Penang to Hat Yai

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Overview Compare Minivan Train

How to get from Penang to Hat Yai

Hat Yai is a popular shopping destination in southern Thailand. It’s a tourist hub, not really for Westerners but for local Thais, Malaysians, and even Singaporeans. It is also a common gateway for tourists exploring Thailand from Malaysia.

The distance from Penang to Hat Yai is 215 km (135 miles). In this post, we compare the 2 options to travel from Penang to Hay Yai: by minivan (4 hours) or by train (3-3.5 hours). Ticket prices range from 14 MYR ($3) + 50 THB ($1.35) to 60 MYR ($12.50).

2 ways to get from Penang to Hat Yai*

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Minivan4 hours60 MYR ($12.50)Check Minivan Tickets
Train3-3.5 hours14 MYR ($3) + 50 THB ($1.35)Read article for more info
*COVID-19 UPDATE: The last time we checked (June 2022), the cross-border minivan and train route from Malaysia to Thailand has not yet resumed. There is no update yet about the transportation from Penang to Thailand.

We prefer the minivan for this route, mainly because it’s a direct transfer. It departs from Penang city centre and arrives at Hat Yai city centre after 4 hours. There’s just a small issue with the legroom, especially for taller passengers.

If you prefer a more comfortable and spacious journey from Penang to Hat Yai, you can also take the train. The thing with this option though is that you’ll need 3 transfers: 1 ferry and 2 trains. But they’re all interconnected so you won’t have a hard time finding your way.

A few notes when crossing the Malaysia-Thailand border

Thailand imposes a limit on the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring into the country:

  • 1 litre for alcoholic beverages
  • 250 grams for any type of tobacco (or 200 cigarettes)

If you’re carrying more than that on your journey from Penang to Hat Yai, you will be asked to leave the excess amount at the customs office. Don’t even try to argue because if you refuse, you will not just be fined but also persecuted.

For more info, check out the Thai Customs website.

Itinerary from Penang to Hat Yai

Penang to Hat Yai by Minivan*

Duration: 4 hours
Cost: 60 MYR ($12.50)
Duration: 4 hours
Cost: 60 MYR ($12.50)

*COVID-19 UPDATE: The last time we checked (June 2022), the cross-border minivan route from Malaysia to Thailand has not yet resumed. There is no update yet about the minivans from Penang to Hat Yai.

Nominatee Tour and KST Travel are the 2 companies offering direct minivan rides from Penang to Hat Yai. The ticket cost starts at 60 MYR ($12.50) which you can book through BookAway.

Departure and arrival stations

KST Travel departs from Oasis Hostel while Nominatee Tour departs from Komtar Bus Terminal. Both are about 5-10 minutes away from George Town city centre.

KST Travel offers free hotel drop-off. Nominatee Tour, on the other hand, parks at its office at 171 Thammanoonvithi Road, Hat Yai city centre.

Minivan schedules from Penang to Hat Yai*

Minivan CompanyScheduleCosts
Nominatee Tour05:00-08:00
08:30-11:30
12:00-15:00
15:30-18:30
60 MYR ($12.50)
Check Minivan Tickets
KST Travel Nominatee Tour05:00-08:00
08:30-11:30
12:30-15:30
16:00-19:00
60 MYR ($12.50)
Check Minivan Tickets
*COVID-19 UPDATE: The last time we checked (June 2022), the minivans from Penang to Thailand have not yet resumed operations. Please check the provided link to see if anything has changed.

Customs & Immigration at Danok Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam Border

Around 2.5 hours into your journey from Penang to Hat Yai, your minivan will make a short stop at the Malaysian border in Bukit Kayu Hitam for customs & immigration procedures. After that, you will cross the border to Danok Sadao in Thailand for another check.

The Danok Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam border is the busiest between Malaysia and Thailand. For easier passport processing, drive-through immigration booths are available on both sides of the border. However, you will still be asked to get off your minivan with your luggage for a customs check.

Penang to Hat Yai by Train

Duration: 3-3.5 hours
Cost: 14 MYR ($3) + 50 THB ($1.35)
Duration: 3-3.5 hours
Cost: 14 MYR ($3) + 50 THB ($1.35)

*COVID-19 UPDATE: The last time we checked (June 2022), the cross-border train from Malaysia to Thailand is suspended. There is no update yet about the resumption of train services on this route.

