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2D2N Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai Trip via ETS Train – Cost Breakdown & Tips!

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In November 2022, my partner and I took a short weekend trip from Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai. This article covers (1) how we got there via train (and van), (2) cost breakdown of our total trip, and (3) general tips you can use to make the same trip 🙂

The exchange rate at the time was approximately RM12.78 to 100 baht. Here we go!

How to get from Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai by train

Going from Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai for a weekend trip is easy enough in theory:

  • Buy train ticket
  • Book accommodation
  • Exchange MYR to THB

But, the ‘going there’ part is actually a bit more complicated, because you have to:

  • Figure out train departures and arrivals (takes 5.5-6 hours from KL to Padang Besar KTM, the last ETS train stop)
  • Figure out how to get from Padang Besar KTM to Hatyai, which is actually 1 hour away (your options: van and/or train and/or taxi)
  • Make sure to budget in enough time for 4x immigration queues per return trip (for me, as short as 5 mins and as long as ~20 mins)
  • P/s – Immigration opens from 6am until 10pm (Malaysian time) and 5am until 9pm (Thai time) so if you arrive outside those hours, you’ll need to wait
  • Do all this while mentally factoring in the 1-hour time difference between Malaysia and Thailand so you don’t accidentally miss your ride!

So actually, even though Kuala Lumpur and Hatyai are near geographically, you should expect the total trip time from getting out the door until arrival to your hotel in Hatyai to take around 8-12 hours or so, depending on waiting time.

As for where to go and stuff, it’s not hard to find out whatever information you need when you’re there. Just ask the booth attendants, or your fellow Malaysian travellers in the train or van. Most people are friendly and helpful 🙂

You can also check out the blogs of these fellow travellers:

My 2D2N Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai Makan Trip

My itinerary looked like this:

Going there – Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai

  • ETS train from KL Sentral to Padang Besar KTM – depart 10.50pm, arrive 4.18am. Cost: RM102 per person
  • Van from Padang Besar KTM to Hatyai hotel – depart 6ish am (when immigration opens; took 1.5~ hours including 2x immigration stops. Cost: RM30 per person

Coming back – Hatyai to Kuala Lumpur

  • Van pickup from Hatyai hotel to Malaysia-side immigration – depart 12pm ish, took 2~ hours including 2x immigration stops. Cost: RM25 per person
  • Taxi from Malaysia-side immigration to Padang Besar KTM. Cost: RM15 for 10 mins ride :/
  • ETS train from Padang Besar KTM to KL Sentral – depart 3.50pm, arrive by 9.30pm. Cost: RM76 per person

But this was my itinerary, not yours. Your train timing might be different, so decide based on that. Here are all the links you need to plan your trip:

  • Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar ETS – https://online.ktmb.com.my/
  • [Option 1] Padang Besar to Hatyai – via train (only runs 2x a day);
  • [Option 2] Padang Besar to Hatyai – via van (runs during immigration hours – will depart when van is full)

You can book the van from booth at Padang Besar KTM, it looks like this. When I asked around, apparently the price used to be RM20-25, but apparently it has increased to RM30.

Hatyai Makan Trip = Success!

My Hatyai trip was just a weekend trip and I had only one goal: to eat as much delicious Thai food as possible. Happily, I achieved that goal 🙂 Here are some pictures of the food we had on the trip (scroll for more pics).

You can’t go wrong if you hit these places:

  • ASEAN Night Bazaar (or any of the other night bazaars)
  • Khlong Hae Floating Market
  • Central Festival Mall (yes, the mall. Don’t knock it, the food court area is AWESOME)
  • Order from Grab Delivery (for Muslims, you can search by Halal)

I am happy to report that the food is CHEAP and GOOD. At most places, the range is between 40-70 baht per dish – RM5 to RM9. The seafood sets I saw cost 100-200 baht – RM13-26 per head. Unless you only eat at fancy places, I think you can eat well on around RM50 budget per person per day.

My 2D2N Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai trip: total cost

For 2 pax, we spent:

  • RM358 on return ETS train from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar
  • RM125 to get from Padang Besar to Hatyai Hotel (Van + taxi)
  • RM228.80 on 2 nights accommodation at hotel
  • Around 1700 baht or ~RM220 on 2 days of food
  • Around 300 baht or ~RM40 on shopping (mostly I bought Thai cooking paste because it’s not bulky and much cheaper there than here!)

Total: RM971 for 2 pax. I could make it cheaper if:

  • Took the classic train from Padang Besar to Hatyai (60 baht or approx RM7.70 instead of RM30 per way)
  • Only book 1 night accommodation instead of 2
  • Book cheaper accommodation (you can get a pretty okay place for RM60-RM80 per night)

If I did all these, it would bring my trip cost down to approx RM750 or so but no regrets, we had a good time 🙂

General tips for Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai travel

Here are some things you might want to keep in mind for your own Kuala Lumpur-Hatyai travel:

1) Plan around train times and immigration opening hours. If you don’t, you might waste time just waiting

2) The Padang Besar to Hatyai classic train is cheaper than van (60 baht vs RM30). I actually wanted to take this option instead of the van, but the timing didn’t work for us. If I took that, I would need to wait at Padang Besar for 5 hours instead of 2 hours.

3) Bring an umbrella in case it rains (we almost got soaked while dropped at immigration)

4) Unless you can sleep anywhere, I wouldn’t recommend taking the overnight ETS. Fellow passengers could be noisy and the lights are bright. But up to you.

5) If you arrive at Hatyai hotel super early and before check-in time, say 8am or so, I would recommend booking the night before so you can check in immediately upon arrival to rest. This added RM100+ to my cost but was the best decision I made the whole trip!

P/s – Don’t forget to activate Shopback when you book from Booking.com or Agoda, might as well earn cashback

6) Recommended to pack light as stairs/infrastructure are not in the best condition and you might struggle with heavy luggage

7) You can buy Thai sim card at Padang Besar KTM, but I just bought day passes from Yoodo – just RM5 per day (or RM13 for 3 days)*. I know other telcos charge waaaay more than that

*Note: This is price for Thailand. Different countries, different prices.

8) Bring your Bigpay or Wise debit card – places like malls and 7-Eleven accept them and rates are better than credit card

Any more Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai travel tips to share?

Lots of Malaysians have made the same Kuala Lumpur to Hatyai trip, some multiple times, so I’m sure you have more tips than I do 🙂 What advice and tips would you give to someone wanting to make the same trip? Share with us in the comments!


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