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Guide To Travelling From Singapore to Thailand By Train, A 1.5-Day Overland Journey Via Malaysia 

Train to Bangkok, Thailand from Singapore 


Our thoughts exactly. See, when people think of going to Bangkok, the answer’s often “flight lor”. That said, the easiest path may be comfortable but it may not be the most exciting. If you’re a traveller – rather than a vacationer – who adores the journey as much as the destination, there’s a train journey you have to try. It begins not in Mongolia or Moscow, but here in Singapore. 

Here’s how you get from Singapore to Bangkok by train for less than S$100, within 2 days.

– 1.5-day journey through Malaysia

The 2,000+km route may seem complicated but it can be broken down into 4 bite-sized parts. The journey involves first taking Malaysia’s major railway network Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM), across our neighbouring country, before crossing the border into Thailand and transferring to the Thai Railways. Tickets can all be purchased online before your trip.

Here’s the TL;DR:

  • Woodlands (SG) to Johor Bahru (SG-MY)
  • Johor Bahru (MY) to Gemas (MY)
  • Gemas to Padang Besar (MY)
  • Padang Besar (MY) to Bangkok (MY-TH)

Part 1: Woodlands > JB Sentral via KTM Shuttle Tebrau

train to thailand from singapore - shuttle tebrau

Young Frodo, Woodlands Train Checkpoint in Singapore is where your adventure begins. From there, take the 320-seater KTM Shuttle Tebrau across the causeway. As veterans of JB weekend trips will know, this is one of the easiest and quickest ways to cross the Singapore-Malaysia border.

13 trains depart daily, more or less on an hourly basis, between 8.30am and 11.45pm.

train to thailand from singapore - KTM shuttle tebrau interior

Tickets can be purchased up to 1 month in advance on the KTM website and you should try to get your hands on one as soon as possible – these seats sell out as quickly as Taylor Swift concert tickets!

Payments are a breeze as well. All you need is a Visa or Master credit card, or GrabPay. If you have a KTM Wallet, Boost, and Touch ‘n Go eWallet, you can use these as well.

Come early if you wish to secure a seat as a group – it’s a free-seating sitch. But it’s really no issue if you don’t find a seat together, since the journey is only a short 5 minutes.

Train timings: 13 times daily.

Price: RM17.50 (~S$5)
Ride duration: 5 minutes (arrive 30 minutes before departure)
Customs wait time: Give it an hour to be safe

Book your tickets on the KTM website

Part 2: JB Sentral > Gemas, Negeri Sembilan via KTM

train to thailand from singapore - JB sentral

While you’re at JB Sentral, stock up on snacks at the nearby KFC, Starbucks, or Rotiboy for the journey ahead. You don’t have to worry much about finding your train platform as the train station is a fairly small one.

Hop on the KTM ETS/Intercity train to Gemas, located in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. It’s a small town located near Malacca, with a population of around 30,000 people. 

train to thailand from singapore - KTM interior
Image credit: Train 36

The 4-hour+ ride passes through a forest so you’ll want to select a window seat if you love looking at the scenery. It’s also best to pre-book your seats online, where you can choose between an aisle vs window seat, or forward vs backwards facing seat. There’s no extra charge for seat selection.

train to thailand from singapore - KTM
Image credit: @tehcsuam.jpg
via Instagram

This train typically arrives on time and the ride is fairly comfortable with air conditioning, pop-out tables, toilets, and curtains if you wish to block out the sun for a nap. There’s no food on board so this is where your Rotiboy will come in handy.

Kick back and relax as you enjoy the ride, the train will stop at 4 stations including Kuali and Kluang.

Train timings: 8.30am, 2,40pm, 6.05pm, 8.25pm, daily

Price: RM21 (~S$7)
Ride duration: From 4 hours 26 minutes

Book your tickets to Gemas on the KTM website

Part 3: Gemas > Padang Besar, Perlis via KTM 

The fastest route

train to thailand from singapore - gemas
Image credit: KLIA2

Welcome to the sleepy town of Gemas. From here, you’ll want to head to Padang Besar in Perlis, which borders Malaysia and Thailand. The quickest way is to book a direct 8-hour 28-minute train from Gemas to Padang Besar.

train to thailand from singapore - KTM exterior
KTM’s Electric Train Service train.
Image credit: Wikipedia 

You can choose to top up RM1 (~S$0.30) for a Basic insurance plan or RM1.50 (~S$0.45) for a Premium. The latter of which covers everything from damaged luggage to trip cancellations. Tickets can also be paid by Visa and Mastercard, or KTM Wallet, MyDebit cards, Touch ‘n Go, or Boost when you book online.

Train timing: 8.05am only, daily

Price: RM95 (~S$28)
Ride duration: 8 hours 28 minutes

Book your tickets to Padang Besar on the KTM website.