Travelling by train from Penang to Hat Yai is a nice way to cross the Malaysia-Thailand border like a local. It includes several transfers, but they’re all pretty much interconnected so you wouldn’t have a hard time finding your way.

For this option, you’ll have to take a ferry and 2 trains from Penang to Hat Yai.

Step 1: Penang Island to Butterworth by Ferry

Duration: 10-20 minutes
Cost: 2 MYR ($0.40)
Duration: 10-20 minutes
Cost: 2 MYR ($0.40)

To take the train, you will first have to get to Butterworth, a mainland town just across from Penang Island. If you’re staying at George Town, you can take a 5-minute taxi or 20-minute bus (Line 101) to Weld Quay, where ferries bound for Butterworth depart from. Taxi and bus rates start from 15 MYR ($3.20) and 5 MYR ($1.05), respectively.

From Weld Quay, you can expect a ferry departure every 30 minutes from 06:30 to 20:30. Travel time to Butterworth is only 10 to 20 minutes and a ticket costs 2 MYR ($0.40)

Your ferry will dock at Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal, which is conveniently connected to Butterworth Train Station by a walkway.

Step 2: Butterworth to Padang Besar by Train

Duration: 2 hours
Cost: 12 MYR ($2.55)
Duration: 2 hours
Cost: 12 MYR ($2.55)

Trains from Butterworth to Padang Besar depart almost every hour from 05:20 to 21:35. Travel time is about 2 hours and you can buy your ticket at Butterworth Station for 12 MYR ($2.55).

Customs & Immigration at Padang Besar Train Station

Before you can transfer to your connecting train to Hat Yai, you will first have to be cleared at customs & immigration at Padang Besar Station. This is quite easy as there is only one office for both Malaysia and Thailand, and you can find this between Platforms 1 & 2 of the train station.

Show your passport so you can be stamped out of Malaysia and stamped into Thailand. Be prepared to have your luggage checked as well. If you’re travelling on a weekend, try to be quick when getting off the train to skip the long queues.

Once you’re cleared to enter Thailand, you can head upstairs to buy your train ticket to Hat Yai.

Step 3: Padang Besar to Hat Yai by Train*

Duration: 55 minutes
Cost: 50 THB ($1.35)
Duration: 55 minutes
Cost: 50 THB ($1.35)

*COVID-19 UPDATE: The last time we checked (June 2022), the cross-border train from Malaysia to Thailand is suspended. There is no update yet about the resumption of train services on this route.

There are only 2 trains operating from Padang Besar to Hat Yai daily. These depart at 09:55 and 16:40 daily. Note that Malaysia is 1 hour ahead of Thailand.

Also here, you can only buy your ticket at the train station. Fares start from 50 THB ($1.35) for a 3rd class seat. Travel time is only 55 minutes.

We highly recommend that you time your departure from Penang to be able to make it for either of these 2 trains.

If you miss both of them, there is a “special” train bound for Bangkok that departs at 17:00. This also makes a stop in Hat Yai, but a ticket costs 270 THB ($7.50), more than 5x more than the regular train.

Alternative Option: Padang Besar to Hat Yai by Minivan

Duration: 1.5 hours
Cost: 120 THB ($3.30)
Duration: 1.5 hours
Cost: 120 THB ($3.30)

Just in case there are no more trains available when you arrive in Padang Besar, you can also take a minivan to Hat Yai. However, this is in no way as simple as taking the train.

First, if you are taking the minivan, you have to skip the immigration process at the train station altogether. Head to Level 1 (where the food court is located), and then find Gate D. Take the roofed pedestrian walkway, which will lead you to Malaysian immigration. That’s only around 200 metres, so you can disregard anyone offering a ride.

After being cleared at the Malaysian border, you’ll have to walk another 600 metres to the Thai border. Here, you’ll have to fill out an entry card. Chances are they will not give you the card for free. Expect to pay around 2 MYR ($0.40) for the card.

After you are cleared to enter Thailand, you’ll need to take a motorbike taxi to the market. Fares for this ride start from 60 THB ($1.65).

At the market, minivans bound for Hat Yai are available from 07:00 to 19:00. A ticket costs 60 THB ($1.65) for the 1.5-hour journey.

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