Bangkok to SingaporeThailand, Malaysia, And Singapore
Southeast Asia always screams excitement and thanks to this itinerary, there will never be a dull moment! On this Southeast Asia route, you will get to experience the mixing of cultures from country to country, try delectable and traditional cuisine, and walk through streets of color.
Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore are incredible countries, and this guide takes you through some of the top spots on anyone’s bucket list.
Rail Passes: –
Price Range: $$
Recommended Days: 10 – 14 Days
Riding Hours: Approx. 26 hr
Distance: 1,687 km
Transportation: Train, Ferry
Bangkok: Bustling Beauty
Bangkok truly is a city of experiences and contrasts as so many exotic flavors collide. As people from all around Thailand and other countries come to reside in this bustling Southeast Asian capital city, you will get a diverse dining experience to reflect just this. There is so much life to the streets of Bangkok, where you will see megamalls that sit beside 200-year old village homes. Try anything from regional Thai dishes to fusion dishes from all around the world, but don’t forget the street food vendors! You don’t need to pay megabucks for a good meal.
Head to the Grand Palace, a structure that truly lives up to its name. A pearly white exterior that keeps priceless relics hidden from public view, unless you pay the entrance fee of course. You will be treated to towering spires and absolutely stunning temples across all of the grounds. Within the palace walls is the Wat Phra Kaew, known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. If you step inside you will be greeted by a smallish emerald and gold-laden Buddha that dons a cloak that the king changes each season.
Another great spot to visit is the Patpong Night Market, which is the most notorious of all the night markets. Although surrounded by go-go bars and strip clubs, you will find a plethora of other goods and souvenirs. And because we love trains at RailwayHero, we recommend checking out the Maeklong Railway Market. The wow factor of this market is that it sits on the train track itself. When the train horn rings, the vendors quickly pack up shop and step aside as the train squeezes through.
Bangkok Hua Lamphong → Georgetown Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal | Duration: 19:30-24:00 h | Transfers: 3
There are no direct trains from Bangkok to Penang and three transfers may seem like a lot, but fear not! We are here to make it easy for you. First get on a train at Bangkok’s main train station, Hua Lampong. From there you will take an overnight train to Hat Yai. Here you can save a night’s sleep in a hotel, and just sleep on the train instead. There are plenty of options for berths, and air-conditioning/no air-conditioning. There are several connections from Bangkok headed south throughout the afternoon (13:45h-18:04h). You can book this leg of the trip at the local train station, and book accordingly to be able to catch the trains the next morning.
From Hat Yai, you will need to transfer to another train to Pedang Besar which is at the Thai/Malaysian border (this journey is 0:55h long and leaves in the morning and early afternoon). From Pedang Besar catch a 1:50h train to Butterworth, Malaysia. These connections leave regularly throughout the morning and afternoon, and then you will be able to catch a car ferry from the port across from the Butterworth train station (the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal). The ferries leave hourly and bring you to the Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal which is conveniently located near the heart of Georgetown Penang. You’ll arrive in time to hit the night street markets for dinner!
Penang: Mixed History
Georgetown has combined three, ancient cultures to create an irresistible urban cocktail. Considered to be Penang’s most attractive city due to the mishmash of Chinese temples in Little India, the mosques in Chinatown, and the western-style skyscrapers that live high above the British Raj-era architecture. Truly an eclectic jumble of culture to create a unique city.
Georgetown is often referenced as the street-art epicenter of Asia … and for a good reason. Without even looking for some, you’ll definitely find some down a little alleyway or plastered on the side of the building, but something worth doing is completing the scavenger hunt. It’s known as the Penang Street Art Scavenger Hunt and official maps have been made and printed out for you to follow along. Pick one up from your hotel or hostel, or if they don’t have one pop into another accommodation and they will be sure to point you in the right direction.
For a wonderful vantage point of the city, take the tram up Penang Hill or get a good workout by hiking up it, afterward you can nourish your appetite by hitting a hawker center, which is a food court of street vendors. There are plenty scattered around Georgetown and the food options are noteworthy. Penang is known for their Asam Laksa but Malaysia, in general, is known for their cuisine, eat up some Nasi Lemak, chow down some Roti Canai, or stuff your face with Mee Goreng. We promise you will not be disappointed.
Georgetown Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal → Kuala Lumpur Train Station | Duration: 5:25 h | Transfers: 1
Take the ferry from the Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal to the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal, from there walk across the street to the Butterworth train station. From there you can take a direct train to Kuala Lumpur Sentral train station. You can buy this train ticket on 12Go or BAOLAU, buy the ferry ticket at the terminal.
Kuala Lumpur: Dynamic Living
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s beautiful and sultry capital truly is a feast for all of your senses. Not only will you find historic moments on this Southeast Asia route, but also steel skyscrapers, luxuriant parks, and mega-sized shopping malls. There is a gorgeous mixture of cultures that are balanced and plugged into the modern world. There is a lot to see in this bustling capital city with dynamic architecture.
Some famous sites to see would be the Kuala Lumpur (KL) Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers, but another great place to stop at is Merdeka Square. This is a great spot for history buffs as it encompasses the Sultan Abdul Samad Building with a large field in front of it. It is the place where Malaya declared its independence from colonial forces in 1957, becoming what Malaysia is today.
Plus don’t forget to stop at many of the city malls where you will find your favorite retail shops, some delectable food halls, and that sweet, sweet air conditioning.
Terminal Bersepadu Selatan → Singapore-Johore Express Terminal | Duration: 5:20 h | Transfers: 0
In theory, you can take a train from Kuala Lumpur (KL) Sentral to Johor Bahru, and then there are shuttle trains which bring you to Singapore Woodlands train station from there you can travel by MRT (the metro system in Singapore to wherever your accommodation is located.
Singapore: The Melting Pot
Singapore is a melting pot of culture and has become one of Southeast Asia’s hit-list destinations. You can whiz around the city in a matter of minutes. You will be able to visit Marina Bay, take a night trip to the Gardens by the Bay, or even get wild at the Singapore Zoo. You can also visit the many different cultural neighborhoods of the city, from Little India to Chinatown.
One of the best experiences is immersing yourself at Gardens by the Bay, a striking Supertree Grove that has 18 vertical gardens with the tallest reaching almost 20 stories. If you visit at night you will get to witness a magical light show in the Supertree Grove to an eclectic soundtrack.
However, during the day, stroll through the tropical gardens and into the Cloud Forest dome. If you are looking for a bit of adventure, climb above the jungle on the MacRitchie Treetop Walk. In the heart of the city grab an iconic Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel. Play a hand of poker at the Marina Sands Casino, or stand in line at a Hawker stall which has won the title of the most affordable Michelin starred meal, roughly 1,30 €. In such a small city-state, it will dazzle you enough to keep coming back.
*Disclaimer: Due to the fluidity of transportation schedules, the information seen on RailwayHero may not be up to date at the time of readíng. Always double-check with the operator for the latest information.