What’s cheaper and easier, flying or taking the train to Malaysia?
Decisions, decisions. I wanted to return to Malaysia as I had to leave a little to soon before. From Bangkok one would think that a short budget flight would be the answer. And it should have been. Only I wanted a last minute flight, and the price was … well, reasonable.
Only problem was, I’d only seen the price, and not the “extras“.
Buying a cheap flight in South East Asia is not always that cheap, nor easy!
Without naming names … Alright, it was AirAsia. I looked up several flights. Not bad prices. I chose one, then clicked next.
What a great start to confidence building. I waited an hour and tried again.
Things started to work this time around. I clicked next, and was presented with Airport tax along with fuel surcharges (why???).
- Lot’s of form filling … next.
- Then, Baggage fees.
- More form filling.
- Then pick a seat. Looks like one has already been chosen for me by default … wait … look to the left and see you are being charged for this. Deselect!
- Que an annoying pop up box saying I’ve not chosen a seat!!
- Click confirm and continue … another pop up box!
- Next page, insurance has now been automatically chosen for me at some more cost. No thanks, next.
- Wait … where do I untick here … there is nothing, I have to click a small “cancel” button. Is that right? … yes, another annoying pop up.
- Now something else about buying more “travel protection”. No thanks.
- Now they want me to buy a skybus ticket. Okay .. I will, I save 2 ringit.
And …. loading …. loading … Server time out!
It’s a good thing I am not on holiday and depending on this serice. For the record, I tweeted two AirAsia accounts, and got no reply. Being more sensible, I went to the train station and bought a one way ticket to Malaysia in 5 minutes. And, got a service with a smile.
Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur direct … or … stop for the world’s best meal …
Apparently I could have booked myself all the way overland to Kuala Lumpur, but just as I was about to, I realised I was in no real rush.
And, the true beauty of train travel, is to get on and off and explore.
It also meant I could revist my favourite place in West Malaysia, Penang. If for nothing else, the world’s best Tandoori Chicken.
The train left Bangkok station on time. No three hour checkins. No taking one’s shoes or belt off. No taking your laptops out. Heck, I could even take my bottle of water with me. No security, no stress, no hassles.
Choosing the right seat
Luck was with me some more as I sat opposite an old British long term traveler. He didn’t care for talk about what to see or do, instead we enjoyed ripping into Bangkok’s tourists and their daily plight. So, yes. An enjoyable train journey.
Coupled with a quite good dinner service, a little man made my bed with clean sheets and a blanket. And, I got an even better breakfast service. I really can’t complain about the overnight journey.
First thing to do when you arrive in Penang …
I arrived just past lunch time. By the time I got my next ticket and got the ferry to Georgetown it was nearly 2pm. There’s a clear drop in standards between Bangkok rail, and Malaysian. That’s said, the food in Penang knocks Bangkok on it’s heels.
Tandoori eaten, I checked in, with still enough time to go and visit the old fort and pier area.
Plane or Train from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, which was cheaper?
Taking into account an extra night in Penang, and the extra charges with AirAsia. The Train route saved me 1,000 Bhat. And, I had a lot less stress, met some nice people, and revisited a great place.
No contest, the slow train won this one.
Planning on booking a hotel room in Malaysia?
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Fort Cornwallis a quick look before an early start …