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Sandy Freckle

Train > up the Malay peninsular, into Thailand, on to Bangkok and then to Chiang Mai ?

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Hi fellow 'low and slow' travellers..., seeking rail travel tips ? I'm making a plan for my next SEA trip. So far, the rough plan is to fly SIA into Singapore from Perth..., bus across into Malaysia, then by train up the peninsular..., stopping at any places of interest, or local 'food hotspots' for an appropriate amount of days(everywhere considered). Then train northwards into Thailand and on up to Bangkok..., stay a day or 3..., then across to Kanchanaburi for a week or so. Back to Bangkok and take the overnight train(2nd class sleeper) up to Chiang Mai. Other rail journeys within Issan and East of Bangkok will also be considered.
 My main question is; can anyone recommend specific places to visit within Malaysia(especially from other rail travellers) ?
I'm thinking unique places, interesting locations, food markets/stalls. Although my questions relate mostly to the areas covered by the Malaysian rail network, any suggestions regarding other places of interest within the Thai rail network are welcome.


 I'm a fit and active, slightly older guy.., and I'm interested in rail and bus travel, local cuisine experiences, culture, interesting architecture, historical sites, National Parks etc etc. I travel light and can stay at any classes of hotel - but prefer not to rough it. Any recommendations welcome ?


Thanks in advance.

Edited by Sandy Freckle
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You can go up Malaysia either on the West or East side. I've done the West stopping in Penang but would like to try the East Jungle route. Enters Thailand in the 'troubled' area but if you are only passing through should be OK.

Train doesn't go through Malacca but agree it is well worth a detour.

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If you take the west coast line up then Ipoh is worth a stop. Laidback town, very Chinese, excellent food options, pretty scenery with cave temples.

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the current layout:

banner_map_overlap.jpg

 

and how some hope to futurise it into...

p368258383.png

 

but I'd agree with other, to take the effort to do a side-trip across to Malacca, a goldmine for Portugese history. 

Another worthy stop is Taiping, a civilianised exMilitary town... and an interesting LandRover type trip up Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut). The WW2 War Graves at the bottom of the Hill. 

 

 

 

 

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I did this journey in 1990. Great fun. But the drink ban has ruined the social nature of rail travel. Its a cheap way to travel.

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I did that trip many many years ago.. still fond memories.. We did as you say.. cross into Malaysia from Singapore... took the train up to KL.. but then crossed to the east coast by bus with a stop off in the Cameron Highlands.. well worth a visit..  then on to Pahang and on up the east coast.. a little off the beaten track.. nice beaches (with many turtles in those days)..and scenery and very friendly people.. we went up to Terengganu but not as far as Kelantan.. then crossed back to Butterworth and on to Penang before crossing into Thailand.. Would love to do it again.. I always enjoy train travel in Thailand.. not always comfortable but the scenery is great being away from main roads and traveling through the countryside.  The train to Kanchanaburi is old and slow but but it isn't a long journey.  A trip up the Khwae Noi river is good.. again away from roads and interesting scenery & riverside life.. an overnight stay at one of the floating resorts along the river would be a treat.  The train to Chiang Mai.. carriages upgraded since I last did it.. You can train it from Nong Khai to Bangkok.. old and slow.. I haven't done it.. although I live up that way.. I'm not sure if you can get on in Vientiane or not.. worth checking.. there has been talk about t.. You can take a 2 day slow boat trip down the Mekong from Huaisai to Luang Prabang in Laos.. if there is enough water in the river now.. check locally.. another nice if a bit uncomfortable trip away from roads down the river..  You can take a hair raising  but interesting trip by road from Luang Prabang to Vientiane  through the mountains.. I think I will fly next time! Enjoy your journey.. sounds great..  

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For reference and possible convenience, travelling from Malaysia into Thailand via Butterworth and Hat Yai Junction, just over one hour before Bangkok you will stop at Nakhon Pathom which is the junction station for the line to Kanchanaburi and then on to Nam Tok which crosses the River Kwai bridge and traverses the wooden viaduct built alongside the river. You can then return from Nam Tok/Kanchanaburi direct to Bangkok for your visit to the city without having to double back on yourself. The train journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is mainly flat and rural until Uttaradit, then as you approach Den Chai the line traverses spectacular mountain scenery to Lampang and Lamphun (viaducts, bridges and tunnels). I personally recommend the day train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai to see Thailand "in a nutshell". 

