5 Spectacular Train Journeys In Malaysia For An Amazing Girls’ Trip


Aishah •  Mar 26, 2019

[Updated 25 Nov 2019]

A getaway with your girlfriends is always fun, especially when you take on something new and exciting, like a train trip! Malaysia is full of some amazing train trips that promise an unforgettable time - whether you're looking for a foodie trip to Ipoh or want to travel up north to Padang Besar and Hat Yai, these train trips in will promise loads of fun memories for you your squad.

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Fill the time on the train chatting away about nothing and everything under the sun, playing some card games, and just spending some enjoyable quality time together. So pack your bag, gather your girls and get aboard the choo-choo for an unforgettable getaway of a lifetime!

Disclaimer: Prices shown are applicable as of Nov 2019

1. KL to Ipoh

For something that is closer to KL and doesn't involve long travelling hours, the hip yet quaint town of Ipoh is the perfect destination. Just a little over 2 hours from KL, Ipoh has been gaining much popularity as an ideal weekend escapade for its seamless blend of cultures and history, charming townscape, laid-back vibe, and did we mention the many local delights waiting to be devoured?


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The train service that will get you to Ipoh is the ETS (Electric Train Service), an intercity rail service that operates between the main cities of Semenanjung Malaysia. With a maximum operational speed of 140km/h, your trip to Ipoh will take around 2.5 hours - about the same travelling hours if you were to drive but without the hassle of bracing the traffic!

You can purchase the tickets on the KTM website, third-party websites such as 12goasia, and busonlineticket or at their ticket counters within 30 days from your departure date. As for the fares, it depends on the coach classes. There are three coach classes and what differentiates one from the other is the number of stops. ETS Platinum has the least stops and costs RM46 for an adult and RM27 for a child. This is followed by the Gold class which is priced at RM36 per adult and RM22 per child while the fare for the Silver class with the most amount of stops is RM25 per adult and RM17 per child. Our personal recommendation? Go with the Gold or Silver class as it will only set you back for around 15 minutes in comparison with the Platinum class.

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Escape the bustling and hectic KL Sentral station by opting to depart from the historic Kuala Lumpur station. The fare is still the same but with lesser crowd hence more time to settle down and more luggage space! Do keep in mind that the luggage rack is provided only at coach A and F so if you have lots of baggage, choose the seats on these coaches upon purchasing your ticket.

As for facilities onboard, you'll be overjoyed to know that there's a socket at each seat for your electronic gadgets. They also provide a musolla equipped with ablution area at coach C. And if you're ever feeling hungry, there's an onboard cafe that serves snacks and beverages.

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Affordable fare, great amenities and an awesome destination at the end of the tunnel waiting to be explored, there's no reason to not take the train on your next girls trip to Ipoh. Go on a foodie adventure with this list of ours and if you're ever in need of a place to bunk down for the night, we got you covered as well!

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2. KL to Padang Besar to Hat Yai

No girls trip is complete without a bit of shopping and filling your tummy with all the goodies you discover on your journey and what better place for these than the new Bangkok of Thailand, Hat Yai! Famous for its exciting markets such as the foodie heaven of Khlong Hae floating market and the crazy cheap goods at Asean Night Bazaar and Kim Yong Market, you and your girls will have a hard time leaving this place!

If it is adventure that you seek, this train trip will not disappoint. There are a few steps you have to make before reaching Hat Yai. The first step is to get to Padang Besar via the ETS. Only the Gold and Platinum class coach are offered to Padang Besar for RM76 and RM102 per adult respectively with a duration of around 4 hours 45 minutes (Platinum) to 5 hours 30 minutes (Gold) from KL. Sit back and enjoy the calming and picturesque view of the Malaysian countryside - quaint kampung houses, sloping hillside and emerald paddy fields as far as the eyes can see.

Upon alighting, you can choose to go straight to Hat Yai. Or you can roam around Padang Besar, a small town in Perlis bordering the Songkhla province of Thailand with charms of its own. Also known as Pekan Siam, it is a popular shopping spot among the locals for its cheap goodies from both Malaysia and Thailand. Sample the many street snacks and put your bargaining skills to the test at one of their many open-air markets! Just take your pick between Complex Arked Niaga, Gapura Square, Jalan Besar or Padang Waremart.

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Now back to our journey to Hat Yai! Once you're done with customs and immigration, there are a few options you can choose from to get to Hat Yai. The most popular and recommended means of transportation is by shared van. Air-conditioned, spacious and comfy, the one-hour ride to Hat Yai will only set you back 150 baht or RM20 per person. But if you're committed to the whole train journey experience, the SRT (State Railway of Thailand) is your answer!

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The SRT from Padang Besar only operates twice daily - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Train number 948 leaves Padang Besar daily at 8:55 am Thai time (9:55 Malaysian time) while train number 950 leaves at 3:40 pm Thai time (4:40 pm Malaysian time). Time your arrival to the train station at least an hour before your chosen train departs as the SRT ticket cannot be booked in advance.

It can only be purchased on the day of the departure at the SRT ticket office located at the northern end of platform 2. To add, the counter is only open for business one hour before the morning train and two hours before for the afternoon one. It will cost you 50 baht (for third-class carriages which are fan-cooled) or 70 baht (for second class carriages which are air-conditioned) a person and should get you to Hat Yai city centre in under one hour.

