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From Thailand to Penang

From Thailand to Penang

Thailand’s new visa laws are a pain in the butt. Thankfully, getting from Thailand to Penang, Malaysia, to apply for a new two-month visa is relatively easy!

Thailand Visas

If you arrive overland in Thailand you will only receive a 15-day visa. If you arrive at an airport by flight, you receive one month. Both are hardly sufficient to see this great country. The best option is to apply for a Tourist Visa (60 days) before you arrive in Thailand. You must apply for the tourist visa outside of Thailand before entering!

From Thailand to Penang

You have several choices for making a visa run if already in Thailand, however, Penang is one of the most pleasant and friendliest options — particularly from the west/Andaman coast in Thailand.

The minibus from Thailand to Penang, Malaysia, takes around eight hours from Krabi town, depending on traffic, the organization of your travel agency, and the audacity of your driver. Many agencies will wait until minibuses are full (particularly during the low season) before heading out to Penang. You may have to wait at the travel agency and/or change buses several times.

Minibuses from Thailand to Penang

Depending on where you book, you can find bargains from Thailand to Penang. In the low season, expect to pay around 600 – 800 baht for a bus into Malaysia. The minibuses are often small, cramped affairs because they have no room built in for luggage! All seats are sold and people have to fit in around luggage and backpacks.

Your minibus may make only one short stop on the way to Penang, not including the required stops for immigration; consider bringing some snacks with you.

Crossing the Border

Your minibus will stop once to get you stamped out of Thailand, then again shortly after to get you through the small immigration point into Malaysia. The queues are rarely long and the officials are typically friendlier than other crossing points.

Arriving in Penang

Your minibus driver will probably drive over the bridge directly into Georgetown so that you do not have to take the ferry. The driver will also probably default to dropping everyone at Komtar station – the main bus terminal and big shopping tower in Georgetown. Chinatown and budget accommodation are about a 20 minute walk north of here. Instead, you can insist or request that your driver take you to Love Land or Jalan Chulia – both in Chinatown and the heart of the backpacking scene in Penang.

Getting a Tourist Visa in Penang

The Thai embassy in Penang is friendly enough. You’ll need to take a bus down Burma road to the embassy, a quick search online will yield an address and directions. Bring a passport photo with you. The visas are usually processed in 1 – 2 working days (don’t count on weekends and holidays) by a mostly friendly staff. The onward ticket requirement is rarely asked for here, but dressing a little nicer than usual can’t hurt!

Getting Back to Thailand

When ready, you can book your minibus back to Thailand at any travel agency or hostel. Don’t run back too soon; hang out in Penang and enjoy the diverse food before you get stuck on pad thai and curries again!

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