Travelling from Malaysia to Thailand by train on the KTM overnight sleeper train from Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai is no longer possible as this Intercity service has been cancelled from the 19th May 2016.
From this date you will now have to use the new high-speed Electric Train Services from KL Sentral to Padang Besar, then catch a Shuttle Train from Padang Besar to Hat Yai.
How long does it take to travel from KL to Hat Yai by train?
The duration of the journeys all depends on the connection time at Padang Besar station.
Unfortunately, the wait at the border station can be quite long for most arrivals from KL, so you are often better off walking over the land border and taking a bus or minivan to Hat Yai or if you don't mind paying extra, take a taxi (see below for more information).
Below you will see the best trains to take from KL Sentral and the connection by Shuttle to Hat Yai.
As there are only two Shuttle trains a day from the border to Hat Yai, you will have to take a train from KL that best connects with these services.
The first Shuttle train leaves Padang Besar at 09:55 Malaysian time and takes 55 minutes to get to Hat Yai Junction Railway Station.
So if you wanted to catch this train you would have to travel on the EG 9424 which departs KL Sentral at 23:27 arriving at Pdg. Besar at 05:01.
That is a long wait at the border and a total travel time of around 11 and a half hours.
The second Shuttle train leaves at 15.40 Malaysian time.
To connect to this train you would want to take the EG 9420 which departs Kl Sentral at 09:44, arriving at Padang Besar at 15:05.
A total journey duration of around 7 hours to get to Hat Yai (much quicker than the morning option).
This way the time at Padang Besar is very short (only 35 minutes) and should be enough to get you through both immigration / passport control areas and buy your tickets for the Shuttle.
The Shuttle train is often delayed when there are a lot of passengers as Thai immigration can sometimes be quite slow and they will delay the Shuttle train if they cannot process everybody in time.
If you are worried about the connection time, you could always take an earlier train from KL.
When these trains arrive at the border station of Padang Besar, if you want to catch a Shuttle Train to Hat Yai you will have to go through passport control and get stamped out of Malaysia and into Thailand.
Another alternative to the Shuttle Train to Hat Yai, is to walk over the tracks (go upstairs avoiding the passport control area), then walk over the main land border crossing in to Thailand.
Once you come out of the Thai immigration area, there is a bus stop on the opposite side of the road on your right.
From here you can catch a cheap local bus to Hat Yai city centre, or Hat Yai bus station (first stop).
There is also a minivan service from Padang Besar to Hat Yai bus station that departs from the centre of town (about a 15 minute walk).
If you want to take a taxi, you can get one as you come down from the walkway over the tracks from the station.
Tickets for the ETS Train from KL to Padang Besar cost :
The Shuttle Train from Padang Besar to Hat Yai costs :
70 Thai Baht (THB).
The local bus from Padang Besar Thailand to Hat Yai costs 44 THB / minivan 50 THB.
Tickets to Padang Besar can be purchased from KL Sentral station ticket counter or any Malaysian railway station up to a couple of months in advance (booking periods do however vary quite a lot).
If you want to make an advance booking you can also :
Tickets for the Shuttle Train to Hat Yai have to be purchased on the day from the State Railway of Thailand ticket office at Padang Besar Railway Station.
Hat Yai has plenty of places to stay as it is a very popular destination for Malaysian tourists who come here for the shopping and night-life.
If you travelling on the train from Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai just to catch a bus from Hat Yai bus station (which is around 5km from Hat Yai train station), you can get off the train at the border station of Padang Besar and before going through immigration, go upstairs where there is a walkway over the railway tracks that takes you to the main land border crossing.
Turn left after the walkway and get stamped out of Malaysia.
It is another five to ten minutes walk through "no man's land" to the Thai immigration checkpoint (you can stop on the way to do some duty free shopping at the large complex about halfway up the hill).
Once you have been stamped into Thailand come out to the main road and you will see a bus stop on the other side of the road to your right.
Cheap local buses (44 Baht) stop here every 30 minutes or so, for Hat Yai and the first stop in the city is the main bus station where you can catch a bus to most places in Southern Thailand, like Trang, Krabi, Phuket and Surat Thani (for Koh Samui / Phangan).