How to do a visa run from Koh Phangan in Thailand to Penang, Malaysia

Previously posted on Living Alpha, visit their site for more interesting travel stories. 

After arriving at the station we came across the famous “orient express” luxury train that one can only dream of travelling through Asia, and had enough time to take some photos and fantasise about the idea of spending thousands of dollars for a train ride up country. But we were on a budget so we went off by foot to cross the water by ferry before walking to Penang’s backpacking street “Love Lane”.

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We settled into our 80 Ringitt a night guest house, before dropping off my passport for my visa at Jim’s Place (the best place for Thai Visas in Malaysia) before dinner at my favourite Indian Restaurant in the world Sri Anwar Bandan in China Street, Little India (yes, it is weird having a China street in Little India rather than Chinatown). This place is simply the cheapest place I’ve ever eaten good “western” style indian food, and Sarah absolutely loved it because of the vegetarian options. We both ate huge meals, and the bill came to only 23 ringgit (230 baht) when in Bangkok a similar meal might cost closer to 100 Ringitt/1000 baht. Simply amazing!

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The next day we spent waiting for my visa, while Sarah needed to be back for school, so off we ran to the Air Asia Penang offices, which are little more than two staff with laptops and a printer. It turned out we couldn’t actually book flights there, so into a taxi she went, and managed to get a ticket back to Bangkok in time.

I had one more night to spend in Penang before hitting Koh Phangan, so checked into the Reggae hostel, which was slightly cheaper at 23 Ringitt a night including breakfast before hitting the local bars for the evening.

The next day was simply waiting around for a visa, before grabbing the minivan to the border, then off to Hat Yai in Thailand and realising that I was travelling to Koh Phangan the day before full moon without organising anything in advance. End result – having to spend 6 hours in the aisle of an overbooked bus to Surat Thani with zero sleep while the bus tried to make it in the pouring rain. Never again.

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