International Express: Bangkok to Hat Yai and Butterworth by Train

The International Express no longer serves the Malaysian sector between Padang Besar and Butterworth.

Please visit the dedicated International Express page for more information.

The International Express is a daily service to Hat Yai and Butterworth from Bangkok and vice versa. Departing from Bangkok, the train uses 6 to 8 second class sleeper coaches, 1 buffet coach and 1 first class cabin coach, with 2 of the second class sleepers continuing their journey to Butterworth.

Click here for the reverse journey.

The State Railway of Thailand recently updated the platforms with new electronic information screens providing additional information at each platform, a welcome addition.

The train crew readies the train for departure.

The buffet car is ready for you even before the train departs. You may choose to dine here or have your meal at your seat.

The chef makes preparations in the kitchen for lunch and dinner.

This is Khao Pad Rot Fai (ข้าวผัดรถไฟ), or Railway Fried Rice. The set costing 110 baht comes with a side soup and orange juice. This was also featured in a previous post.

For those who prefer chicken, the chef also does a fried rice with chicken (ข้าวผัดไก่). This set with a soup and juice also costs 110 baht.

In the evening, the attendant comes around converting your seats into beds.

Each berth comes with a rope pocket for your small belongings, a reading lamp and an emergency call button. It is readily visible on the upper berth. On the lower berth, flip up the seat back which will form a shelf for your belongings in the night configuration.

With that, it’s time for dinner. The beauty of Thai trains is that you get real food no matter what train you choose to travel on.

This is the non-spicy Set E, consisting of steamed rice, fried chicken, stir-fried vegetables in oyster sauce, a soup (not in picture) and sliced pineapples (not in picture). 180 baht.

This is Set F of Thai Spicy “Rot Fai Luak Jim”, consisting of boiled seafood, pork, chicken and mushrooms with white fungus, cabbages, carrots and chilli sauce. 220 baht.

You can try asking for additional side dishes from the chef or waiter. We managed to get ourselves an omelette to share at the buffet car. 120 baht.

In the morning, breakfast is served at your seat with orders taken the night before. This is the American Breakfast at 130 baht.

And this is the Rice Soup with chicken. 110 baht.

The track between Patthalung and Hat Yai is undergoing extensive rehabilitation, delaying any train’s travel time by around 90 minutes, provided it’s not waiting for a delay train. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to see more of Thailand’s local life.

The International Express entering Hat Yai Junction railway station.

Passing the token to the porter.

Many passengers alight here including taking off most of the train. Vendors still board to sell food to those continuing their journey.

Passing by the future Padang Besar 2 station in Thailand.

Currently, Padang Besar 2 station is just a bare open platform. Hopefully with the new station and other stations and halts being upgraded, the line will be served by more frequent trains in future.

The caterer between Padang Besar and Butterworth boards from Padang Besar 2 as well, as there is no more buffet car continuing on from Padang Besar.

An SRT Alsthom locomotive meeting a KTM CSR EMU on an ETS service at Padang Besar.

Alight here and follow the instructions of the customs staff for immigration clearance. Once done, reboarding can be done immediately.

The locomotive change is done here to bring the train onwards to Butterworth.

25110 Pulau Pinang leads the International Express from Padang Besar to Butterworth.

Back on board, tickets are re-checked by KTM train managers.

After which, the caterer comes around taking breakfast orders again. You may not be used to eating so much in a day, but you don’t eat such a variety of train food often anyway, so go for it!

The iced Milo being served by the caterer. This is part of the sandwich set available on board.

The sandwich set, consisting of tuna sandwiches (in triangles), 4 slices of toast with jam, seaweed chips, 2 bananas and a drink of your choice. 100 baht or 11 ringgit.

The bread is freshly toasted and comparable to sandwich chains outside.

The onboard caterer is also your ticket agent, money changer and your SIM card salesman. Just approach him if you need any onward travel services.

2 hours from Padang Besar, the train enters the Prai swing bridge, signifying the approach to Butterworth station.

Upon arrival, the train immediately forms the opposing train, the 36up back to Bangkok.

With the decoupling of the forward locomotive, and a quick addition of a locomotive at the (previous) rear, the train is ready for departure.

From Butterworth, you may catch the Penang Ferry to Penang Island, or continue your journey with other trains.

The International Express no longer serves the Malaysian sector between Padang Besar and Butterworth.

Please visit the dedicated International Express page for more information.

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