Close this search box.

DIY trip from Surat Thani to Padang Besar Border

Sunrise Gulf of Thailand

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link. You still pay the same! All content you see is based on my opinion and personal recommendation. Learn more.

There are plenty of ways to book a trip to cross the Padang Besar border from Thailand to Malaysia with a travel agency. Especially the journey from Surat Thani (Thailand) to Penang / Georgetown (Malaysia) is a very common traveller route. However, if you want to do this trip by yourself and maybe spend just a day or two at the border before returning to Thailand, you might struggle to find information about this journey online. Most travel agencies take you all the way from Surat Thani down to Penang, which is a beautiful city to spend a few days in, but it’s also a really long trip. If you don’t really need to spend time in Penang, there’s a cheaper and shorter option.

Here’s your guide for a DIY trip from Surat Thani to the Padang Besar border to Malaysia via Hat Yai and return. I’ve also included my experience of crossing the Padang Besar Thailand – Malaysia border by foot. This guide will talk about travelling by mini van and bus. There is also a train running between Surat Thani and Padang Besar, however it only runs once a day so you are less flexible.

Night Ferry Surat Thani
Night ferry Koh Tao – Surat Thani
Minivan for the journey to the border

Surat Thani to Padang Besar

The starting point of this journey is Surat Thani. If you are coming from one of the islands, like Koh Samui, Pha-ngan, or Tao, it’s recommended to book the trip to Hat Yai through a travel agency. They can organize the night ferry and bus for you. There is not really good options to book this journey online. Otherwise, if you are already in Surat Thani, you can go to the bus station and get a bus to Hat Yai from there. The trip from Surat Thani to Hat Yai takes around six hours, including a 30-minute toilet and food break. In general, it’s a comfortable journey as the minivans are quite new and air-conditioned. The food spot usually offers one vegetarian option. As this journey is quite long and there are no supermarkets on the way it’s best to bring some food as well.

You will be dropped off very close to the Hat Yai bus terminal. Refer to the map I’ve included below and save it to your own maps – in included all important stops. Once you arrive in Hat Yai, go to the bus terminal and find the counter with the sign “Padang Besar”. Otherwise, just ask one of the people, they are really helpful. The one-hour journey from Hat Yai to Padang Besar costs 60 THB. The vans are comfortable and air-conditioned too. I’m not entirely sure about the bus schedule, but they seem to run every 1-2 hours.

Border crossing Thailand to Malaysia

My minivan dropped me in front of the Padang Besar border in Thailand. From there, I walked to one of the buildings on the left side (looking at the customs building) that was most frequented by other travellers. However, they then sent me to the building on the very right (which is actually the point where people arrive in Thailand), and an officer took me into his office to stamp my passport. I think most of the other travellers were Malay, and the procedure for Farangs is a bit different. Anyway, I think by asking around, they will show you where to go to get your exit stamp.

This whole procedure was very confusing as there were no signs and it felt like I was walking into prohibited territory. After I received my exit stamp I got even more confused as I was the only person who was WALKING across the border, and there were no footpaths or signs. All other people, who were Malay, had a minivan waiting for them. So: When you come out of the Thailand exit, basically, there’s only one big road leading towards Malaysia. Even though it doesn’t seem like you can walk along it, I just did it and found myself walking on the big road as the only person. After around 5-10 minutes walking I arrived at the point where all the minivans stop and found the entrance to the entry point in Malaysia.

Staying in Padang Besar, Malaysia

For the night, I stayed at Green Inn Padang Besar. It’s a lovely and clean accommodation, only a 10-minute walk from the border. I can recommend this accommodation if you are planning to stay in Padang Besar for a few nights. There’s not really anything to do in this town, and I also had trouble finding proper vegetarian food. My one attempt to communicate with my English language and Google translator failed badly. I wanted to order rice and vegetables, and although the lady seemed to understand me, I got served rice with chicken and dried fish. So all in all, I wouldn’t really stay in Padang Besar for more than one or two nights.

