Taking a flight to your favourite Thailand destination is a luxurious way to move your travel radar. However, road-tripping provides a different experience altogether. Every route promises changing landscapes and every path guarantees new sights to see ?
Now, take out your bucket list. If there’s a Thailand road trip sandwiched between skydiving and bungee jumping, this article is made for you. Whether you’re in Kuala Lumpur or Kuala Lipis, get behind the wheels and hit the road to the Land of Smiles that's just a few hours away.
Before you drive
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For your road trip, it’s important to create a checklist of the essential items you need. Bring your documents (passport, passport photos, car registration form and insurance documents), Touch n’ Go card (for Malaysian tolls), and Thai bahts (in cash).
Since it’s a long drive, remember to perform a car service check, test the wipers, check spare tyres, test the headlights and brakes, and bring other essentials (jumper wires, tool kits and first aid kit). Now, let’s get driving! ?
1. Kota Bharu - Sungai Golok (40 mins) You might refer to Sungai Golok as ‘Kolok’ or ‘Sungai Kolok’, but essentially, it points to a charming town
that is bookended by Malaysia and Thailand. This place might not have gigantic shopping malls like the ones in Bangkok or Phuket, but they’re known for their friendly street markets.
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Fruits and nuts are great to stock up your road trip supplies. If you’re interested to get affordable clothes and shoes, sifting through shoe displays and clothes bundle will bring happiness to Malaysian shopaholics. You can even get household items for a bargain too!
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: Before you go to Sungai Golok, make a side trip to the duty free shopping complex at Pengkalan Kubor. Apart from the array of halal food and Thai snacks, the complex is famous for affordable clothes, head scarves, shoes, hand bags, and homewares.
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2. Kuala Terengganu - Narathiwat (4 hours 25 mins)
Unless you live in the Northern peninsular of Malaysia, it’s very likely that Narathiwat doesn’t ring a bell. If you’ve never heard of Narathiwat, here’s why you should get to know this place better. The beauty of this Thailand province lies in its laid-back lifestyle. It has a kampung-like atmosphere, and the Muslim locals love to take it easy as they go about their day.
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To immerse yourself in Narathiwat’s relaxing way of life, throw your gaze to the waters of Narathat beach, where food stalls and souvenir shops abound. You can also visit Ko Yao Island for a glimpse of Muslim fishermen sourcing their catch of the day. To reach this spot, you need to cross a 345-meter-long wooden bridge from Tak Bai River to Ko Yao, preferably on a motorcycle.
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: The majority of Narathiwat locals are Muslims, which makes it easy to find halal street food and local eateries ?
3. Seremban - Pattani (5 hours 55 mins)
If you still prefer the laid-back lifestyle of Thailand’s Southern provinces, Pattani is a relaxing alternative. You can catch the intricate details of Thailand’s architecture at the Wat Chang Hai temple and City Pillar Shrine. Similarly, the gorgeous architecture of the Pattani Central Mosque and Krue Se Mosque will awe you as well!
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To unwind with the sounds of nature, there’s a relaxing beach called Laem Tachi that can take your mind off work. Take a quick dip on a sunny day and the cooling waters of Sai Khao Waterfall will wash your worries away.
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4. Kuala Lumpur - Hat Yai (6 hours 16 mins)
Arriving in Hat Yai after a six-hour drive comes with the reward of good food and great people. The town hosts a number of street markets such as the Greenway Night Market (for street food) and Kim Yong Market (for nuts and snacks). Another must-visit is the Hat Yai Floating Market where local vendors sell coconut ice cream, mango salad and other treats from their wooden boats.
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For the best overview of Hat Yai, you can hire a tuk-tuk and make your way to the famous Municipal Park. Not only will you get to use the panoramic feature on your smartphone, you can also marvel at the golden Buddha statue that peers above you.
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5. Petaling Jaya - Songkhla (6 hours 33 mins)
Some days, you just want to ditch your sandals and bury your feet in the sands. To satiate your desire for a beach holiday, take a scenic road trip to Songkhla. Here, the locals love to spend their time at Samila Beach which is popular due to a bronze mermaid statue.
Credit: @addamkemal on Instagram Since the beach has amassed a huge tourist following, there are many
ways to keep yourself occupied while you're here. You can go horse-riding, cool down with coconut ice cream, and enjoy Thai fried rice at the nearby eateries. For other things to do, check out the Songkhla National Museum, Songkhla Lake, and Wat Hat Yai Nai temple.
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6. Jitra - Phuket (7 hours 15 mins)
If it weren’t for Leonardo DiCaprio’s film ‘The Beach’, Phi Phi Island would have remained as Phuket’s best-kept secret. Until today, the island still welcomes an influx of tourists near and far. Thankfully, this paradise is only a seven-hour drive from Jitra in Kedah. When you arrive here, you can do a mix of watersports activities, sunset cruises, and diving.
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To create more footprints in the sand, you can check out Patong Beach and Karon Beach that are dotted with seaside resorts to stay. Similan Islands are equally stunning with its clear waters and soft sands, and with breathtaking coral reefs, it is every scuba diver's favourite spot.
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7. Taiping - Krabi (7 hours 16 mins) If you’ve been to Phuket, you should consider Krabi as your second option. Landscaped by limestone cliffs and tropical rainforests, the scenery is better than your desktop
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This Shangri-La is also close to Phi Phi Islands, but there are other beauties worthy of your attention, such as Railay Beach, Ko Lanta Yai, and Ko Poda.
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The best time to visit is during November until February where the weather remains cool and dry for beach hoppers. If you happen to be here when it’s warm, be as adventurous as you can be! You definitely need to try rock climbing, snorkelling, and white water rafting.
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8. George Town - Phang-nga (7 hours 47 mins)
It’s completely acceptable to play a James Bond theme song while you ride a long-tailed boat to the James Bond Island, fondly known as Koh Tapu. If you prefer to skip the famous limestone rock-like islets, there are still other things to see.
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There’s the lush Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Mueang National Park that the James Bond director completely missed out on ? The national park also has the cascading Namtok Lampi waterfall for a cool respite after a long day. Furthermore, Phang-nga is close to Surin Islands where you can catch whale sharks and manta rays sightings.
Credit: @th.sailor on Instagram Flying may sound like a convenient way
to travel, but there’s a lot to see beneath those fluffy white clouds. From beautiful landscapes and spontaneous pit stops, a great deal of adventure awaits road trippers. Whether you’re making a trip to Krabi or Hat Yai, any road trip to Thailand will renew your perspective on traveling ?