This option is best for travellers who would prefer to get to Padang Besar ASAP. However one downside is that this train only departs once daily, in the morning, so you’ll have to spend the night in the quiet town of Gemas. There are several hotels and inns located near the train station, including Hotel Tropicana (from S$26/night).

Alternatively, if you have some time to spare, take a detour to KL to explore the bustling city, and stay the night there instead.

Part 3 (Alternative): Gemas > KL Sentral > Padang Besar via KTM

For more comfy journey with detour to KL 

train to thailand from singapore - KL skyline
Image credit: The Smart Local Malaysia

If you have extra time to spare, a stopover at KL is a good alternative since the city has loads more to do, and more hotels to choose from. This route is operated by KTM too and ticket costs are more or less the same as a direct Gemas > Padang Besar route.

Gemas to KL Sentral

Train timings: 8.05am and 3.20pm, daily

Price: RM29 (~S$8.40)
Ride duration: 2 hours 35 minutes

KL Sentral to Padang Besar 

Train timings: 7.08am, 9.50am, 10.45am, 6.31pm, 10.50pm, daily

Price: From RM76 (~S$22.10)
Ride duration: From 5 hours 33 minutes

Book your tickets on the KTM website.

Part 4: Padang Besar > Bangkok via Thai Railway 

train to thailand from singapore - Padang besar
Image credit: hazimah hamid via Google Maps

It’s safe to say that not many Singaporeans have come to Padang Besar. So, now that you’ve arrived, congratulations, you’re one of the rare few among us to breathe the air here.

Crossing the Malaysia-Thailand border is much like going from Singapore to JB and is pretty straightforward. Most people cross either by car or by rail. 

Immigration via rail is located within the train station and it takes about 45 minutes to queue and clear customs. Be sure to account for this! Singaporeans don’t need a Visa to enter Thailand. All you need to do is ensure that you’ve filled out the arrival form and chopped your passport. 

train to thailand from singapore - train exterior
Voila, you’re through!
Image adapted from: THAIRAIL (Thai Railway)

The rest of your journey will be on board the Special Express No. 46 operated by the Thai Railway. All seats are “2nd Class Sleepers” on this train, which means all passengers get a convertible sofa bed that can be transformed into a double-decker bed when it’s time to sleep.

train to thailand from singapore - thai railway
Image credit: 12Go Asia

You’ll be assigned to an upper or lower berth – no choosing is allowed. The journey is 19 hours long so make yourself comfortable and download some Netflix series and movies, or bring some books for entertainment.

train to thailand from singapore - sleeper train
Image credit: 12Go Asia

Updated: Purchase some snacks at Padang Besar before you board. Alternatively, you can also order meals and drinks from vendors who hop on board at certain stops, or at train station hawkers along the way.

train to thailand from singapore - thai railway
Video adapted from: THAIRAIL (Thai Railways)

Clean blankets, pillows, and bedsheets are provided but it’s still a good idea to bring along a warm sweater as it can get chilly at night. Toilets are available on board as well, though reviews say they aren’t sparkling clean.

During the night, the trail will chug past Hat Yai, Nakhon, and a couple of coastal towns. The next morning, you’ll arrive at Bangkok Train Station around 11am if there are no hiccups. This train is known to face delays so be mentally prepared to arrive later than scheduled. 

train to thailand from singapore - bangkok station
Bangkok Train Station.
Image credit: anurag Lert via Google Maps

Price: S$39
Ride duration: 19 hours
Customs wait time: Give it an hour to be safe

Book your tickets on 12GO Asia.

Things to do in Bangkok
View from Mahanakhon Skywalk in Bangkok.

When you arrive, we’ve got you covered with these 50 things to do in Bangkok to make the entire trip more worthwhile. 

– Price and travel duration – 

Total price: S$5 + S$7 + S$28 + S$39 = S$79

Adding up to a grand total of S$79, the entire experience is pretty inexpensive, considering the grand adventure you’ll go through . This is assuming you took the most direct route without any detours to KL or other towns along the way, and excludes any hotel bookings and food purchases.

To have waste as little time as possible during transit, we recommend catching the following train timings:

  • Leave Singapore at 8pm
  • 8.25pm-1.18am train from JB Sentral to Gemas
  • 8.05am-3.33pm train from Gemas to Padang Besar
  • 4pm-9.10am train from Padang Besar to Bangkok.

Adding it up, you’ll also be on the road for at least 1 day and 14 hours. In comparison, flights from Singapore to Bangkok cost $151 and take 2.5 hours without transit. 

Embark on an overland adventure by train to Bangkok

Wat ArunWat Arun, Bangkok.

Is it worth it? Well, it depends on whether you’re willing to spend time enjoying the journey. This is a great alternative for those who have been hankering to try the Eastern & Orient Express or Trans Siberian Railway but haven’t been able to.

Not to mention, it offers great opportunities to make pit stops along the way, and enjoy scenery that’ll never otherwise befall your eyes. 

For more great adventures:

Cover image adapted from: Wikipedia, Train 36