Kota Bharu (or Kota Baru) is an easy place to stop en route from Malaysia to the Thai border on the east coast. Kota Bharu is the state capital of Kelantan and in Malay the name means Newcastle. It’s an easy place to make the land border crossing between Malaysia and Thailand from Kota Bharu to Sungai Kolok. Some folks will go from the next town on the way north to the Malaysian border town of Rantau Panjang to Sungai Kolok, so we’ll cover those details too.
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Where to Stay in Kota Bharu
There are a host of places to stay in Kota Bharu – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Kota Bharu, mid-range places to stay in Kota Bharu, and budget accommodation in Kota Bharu.
Ibis Styles Kota Bharu, Kota Bharu: Ibis Styles Kota Bharu is ideally located in the center of Kota Bharu by the Kelantan River, conveniently surrounded by Kota Bharu’s main attractions. This top Kota Bharu hotel has rooms equipped with a smart TV, mini-bar, coffee/tea maker, a desk, an iron, a private bathroom with a hairdryer, free WiFi, and air-conditioning. You can take breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the Streat Café which offers different international cuisine and authentic signature Kelantanese dishes. This top hotel in Kota Bharu has a lobby café with a relaxing ambiance and the Ibis Styles Kota Bharu provides a comfortable and pleasant place to stay in Kota Bharu. Check room rates and availability here.
Holiday Villa Hotel & Suites, Kota Bharu: Holiday Villa Hotel & Suites is a four-star hotel with 108 rooms, each well-equipped with air-conditioning, flat-screen TV with cable channel, a private bathroom with a shower and hairdryer, in-room safety deposit box, and an electric kettle. The hotel’s Lagenda Restaurant serves both local Kelantanese and international cuisines. This fantastic mid-range hotel also has an indoor swimming pool, a gym, a sauna, and free WiFi. The Holiday Villa Hotel & Suites is the perfect place to relax after exploring Kota Bharu. See rates and availability here.
Tune Hotel, Kota Bharu: The Tune Hotel is located right at the center of Kota Bharu. Each room at this budget hotel is equipped with a TV, an in-room electronic safe, a private bathroom with a hot shower and hairdryer, air-conditioning, a ceiling fan, and towels and toiletries. The budget Kota Bharu hotel also has a restaurant for breakfast, brunch, late-night dinners, and desserts, and also a bar. The Tune Hotel in Kota Bharu has a comfortable vibe, ideal for a short stay when visiting Kota Bharu. Read more reviews and check rates and availability here.
Kota Bharu to Sungai Kolok Thailand Border Crossing Overview
The route from Kota Bharu to the Thailand border is easy. First, go by bus from Kota Bharu to Rantau Panjang, then walk 100 meters to the border controls There is around 1 kilometer of no man’s land, then the walk from the Sungai Kolok immigration to the town of Sungai Kolok.
The first stop on our trip north from Malaysia to Thailand is the Kota Bharu Central Bus Station. It’s easy to find and there’s free wifi when you get there. Bus 29 goes from Kota Bharu to Rantau Panjang. Rantau Panjang is the Kelantan Malaysian border town where you cross into Thailand.
When we traveled there was very little online booking available for buses, trains, and ferries in Thailand and Malaysia. That has now changed. While you cannot book the bus to the border with this service, if you’re in Kota Bharu heading south, then you can book online easily.
Kota Bharu to Rantau Panjang
The 29 bus goes from Kota Bharu to Rantau Panjang every 30 minutes. Rantau Panjang is the border town where you walk across the border to Thailand. When I say the buses go every 30 minutes, that’s what the timetable says. The reality is a little different. We arrive at 0730, the first bus was supposed to be at 0645. The number 29 bus arrives at 0740 and it leaves at 0803. The bus costs 5RM. The journey to Rantau Panjang from Kota Bharu is 45 kilometres.
If you are traveling from Sungai Kolok to Kota Bharu, then once you have crossed the border, just wait for the 29 bus and wave for it to stop, it will take you from Rantau Panjang to Kota Bharu.
The buses look better from the outside, but they’re seemingly connected on social media!
The Kota Bharu to Rantau Panjang journey time is just an hour. It is an obvious stop for the border and your driver will tell you its the border too.
Kota Bharu to Rantau Panjang Map
Rantau Panjang to the Malaysia- Thailand Border
From the bus stop, the walk to Rantau Panjang immigration is just 100 meters and it’s easy to spot.
