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 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).
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.
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.
The immigration area is only opened when a train arrives from Thailand.
All inbound passengers are processed first, then once they are all cleared, outbound passengers are allowed through.
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, but now rather infrequent local bus to Hat Yai city centre, or Hat Yai bus station (first stop).
A better and quicker alternative is to take 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 :
50 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).