Komplex Imigresen Rantau Panjang (photo: Bill and
from the east coast may take a bus or share-taxi from Kota Bharu to the border
town of Rantau Panjang. This border town is very popular for shopping because
it's a duty free area.
Bus number 29 leaves every ½ hour from
Kota Bharu Central Station for Rantau Panjang. It takes about an hour to get
there by bus. By taxi it will take half an hour.
A short walk
across the border, conduct immigration formalities and then take a
to the train station in Sungai Golok where trains will continue onto Hat Yai
for connections onto Bangkok.
Rentau Panjang is named from a long line
of houses built during the construction of the east coast railway.
Rentau Panjang means ‘the long reach’ and it's the junction for people of the
two countries where the Malaysians do their shopping of consumer goods and
enjoy seafood in Thai restaurants, because of cheaper prices, while the Thai
tourists make their trip through the border to shop some unusual items at
Rantau Panjang town. Duty free shops offer trousers, cigarettes, liquors, chocolates,
camera, cosmetics, electrical, gift, pen, perfume and watches.
Looking to the Malay customs office (photo: Bill and Jaz)
Access by train from Thailand to Malaysia is done by ordinary trains.
Connections are possible from both the east and west coasts of Malaysia. On
the west coast visitors travelling to Thailand, must get off the Kereta Api
Tanah Melayu (KTM) train (Malaysian Railway) at the border of Padang Besar and
transfer to a train operated by the State Railway of Thailand, which then goes
on towards Hat Yai, terminating in Bangkok.
The travelling time from Hat Yai to Bangkok is about 16 hours.
The Sungai Golok Train Station (Photo: Bill and Jaz)
From the east coast travellers may take a bus or share-taxi from Kota Bharu to
the border town of Rantau Panjang (about 30 minutes): A short walk across the
border, conduct immigration formalities and then take a trishaw to the train
station in Sungai Golok where trains will continue onto Hat Yai for
connections onto Bangkok.
When you look at the map, you'll find a railroad track
between Kota Bharu and Thailand. But there are only cargo
services (train No 703/704) going between Hat Yai to Rantu Panjang via Sungai
Golok. However there's a modern station with all regular facilities, an
air-conditioned lobby and a staffed ticket-counter. Trains? no trains, except
goods trains as per demand. Daily? not necessarily. When was the station
built? 1998, they say in 2000.
Welcome in Sungai Golok (Photo: Bill and Jaz)
Thailand / Malaysia the legal land border crossings are:
1. Sadao (T) / Changloon (M)
2. Padang Besar (T) / Kaki Bukit (M)
3. Betong (T) / Keroh (M)
4. Sungai Golok (T) / Rantau Panjang (M).
Looking at Thailand (Photo: Bill and Jaz)
The TV stations once showed clips of so-called rice smugglers walking across
the Malaysian-Thai border. According to a retired Police Inspector, Affendi,
these people are merely couriers. They are paid a certain amount for every
sack of rice they carry across the border.
“I used to be the Inspector of Rantau Panjang,” said Affendi. “We didn’t
bother about these people walking across the border. These people are not
smugglers. They are just couriers earning a living. If we stop them from
earning a living this way, then they may resort to other means to make a
living, like crime.”
True enough, these ‘smugglers’ walk across the border with sacks of rice on
their heads right under the noses of the police, immigration and customs
officers. And, to the authorities, they are not committing any crime.
“Sometimes we need to take action just to show we are doing our job,” said
Affendi. “So we tip off the bosses that we will be making a raid that night.
We then agree that they will abandon one or two lorries for us to
“The driver will of course ‘escape’,” said Affendi laughing.