If you are planning to travel from Penang to Bangkok or visa versa you have a wide range of travel options to choose from depending on your budget and time scale. Of course you don't have to do this trip all in one go and there are plenty of places to stop off along the way if you have the time.
You could catch a train or bus from Penang to Surat Thani, then a ferry from Surat Thani to Koh Samui, then island hop to Koh Phangan and Koh Tao before coming back to the mainland by boat to Chumphon, where you can join the train again or catch a bus up to Bangkok. On the way between Chumphon and Bangkok you could stop off at the beaches around Pranburi, Hua Hin or Cha Am.
Another way would be to catch the train to Surat Thani then a bus from there to either Krabi or Phuket before coming back to the East coast at Chumphon.
The cheapest option is to fly on Air Asia who offer good cheap seats on this route if you book in advance. More expensive scheduled flights are offered by Thai Airways. Another option to check is Malaysian Airlines who do not fly direct to BKK but sometimes offer good cheap deals via Kuala Lumpur (KUL).
There are no direct bus services that travel this route and you will have to travel between Penang and Hat Yai bus station by minibus or local buses. Then you can catch either one of the government buses from the bus station onto Bangkok or one of the many luxury bus companies that operate this route from agent offices around Hat Yai bus station.
In Penang you can buy bus tickets from agents under the KOMTAR building that will take you all the way to Bangkok and usually consist of a minibus trip to Hat Yai bus station then transfer to a bus or minibus for the long leg to Bangkok. Tickets are currently cost RM115. This is slightly more expensive than the train which would be a much more scenic and relaxing way to travel.
From Bangkok you will have to get a bus from Sai Tai bus station (the southern bus station) to Hat Yai, then buy a ticket for a minibus to Penang from the agents located around the Hat Yai bus station or catch a local bus to Padang Besar and cross the border here. You can then catch a bus from here down to Butterworth and then the ferry to Penang island.
There is only one direct train travelling between the two cities. This all 2nd class sleeper train travels overnight in both directions and takes about 20 hours.
For more information click here
For those on a tight budget, another option is to travel to Hat Yai first then onto one of the trains from Hat Yai that go to Bangkok. Some of these trains offer 3rd class seats or cheaper 2nd class non air-con sleepers. You can travel between Penang and Hat Yai by minibus or a series of local buses ( Penang to Alor Setar, Padang Besar and Hat Yai ).
For more information on trains from Hat Yai please visit our page
For those that like to travel by boat it is possible to travel from
Penang into Thailand via Langkawi all the way up to Koh Lanta or Krabi and Phuket by
boat during the high season (November to May). From Krabi or Phuket you can then continue your way north to Bangkok.