Travelling to Thailand from Malaysia? Here’s what you need to know

Hannes Ausmees

Planning a getaway? If you’d like to travel to Thailand from Malaysia for a break - or even for business - this guide is for you. While Covid restrictions previously meant that travel options were extremely limited, in 2023 things are returning to normal.

Getting to Thailand from Malaysia is far easier now - read on for all you need to know. We’ll also touch on how to make your money go further on your trip, with the Wise card.


Covid update: Thailand border opening for Malaysians

Let’s start with the most important question - can Malaysians travel to Thailand now?

While Thailand - like most of the world - closed its borders during the height of the Covid pandemic, most Covid related restrictions were dropped by the Thai authorities in October 2022. After some reports that restrictions were on the way back, the Tourism Authority of Thailand reaffirmed its commitment to this fully-reopen-to-tourism policy on 13 February 2023.

Do I need a PCR test to enter Thailand?

Under the present rules, Malaysians visiting Thailand do not need to provide any Covid related documentation, so there’s no need to have a negative Covid test to show on arrival. There’s also no need to quarantine or complete any specific Covid related measures as part of your entry to Thailand.

As we’ve seen, rules and restrictions can change pretty quickly, and often without much notice. Before you travel, you’ll want to double check the latest updates on Thai border restrictions - but at the time of writing you’re good to go. All you’ll need to do is meet the basic entry requirements for Thailand - which we’ll look at next.

Entering Thailand from Malaysia - requirements

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysian passport holders don’t need a visa to enter Thailand for up to 30 days. If you’re staying longer, or if you’re headed to Thailand for work, you’ll need to make sure you have all the right paperwork in place before you travel. However, for short term tourist visits, the basic Thai entry requirements are:

  • You must have a valid passport with at least 6 months of validity remaining
  • You must make sure your passport is stamped when you enter and leave the country
  • You must retain your immigration arrival/departure card, and lodge a police report if you lose it during your visit

It’s advisable to get travel and medical insurance to cover your stay in Thailand, too, although this isn’t a mandatory requirement at the time of writing.

Before you travel make sure you familiarise yourself with the lists of prohibited and restricted goods available from the Thai Customs authorities. Prohibited goods include reasonably obvious items like narcotics and endangered wildlife, plus there are also bans on carrying fake or counterfeited goods. Restricted items may be allowed into Thailand, but you might need a permit. These include Buddah images, antiques, foods, medicines and animals for example.

Key options for travel to Thailand from Malaysia

If you want to travel to Bangkok from Malaysia - or if you’re headed off to Chiang Mai or Phuket for a break - you’ll need to decide the best way to go. Travelling by plane may be your only realistic option if you’re outside of Peninsular Malaysia, although some ferry routes also run, including from Langkawi. If you’re in the north of Malaysia and prefer the option to drive, driving to Thailand is also possible, but the distances involved can make this a less practical choice.

Malaysia to Thailand flights

There are lots of flight options if you’re headed from Malaysia to Thailand. You’ll be able to fly from Kuala Lumpur direct to Thailand, to around 5 different cities for example, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi and Hat Yai. The flight times from KL to Bangkok are just over 2 hours, while getting to Hat Yai only takes about 1 hour 20 minutes. You can also get direct flights from other locations like Penang and Johor Bahru, although the selection of destinations is smaller.

Trains from Malaysia to Thailand

Malaysian Trains advises that you can travel by train between Malaysia and Thailand, but in most cases you’ll need to take at least 2 different trains. If you’re headed from KL to Bangkok for example, you’d likely need to travel first to Padang Besar on the Thai border, and here either pick up a direct train to Bangkok, or connect via Hat Yai. Train services aren’t necessarily all that regular, depending on where you’re headed, so this is a journey you’d need to plan well in advance.

Driving to Thailand from Malaysia

Driving to Thailand from Malaysia is also an option. But whether or not it’s an appealing option depends on where in Malaysia you are, and where exactly you’re headed to.

The drive from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, for example, is almost 1,500 kilometres, making it something of an epic - and pretty expensive - trip. However, if you’re headed somewhere in southern Thailand the drive may be a bit more manageable. KL to Hat Yai is just over 500 kilometres for example, while getting over the border from one of the more northern cities in Malaysia could be easier than flying.

Of course, as well as the option for you to self-drive from Malaysia to Thailand, you might decide to look at buses. There are ways to get a bus from Malaysia to Thailand, but you’ll likely need to change along the way, particularly if you’re attempting to get to a northern city in Thailand. Getting across the border to somewhere like Hat Yai and then picking up another bus to your final destination in Thailand might be the smoothest option, depending on where you’re headed.

If you’re planning on taking your car over to Thailand you’ll need to make sure you understand the entry processes for a foreign vehicle. This involves registering your vehicle on entry and when you leave, with the Thai customs authorities.

Travelling to Thailand? Get the Wise card to spend THB without losing on exchange rates and foreign transaction fees

Before you head off to Thailand, pick up a Wise card to help you cut the costs of currency exchange, and beat foreign transaction fees entirely.

With a Wise account you can hold and manage 40+ currencies including both MYR and THB. Just top up your Wise account in MYR and automatically start spending in THB. Wise will always use the mid-market rate to switch from ringgit to baht, and will not add any sneaky transaction fees. That can mean you save compared to using your regular bank card when you travel.

The Wise card can be used in 160+ countries for spending and withdrawals - and you can also use your Wise account to send payments to 80+ countries and get paid like a local from around 30 countries.

Order your Wise card today! 💳

Want to see how Wise compares with other travel cards like MAE card and BigPay? Compare here

Pricing/fees: Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

Whatever you’re headed to Thailand for, you can now plan your trip without too much worry about Covid related restrictions or extra protocols. Although you’ll need to double check all the rules before you book tickets - just in case anything changes - at the time of writing getting from Malaysia to Thailand is pretty straightforward. Use this guide to plan your travel, and pick up your Wise card so you’ve got more money to spend while you’re there.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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