How to Cross Thai-Malaysian Border by Land: Bus From Hat Yai to Penang

Yes, I am aware that it's almost 1.5 years since I came back from my last Indochina trip. But I'm still writing about my experience, from flying with Vietnam Airlines to getting sick in Vientiane. As I initially planned, I also headed back to Malaysia from Thailand by crossing the border with a bus from Hat Yai to Penang. And today, I'm going to talk about the latter! 🙂

As I previously mentioned, Hat Yai in Songkhla Province is more popular for Malaysian visitors since the city is only 4 hours away from Penang. And because of that, it's relatively easy to find a bus that departs from Hat Yai to Penang or even some other cities in Malaysia.

I took the bus to Penang since my last visit to the city, it was a really short trip for my friend's wedding, so I guess I would stop by to explore some other areas there. My other intention to stop by Penang is also to make sure that Laksa Penang is really better than Laksa Sarawak, a mere belief that most people from Peninsular Malaysia think when they talk about laksa. Spoiler alert, I stand with my belief and I think Laksa Sarawak is better! 😛

Crossing the Border From Thailand to Malaysia by Land

One of the easiest ways to cross the border to Malaysia from Thailand is by bus. From Hat Yai, there are some bus options available to several cities in Malaysia. Even if you're planning to go straight to Kuala Lumpur, you can also find a bus that might take around 6-8 hours from Hat Yai.


I booked the bus ticket through 12Go, and I paid 48.51 MYR (around $11.80) for the bus ticket with the route from Hat Yai Nominatee Tour to Komtar New Asian Travel in Penang. To be honest, it was actually my first time to book through 12Go since I usually booked the bus ticket through Easybook whenever I travel to Malaysia.

So, how was my experience crossing the border from Thailand to Malaysia by bus?

Hat Yai Nominatee Tour in Hat Yai, Thailand.
Hat Yai Nominatee Tour in Hat Yai, Thailand.

Bus From Hat Yai in Thailand to Penang in Malaysia

It was written on the ticket that my bus would depart from Hat Yai Nominatee Tour at 12.30 PM. I checked the location on the map and GrabApp, and I also had early lunch before I went to Hat Yai Nominatee Tour office.

The office is located around 15-minute driving from SC Heritage Hotel. It is relatively easy to find, although to be honest there's nothing fancy about the office. There's no air conditioner or anything since it's more like a public space.

Check-in Process

By the time I arrived, I had checked in through the receptionist desk, and she assisted me in confirming the ticket. The process was quite easy, and the receptionist could speak English very well, so there was no problem with the check-in process.

It was only after I checked in when I was sitting to wait for the bus and I realized that I wore my pants upside down. LMAO.

It was super stupid from my end, but anywayyyy…

Thai-Malaysian Border Service with Hat Yai Nominatee Tour

The bus that took us from Hat Yai to Penang was more like a minibus with a capacity of 10 passengers. There was nothing fancy about the bus, but at least the air conditioner worked just fine, and it also departed on time.

Normally, when you take a minibus in my home country, they usually don't stop to take some passengers other than the departure point. But apparently, it wasn't the case with Hat Yai Nominatee Tour.

We stopped the bus a few times to get more passengers until we reached the Thai-Malaysian border. I think it took us only around an hour from Hat Yai city center to get to the border, and it wasn't anything complicated.

We had to get off the bus for the immigration and bring our own belongings for the customs. Although thankfully, unlike some border services in Vietnam or Cambodian-Lao one, at least the border service from Thailand to Malaysia was quite easy. It went pretty similar to when I crossed the border from West Kalimantan in Indonesia to Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo.

We only had to stamp our passport, let the customs check what's on our bag, and the driver would wait for us on the other side of the building.

My Final Verdict: Hat Yai-Penang Bus with Hat Yai Nominatee Tour

For the border service, I had nothing to complain as it was relatively easy. I wasn't sure if it was because I'm a Southeast Asian passport holder, but some Italian travelers were on the same bus as me, and there was no major problem with immigration and customs.

We even arrived a bit faster than the estimated time of arrival. On the ticket, it was written that we would reach Penang at 5.30 PM. But we actually got to Georgetown an hour sooner than expected.

The only downside is the arrival point, since I expected to stop by Komtar, the central bus station around Georgetown in Penang since it was written on my ticket. However, it wasn't the case since the driver dropped me off somewhere around Georgetown in front of the hotel where the Italian tourists stayed.

So sorry, I totally forgot the hotel's name, but it was nowhere close to Komtar for sure.


  • The bus ticket is affordable, and it's easy to book with some booking platforms available in both countries like 12Go, EasyBook, etc. 
  • The border service went quite smoothly with no significant problem in both immigration and customs. 
  • It's definitely convenient compared to the border services in Indochina. 
  • The bus departs on time, and we even arrived in Penang earlier than expected. 


  • They occasionally stop somewhere to take more passengers. 
  • The information written on the ticket is not accurate, given the idea they mentioned that the last stop would be Komtar, and they dropped me off elsewhere. 

Based on my experience, I personally think that the border service from Hat Yai to Penang with Hat Yai Nominatee Tour was quite efficient. Despite getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere, I would still recommend the border service if you're looking for a budget alternative to cross the border from Thailand to Malaysia.

Not only is it affordable, but it was also quite an easy process hopping on and off the bus to get through the border.

So, are you planning for your next trip from Thailand to Malaysia or vice versa? Or have you taken the same border service with a different experience? Share your two cents in the comment below, and cheerio! 😀


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