The daily overnight Penang Bangkok Train is now no longer travelling all the way to Butterworth as only the new electric trains are allowed to travel on the new Malaysia electrified railway tracks.
So now the old diesel International Express Train (Ekspres Antarabangsa) stops at the border station of Padang Besar, just inside Malaysia and has also got some new train numbers and new carriages.
Train number 35 is now train number 45.
Train number 36 is now train number 46.
These services are operated by SRT (State Railway of Thailand) and not KTMB (Malaysian Railways).
The sector between Padang Besar and Butterworth, Penang is now travelled by regular and cheap KTM Komuter trains (commuter).
This SRT train is an all 2nd class air conditioned train, where you will have to purchase a sleeper bed, either lower bed or upper bed.
The lower beds are the best by far and are much wider than the upper beds.
means they are the first to sell out, so it's best to book at least a
few days in advance, better still at least a week before, especially if
you are travelling from Thailand, as the Thai's book all the good
beds to travel down to Hat Yai.
Try to get a bed in the middle of the train as you don't want to be right next to the automatic doors (at either end of the carriage) which will mean you won't get much sleep.
Seats / beds numbers 37 - 40 are right by the door to the exit and 1 - 4 are at the toilet end.
Tickets for the train from PB to Bangkok are now only available from Padang Besar station and not sold from the KTM Office in George Town or Butterworth Railway Station.
If you do want to make a advance booking you can now book online via the State Railways of Thailand's new online booking platform or use an online ticket agent.
Another option for travel from Penang to Bangkok is to take a Komuter to Padang Besar, then a Shuttle train from PB to Hat Yai.
From Hat Yai you can catch a number of trains heading north to Bangkok.
In the other direction travelling from Bangkok to Penang, you could take a number of trains to Hat Yai, then take a Shuttle train to the border, then the commuter to Penang.
The sector between Bangkok and Padang Besar costs :
960 Baht for a Lower berth.
870 Baht for the smaller Upper berth.
The sector between Padang Besar and Butterworth costs :
11.40 Malaysian Ringgit - (bring some Ringgit with you if coming from Thailand as KTM will not accept Thai Baht).
At the border station in Padang Besar you will have to go through passport control.
There is a money changer on the platform (now closed).
There is a cafe upstairs which is a good place for breakfast if you are coming from Thailand.
If you are offered to change money on the train (usually in Hat Yai coming from Thailand) don't do it.
You will often lose over 10 % on the exchange.
Usually a man goes around with the daily paper to show you the official exchange rate, which he gives you - great!
Trouble is, the exchange rate for Malaysian Ringgit by Thai banks is dreadful.
Bring a few a few Ringgit with you, you will need it to buy the KTM Komuter ticket.
The old Butterworth train station has been demolished and replaced with a new one.
Visit our Butterworth Railway Station page for more information.
If you are going to Bangkok, click here information about Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway station and how to travel from there to popular areas of the city.
Food is available on the train for dinner and breakfast as well as soft drinks and beer (sorry beer is no longer on the menu!). One of the stewards will come around with a menu. The food has improved over the years and there is now a larger choice on the menu, including a vegetarian dish.
At Hat Yai you will find lots of Thai ladies getting on the train selling fried chicken and sticky rice as well as fruit, or you can head down to the dining car which is added in Hat (Haad) Yai.
Don't forget to change your watches - Thailand is one hour behind Malaysian time.
Recommended Budget Accommodation in George Town
If you are travelling over to Penang island you will have to catch the ferry over to the island into Georgetown.
The ferry terminal is just a few minutes walk away. Keep to your left when you exit the train station and take the covered walkway up the the terminal.
Boats leave every 15 minutes and takes around 15 minutes to arrive in Georgetown.
Once you are on the island, it is about 10 minutes walk to the budget hotel area around Chulia Street.
Alternatively you can catch the free, "Freecat Bus" from the main road in front of the ferry terminal. Get off at the Museum stop to be close to Love Lane and the budget hotel area.
If you are not staying in Penang, the Butterworth Bus Terminal is also just a few minutes away. From here you can catch a bus to just about anywhere in Peninsular Malaysia and all the way down to Singapore.
Other Pages on our site that may be of interest to you if your travelling from Thailand to Penang.
If you are heading into Thailand on the Penang Bangkok train, you may need some accommodation.
Visit one of the following links, where you will be able to find some great deals on a whole range of lodging, from budget hostels to luxury resorts.