Arriving by air in KL, and plan to travel to Thailand and Laos. Rather than fly to Bangkok, we are considering the rail option, possibly spending a few days in Penang before continuing north. Would love to hear from anyone who has travelled by rail to Butterworth, as to their experience. As we know KL well, and will stay there en route back to Australia, we are thinking of taking the train the same day we arrive. We arrive in KL around 12:30pm. Believe the sleeper to Butterworth leaves KL at 23:00hrs, and arrives in Butterworth at 06:30hrs, but not sure if that's still the case. Any suggestions and/or advice would be most welcome.
#1 nightowlers has been a member since 20/9/2011. Posts: 10
Honestly, the train isn't the best way to get from KL - Penang since once you're in Butterworth you'll need to switch to a bus or taxi to Penang Island. It's a nice ride and all, but if you're going to continue on the train further north then you can enjoy the rain then.
I'd take one of the many buses that go right into Georgetown (the main city on Penang Island) - it's faster than the train, too - about 4 hours.
If you have your heart set on the train, there's also a 3pm train KL - Butterworth. You can book tickets online here - www.ktmb.com.my/
Thanks for your response.
We have taken the bus from KL to Penang , the last time 4 years ago. The trip was fine, but do want to avoid Puda Raya bus station if possible. The bus was late departing, and disliked hanging around in the bowels of the station. Very hot and humid, and the fumes were suffocating.
Figured if we took the late train we'd book a sleeper, so would arrive first thing in the morning and be in Penang early in the day.
Looks like we'll have to re-think our plans now, since I found out yesterday that if we travel overland into Thailand, we'll only be issued a 15 day visa. If we fly into Bangkok from KL, we'll be given 30 days and won't require a visa. Cannot believe this law, but what can you do? You'd think the Thai government would want to encourage tourists to stay for more than 15 days.
Thanks again for your response and suggestions.
#3 nightowlers has been a member since 20/9/2011. Posts: 10
I recently took the night train from KL to Butterworth & thought it was a great way to get to Penang . Once you exit the station at Butterworth just follow the stream of people walking to the ferry for the ride over to Penang. It's a cheap & easy way to get there but if you have heaps of luggage it might be a bit cumbersome. As for the visa issue, if you're spending a few days in Penang it's easy to go to the Thai consulate on the island & apply for a tourist visa that's valid for at least 30 days (they gave me a 60 day visa without any asking on my part). The consulate can do same-day processing & it's fairly easy to reach by bus & a 15 minute walk. If I remember correctly the visa cost around $30. Hopefully this info reaches you in time before you've booked flights. Also, check seat61.com for good info on booking train tickets. Good luck.
#4 heddenswest has been a member since 7/1/2011. Posts: 32
Thanks for the info about your recent experience and also your suggestions about the visa.
Hope you don't mind, but I have a few questions about the trip:
Which class of sleeper did you book, and how did you find it?
Was it comfortable, and could you sleep ok?
Heard that the air con, especially if you're in an upper bunk, can be very chilly - how did you find the air con?
What time did you arrive in Butterworth?
We have so far only booked return flights to KL. We're still to work out how we'll spend our 28 days from the time we arrive in KL and then have to return there to fly home.
Initially, we were going to travel by land (mostly train) up to Chiang Mai and then decide whether to move on to Laos, but now we'll have to decide beforehand whether to obtain a visa.
I've spent 28 days just in Thailand before, but that was years ago. It certainly wasn't too long to spend there, and that was flying into Phuket, and then flying on to CM, CR and Bangkok. If we deduct say 10 days to visit Laos, we may feel we can't see much in 17/18 days.
Interested in your comments.
#5 nightowlers has been a member since 20/9/2011. Posts: 10