from SG to BKK

We are back with another guide, should you ever choose to travel from Singapore (SG) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) via land transport, specifically by train!

(For more photos related to this trip, you may look out for our other posts such as this, and this. And also we will be creating a gallery which is accessible by the menu above. We know photos are important and will help you have better feel of your environment! So it’s on us, we took quite a bit so you can take a look around.)

For the people who wants quick answers, we shall put it here upfront first – there are no direct trains from Singapore to Bangkok. You will need to change at least 2 trains. Or at least our research has fetch us this conclusion, if you do know of a direct train from Singapore to Bangkok, please let us know about it, we will love you for that.

Step 1: Getting to JB Sentral

JB Sentral is the launchpad to the rest of West Malaysia states’ train stations. Although there is Woodlands train checkpoint in Singapore that allows boarding of most trains, crossing the border would usually mean a huge savings in the pocket due to the steep exchange rates. So with that said, start from JB Sentral.

There are many locations in Singapore that offer transport services to JB Sentral. For us, we took the bus 950 from Woodlands Regional Interchange, costing us only about SGD $1.45 per person on our EZ-Link cards.

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Bus Service 950 will approach the Singapore Immigration Custom first and allow passengers to alight and get their passports stamped. You do not have to tap your EZ link card on the card reader when you alight, although you can’t anyway. After clearance, the directions are straightforward enough to direct you back to the queue for the same bus you took over.

950 will then resume the journey transporting passengers across the Causeway into Malaysia Immigration. Likewise, have your passports stamped and cleared before following the signboards to JB Sentral. It will be about a short 3-5 minutes walk from the immigration customs, so you do not have to worry about how to get to JB Sentral.

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Step 2: Board the train to Butterworth

Enter JB Sentral and turn left, walk straight past all the shops to the end of the building. You will encounter a big square lined with rows of seats.

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The ticketing counters will unofficially operate at 8 AM, slightly before the boarding time for the first train to Butterworth. The tickets from Johor Bahru (JB) to Butterworth will cost about SGD $22.55 /person or RM 58 /person for 2nd class seats. First Class Premier seats will cost RM 122 /person. According to the elderly man we met, there are train tickets at heavily discounted prices for senior citizens with passport in hand to prove their age.

Note: (Tickets from Singapore to Butterworth will cost SGD $60 /person!)

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Boarding at JB Sentral: 8:30 AM
Departure from JB Sentral: 8:50 AM
Arrival at Butterworth: 10:00 PM

There will not be any stopovers at stations for meals. Instead, like how air flights have flight attendants pushing the trolley around, the train will have a similar service in which they sell food and drinks on board. You may purchase snacks, lunch and dinner from the attendants.

For food on train, our experience will serve as a rough guide for the price range:

Sandwich – RM 4
2 x Ramly Burger + 1 packet of Milo – RM 11
Nasi Lemak + Nasi Goreng + Twisties – RM 16

Step 3: Spend the night in Butterworth

* The next boarding time from Butterworth to Bangkok will be 2:00 PM the following day.

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We would strongly encourage all travellers to pre-book an accommodation nearby to stay for the night. Furthermore, it will be a great idea to take the morning off to explore and experience the local food in Butterworth, Penang.

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With that said, arriving in Butterworth, there will be taxis waiting at the lobby, offering travellers to bring them to their hotels. We did not take up their offers, so we cannot comment on how much it might cost. What we did was to walk quite a long distance (about 25 mins) to Lodge 18 (about RM 80 for 1 night).

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Getting back to Butterworth Station

There are a few ways to get back to Butterworth Station of course, such as walking back (which we didn’t think it was a good idea under the hot sun), taking the taxi and taking the bus. We chose the bus option.

Opposite Lodge 18 and along the rows of shops, there is a bus stop which most buses will head towards the bus interchange. If unsure, you may ask the bus driver prior to boarding.

The bus tickets
The bus tickets

The bus tickets cost RM 1.40 each, so it will be advisable to bring along some spare change.

If you look at the map, there are landmarks along the way to help identify if you are heading in the right direction.

