By far the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to get from Arau to Padang Besar on the Malaysia / Thailand border is to take a KTM train.
You can choose to take either:
a KTM Komuter (commuter) train.
or an Electric Train Service (ETS)
The cheapest way to get to Padang Besar from Arau is to take one of the regular Komuter Utara (northern commuter) trains.
These trains are like Tube / Subway trains with seating arranged along the sides of the carriages.
To see the latest Komuter train timetable from Arau, click on the following link:
The KTM Komuter fare from Arau to Pdg. Besar is just RM 3.20 and there is only one stop at Bukit Ketri before you arrive at the border.
The duration of the journey by Komuter train is 19 minutes.
No advance booking is available, so you just turn up at Arau Railway Station, go upstairs to the ticket counter and buy a ticket for the next departure.
If you want to travel from Arau to Hat Yai by train, you should try to take a train to Padang Besar that connects to the Shuttle Train service to Hat Yai Junction Station.
For more information, times and prices for the Shuttle train to Hat Yai click here >
There is also a long-distance night sleeper train service from Padang Besar to Bangkok, stopping in places like Surat Thani (for Koh Samui and Koh Phangan), Chumphon (for Koh Tao) and Hua Hin.
For more about the train from Padang Besar to Bangkok click here >
Other transport options from Padang Besar include a local bus, minivan or taxi.
For more about how to get to Hat Yai from Padang Besar click here >
For information on the main road border crossing at Padang Besar click here >
Much more expensive and less frequent are the ETS long-distance train services.
There is no reason to take one of these trains for such a short journey and it takes roughly the same amount of time to get to the border, even though the ETS train doesn't stop.
If you do want to see the latest ETS train timetable from Arau click here >
It is possible to travel from Arau to Pdg. Besar by local bus, but not advisable as you have to first take a bus from Arau to Kangar, then take another bus from Kangar to Padang Besar.
This bus trip will take you at least a couple of hours and cost more the twice the price of a Komuter train ticket - so travel by train!
KTM Komuter Utara Train Timetable main page >