What a mission. Leaving Langkawi in Malaysia to reach a destination in Thailand is an experience. To say the least. It is a long and tiring day full of sitting, sitting, and more sitting. The upside though is that organising the travel between the two countries was very easy.
We did some research online, Langkawi Ferry goes straight to Satun in Thailand, from there we would need to get a bus or train to Hat Yai which meant having to catch songteaws or local buses from the Satun ferry port to the bus / train station and then up to Hat Yai. Seemed easy enough.
We chose the easier option and bought pre-organised "tour" tickets that would pick us up from our guesthouse and deliver us by any means straight to the centre of Hat Yai. All for the cost of RM 70.00 each.
Leg 1 - Pantai Cenang to Langkawi Ferry Port
Our day of traveling started at 8:15am. We were picked up by a local taxi / minivan who proceeded to pick up other fellow tourists on our way to the ferry port of Langkawi. With a minivan full of people and many bags, the ride to the ferry port was certainly close-knit.
Arriving at the ferry port of Langkawi, we were ushered over to stand in a group whilst our "tour guide" organised our ferry tickets for us. Time was getting closer to the 9:45am departure and we hadn't yet gone through Immigration.
Tickets for the ferry to Satun received, a quick stamp in our passport from the Malay Immigration staff and we were on our way to Thailand.
Yes, I was excited to be leaving Malaysia for Thailand but only because I was ready to experience what another country has to offer. We had been in Malaysia for six weeks by this stage and still hasn't seen even half of what Malaysia had to offer. We will be back Malaysia. Sometime soon(ish).
Leg 2 - Langkawi Ferry Port, Malaysia to Satun Ferry Port, Thailand
Choose the seats closest to the door to the outside world and the ferry ride from Langkawi to Satun can be quite enjoyable. There isn't a cafe on board this ferry boat so make sure you have brought something to munch on for a snack. No one likes a hungry unhappy traveler. Especially since the ferry ride from Langkawi to Satun takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add on to those numbers the amount of time it takes people to load on their massive suitcases to the ferry and you are looking at at least an extra 30 minutes. 1 hour and 45 minutes on the ferry.
The Langkawi Ferry plays a movie for your enjoyment whilst on the ocean which is nice as it does give you something else to do apart from look out the window or read your book. It is advisable to try and not go to the bathroom on this ferry as they are not pristine.
Apart from the bathroom, the ride from Langkawi in Malaysia to Satun in Thailand was quite enjoyable. The staff were all lovely and very helpful, the view was delightful and the company was great.
Goodbye Malaysia. Hello Thailand.
Leg 3: Songteaw from Satun Ferry Port to the local Bus Station of Satun, Thailand
Arriving in Satun, Thailand, we all got off the ferry and lined up to the go through the Thai Immigration process. We all received Thai Arrival and Departure cards to complete as per normal, so pens were being shared around the people waiting in line. As we had already pre-organised our Thai Tourist Visa's from home, we were granted our 60 day Thai Tourist Visas straight away. Many tourists were only given 15 day tourist visas as they had arrived by boat. This is the same if you arrive in Thailand by bus or ferry. If you arrive by plane, you receive a 30 day visa. I am glad we pre-organised our Thailand Tourist Visas from home.
A new stamp in our passports, and we were now officially in Thailand! Satun Ferry Port is simple, has a couple of eateries which includes a very good coffee shop that makes real coffee with coffee beans. Relax here while you wait for your "tour guide" to usher you on to the songteaw with the rest of the weary travelers. You can also change your Ringget for Baht for a reasonable exchange rate at the Satun Ferry Port.
A short, comfy and airy songteaw ride took us from the ferry port to the local bus station for our bus to Hat Yai. It was an enjoyable ride as it was our first glimpse of Thailand again in over two years. We also lost an hour. It was now 10am again.
Leg 4: Local Bus from Satun to Hat Yai in Thailand
What luxury! A whole bus from Satun to Hat Yai for seven western tourists. Could this be our lucky day? Unfortunately not. The ride from Satun to Hat Yai was still very pleasant. Our bus ended up being a local bus so the bus driver was stopping every few minutes to pick up and drop off people all the way from Satun to Hat Yai.
Entertainment was provided by the means of a local Thai country and western singer in concert on the television at the front of the bus. Watching and listening to this man sing was enjoyable. I wish I had gotten the singers name as I am sure our parents would have loved him.
The ride from Satun to Hat Yai took close to 4 hours in total. People were getting on and off constantly, at one point, the bus was completely full. Once the bus reached Hat Yai, you could tell the bus driver where you wanted to get off in Hat Yai and he will try to get you as close as he can. Otherwise the bus will go straight to the Hat Yai Bus Terminal. This is fine if you are taking an ongoing bus from Hat Yai to some other part of Thailand. For us, it meant that we then had to walk a few blocks and catch a songteaw back into the centre of Hat Yai town. No biggie there, pay no more than 40B per person for the ride to the Hat Yai train station.
We were now in Hat Yai, Thailand. Only took 7 hours in total (we lost an hour going from Malaysia to Thailand).