Border crossing Malaysia to Thailand

The border in Padang Besar opens at 6 am and closes at 10 pm Malaysian time. My phone didn’t register that I was in another country, so it remained on Thailand time, and my SIM card worked seamlessly throughout my entire stay. I, therefore, made my way to the border the next morning at 6 am Malaysian time. It was pitch dark, but there were quite a lot of people, and I think if you go at seven or eight, you will have to wait for a while.

Border Crossing Padang Besar
The way to Thailand
Border Crossing Padang Besar
In between Thailand and Malaysia

This time, when you walk towards the Malaysian side of the border, head to the building on the left side (after the roundabout) to get your exit stamp from Malaysia. Then you basically walk along the same big road towards the Thailand entry point (building on the left side). Sorry for the lack of pictures; I was a bit nervous walking on the big road on my own. I got brought to the same office again to receive my entry stamp.

Padang Besar to Surat Thani

After entering Thailand, I walked 15 minutes to the minivan station in Padang Besar. This is where the minivans depart from Padang Besar to Hat Yai bus terminal. I took the first one which left at 6:30 am in the morning and arrived around one hour later in Hat Yai. The great thing about the bus terminal in Hat Yai is that you can use the toilet for free, which makes me feel very relaxed as I don’t like to be on the bus and wondering where the next toilet will be.

Minivan Station Padang Besar
Minivan Station Padang Besar
Hat Yai Bus Terminal
Bus Terminal Hat Yai

In Hat Yai, you walk maybe 1 minute to the corner travel shop opposite the Big C supermarket. This is where you can book your onward journey back to Surat Thani, Bangkok, or to different islands like Koh Lipe, Koh Lanta, Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi. The owner of the shop was super helpful. The only downside is that this shop doesn’t exist on Google Maps, so you cannot get in touch with them or do research before the trip. But that’s why I’m sharing it here!

The journey from Hat Yai to Surat Thani took around 5 hours, with a pit stop at the same restaurant we visited on the other trip. The price for this journey is 290 THB and the first minivan leaves at 8.30 am. I’m not sure how often they run, but I think there are 2-3 every day. In Surat Thani you get dropped close to the bus station and can then continue your journey from there. If you are looking for a hostel in Surat Thani, I can recommend the Port Hostel. It’s located close to the night market and night ferry pier.

Travel agency Hat Yai
The corner shop next to Hat Yai Bus terminal
Travel agency Hat Yai
Buy your onward tickets here

You want to continue from Surat Thani by taking the ferry to one of the islands close by? Check your options below!

All in all, the trip from Surat Thani to Padang Besar, Malaysia, is doable and quite comfortable. You need to change transport in Hat Yai, but luckily not walk around a lot to find the next bus. Also, walking across the border by yourself is way easier than it seems. I hope this guide helped you on your trip! Let me know about your experience, questions, or if you came across any challenges.

Do you need some help planning your next trip?

Book your accommodation

I usually book my accommodation via They have a great choice & if you set some filters you will find the perfect place to stay.

Book your train in Europe

For train tickets in Europe it's best to use trainline. You can book tickets for different countries. They also know the bonus systems like BahnCard in Germany and will consider them in the pricing.

Book your bus and other transfers

Buy bus, train or boat tickets for many destinations on 12Go! You get an overview over all possible connections and can easily book your ticket through the platform.

Book a rental car

On you can find an overview of different car hires & get the best deal.

You love traveling but don't like planning?

No problem! It's my passion and I would love to do it for you! From planning the itinerary, providing travel guides, booking your stays to assisting you remotely during your trip. Just send me a message through Instagram or and I will provide more information.

You like the content on placesoflinda?

Click on the button below to say thank you for the free travel guides & advice on placesoflinda. 

Your support is very much appreciated!

Share this blogpost

Space for your questions or feedback