Crossing the Sungai Kolok border into Malaysia was rather uneventful, but for a place that has had a history of violence between the Muslim minority and the ruling Buddhist majority, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While I was hesitant at first, especially after seeing all the machine-gun wielding guards pacing back and forth through the train, things turned out to be just fine. Being my first experience in a predominantly Muslim area of any country, I was intrigued by the hijaab wearing females and the Taqiyah wearing men, but as with the rest of Thailand, they were all friendly smiles. I was, however, the only tourist to get off the train that day, so to say this a remote corner of the country is no exaggeration.
The actual logistics of crossing the Sungai Kolok border were rather simple, but here is the simple rundown:
- I changed my money at a small shop just to the left as you leave the train station. The rate turned out to be better than in the next Malaysian city I visited.
- 30 Baht gets you a ride from the train station to the border located just 1 km away
- After you get your exit stamp from Thailand, a few hundred meters ahead you’ll cross a bridge and get your 90-day Visa into Malaysia
- In Malaysia, you can either grab a cab (8RM) or wait for Bus 29 (5RM), which takes you to the nearest town of Kota Bharu. Cab’s and buses can take you all the way to the boat pier if you’d like to get to the Perhentian Islands the same day, totally doable.
Personally, I’m stopping in Kota Bharu for a few days to get a feel for some real traditional Malay culture.