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Getting to Malaysia
 
 
 

By Air

National carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has extensive worldwide network coverage and regularly ranks high in airline quality assessments, while no-frills low-cost carrier AirAsia and her sister company, AirAsia X, now covers an ever-expanding set of destinations including Australia, China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Most international flights land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) although AirAsia flights use the LCC terminal, a 20 km road transfer away from the main KLIA terminal. KLIA's predecessor, the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang near Kuala Lumpur handles chartered and turboprop aircraft for regional operators Firefly and Berjaya Air.

Other airports which have significant numbers of flights to regional destinations are Kota Kinabalu (Sabah), Kuching (Sarawak), Penang, Langkawi and Johor Bahru. Many major Malaysian cities have service to Singapore via AirAsia or Firefly. Berjaya Air also operates routes from Singapore to the popular dive spots of Tioman and Redang.

By Water

Ferries connect various points in Peninsular Malaysia with Sumatra in Indonesia and southern Thailand, Sarawak with Brunei, and Sabah with East Kalimantan in Indonesia and Mindanao in the Philippines. Luxury cruises also run from Singapore and sometimes Phuket (Thailand) to Malaysia.

There are daily ferries between the Muara Ferry Terminal in Brunei and Labuan island and Lawas in Sarawak. Speedboats, mostly in the morning, also run between Bandar Seri Begawan jetty (Brunei) and Limbang (Sarawak).

The main jumping-off points from Indonesia are the Riau Islands of Batam, Bintan and Karimun; Dumai, Medan and Pekanbaru on the Sumatra mainland as well as Nunukan in East Kalimantan. Ferries link Batam with Batu Pahat and Johor Bahru, both in Johor; Bintan with Johor Bahru; Karimun with Batu Pahat and Kukup (Johor); Dumai with Malacca, Muar (Johor), Port Dickson (Negeri Sembilan) and Port Klang; Pekanbaru with Malacca. Daily ferries also link Nunukan with Tawau (Sabah). There are also minor crossings like between Bengkalis in Riau and Batu Pahat; Sumatra and Malacca and Muar; and Tanjung Balai Asahan in North Sumatra with Port Klang.

From the Philippines, ferries run between the Zamboanga Peninsula and Sandakan, Sabah.

If coming from Singapore, there are daily passenger boats run between Changi Point and Pengerang, between Tanah Merah and Sebana Cover Resort, as well as between Changi and Tanjung Belungkor, all in Johor.

There are four ferries daily (reduced to three during Ramadan) between Tammalang at Satun (Thailand) and Kuah on Langkawi, Malaysia. Vehicle ferries operate between Ban Taba near Tak Bai in Narathiwat province (Thailand) and Pengkalan Kubur in Kelantan, Malaysia, while passenger boats run between Ban Buketa in Narathiwat province and Bukit Bunga in Kelantan.

By Rail

Direct sleeper train services operated by the State Railway of Thailand connect Bangkok and Butterworth, near Penang, while Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) runs trains between Hat Yai and Kuala Lumpur. Both trains cross the border at Padang Besar where Thai and Malaysia immigration formalities are all conveniently done in the station. There is also a less used eastern route from Hat Yai to Thai border town Sungai Kolok, but there are no through trains to the nearby Malaysian station at Wakaf Bahru, near Kota Bharu.

Singapore is the southern terminus of the KTM network. Comfortable overnight sleeper trains connect Singapore with Kuala Lumpur and Tumpat, near Kota Bharu. Bizarrely, tickets purchased at the Singapore station are twice as expensive as those purchased in Malaysia; you can save quite a bit by taking the train from Johor Bahru instead. Another option is to buy your tickets online at the cheaper rate, but you must book at least 48 hours in advance.

By Road

Peninsular Malaysia is linked by good roads to Thailand and (via two causeways and the North-South Expressway) to Singapore. Those travelling from Thailand generally follow the North-South Expressway from Bukit Kayu Hitam to Kuala Lumpur. Toll fees are levied on all highways throughout Malaysia. Road connections between the two eastern states, Sarawak and Sabah, and their neighbours on Borneo, Brunei and the Indonesian state of Kalimantan are fairly good.

Coach

Long-distances buses/coaches into Malaysia run from Brunei, Indonesian Borneo, Singapore and Thailand. There are no direct buses into Brunei. However, there are buses from Miri and Limbang going to the border where there are connections to Bandar Seri Begawan. Direct buses operate between Pontianak in West Kalimantan (Indonesia) and Kuching in Sarawak.

A multitude of bus companies operate direct routes from Singapore to various destinations in Peninsular Malaysia, including Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, East Coast cities and even the Kuala Lumpur suburbs of Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya. Frequent buses make the short run between Singapore and Johor Bahru, and you can save a few bucks by changing at Johor Bahru's Larkin terminal to a cheap domestic bus instead of taking a more expensive direct bus. If you are planning to take on arrival visa, you must enter Malaysia via link 2.

There are quite a few companies operate services from Kuala Lumpur and other cities in Malaysia to Hat Yai in southern Thailand, where direct connections are available to Bangkok and many other Thai destinations.

 

 
 

 


 

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