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Visa Runs

Thai / Malay Border ('Visa-Runs') - Whether you are just going for a same-day 'Border Run' or a visit to a Thai Consulate in a neighboring country (Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos or even China), 'Visa-Runs' are a necessity for extra travel time in Thailand. The Border-Crossing you choose depends on where you are in Thailand when your visa expires. The most convenient and cheapest Border-Crossings are on the Thai / Malaysia Border. There is no fee for entering Malaysia, and there is a variety of transport options (taxi, bus, minivan, boat, and Thai Railways) for getting into Malaysia from Thailand. Thai Railways connects with the Malaysian Railway System at Padang Besar and Sungai Kolok, on the Thai / Malay Border. Most people going on 'Visa-Runs' are just going over the Border for quick 'Exit and Entry Stamps' in their Passports and another 30-Day 'On-Entry' Stay in Thailand. They do this in a one-day minivan trip, usually organized by a travel agency to a 'Border-Crossing'. People who have any other kind of Visa (longer-term) probably will have to go to a Thai Consulate outside of Thailand to renew their Visa. In Malaysia, there are Thai Consulates for 'Visa Services' at Kota Bharu, Penang, and the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Most people choose Penang because of its closeness to Thailand, and fast, convenient Visa Services. There are also visa services at any Thai Embassy or Consulate outside of Thailand, but they are not as convenient as those in Malaysia. ( Read  'Other Train Routes' and 'International Train Service' Sections for more Information)

a. Butterworth - Penang (Malaysia)- To Get To Butterworth (Malaysia) By Thai Rail

Take one of several 'International Train Services' offered on Thai Railways Southern Line, including the 'International Express' from Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station Direct to Butterworth (Malaysia) via Padang Besar (Malaysia). Butterworth Rail Station is a Major Rail Terminal for Malayan Railways' Train Service heading South to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore or North to Hat Yai in Thailand. At Hat Yai Station it conects with Thai Railways Services. Butterworth Rail Station is also the Final Station for Thai Railways 'International Express' to/from Bangkok. (for more details See 'Internatioal Rail Service' Section). Butterworth Railway Station is conveniently located next to the Bus and Ferry terminals. Butterworth is the mainland city across the bridge from Penang Island (Malaysia). The Penang Ferry departs regularly (every 20 minutes) from the Butterworth Ferry Terminal for Georgetown, Penang and back again, taking 10 minutes. There is a Thai Consulate in Georgetown, Penang Island, which makes Thai Visas quickly. There is also Direct Ferry service from Penang Island to Langawi Island, and on into Thailand by boat. (See Langawi for details).

b. Kota Bharu (Malaysia) - (Perhenthian Islands) - To Get To Kota Bharu (Perhenthian Islands) By Thai Rail

Take a Thai Railways Southern Line train to Sungai Kolok Train Station (Final Station on the Southern Line's Southeast Branch). (See Thai Railways Southern Line for rail travel details). You may have to change trains at Hat Yai Station. From Hat Yai Train Station, there is service Southeast only to Sungai Kolok, the nearest Thai Railway Station to Kota Bharu. Although a rail link exists between Sungai Kolok (Thailand) and Rantau Panjang (Malaysia), on the Eastern Thai / Malay Border, there are no cross-border passenger train services. There are also no cross-border Bus Services between Thailand and Malaysia on the East Coast Thai / Malay Border. From Sungai Kolok Rail Station, you will have to go to the Border (1 km), then walk over the 'Harmony Bridge' to Rantau Panjang (Malaysia). From Rantau Panjang take a bus, motorbike, or taxi. This site recommends taking a Public Bus or share Taxi from Rantau Panjang directly to Kota Bharu (40 km, 1 hour). If you must take the train, the nearest Malaysian Railways Station to Rantau Panjang is Pasir Mas Station. From Pasir Mas Station, you can get a train to Wakaf Bahru Station, the nearest Malaysian Railways Station to Kota Bharu (5 km away). Most travellers prefer to use Kota Bharu for access to the Perhentian Islands, because Kota Bharu offers good Air / Rail / Bus connections, and easy bus service to Kuala Besut (Ferry Terminal for the Perhentian Islands, 1 hour away). From Wakaf Bahru Station, there are rail connections South to Kuala Lumpur. Buses connect Kota Bharu to all major cities in peninsula Malaysia. There is a Thai Consulate in Kota Bharu where you can get Thai Visas made.

