"Buses drive faster, are much better to travel. But the local train through the jungle is very charming"
Ben van Wijnen
A lot of train are riding around Kuala Lumpur to the suburbs and to the
International Airport, but when you want to go to the North, then the
train will depart twice a day One will leave at 14.55 from KL Sentral and
arrives at 23.15 at Butterworth. The other om depart at 19.50 and arrives
the next day at 6.04 in Butterworth. Travelling by train is not expensive, but
the time of departure is not so good.
You want to go from Kuala Lumpur
by train to Langkawi. Your journey will start at KL Sentral (KL) and
the departure time is
21.30. That's in the evening and you will be travelling in the dark most of the time.
You won't see much of the landscape! You 'll
have a cabin with 4 beds (4 persons) and washbasin. The
price is really fair. Two adults and two children will cost you RM
When the sun rises near Alor Setar, you can have a look
outside. Around 8 o'clock the train arrives in Arau. Here you get off the train and you'll take a taxi to Kuala Kedah for the ferry
to Langkawi. This taxi will cost you around RM 14.
Nowadays you can take a fast train from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh. From there you have a slow
train. In the future there will fast trains all over the country.
But... for all train reservations: click on the banner at the right. Even if you want a ticket to/ from Thailand or Singapore.
Easy Booking Train Tickets
click on this banner for reservation
The jungle train at the end of its
jungle trip in Gua Musang (photo Bill & Jaz)
Still there are two sections
very interesting for us, as tourists: The "Eastern Oriental Express"
and the "Jungletrain"
The Jungletrain is more basic. You can choose a hard seater or a soft
seater, there are air-conditioned compartments and there are non air-conditioned compartments. In the last you will meet the local people,
travelling to another kampong or there are girls/boys going to school.
The Eastern and Oriental Express has a lot of luxury. The train is going
from Singapore to Bangkok and stops in every interesting city's along the
railroad (Malakka, Kuala Lumpur ,Butterworth (Penang)). In these places
the train will stop for some hours, so that the passengers can make an
excursion. This train is expensive: 1500 US or Euro.
The jungle train is travelling through the jungle from Gemas to Tumpat,
which is near Kota Bahru (10 km). If you want to make that trip, you have
to do South to Gemas. Maybe you can stop for a night in Malakka, which is
a very interesting town with its colonial history.
From Gemas the train will go North to the Thai border (Tumpat).
There are regular buses shuttle passengers from Jerantut to Kuala Tahan – the base camp for the Taman Negara occupying the heart of the rainforest.
Despite its rural location there is no shortage of hotels, shops and barge restaurants in Kuala Tahan, serving local dishes such as kaya jam toast – a peculiar but sweet mix of coconut and eggs often eaten at breakfast.
you come for the first time to Malaysia, then it will be better to
visit the National Park Taman Negara at first. You'll come back out
of the jungle by boat at twelve o'clock from Taman Negara to Kuala
Tembeling, In Tembeling you can take a taxi to the nearest station.
Probably this will be: Mela or Jerantut.
Plenty of taxi's will be waiting for you to bring you to the nearest
The train will leave at 13.00 hours, so you don't have to hurry.
The passage to Tumpat will take 8 hours. Late in the evening
you'll arrive in Tumpat.
From the little towns Jerantut or Mela the train will go North and
you will be travelling through the thick jungle. The train will stop
at a kampong to let passengers in and out. Sometimes schoolgirls,
which are going home, sometimes a local who wants to visit some
The whole stretch has only one track. Every time the train stops
(8x), the vendors will come so sell you eggs, litchi's, cake
or those plastics bags with lemonade.
As a foreigner you are a an "object of interest".
Specially when you have chosen for a hard seater (wooden
The locals don't even dare to sit beside you. Just invite them to
sit next to you.
Untill Gua Musang you will see nothing but jungle and sometimes a
kampong.Near Gua Musang you get more view of the landscape. The
green jungle is behind and you will see more rice fields.
You're arriving late in Tumpat, but don't worry, a lot of taxi's are
waiting to bring you to Kota Bahru, the capital of Kelantan. The
taxi-driver will take you to the hotel you want, even when you haven't
There's a daytrain and a nighttrain on the track from Gemas to Tumpat. The
daytrain is stopping more often then the nighttrain. It's obvious, that
the daytrain does the track in shorter time, because less people are
getting of the train.
But what the train lacks in comforts, it makes up for in charm and scenery, as breathtaking views of the Malaysian jungle unfold out of the window.
The train regularly grinds to a halt at towns and villages along the way. Some stations and their platforms are well marked, while at others, their names are inked on wooden signs in the ground.
Local women in headscarves board the carriages, hauling oversized bundles of vegetables and wood. Observing men, women and schoolchildren hopping on and off the train is a great way to immerse yourself in Malaysian culture.
A sea of green trees rushes past the window in a blur, occasionally broken up by hilly terrain where sharp rock faces stand to attention beside the tracks.
Train Booking KTM below at the banner!
Around Kuala Lipis. Anyone knows this station?
(photo Bill & Jaz)
José had a "hard seater" and she told me this about the jungle train:
was on Saturday from Mela. It was quit busy on the train, because of
the school holidays, I think. We had chosen for a hard seater,
because we thought it was only 8 hours on the train.
Later on our mood became more pessimistic, because it took a long
time. There was only one track for the train. We had to stop
for some time, wait three quarters of an hours and then the train
moved along. Then again stopping, waiting three quarters of an hour
and again moving along. That was about six times.
Indeed there were air-conditioned compartments, but we booked one
without airco. Sometimes people went to the these air-conditioned
compartments to cool down. It seems, that the night express is
moving much faster.
The last stretch (Gua Musang - Tumpat) was very beautiful: there
were mountains and we had a lovely view. In the jungle you'll see
only green. Just trees and sometimes a kampong.
Every time, when the train stops, the locals will come to sell you
snacks or drinks. Children were staring at us on the train. No one
was sitting next to us. We invited them to sit next to us, but...
when you're 8 feet tall..... We didn't look so strange!
Finally we arrived at 11 o'clock in Tumpat (near Kota Bahru). To
hours later then planned. There were a lot of taxi's waiting to
bring us to Kota Bahru. We were tired and maybe we paid to much for
the taxi ride, but he went with us to several hotels. Most of them
were fully booked, because of the school holidays. But he gave us
the right address for a a wonderful stay on the Perhentian Islands:
Suria Resort or Coral Bay."
Mela Station (photo Bill & Jaz)
Beds in the jungletrain (trip: Tumpat - Gemas)
Ben van Wijnen