Padang Besar is a border town in the north of Perlis, the northern-most state in Malaysia.
The Padang Besar border crossing is the only direct rail link between Malaysia and Thailand, and a quieter and less direct road crossing than Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah. The town on the Thai side of the border, in Songkhla province, is also called Padang Besar - however Malaysians differentiate between the two by calling the Thai town "Pekan Siam" or "Siamese Town". Much more tame and sanitized than its Thai counterpart, Malaysia's Padang Besar still attracts many Malaysians who come to shop for items imported from Thailand which are available in abundance at lower prices.
See Malaysia | Get In for details of Malaysian immigration requirements. The Malaysian immigration/customs checkpoint is situated near the town centre and is several hundred metres from the actual border and the Thai immigration complex.
KTMB (Malaysian Railways) operates Komuter trains between Padang Besar and Butterworth, and ETS trains further south to Kuala Lumpur to Gemas. Komuter trains are non-reserved, air conditioned trains but do not have toilets. Travel time is just under 2 hours and costs RM11.40 (approx 90THB) to cover the 158km distance to Butterworth. ETS Gold/Platinum trains are with all-reserved seats and travel up to 160km/hr. Refer to Train36 website for Komuter train schedule.
SRT (State Railway of Thailand) operates twice daily shuttle trains between Hat Yai and Padang Besar using diesel A/C trains. The journey takes about 1 hour and costs 80THB. The outbound trains leave Hat Yai twice daily at 7:30 and 13:05, and the inbound trains leave Padang Besar at 8:55 and 14:40 (Thai time). Tickets for these trains are sold one hour before departure and cannot be reserved advance, but tickets do not sell out. For up-to date schedule refer to The State Railway of Thailand.
There is also one daily direct train to/from Bangkok. Special Express train number 46 leaves Padang Besar at 18:00 (Malaysian time) and arrives in Bangkok at 12:05 (Thai time), and train 45 leaves Bangkok at 15:10 (Thai time) and arrives at Padang Besar at 9:53 (Malaysian time). This train is only with second class A/C berth and costs 958/868THB lower/upper berth. Book this train online directly at the SRT website as KTMB (Malaysian railways) does not sell tickets for this train. Note that it is very expensive if you take this train just to Hat Yai (approx. 400THB) as you need to pay for the berth ticket. Take the shuttle trains at 7:30 or 13:05 instead.
Both Thai and Malaysian immigration inside the train stations open one hour before departure of Thai trains.
Note Malaysian time is one hour ahead of Thai time (e.g. noon in Thailand is 1PM in Malaysia). When connecting trains in Padang Besar, be sure to check if the departure time is in Malaysian or Thai. There is also no ATM or official currency exchange in Padang Besar station. It is advised to exchange enough money to buy the onward ticket before heading there.
Direct express buses linking Padang Besar directly with Kuala Lumpur. You can take a bus from Penang or Butterworth too but the train is cheaper, faster, and more comfortable. Express buses depart from Jalan Masjid in Padang Besar. Maraliner local buses connect Padang Besar and Kangar. The bus stop is opposite and 100 meters to the south of the KFC (marked on OpenStreetMap). It's not easy to find because there is only a timetable sign there.
Taxi parking lot is right to the north of the 7-Eleven store. RM40 to Kangar (45 min), RM60 to Kuala Perlis (1 hour).
Padang Besar is about 35km north of Kangar, the capital of Perlis. Federal Route 7 links Kangar with Padang Besar and driving time is about half hour to 40 minutes.
The Malaysian immigration checkpoint is located at the edge of town. It is quite easy to drive from Thailand into Malaysia or vice-versa. Just make sure your insurance is in order. There is a distance of several hundred metres between the Malaysian and Thai checkpoints, with a duty free shopping complex in Malaysian territory in between. Most people do not walk but catch motorcycle taxis (RM3) which can be found in abundance in town and will bring you through the two checkpoints into the centre of Thai Padang Besar.
See the page for the Thai town of Padang Besar for details on how to cross the border from the Thai side.
Padang Besar town is small enough to get around on foot.
- 1 Gua Kelam (W 10 km). Limestone cave with an old tin mine
Near the fire department there is the Padang Bazaar where you can shop duty free.
After the roundabout there are several eateries on each side of the main street.