Bucket List Check: 900mi By Train from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok

Bucket list… check! A journey I have been wanting to do for over a decade!IMG_7292
Over the last week, I travelled by rail from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) in Malaysia to Bangkok (BKK) in Thailand. I have previously ridden a sleeper train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (before Singapore closed its main train station).


Six trains took me over 1,500 km (900 miles). Travel time was 25 hours 35 minutes (including delays and wait times). It cost me $US72 for a mix of travel in First, Second and Third class. If you went for the cheapest option (which includes a gruelling 19 hour Thai Railways third class seat), you could get away with the whole trip costing you $US30! The most expensive ticket is on the luxury Eastern and Oriental train (pictured below) which would set you back around $US3,336.

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By comparison, KUL to BKK  is the same distance as:

  • Paris to Warsaw in Europe. Taking that journey would put me on fourScreen Shot 2017-02-08 at 8.38.37 pm trains and would take 20 hours 10 minutes including 2 hours and 23 minutes of waiting time in Stuttgart, Munich and Vienna. You could find an advance Second Class ticket for $US100 or a last minute First Class could cost you as much as $US600:
  • Boston to Atlanta, USA. Amtrak taking me on that journey would put me on two trains and charge me $US327 in coach seats or $US823 for a business seat and roomette. The trip would take 23 hours 33 minutes including 1 hour 22 minute waiting time in New York.
  • Melbourne to Grafton, Australia which takes 26 hours 25 minutes (including a four-hour wait in Sydney). The two trains would cost me $US94 for a basic seat or $US201 for a First Class sleeper!

I will post the journey in five parts:

  1. Feb 14: Kuala Lumpur to the Thai/Malaysian Border in Platinum ETS service
  2. Feb 21st: Across the Thai/Malay border in Thai railways Third Class -as luxurious as it sounds! IMG_8134
  3. Feb 28th: Two Second Class Thai Train journeys: Hat Yai to Surat and HuaHin to Bangkok IMG_7576
  4. March 7: Brand new Thai First Class Sleeper ride from Surat Thani to Hua Hin-the most comfortable part of the trip! 

5. Arriving into Bangkok

For planning, I am grateful for the valuable advice at Seat 61, Train 36, and Rail Travel Station. Much appreciated resources.

Look forward to having you re-live my ride with me!

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