This exciting 1233 mile train trip started in Bangkok, Thailand and took us all the way to Singapore! During this unforgettable adventure, we traveled through three diverse countries: Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. We stayed in four amazing cities: Bangkok, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. To make it even more interesting, we had to manage three different currencies: the Thai baht, the Malaysian ringgit, and the Singapore dollar.
Prior to leaving Bangkok, we booked our train tickets, return airfare, and hotel rooms. Since we pre-booked the major expenses with a credit card that does not charge international transaction fees, we did not have to carry large sums of cash on our trip. We started with 3200 baht (100 USD), 1005 ringgit (300 USD) and 650 Singapore dollars (500 USD) in cash. We bought the Malaysian ringgit and Singapore dollars using Thai baht at Siam Exchange in downtown Bangkok.
- Bangkok to Butterworth (1460 baht, including 200 baht handling fee and 3.5% credit card surcharge / 46 USD each): 2nd class air-conditioned lower-berth sleepers on train 35. Lower-berth beds are much wider than upper-berth and well-worth the additional expense. We picked the tickets up in person at the Travex Agency in Bangkok.
- Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur Sentral (34 ringgit / 10 USD each): Online train bookings through KTM Berhad. Register for an account and you can book and print your e-tickets.
- Kuala Lumpur Sentral to Singapore Woodlands (34 ringgit / 10 USD each): Online train bookings through KTM Berhad. Register for an account and you can book and print your e-tickets.
Bangkok, Thailand – Day 1
The start of the train trip is very exciting! The second class cars are clean and spacious. There is space under the seats for storage. We packed bicycle locks and zipper locks so that we could secure our bags while exploring the train during the trip.
In the evening, an attendant passes through the cars and prepares the beds by pulling the two seats together to make the bottom berth and opening the top berth which folds up and toward the wall. A mattress is inserted and fresh linen fitted. Each berth has curtains that close together to provide limited privacy while sleeping.
Food and drinks are available in the restaurant car, through ordering by attendant, and by hawkers who jump on and off at stations along the way. In addition, we brought plenty of snacks and water.
Penang, Malaysia Days 2 – 4
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Days 5 – 7
Singapore, Singapore Days 8 – 13
I had always wanted to do an overnight, long distance train journey. I have spent hours researching trips on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, dreaming of crossing Russia and China by train. I scoured the Man in Seat Sixty-One’s website. The trip seemed daunting and complicated. I was thinking too big; this shorter trip never entered my radar.
It turns out that this trip is the perfect starter trip for international train travel! You learn how to purchase tickets, connect legs, cross borders, and to sleep on a train without the huge time commitment and expense of a long train journey. We loved our experience and look forward to planning many more train adventures!
- Time of Year: December 2014
- Length of Stay: 13 Days, 12 Nights
- Total Trip Cost – 2 People: 1824 USD*
- Cost Per Day / Per Person: 70 USD*
- Thailand Visa Information: Thai Embassy, U.S. citizens carrying a tourist passport and in possession of an onward or return airline ticket do not require a visa to enter Thailand. The passport must have at least six months validity remaining to be allowed entry.
- Malaysia Visa Information: Immigration Department of Malaysia, U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter for stays of 90 days or less. The passport must have at least six months validity remaining to be allowed entry.
- Singapore Visa Information: Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter for stays of 90 days or less. The passport must have at least six months validity remaining to be allowed entry.
*Excluded from the cost analysis:
- International airfare to Thailand is not included because fares vary depending on your starting location. Return airfare from Singapore back to Bangkok is included.
GPS Coordinates: Pre-Trip Day 1 Day 2 – Penang Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 – Kuala Lumpur Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 – Singapore Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13
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Travex Agency in Bangkok @ 13.735692,100.542294
Hua Lamphong Railway Station @ 13.738954,100.516784
Butterworth Train Station @ 5.393728,100.366533
Butterworth Ferry Terminal @ 5.394530,100.364022
Penang Ferry Terminal @ 5.413635,100.343373
Penang Ferry Bus Station @ 5.414153,100.342119
Komtar Bus Station @ 5.414240,100.330406
Heliconia Hotel @ 5.416286,100.32743
Gurney Drive @ 5.434844,100.314577
Penang National Park – Hike to Monkey Beach/Lighthouse @ 5.46007,100.206177
Penang National Forest Light House @ 5.472609,100.180831
Fort Cornwallis @ 5.420494,100.343875
Sun Yat Sen Museum @5.415787,100.336225
KL Sentral Train Station @ 3.134167,101.686111
Medan Tuanku Monorail Station @ 3.159489,101.698703
Tune Hotel @ 3.160387,101.696777
Bukit Nanas Monorail Station for Nature Walk @ 3.156207,101.704818
Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve- Bamboo Trail @ 3.153071,101.704924
Kepong Railway Station @ 3.202619,101.637557
Forest Service Institute of Malaysia- Hike Canopy Walkway @ 3.23616,101.63446
Batu Caves @ 3.236545,101.681635
Jamek Mosque @ 3.148758,101.695878
Sultan Abdul Samad Building @ 3.148611,101.694444
Woodlands Train Station @ 1.437094,103.786484
Ferrer Park MRT @ 1.312428,103.854315
Asphodel Inn @ 1.31503,103.857269
Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza @ 1.284251,103.858297
Supertree Grove @ 1.281678,103.863995
Har Par Villa @ 1.283761,103.781783
Changi Musuem @ 1.362179,103.974014
Harbour Front MRT @ 1.265868,103.818756
Sentosa Island @ 1.256721,103.820692
Labrador Park @ 1.263484,103.804810
Chinatown @ 1.284440,103.843376
East Coast Park @ 1.300784,103.912187
Changi Airport @ 1.357372,103.988835
Suvarnabhumi Airport @ 13.693281,100.750802
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Day 2 – Penang
Day 5 – Kuala Lumpur
Day 8 – Singapore
You can copy and paste the latitude and longitude into Google Earth, your browser, or into your GPS.
*Disclaimer- ALWAYS verify locations, transportation routes, GPS coordinates, etc. Errors are made, routes changed, sometimes we are just plain wrong. No one knows what you like more than you. If the trip is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Do your homework.