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On 11/20/2019 at 1:08 PM, briley said:

You can go up Malaysia either on the West or East side. I've done the West stopping in Penang but would like to try the East Jungle route. Enters Thailand in the 'troubled' area but if you are only passing through should be OK.

Train doesn't go through Malacca but agree it is well worth a detour.

Australian passport holders - East coast near border is a "Do Not Travel Zone" see DFAT website.

Edited by Cats4ever
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On 11/21/2019 at 2:37 AM, Maybole said:

I agree, Malacca is a fascinating place. Portuguese and Dutch heritage still in evidence. Good seafood too.

Check out the old guy selling paintings in the old ( forget what it is ?fort ? church ) on the top of the hill. I bought one off him in the 70s and he is apparently still there.

 

Other stops, Penang's worth a couple of days, temple of 1 million buddhas is great,  but a stiff climb. Good bus system around the island.

 

Take the ferry to Langkawi Island ( no buses on the island- have to use taxi ) and when want to enter Thailand there is a ferry to Satun. No train there but can get bus to Hat Yai or Surat Thani.

 

Everything is on the internet. I didn't find the train trip from Butterworth to Thailand particularly interesting.

 

Second class AC train from Bkk northward. Get the lower bunk. Costs more but worth it. Take your own food on. Either leave early and arrive at Chiang Mai in the dark, or leave late and arrive in daylight. Northern scenery is way better than south.

 

Why don't you visit Ayutthaya and Sukhothai on the way?

3 hours ago, Burma Bill said:

For reference and possible convenience, travelling from Malaysia into Thailand via Butterworth and Hat Yai Junction, just over one hour before Bangkok you will stop at Nakhon Pathom which is the junction station for the line to Kanchanaburi and then on to Nam Tok which crosses the River Kwai bridge and traverses the wooden viaduct built alongside the river. You can then return from Nam Tok/Kanchanaburi direct to Bangkok for your visit to the city without having to double back on yourself. The train journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is mainly flat and rural until Uttaradit, then as you approach Den Chai the line traverses spectacular mountain scenery to Lampang and Lamphun (viaducts, bridges and tunnels). I personally recommend the day train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai to see Thailand "in a nutshell". 

If by day train you mean that clapped out railcar, book a seat in the middle as there is no where else to put a big bag.

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4 hours ago, Laza 45 said:

A trip up the Khwae Noi river is good.. again away from roads and interesting scenery & riverside life.. an overnight stay at one of the floating resorts along the river would be a treat. 

Think again if one wants to sleep. The <deleted> morons that drive unmuffled long tails up and down the river ruin any chance of relaxing. I made that mistake and regretted it.

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You can get to Malacca by train but the station is a bit of a taxi journey away. I did it that way because I don’t like buses.

Penang is a regular stop for me and definitely a foodie hotspot, particularly for street food. The train from Butterworth is no longer linked to the Thai system so if things are running late you could find yourself having to taxi to Hat Yai. Quite a few places along the route to Bangkok are worth a day or two stopover but you’d have to plan ahead because you’d have to buy separate tickets.

The day train to CM is a bit boring until you get to the mountains, I only did it once but have done the night train plenty of times though not recently. 
I love train travel and I hate bus travel. I’d agree that taking your own food on trains s the best option. Food on the train is overpriced and underflavoured!

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Did the train journey from Singers to Penang back in 1963. Military had a rest camp on the island so we went there for R and R. KL was very different in those days. Enjoyed the train trip through the jungle, and buying food cooked in a Wok on the train. If you have time the trains in Vietnam worth while with lots to see. Good luck.

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If you come up the west side I would suggest getting off at Arau and catch the ferry from Kuala Perlis over to Langkawi for a couple of days. The Skybridge there is something else.

If you do, to continue the journey better to take a taxi straight to the station at Pedang Besar, about 60MYR, saves a bit of hassle and possible conflict in train times.

It is better to get the train from Hat Yai up to BKK rather than the border as that train still uses the old rolling stock. There is a shuttle train that runs from the border to Hat Yai twice a day.

Enjoy the trip.

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