August 30, 2011

Train Travels from Malaysia

When I’ve first set foot in SINGAPORE back in 2008, I knew this is one place that Kim would appreciate. The architecture, the abundance of different cultures co existing in one small area, and the topnotch cleanliness and orderliness of the place. So unlike any other place in Southeast Asia, and this statement is not meant to be offensive in anyway and to any party.

So we’ve finally booked our train tickets from KUALA LUMPUR to Singapore and back. The booking was done online through Malaysian Railway or KTMB’s network HERE. E-booking is fairly straightforward and reservations open 30 days before departure.

At the 30-day mark of our trip though, we still can’t book our ticket since we have to wait for our return dates to open up

Here’s why.

KTMB tickets bought or picked up in Singapore will be charged in Singaporean dollars, while those bought in Malaysia will be charged in Malaysian ringgit at a 1:1 rate. For example, a ticket that costs RM10 in Malaysia will now cost S$10 if bought in Singapore. This also applies to tickets booked from their online ticketing facility or their call centre for trips starting in Singapore. (WIKITRAVEL) So we must book the full round trip starting from KL to avoid paying more than we have to.

SEAT61 has more tips and all the info you need to know about train travels and more.

It’s not really that hard to figure out but our attempt to go around not paying double resulted a bit in jittery nerves. It’s quite nerve racking to be checking the number of available berths for our departure from time to time and see it go down right before our eyes that it’s a relief to have finally secured ours.

Taking the train is quite a non-negotiable deal for me although there are several ways to cross to Singapore from Malaysia. There’s a 5-hour bus ride and a 1-hour plane ride. Traveling on a sleeper train will also get to maximize our days since the transit will be done at night and thus will save us a night’s hotel accommodation.

I have done the 20-hour journey via International Ekspress from Butterworth in Malaysia to Bangkok, THAILAND in 2008 and loved every minute of it. 20 hours on the road may sound hardcore but it was actually a very pleasant and comfortable ride. The trains although rated as second class are safe, clean and air-conditioned. A restroom can be found at the end of each car. A restaurant is also added at some part of the trip.

We left the Butterworth station at 2 PM and arrived in Bangkok at noon the next day. During daytime, I had the spacious seat all to my self beside wide windows where I could watch urban scenes disappear from view and be replaced with expansive rice field paddies that sometimes give way to tall mountains. At night, a steward efficiently turned the seat into sleeping cabins that it’s a full meter wide enclosed in curtains for privacy. I was also provided a pillow and a blanket, both freshly laundered.

I have this rose colored hindsight of that lovely blur of a journey and can't wait to do it again. Let's see how THE 8 HOUR CROSSING TO SINGAPORE WILL COMPARE.


  1. I miss long train rides. It's been decades since my last train ride. Your 20-hour journey from Butterworth sounds fun.

  2. Hi Claire! Yes, I feel very nostalgic about it:-) I've heard you'll be back in SouthEast Asia soon, I guess you're due for another train ride:-)

  3. looks fun to me! indeed it's the journey that matters, not the destination =)

    girls, hope to meet you soon! (youre from davao right? iniisip ko pa kung tutuloy ko davao trip ko..)

  4. Seat61's da bomb! Used it as reference for our train rides in China. I miss train rides too. But 24+ hours is insane especially when you're around cabinmates who don't speak a single English word.

  5. Envious, I wan't to ride a train too! :)

  6. Chyng! Punta na!:-) Kelan yon? we'd be happy to meet you, yay!:-)

    Hi Gay! I hope there wasn't a spit fest, ugh!:-)

    Hi Tina! It's highly recommendable, you have to try it:-)

  7. indeed! Thank you, thank you, thank you.:)

  8. im reading through seat61 for my trip some time next year. gusto kong magtrain kahit aabot ng 20 plus hours pa yan. pero most likely ill just sleep off the 8-hour trip. hehe

  9. Hi Ed, seat61 is the bomb!:-) In comparison, the 20 hour was more relaxed than the 8 hour trip, parang bitin lang yong tulog don sa 8 hour haha. But overall, we find train travels a more relaxing transit with a hint of a little luxury although in reality, its actually cheaper:-) Tell us about your train travel next year:-)

  10. Just wondering why it the train takes 8 hrs and the bus only 5. I've always thought trains are faster and they don't go thru traffic. :) Btw, mom already had a train experience (Shanghai to Beijing) and survived it, so this might be doable for her too.

    Still comparing and both seem to be comfy enough for my mom. Thanks for the tips again! :)

  11. Hi AJ! We missed Beijing when we went to Shanghai as we couldn't find anymore train tickets, booo!:-)

    Anyway, the train takes longer than the bus as it runs slowly and stops at several stations along the way.

    I've tried the bus from Sg to KL back in 2008 and in fairness the seats too are plush and wide, can also be reclined.

    Our pleasure to share.


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