If you want to travel by train from Kuala Lumpur to Surat Thani for the popular islands of Koh Samui or Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand, there are no direct train services, so you will have to make at least one stop along the way.
One of the best routes to takes is to travel from KL Sentral station in Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai just across the border in Southern Thailand.
With the cancellation of the night Intercity Express Train from KL to Hat Yai you will now have to take a fast ETS Train to the border station of Padang Besar, then a Shuttle Train service to Hat Yai.
From Hat Yai you can then continue your journey by train to Surat Thani.
There are a number of departures in the afternoon, so you may have to hang around town for a few hours, but you can use the left luggage service at Hat Yai station.
Alternatively, you can continue from Hat Yai to Koh Samui / Phangan by minibus.
There are a number of ticketing agents just outside the station that will sell you tickets to the islands.
These tickets include the price of the minibus and the ferry.
If you do catch the train from KL, you can then use one of these minibuses leaving Hat Yai for Koh Samui and Koh Phangan at 12.00. 14.00 or 16.00 and take the night ferries to the islands.
If you prefer to travel on a daytime ferry, you can stay the night in Hat Yai and catch a minibus the next day at either 08.00, 09.30 or 10.30.
Tickets for the minibus from Hat Yai to Koh Samui cost : 500 THB
Tickets for the minibus from Hat Yai to Koh Phangan cost : 660 THB
Minibus tickets in Hat Yai are rather difficult to get the "real price" for, as many agents will try to overcharge you!
So, please use these prices as just a guide.
You may be able to get them for slightly less, but most of the time you will be quoted more - so shop around.
We recommend you walk down to the Cathay Guest House (a couple of blocks down from the station on your right), where there is a travel desk downstairs in front of the property. They seem to be fairly honest there!
Another alternative is to take the train to Padang Besar, then walk upstairs and take the footbridge over the tracks to the main land border crossing.
Once through the immigration area there is a bus stop across the road on your right with regular buses into Hat Yai city centre, stopping at Hat Yai bus station along the way.
From Hat Yai bus station you can then continue by bus or minibus to Koh Samui or Koh Phangan.
The other alternative to travel by train from KL to Koh Samui / Phangan is to first catch a train to Butterworth in the state of Penang, then continue on to Surat Thani by the International Express that leaves Butterworth every afternoon.
Please Note : The International Express no longer travels to Butterworth and now originates at Padang Besar on the Thailand / Malaysia border.
To get to the border from Butterworth there are now regular and cheap KTM Komuter Train Services that depart every hour or two during the day.