One of them is the NB Tower / Multimedia Malaysia:

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Which in our interpretation, looks like this in reality:

DSC_2436The bus terminal will be right after the junction, headed in the direction towards the jetty, the same place where people can take a ferry over to Penang Island.

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Upon arriving at the bus terminal, head towards the overhead bridge. There will be signs guiding you towards the train station.

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Step 4: Board train towards Padang Besar to Bangkok

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The train will depart from Butterworth at 2 PM and arrive the next day (between 10 AM to 12 noon) in Bangkok. It will be an overnight train so in effect, you are purchasing sleeping berth tickets for the night as well. You can expect more coverage of our experience in our upcoming posts on this train. In short, during the day, passengers will sit in the train just as usual of up to 4 passengers per berth. During the night, the seats are converted into sleeping berths, housing one passenger per upper berth and lower berth.

Also, upon arriving at Padang Besar Station, all passengers will need to alight for passport clearance before boarding the train to resume the journey.

Padang Besar Train Station Drawing

From our personal experience, the chances of obtaining Butterworth to Bangkok tickets directly at Butterworth Station is extremely slim. During our journey, all the train tickets were sold out and we couldn’t get direct tickets from Butterworth to Bangkok. We then decided board the train to Padang Besar, in hope of getting our train tickets at the train station so we may continue on our journey. (RM 22.20 for 2 persons to Padang Besar).

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Arriving at Padang Besar, we took a huge risk by proceeding to clear Malaysian and Thailand immigration then headed to the train office within the same platform to see if we could grab last minute train tickets to Bangkok. Thankfully, we managed to get our hands on 2 of the last 3 tickets @ THB 1740 for 2 persons.

This is the cost for upper berths. The lower sleeping berths are wider and hence costs slightly more. We would highly recommend people who like to have more space to themselves to “upsize” their sleeping berths to the lower ones.

Hence, our advice is book tickets in advance through either email or by the phone.

ktmb contact details

As there are no direct train services from Singapore to Bangkok, do indicate in your email that you require 2 sets of tickets. First set from JB to Butterworth and the second set from Butterworth to Bangkok. You will also need to provide the date of departure, class of seats, upper or lower berths, names and other passport details for each person.

After they have responded to your email, you may make payment using the reference code when you self-collect the tickets.

Here’s the timeline during our journey:

3:45 PM (MY)- Arrival at Padang Besar Station
5:30 PM (MY)- Departure from Padang Besar Station
6:04 PM (MY)-  Arrival at Khlong Ngae (1st stop in Thailand)
(Next day) 12:30 PM (TH)- Arrival at Hua Lamphong Railway Station (Bangkok)

*In case you didn’t know, alight at Hua Lamphong Station. It will go directly into the heart of Bangkok and you can en route to many other locations from there, using various transportation methods.

Additional Information About Bangkok-bound train.

Dinner will be served prior to the departure from Padang Besar Station. You may choose one of the sets in the menu provided and place your order with the man that is going around. Each dinner set costs 170 THB. They will then proceed to set up your table within your cabin if it hasn’t been set up already. For more details about our dining experience, do check out the rest of our posts or you may follow us on YouTube too!

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If you are looking out for other choices, along the way especially early in the evenings and the following morning, there will be local pedallers coming on board at certain stops to try sell food to the commuters.

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For your budgeting convenience, here is our financial statement (based on two person) for this journey so far:

SG > JB Sentral: SGD $2.90
Breakfast @ JB Sentral: RM 17
JB > Butterworth: RM 116
Meals on JB Train: RM 31
Lodge 18: RM 80
Breakfast @ Butterworth: RM 9
Lunch @ Butterworth: RM 14.50
Bus Ride: RM 2.80
Padang Besar > Bangkok tickets: TH 1740
Dinner on cross border train: TH 340

Total: SGD $189.13

With that, we conclude our guide for Singapore – Bangkok via Train. We hope this piece of information offered valuable insights and benefit you in your upcoming travelling experience. And if you like what we are doing here, feel free to drop us a message, comment in our posts or follow our website! Keep a lookout for more detailed and exciting coverage soon!

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