Rantau Panjang Border Crossing Malaysia to Thailand
The border crossing here is on the Malaysia side, the Rantau Panjang border crossing, and the Sungai Kolok border crossing on the Thailand side. We arrived at the border at 09:08 and exiting Rantau Panjang Immigration took just a few minutes.
Malaysian Border to Thailand Border Distance
After you leave the Malaysian immigration, you will walk about a kilometer in no man’s land, then across a bridge over the Golok river, which forms the boundary between Malaysia and Thailand on the East Coast of both countries. You will now be at the Thailand Sungai Golok immigration post.
Thailand Immigration at Sungai Kolok
The Thai border control seemed much more interested in my passport than anything else, wanting to know where we were going, why and for how long. We’ve been into Thailand several times in the last year and I wonder if there’s anything flagged on my passport. Nigel gets straight in.
Kelantan Border Map with Thailand
This is the most used border crossing from Malaysian Kelantan to Thailand. And it is an easy crossing.
That’s it, its simple. You are now in Thailand
Sungai Kolok Immigration to Sungai Kolok
It is about 1 kilometer from the immigration post to the Sungai Kolok railway station and town. A motorcycle taxi will cost around 20 THB. Or it will take 15-20 minutes to walk. It is not an unpleasant walk.
It’s a further 20-minute walk to the Sungai Kolok (sometimes Sungai Golok Thailand) railway station where we found it easy (we were traveling in the off-season) to buy our train tickets from Sungai Kolok to Hua Hin.
FAQs – Rantau Panjang to Sungai Kolok
Are there Trains from Kota Bharu to Thailand?
While there are trains that run to and from Kota Bharu (the Jungle train from Wakaf Baharu), there are no trains directly into Thailand. You need to take a bus to the border and then take a train from Sungai Kolok to your onward destination.
Can you take a taxi across the border from Malaysia to Thailand?
No. There are no taxis or buses that cross the border here. You will need to walk across no man’s land. It’s about 1 kilometer.
Are Malaysia and Thailand in the same time zone?
No. There’s a one-hour time difference. Thailand is one hour BEHIND Malaysia.
How far is it from Immigration to the bus/train station in Sungai Kolok?
You need to walk (or grab a ride) from the Thai border to the town. It’s about 1 kilometer to the train station. A ride will cost around 20 THB.
How do you book trains/buses from Sungai Kolok to Hat Yai / Bangkok?
The most popular route from here is Sungai Kolok to Hatyai. You can book your trains in person at the train station when you arrive, depending on availability. However, we recommend pre-booking to ensure you can move on from Sungai Kolok. The best way to prebook your onward travel from Sungai Kolok is to use 12AsiaGo – check out options here.
What times are the trains from Sungai Kolok to Hay Yai / Bangkok?
There are two northbound departures from Sungai Kolok to Bangkok. they leave Sungai Kolokmat 1130 and 1420. These trains both stop in Yala, Hat Yai, and Surat Thani before the final stop in Hua Lamphong, Bangkok. The 1130 train arrives in Bangkok at 0845 the next day and the 1420 arrives at 1030. We recommend prebooking your trains, you can do that here.
Can you take a bus from Sungai Kolok?
Yes. Some buses and minivans leave the Thanon Wongwiwat bus terminal. Minivans go to Hat Yai (for Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, and also Bangkok transfers) every hour between 0600 – 1600. Trips take 4 hours. Book here.
Direct buses run from Sungai Kolok to Bangkok once a day. they take 15 hours and depart at 0800, 1130, and 1530. Book here
Where is the Sungai Kolok Bus Terminal?
The Sungai Kolok Bus Terminal is about 3 km from the town center. You can get directions to it here
Is there anywhere to wait for the trains/buses in Sungai Kolok?
Close to the train station is the Genting Hotel, where you can get wifi, food, and drinks. (Breakfast is 50 baht and a second coffee costs 25 baht later in the morning.) If you’re looking to stay the night in Sungai Kolok, we recommend the Green View Boutique Hotel (check rates here).
Kota Bharu to Thailand Resources
- Where we stayed in Khota Bharu – the Mizwar
- What to Eat in Penang
- Malaysia trains information from the Man at Seat61
Sungai Kolok – Where to Stay
If you do decide or need to stay in Sungai Kolok, then the best-rated hotel in Sungai Kolok is the Green View Boutique Hotel. There’s free wifi, a garden and a bar here, plus its close to the Sungai Kolok railway station for your onward travel – check out rates and book a room now
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Malaysia Travel Tips
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