Crossing the border from Malaysia to Thailand

There are two ways to get to Thailand from Langkawi: one via Ko Lipe, but this necessitates an overnight stay, and one via Satun in Thailand. We opted for the latter as we had already booked our accommodation in Ko Lanta. We booked our travel through a tour operator at Cenang Beach in Langkawi.

The journey from Langkawi to Ko Lanta was supposed to take eight hours, but it turned into 13 hours! We were picked up from the hotel at 8.15am and taken to the ferry terminal at Kuah by minivan. The driver insisted that we wait in the van while he sorted out our tickets. It seemed a very long queue! We then had to wait again for the ferry.

Travel tip: Take a good book while travelling from one place to another and plenty of snacks. Expect journeys to take a few hours longer than advertised!

The ferry ride wasn’t too bad. It was quieter than the one going to Langkawi and we were on the middle level, which was a bit smoother. There was more space and you could actually see the sea, which helped with the sea sickness.

We arrived in Satun and went through immigration with no problems. If you want to stay in Thailand for longer than 15 days, then you will need to get your visa in advance. We got a 90-day visa in Georgetown, Penang which cost 300 MYR (£55.11) each.

The border crossing seemed very informal compared to airports, but they check your passports and your visa, and run your bag through the scanners. A man was waiting for us at the other side of immigration to take us to the bus station in Satun.

From Satun we went by bus to Trang. The coach was a double decker and quite comfortable and it took around three hours to get to Trang. We had been assured that we would arrive in Ko Lanta by 4.30pm, but we already had our suspicions that that would not be the case.

Travel tip: go to the toilet whenever you get the opportunity! You don’t know when the next stop will be. Prepare to use a squat toilet and take tissues and hand sanitiser with you, as they may not be available.

We were told that we had missed the connection and that the next minivan to Ko Lanta would go at 4.30pm. There seemed to be a lot of people waiting for the minivan and we weren’t sure how they were planning to fit us all in with our luggage.

We were right to worry. We were crammed into the minivan like sardines and the next stint of the journey, which was supposed to take two and half hours but turned into three and a half hours, was very uncomfortable. I actually had a good position on the bus, near a window and with a bit of leg room but some of the other passengers were really cramped and complaining.

Travel tip: try to get a seat near the front if you get travel sick. The back is a bumpier ride.

The journey includes a short ferry ride across to Ko Lanta, but this was a car ferry so there was no opportunity to stretch your legs or get some fresh air.

It was dark by the time we eventually arrived at Saladan pier. We took a shared tuk-tuk to our hotel (not included in the price) and finally arrived at our destination at 8.15pm, a whole 13 hours after we had set off (taking into account the one-hour time difference)!

This information is correct as of December 2017. Visa requirements change frequently so check the Foreign Office website for the latest information.

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