It is the main road crossing between Malaysia and Thailand and most long distance buses between the two countries use this checkpoint. The Thai checkpoint is officially known as the Sadao Immigration Checkpoint while the town immediately after the border is called Dannok.
There is not much of a town to Bukit Kayu Hitam (which locals like to refer to with its loose English translation "Black Forest") - just a few shops located on a side road off the main highway. Most commercial activity is actually centred at the busy duty-free shopping centre located between the Malaysian and Thai checkpoints.
For details on visa requirements for Malaysia, please see the Malaysia | Get in section. Bukit Kayu Hitam is not a visa on arrival entry point.
To/from Thailand: For those heading to Hat Yai and other destinations in Thailand, you will have to cross the border into Sadao for connections. Please note that it is quite a distance to walk from the bus terminal on the Malaysian side to the Thai side of the border. Because of all this, it is much more convenient to take a bus directly to Hat Yai (or your Malaysian destination if coming from Hat Yai) rather than change buses at Bukit Kayu Hitam. Most long distance buses between Malaysia and Thailand use the Bukit Kayu Hitam-Sadao crossing but do not pick up passengers here.
To/from Malaysian destinations: Ekspres Bandar runs two direct buses daily between Bukit Kayu Hitam and Kuala Lumpur's Jalan Duta Bus Terminal. Tickets cost RM40. Buses leave near the Malaysian immigration complex.
There are many more options at Changloon (also spelled Changlun), 8km south of Bukit Kayu Hitam. Among the bus companies with direct links to Kuala Lumpur are Transnasional (Tel: +60-4-9241561), Etika Ekspres and Konsortium Bas Ekspres Semenanjung (Tel: +60-4-9241561). You will have to catch a taxi between Bukit Kayu Hitam and Changloon. From Changloon, you can also catch a local HBR Liner bus to Alor Star.
Taxis congregate at several locations in Bukit Kayu Hitam, especially near the Malaysian checkpoint and the district council stalls in Bukit Kayu Hitam town. Because of the distance between the Malaysian and Thai checkpoints, many people take taxis between the two. Malaysian taxis will usually stop just short of the border, which is within easy walking distance to the Thai checkpoint.
To Thailand: Taxis to Hat Yai (between RM30-50) and other towns in Thailand can also be found at the duty free shopping complex between the Malaysian and Thai immigration checkpoints. You will also see many signboards offering taxi services to Hat Yai along the expressway before reaching town. Taxis are also available on the Thai side in Sadao.
Most Malaysians drive to Bukit Kayu Hitam, leave their car in Malaysian territory and take taxis into Thailand to save themselves the hassle of getting Thai insurance for their vehicles. One popular place to park is at the Duty Free shopping complex. To get there, drive through Malaysian immigration as if you were driving into Thailand, then turn into the Duty Free complex parking space. There is a Hat Yai taxi counter near the exit of the car park with fares clearly displayed.
To other parts of Malaysia: For those arriving from Thailand, Malaysian taxis can be found just inside Malaysian territory after crossing the border gate, ready to bring you to through the Malaysian immigration checkpoint (about 1km away) and onward to any Malaysian destination. You can pay for one seat and wait until all seats are taken before the taxi moves, or pay for the whole car. Please agree on a price before boarding the taxi.
Bukit Kayu Hitam is the northern end of the tolled North-South Expressway (Route E1) which spans Peninsular Malaysia. Once it crosses the Thai border into Sadao, it becomes the toll-free National Highway 4 which goes all the way to Bangkok via Hat Yai.
For those heading to Langkawi, take the North-South Expressway to Changloon (just the next town) and turn into the new highway which goes all the way to Kuala Perlis in Perlis to catch the ferry to the island.
The few places you need to go to in Bukit Kayu Hitam such as the immigration checkpoints, duty free complex, foodstalls, are quite far apart and walking may be a little inconvenient. Many people take short rides in normal taxis or motorcycle taxis, especially when they want to cross the border.
Bukit Kayu Hitam exists for people to cross the border. There is nothing much to see except for the hordes of people trying to cross into or coming in from Thailand.
- Golfing at Black Forest Golf and Country Resort, an 18-hole par 72 championship golf course. It is located behind the duty free shopping complex in between the Malaysian and Thai immigration checkpoints. The golf clubhouse also has restaurant.
- Shopping at the Cergas Jaya Duty Free Shopping Ccomplex. It's a mid-sized shop with sporting good, toys, some clothes, groceries and the usual stock of liquor, make-up and cigerettes. For pricing comparison: 1 liter of Bacardi Rum - RM45, Malibu Rum - RM65, Absolut Citron - RM57. The store is supplied by the Malaysians, so those from the Thai side can find some interesting items. Getting there: Those from Malaysia who want to only come here and NOT cross into Thailand should drive through Malaysian immigration and inform the officer that you only want to go to the duty free complex. He will issue you a pass which you should hold on to and return it when you go through immigration again after you finish shopping. Passports are not needed. Please note that you can only bring in duty free goods if you have left the country for 48 hours. However, many Malaysians just go to the complex to buy duty free items and hope they can pass Malaysian customs without them noticing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Its your call. Of course, there is no problem if you are travelling onwards into Thailand or coming from there.
food stalls are located behind the check point.
Most people will leave Bukit Kayu Hitam as fast as they can. Head to Dannok just across the border or further to Hat Yai. On the Malaysian side, the nearest town is Changlun which is 7km away. Further down is Jitra and then to the capital city Alor Star 48km away.