Enjoy an easy (and cheap) overland trip through Malaysia
Getting there: on a ferry from Dumai Indonesia (see our post on Sumatra).
From there it’s quite easy, get off the boat and simply follow the passengers to the building. Line up and go through customs with your passport.
You are in a new country, you’re going to want to get some cash in the local currency before you do anything.
For that, go right when you leave the building and around, cross this little ‘river’, and follow the signs for Macdonalds. You will find an ATM. Get some Ringgits and learn the exchange rate.
To get to Kuala lumpur:
It will be much easier to navigate through this country than it was in Indonesia. Most people speak English and everything is well indicated. The language is very similar to Indonesian so you can still use the same words you already learnt if english is not understood.
The cheapest way to the city is the bus. You will have to take a short shuttle bus (local bus) to the terminal and a big bus to Kuala lumpur. Taxi drivers won’t harass you as much as in Indonesia but they will still propose their service to the terminal for 20R. Refuse their offers (A taxi with a meter is very hard to find here so you will mostly get ripped off if you accept). You can just walk past the red Gerega christ church and onto the main touristy street. If you don’t find your way ask people on the street or at the information centre. At the end of the street, turn left, there will be a little bus stop on the other side of the road. Take number 17 to Malacca central bus terminal. It will cost 1R each and will take about 15minutes.
When you get to Malacca central, the bus terminal, enter the building and go left. Walk 2 minutes through the alley until you see all the different offices. You can talk to a few of them and compare. To give you an idea. The company Mayang Sari sells lux bus tickets to K.L for 12R each and is very confortable (much better than anything you have seen in Indonesia). The trip will last 2 hours. You will be dropped off at K.L sentral train station.
Finding cheap accommodation in Kuala lumpur:
At the train station, even though it is huge, everything will look very westernised and familiar. You will easily find your way around. If not, you can go talk to the friendly staff at the information points.
From what we’ve been told, the cheapest accommodations are found in and around China town. To get there you want to get off at the Pasar Seni train station. You will need to get a plastic coin from one of the electronic stations. To go through the gates, you’ll just have to touch this coin on and drop it in the crack when you leave the next station. It will be very cheap too. Don’t worry, the staff and locals are all very friendly and will be happy to help you if you need.
We recommand Submarine guest house. It is very close to the Pasar seni train station and the central market. It is 60R per night for a good clean double bedroom with shared bathroom in a quiet building with friendly staff. You might want to book in advance.
To do in Kuala lumpur:
Everything is easily accessible by train:
–Mid Valley Mall: After so long in a wild country like Indonesia, you will be quite happy to wander around this giant mall. Get some cheesy pizza, go to the movies, maybe buy a new shirt!
–The famous twin Petronas towers: these buildings are impressive. Take some nice pictures during the day and wait until night time for a different experience. Climbing to the top is quite expensive: 85R, you can skip this if you’re on the budget.
–Walk around the lake garden: It is very well maintained and quite peaceful. There is a giant aviary there, but it is quite expensive too for travellers on a budget at 50R
–Batu caves: You can’t go to Malaysia and miss this. Yes it is quite touristy but don’t be the “I am a traveller not a tourist” type, it is free and well worth it. Take the train to KLCC, the station is right next to the entrance of the caves. Spend a few hours there, walk around the giant statue, walk up the stairs to the giant caves and enjoy the amazing view over the city. When you’re in the cave, sit down and enjoy the silence despite the tourists and the cheeky monkeys. Witness some interesting candle ceremonies and observe the way plants grow right on the rocks. When you come back down, go left and enjoy some amazing vegetarian food at the small shops.
To do in Malaysia:
We won’t detail this country as much as we did for Indonesia as we didn’t feel their was a lot of things to warn you about. We didn’t have to fight for our money every day and people were really willing to help. Also we spent 7 weeks in Indo and only 10 days in Malaysia and everything was so easy to find that you wouldn’t have felt the need to read through what we could have written.
Know that travelling overland, there are a few national parks that could be visited like Tenah Negara, North West of K.L, the internet is full of information about it if you’re tempted. There are a few scams there too to be aware of so do your research if you decide to go. We didn’t, so we won’t detail this here.
Keep going North: To Thailand!
Book a train a few days in advance in K.L sentral at the KTM intercity office. If you wish to go to Phuket, you can book a ticket for Hat Yai and get on a bus from there, if you want to go to Panang, get off at Butterworth and get on a ferry, or you can organise the train trip all the way to Bangkok.
If you wish to go to Hat Yai, trains leave at 9.30pm and travel overnight, from KTM intercity up the stairs at K.L sentral. Tickets will cost as little as 48R for a seat.
Check this helpful page for more options.
When you are ready, leave Kuala Lumpur and board the train. Don’t forget your travel kit, it will be cold and there won’t be any food served. In the early morning, after about 6hours of travel, you will stop at Padang Besar train station, the border. Get off the train and take your valuables with you, you can also take your big backpacks with you if you prefer as the train will disapear for 1hour for maintenance. Follow the passengers through the 1st office to get your stamp out of Malaysia and through the other office (in the same building) for your Thai visa.
Be warned: Australian citizens are only allowed 15 days in Thailand when crossing the border overland, European citizens are allowed 30 days.
Congratulations you are in Thailand! You can have a quick breakfast upstairs waiting for the train to come back. Then board again, you will arrive in Hat Yai 15minutes later…
Next: Discovering the legendary Thailand…