I am planning a trip to Asia this April. As a part of my journey I planned to have a long distance train ride, from Gemas (Malaysia) right up to Bangkok. I want to hop on the Jugle Train, which leaves Gemas and heads up to Kota Bahru. Then I will have to cross the Thai-Malaysian border at Sungai Kolok, to catch the train to Bangkok. Everything seems to be a great adventure, but today I read in Lonely Planet's guide, that they do not recommend crossing border due to "violence and instability of this coast." So it seems to be a real issue. Therefore I have a question to - has anybody from this forum recently crossed that border? Is it really that risky and dangerous? Should I end my journey in Kota Bahru and catch a plane to Bkk?
I would be very gratefull for any replies and advice.
Thansk in advance
I'll be doing that exact train trip at start of March,it will be around middle March when i post again so check this page then and i'll have some info for you
I crossed this border in April last year, but I was travelling from Thailand into Malaysia. I had also heard that it was a dangerous place to cross, so my partner and I took a 1st class sleeper from Bangkok to Sungai Kolok to try to avoid any problems. Unfortunately after about 3/4 of the trip there was a disruption on the line, and we were transferred onto a bus and then onto a 3rd class train for the rest of the way. There were several men with machine guns in each compartment who were randomly checking eveyone's bags. There were also armed men at each of the stations as well. The atmosphere was ok though, like there had not been trouble recently, and they were just doing their job.
We then spent an unplanned night in Sungai Kolok, which is a little rough. There's quite a big red light district, but it felt safe enough if you avoided that!
I also took the Jungle Train, but to be honest didn't think that much of the scenery. It's worth a trip out to the Perhentian Islands if you are crossing through that border though.
Thanks for your extensive reply It is realy helpful.
I have to think over my plans then... Hopefully I still have some time
The Sunngai train station is right near the border, so you dont have to go far. The Bangkok-Sungai train has never been targeted itself but the rail-line has. I postponed my trip to that area of Malaysia last year after i read of a disruption. I would still have gone but the wife was dead against it!
Should be all right though - i would go for it. The area's not as bad as what reports make out. certainly for tourists anyway.