3. KL to JB to Singapore

What better place for a short yet sweet girls' getaway than Singapore! From the many heart-thumping and thrilling rides of Universal Studios Singapore to the world-renowned Changi airport worthy of a destination itself, the jaw-dropping beauty of their Garden by the Bay and the endless variety of cuisine to be devoured, these are just the tip of the iceberg of what Singapore has to offer.

(P.S. We've written extensively on Singapore be it on attractions, hidden gems, halal cafes and prayer spaces so go ahead and peruse them!)

Credit: Resorts World Sentosa on Facebook

The journey to Singapore from KL is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is get on the ETS at KL Sentral to Gemas, detrain, then take the KTM to JB Sentral. Note however that only two trips are available to Gemas from KL - at 12 pm and 12 am. Adult fare to Gemas from KL is RM 31 while the ride to JB Sentral from Gemas is RM 21. From JB Sentral, take the 5-minute shuttle train to Woodlands for RM5. Keep in mind that it is hard to get a train seat to Woodlands as it is a coveted form of transportation to Singapore, especially with early morning commuters so book in advance! Or you can just take the many buses en route to Singapore.

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If you are taking the bus, it is advisable to just walk from JB Sentral to JB Checkpoint for customs clearance. Then take the bus at JB Checkpoint to your chosen stop. The fare differs according to your stop but it shouldn't take you more than RM10 (fare from JB Checkpoint to Changi Airport). Do prepare small change of Singaporean notes as well as certain bus services such as SMRT and SBS Transit only accept Singaporean money.

Once you're done with immigration at Woodlands, lo and behold, you are now in Singapore, the Land of the Lion! Of course, there is also the option of visiting JB for a day or two either before or after your visit to Singapore. Feel free to browse through our many articles on JB to assist you with your trip!

4. Johor Bahru to Penang

Ah, yes. Who hasn't heard of Penang? The unofficial and unanimous food capital of Malaysia. Its world-renowned photogenic street art.  The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgetown. The many Insta-worthy hipster cafes. The list goes on and on and on. Full of things to do, see, eat and everything in between, an all-girls trip to the Pearl of the Orient promises to be exciting and lots of fun.

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Instead of the usual road trip or plane ride from JB to Penang, why not take the road less travelled, or in this case, the rail less travelled. Longer time, yes, but you'll be transported to parts of Malaysia you've probably never seen before! Feast your eyes on the relaxing scene of mountainous backdrop, lush tropical greenery and rural landscape of smaller towns.

There is no direct train from JB to Penang. You'll need to take two separate train services. First, from JB Sentral, take the KTM Intercity to Gemas station. Fares for the 4-hour ride differ according to coach class. The superior second class is RM21 per adult while the superior night class, which is a sleeper bunk basically, costs RM27 for the upper berth and RM33 for the lower one. Once you've arrived at Gemas station, take the ETS to Butterworth, Penang. Only one train trip is offered daily from Gemas straight to Butterworth at 3:10 pm so plan your journey ahead to avoid missing it! Priced at RM83 per head, the trip will take about 7 hours. The train passes through KL and Ipoh so if you wish, you could plan your trip to include these cities.

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We're almost there now! From Butterworth, walk your way to the pier, take a quick ferry ride across to George Town and rejoice, for you've made it to Penang island. All that's left to do now is to have some joyous and boisterous time with your girlfriends!

(PS: If you're ever in need of places to eat in Penang, just take a look at our many food articles on Penang!)

5. Tanjung Aru to Beaufort to Tenom (Sabah)

Relives memories of the bygone colonial era on board the antique locomotives of Sabah State Railway (SSR)! With a long history dated from the early 20th century, the nostalgic ride will take you through the provincial parts of Borneo across verdant rainforest, sprawling plantations and rustic villages, perfect for those seeking a one-of-a-kind train experience.

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Before we begin our journey, take note that no online ticket booking is available. The ticket can only be purchased on the day of the departure at the ticket counter at the train station. Also, the train from Tanjung Aru (where we will begin our journey) only operates twice daily - once in the morning at 7:45 am and once in the afternoon at 5:30 pm for Monday to Saturday and 5:00 pm on Sunday and public holidays. To avoid any difficulties, arrive at least 30 minutes early. You can check the schedule here.

The starting point of the SSR is at Tanjung Aru, about a 10-minute drive from the Kota Kinabalu airport. As of yet, the SSR doesn't offer a direct train ride to Tenom. As different types of trains are used along the route, those heading to Tenom will have to alight at Beaufort for a train change. A popular stopover among travellers doing the Borneo overland trail, you could include Beaufort in your itinerary for a quick stroll around or a quick bite of the local delicacies.

If you do spend some time in Beaufort, the fare would be RM 4.80 from Tanjung Aru. Then, from Beaufort to Tenom, the ticket is RM2.75. But if you plan to head straight to Tenom from Tanjung Aru, the fare should cost RM 7.50 per adult. Another train change is in order at Halogilat Station to a lighter two-coaches diesel locomotive more suited for the winding rail tracks along the Padas River.

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Have a taste of the yesteryear on board the old school train and strike a conversation with the locals. With an amazing scenic view accompanying you and your girls throughout the ride, the quote "the journey is the destination" has never sounded so true.

#HHWT Tip: For the best view, sit on the right side of the train!

Yes, train rides oftentimes take longer to reach a destination. But instead of looking at it as a waste of time, why not look at it as an opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, strengthening your bond at a leisurely pace.