In order to get to Malaysia we took a few different modes of transport and stayed in a couple of places along the way as we were in no rush.
We were picked up by the Lomprayah shuttle bus and taken to their jetty on Koh Samui at 2pm. We went with Lomprayah as they offered a straight journey to Surat Thani train station via their boat and then a bus the other side. After checking in for the boat we were given stickers so staff knew where us and our luggage were going as people transfer to various places from the ferry. We were then loaded into to a minibus from the office to be dropped off at the end of the jetty literally 30m away where we waited for a bit before the boat came in. The boat was comfortable and again very air conditioned but it didn’t take too long to arrive in Donsak. There the staff guided everyone to the correct bus and we then journeyed to Surat Thani train station about 40minutes away. The station is actually in a small town outside of Surat Thani. We weren’t planning on getting the train that day but instead wanted to get on the train the following morning so found somewhere to stay for the night.
There is very limited accommodation there as most people stay in Surat Thani and get a taxi. Luckily I had found somewhere online and they had space. We had to walk over the bridge across the train lines into a small covered market area and then down the street the other side to get there but only really 5minutes. We checked into an economy room at Nadpob Mansion which was fine for the night. 390B for a double room with air con and hot shower…can’t complain. We went briefly back into the town before it was too late to book our tickets on the 41 Special Express D train to Hat Yai and we even splashed out to go 2nd class for 436B each. We grabbed some food at one of the restaurants near to where the bus dropped us off and bought ice cream and beers from 7/11.
We were up early the next day where we grabbed some breakfast toasties from 7/11 before boarding our train. We got nice comfortable chairs in second class, it was air conditioned plus we got blankets, a drink, snacks and a meal. As it was a Special Express train it meant that it was a lot quicker as it didn’t make many stops, unlike the much cheaper ordinary trains which take hours.
We arrived in Hat Yai late morning and found somewhere to stay for the night. Hat Yai was our jumping off point into Malaysia and I had read about a number of different ways to get there all that were not straight forward. We met up with Cam who we knew from WFFT and who was going to travel to Malaysia with us. We had read that there used to be transport options in town offering combined minibus and ferry tickets which would have been the easy option. However, after wandering around town for a bit speaking to various travel agents this didn’t seem to be a thing anymore. Instead, we gave up and went for a rather expensive coffee in Starbucks.
That evening we met up again as we had been told by the helpful ladies at the tourist information desk that there was a free shuttle to the local night market and large mall out of town from outside one of the shopping malls in town. After waiting for a bit it was clear it wasn’t coming so instead we walked the few kilometres to the Central Festival Mall. We found a pretty decent food court here to eat before wandering around the local night market.
Our choices to get to Malaysia were to get a train (that went once a day) to the border or a minivan, get another train once across the border to Alor Setar then a bus to the jetty and then a ferry to Langkawi (where we wanted to start in Malaysia) or find the cheap songthaew to the minivan station out of town, get a minivan to Satun jetty to then get the ferry over. We went with the second option. We were unsure though exactly where to get the songthaew or how long it would take to find it. We weren’t exactly sure when the minibus would go or how long it would take. Also because it was the start of Ramadan in Malaysia the ferry was only running twice a day- one in the morning and one in the afternoon (times had also varied on things we had read). So we were hoping things would go smoothly as it was the last day of mine and Daves visa in Thailand!
At 6am we checked out, met up with Cam and walked to the market/ Honda garage where we had been told we could get a local blue Songthaew to the minivan station. These are open back vans with benches in them that have standard routes around town where you hop on and hop off when you are at the place you want to be by ringing the bell. After flagging down some of these Songthaews that were apparently on different routes or didn’t understand we eventually got the right one. We all travelled to the minivan station for 10B each, bargain.
When we got off at the minivan station a Thai lady, that also got off, helped us get the right tickets to Satun pier- Tammalang (we had to make sure we were going to be taken to the pier rather than just to the town otherwise we would miss the boat). We ended up getting tickets for 130B each and we crammed into a full minivan to Satun for a couple of hours, with us all sleeping at points.
We arrived at Tammalang pier and bought tickets for the boat to Langkawi (350B each) just making the morning boat. We had time to go to the toilet, get some snacks from the shop and then get stamped out of Thailand via the passport control before we got on the boat and went. The boat took about 1 1/2 hours and when we arrived we went through passport control again where we got our 90days stamp for Malaysia without issue.