c. Hat Yai - To Get To Hat Yai / Thai-Malay Border By Thai Rail

Take any Overnight Train on Thai Railways Southern Train Line from Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station to Hat Yai Train Station.  Thailand Railways 'International Express' also offers Direct Service from Bangkok's Hualamphong Station to Butterworth (Malaysia). There are several other Cross-Border South-Bound Rail Service connections from Hat Yai Station, all via Padang Besar (Southwest Branch Southern Rail line) to/from destinations South into Malaysia. (See Thai / Malay Border Section or International Train Services Sections for more Information). The Hat Yai Train Station is  centrally located for convenient transfer to bus or minivan Service for 'Visa-Run' Destinations such as the Dannok (Thailand) / Sadao (Malaysia) Border-Crossing, the Padang Besar Malay / Thai Border Crossing, the Betong (Thailand) / Keroh (Malaysia) Border-Crossing and Consular Destinations such as Penang or Kuala Lumpur. There is also regularly scheduled bus and minivan service to/from Satun, if you prefer to cross the Thai / Malay Border there. The Dannok / Sadao Border Crossing is the most commonly used Thai / Malay Border Crossing. Most travel agencies in Hat Yai and other Southern Thai cities run their 'Visa-Run' services through this border on private minivans. The Dannok / Sadao Border Crossing is big, busy, and sits on a busy highway. There are long lines, and the staff is very businesslike and not lenient. Try to go through another crossing. You can also go over the border on your own, by public transport, but it's not very much cheaper. Take a taxi, minivan, motorbike, or bus from Hat Yai Bus Station to Padang Besar, walk across the Thai / Malay Border, and then get on another bus on the Malaysian side. Train Service from Hat Yai to/from Padang Besar is infrequent and slow. (For more Information, see Cities Section - Hat Yai )

d. Satun - To Get To Satun By Thai Rail
Take an Overnight Train on Thai Railways Southern Train Line from Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station to Hat Yai Train Station. (for more details, see Cities - Hat Yai Section). From Hat Yai Rail Station, there is frequent, direct Minivan and Bus service to/from Satun (about 2 hours). You can also get to Satun by Regular Local Bus Service from Trang (3 hours), but Rail Service to/from Trang Rail Station is not as frequent as to/from Hat Yai Station. (See Cities - Trang Section for more information).  Satun is Thailand's Malaysian Border-Crossing Center. Although it's not as popular as the Sadao Crossing South of Hat Yai, it has less busy immigration offices, plus more crossing options (Land or Sea).

--1. By Land, you can get a public or private vehicle to Wang Projan Border Crossing inside Thale Ban Nationa Park (Thai/Malay Border). There is a lively weekend Market (Sunday is better) on Both Sides of the Border-Crossing. There's hourly songthaew service to/from Thale Ban Nationa Park at Rain Tong Hotel in Satun. (See 'Destinations' - National Park Section for more Information).

--2. By Sea, you can take either a Daily Scheduled Ferry to/from Langkawi Island (Malaysia, 1 1/2 Hours, 4 per day) or a 'Longtail Fisherman's Boat' to Kuala Perlis (Malaysia, 45 minutes, no schedule). No reservations are possible for either boat service, just show up.  Boats to Malaysia leave from Tha Tammalang Pier (10 km out of town). It's important to know that if coming back the same day, Malaysian time is one hour later than Thai time. For Same-Day 'Visa-Runs' the land crossing via Thale Ban National Park is probably best. It's possible to do a same-day 'Visa-Run' to Langkawi if you start early, but it will be more expensive, and you won't get much time on Langkawi Island. If you need to go to a Thai Consulate, there is connecting ferry service on Langkawi Island for Penang (Malaysia) (1 1/4 Hours) . This is a much more pleasant way to arrive in Penang than by minivan from Hat Yai, but it's slightly more expensive.

e. Aranyaprathet - How to get to Aranyaprathet by Thai Railways
Take a Thai Railways (North) Eastern Line Train to Aranyaprathat ('Aran'), on the Thai /Cambodian Border. Take a 'tuk-tuk across the border to Poipet (Cambodia). From Poipet, you can take a 'Pickup Trick' to Siem Reap / Angkor Archaeological Site. The Aranyaprathat / Poipet Border-Crossing is the most popular overland 'Border-Crossing Route' from Thailand to Cambodia. The Aranyaprathat / Poipet Border-Crossing is also the most direct overland route from Bangkok and Eastern Thailand to Siem Reap and the Angkor Archaeological Site. Most of the Poipet - Sisophon - Siem Reap road is not paved, although the condition of unpaved Cambodian highways have improved dramatically in the last few years. This Thai / Cambodian Border-Crossing is open from 7 am to 8 pm. There is 'Visa-on-Arrival' Service available when crossing into either Cambodia or back into Thailand. You will have to pay a fee to enter and get a visa for Cambodia, though. (see Eastern Train Route section)

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