Bangkok to Singapore by Rail Part 2 – Hat Yai/Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur

The Ekspres Peninsular is no longer in operation.

The Senandung Langkawi has been renamed as the Peninsular Express since 1 September 2015, extending its service to JB Sentral and no longer calls at Bukit Mertajam and Butterworth stations.

The classic journey from Bangkok to Singapore goes through three popular Southeast Asian countries, passing through historical places of worship, rice plantations and villages, along with the modern bustling metropolises embracing the past.

Continuing from our previous post, the journey continues with the Senandung Langkawi from Hat Yai by KTM. Of course, a stopover at Butterworth instead is also possible, we will touch on that later in the post.

The Special Express 953 or 21dn Senandung Langkawi departs at 1600 Thai Time, which makes it a safe same-day transfer from trains 35 or 37 as mentioned before. You could also stopover for a night to walk around the town with cheap eats and shopping along local markets.


For the Hat Yai bound and origin trains, only 2 coaches are attached, 1 sleeper and 1 seat. Book these early online or at your nearest KTM station. Tickets open 30 days before departure. If they are sold out, however, buy your ticket from Padang Besar to KL Sentral, and get a manual ticket from Hat Yai to Padang Besar on the day itself from the counter at Hat Yai. The remaining coaches are coupled at Padang Besar.

A typical second class sleeper on board KTM night trains.

At Padang Besar, everyone alights with all belongings to clear Thai and Malaysian immigration. It’s an integrated procedure so after you clear Thai immigration, just walk forward for Malaysian immigration. The train heads off to the yard to couple the remaining coaches.

After clearing immigration, proceed upstairs to wait for the train to return from the yard. You may want to get dinner from the canteen too, if you haven’t already bought it in Hat Yai. Staff will guide you along the way, so you won’t get lost.

After about 30 minutes of waiting, the 21dn Senandung Langkawi is ready to depart for KL Sentral. As you can see, this 11 coach train now is significantly longer than it was from Hat Yai.

This is the buffet coach attached with packed food and drinks for purchase.

For the budget-conscious, this is the economy class coach attached. These get sold out very fast too as only 1 coach is attached, so book these early too.

The track from now on is electrified and double tracked, which removes almost all operational domino-effect delays and a very smooth ride. For those who love bumpy rides, this will be a very boring, smooth and on time or even earlier journey, which results in longer dwell time at stations.

At Butterworth, the train changes direction to continue its journey. You may also wish to change the direction of your pillow and blanket for a better sleep.

The train arrives at KL Sentral at 0540hrs or 5.40am. You will need to wait 20 minutes at least for the LRT and KTM Komuter to commence operations, so you could get breakfast at KFC or McDonald’s first.

Visit Tourism Malaysia for activities in KL. Shower rooms and left baggage services are available in KL Sentral station as well if you do not wish to stay overnight.

The suggestions offered here are for the second class sleepers. You may book your tickets only through KTM, even if you depart from Hat Yai, except the aforementioned manual ticket between Hat Yai and Padang Besar.The Senandung Langkawi offer first class cabins, second class sleepers, second class seats and economy class seats between KL Sentral and Padang Besar only. Only 1 coach of second class sleeper and second class seat goes to and from Hat Yai.
The Special Express 36 runs with 2 coaches of second class sleepers (converted to seats already) between Hat Yai and Butterworth, and operates without seat numbers between that section. If you book a through ticket from Bangkok, you will have to share your seat after Hat Yai as it accommodates 2 people with the wide seat as mentioned in the previous post.

Click here for the timetable of trains plying between Singapore and Bangkok and transfer combinations.

Check out our Bangkok to Singapore series here!
Bangkok to Singapore by Rail Part 1 – Bangkok to Hat Yai/Butterworth
Bangkok to Singapore by Rail Part 2 – Hat Yai/Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur
Bangkok to Singapore by Rail Part 3 – Kuala Lumpur to Singapore (Woodlands CIQ)

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