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Saturday, February 1, 2020

Traveling by Car from Bangkok, Thailand to Malaysia via Padang Besar Border - Day 01 & 02 - Ep 01

Day 01 & 02 - Ep 01 - We left from Bangkok at round 4:00 am because we knew that we had to cover a distance of almost 980 kilometers to reach the border town of Padang Besar in Perlis, Malaysia. The total travel time alone (without any stopovers) is around 14 hours and if you add a minimum of 4 stopovers of around 30 to 45 minutes each then it would become a total of 16 to 17 hours road trip, quite an exhaustive one :)

If you like long drives and are a fan of doing road trips then you'll enjoy that, like I did. But, if it is too exhaustive, you can break it down into two and stop for a night stay in between, sleepover and then continue your journey next day. My goal was to keep as much time as possible for rest of the trip itinerary and cover the distance as quickly as possible and within a day.

Road conditions throughout the way was very good, except for a very few places where either road maintenance or extension work was going on. However, there were quite a few patches where there was no street lights at all and it might become dangerous to drive at night if you are not a seasoned driver.

Gas or Petrol stations are available throughout the route and the gasoline or petrol prices varies from station to station as well as from location to location. In our experience, the best prices are of PTT Station. Moreover, PTT Stations have the most facilities that you might look for a stopover, like, spacious and clean toilets (men, women, disabled/senior, baby/infants), ATM machines, 7-Eleven, Amazon Cafe and many other shops including fast food, fresh fruits and juices, etc.

Law and order situation in general all-over Thailand and Malaysia is quite good and are considered to be safe travel destinations for both local and foreigners. So, no safety concerns or issues throughout the route.

Halal options are quite limited along the route as you will see very few halal food stalls or restaurants. All popular fast food chains are not Halal in Thailand, like KFC, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Burger King, Mc Donalds, Subway, etc.. However, you can get some ready-to-eat snacks like sandwiches, burgers, noodles, hot dogs etc., from 7-Eleven. They have microwave(s) as well. Besides that you can grab some fresh bakery items, chips, biscuits, hot and cold beverages as well. If you still feel like that it's not enough, then we recommend pack some thing home-made and carry along. We did the same and it helped a lot.

The border crossing at Padang Besar opens daily at 5am and closes at 9pm according to Thailand time zone (Malaysia time zone is one hour ahead +1). And, we missed this bit of information. It took us 17 hours to reach the border and the border gates were closed right in front of us and we had to layover for a night on this side of the border although we had a booking for a rest-house on the Malaysian side, which we booked via Agoda. So, just because we didn't knew that border crossing have timings as well, we thought they are opened 24/7 :), we end up wasting one night's rent and a bit of a disappointment of not making it to Malaysia the same day :(

Following are the necessary documents that are legally required to cross Thailand-Malaysia border by road on your private vehicle:
  1. Original valid passport - should have more than 6 months of expiry
  2. Malaysian tourist e-visas - printed copy
  3. Thailand original driving license (accepted in Malaysia for driving)
  4. International Transport Permit - or purple book
  5. Vehicle Inspection Certificate
  6. Malaysian Car Insurance Policy
  7. Car Registration or Number Plate Stickers as per Malaysian standards
  8. Malaysian currency i.e. Ringgit (RM or MYR)
Next morning, we woke up early and were able to reach the border immigration at around 5:30am. We (me and wife) parked our car at the designated parking area, locked our car, didn't carry along any of our luggage items and walk across to the immigration building. We joined the queue of people who were lined up for the immigration process. When our turn came, we stepped towards immigration counter and handed over following to the immigration officer:
  1. Our original passports (along with TM6 cards)
  2. Malaysian e-visas
  3. Blue Book or Car Registration Book
  4. Fees
    1. One Vehicle Driver = THB 25
    2. One Vehicle Passenger = THB 5
    3. Total THB 30
Immigration officer asks where we are coming from and where we are heading to. Company where I'm working in Bangkok (showed him my Work Permit as well). Then he stamped our passports with exit stamps, and handed over back our passports and e-visa printed copies back but kept the TM6 card. We will have to fill a new TM6 form/card when we will re-enter Thailand from Malaysia on our way back from our tour.

After crossing the immigration counter, there were luggage scanning machine and because we had not carry along any of our luggage items, I asked the office that our luggage is on our car and she said no need to bring that and you are good to go. So, we exit the immigration building, get back to our car and drove straight through the border gates, exiting from Thailand and entering into Malaysia :)

The road leads us to the drive-through Malaysian immigration booths and we stopped at one of the booths and handed over following documents to the immigration officer:
  1. Our original passports
  2. Malaysian e-visas
The immigration office did the fingerprints scanning of both of us and then referred us to another booth, for which I had to park my car and we walk towards that second booth around 20-30 steps away from drive-through booths. They told us that they are trying to verify the e-visa and ask from where we are coming from and where we are going to, where we will stay and which places we are planning to visit and when we will return. We showed them our complete itinerary (a printed paper of places to visit and stay). After getting confirmation over the phone, they made entries on their registers and stamp our passports with entry stamps and stamp our e-visas (printed copies) with "used" stamps and return them back to us.

We get back to our car, and drove it to the JPS or Malaysian Motor Transport office, right next to the immigration checkpoint, to get ICP. We again parked our car and this time my wife stayed in the car and I go to the JPS office and handover following documents to the officer there:
  1. Original passport
  2. Malaysian e-visa
  3. Car Blue Book or Registration Book
  4. International Transport Permit or purple book
  5. Vehicle Inspection Certificate
The officer asked for car inspection and we walk towards the car park and he inspected the car, checked chassis number, etc.. He said that the car should have registration or number plate stickers at the front and back. He also inquired whether I have the car insurance policy or not. I didn't had it at that time and because I read it online that you can get the stickers and insurance policy from same shop once at the border. But unfortunately, we reach the border at night around 8pm and by that time all shops are closed because in these border towns, shops are closed early. So, make sure you get your car stickers and Malaysian car insurance policy during normal business hours i.e. from 9am to 5pm from cities/towns that are close to border. 

The JPJ officer told us that in order to get ICP, we should have number plate stickers affixed at the front and back side of the car in required Malaysian format/pattern (white letters/digits over black background). Also, we have to get the Malaysian car insurance policy before applying for ICP. Now, the bad luck for us was that, first when we reached the border last night, it was too late and all shops were closed, secondly the next day was Sunday, so all shops on Malaysian border dealing with car stickers and Malaysian car insurance policy were closed, except for one:

Wakil Insurans - Padang CT SDN BHD
Address: No. 83, Jalan Besar, Perlis, 02100 Padang Besar, Malaysia

We purchased the Malaysian car insurance policy from above at a price of RM 63 and it took almost half an hour. We then went to JPJ again and told them that we got the insurance policy but no stickers shop is open today because of Sunday, is it possible if you allow us to go and we will get the stickers tomorrow when market opens on Monday, but officers, said that ICP is necessary and without that you are not allowed to take your car inside Malaysia. They suggested to request the Malaysian Immigration Officer that we want to go back to Thailand to purchase the stickers and will come back again. So, we did the same and requested the office, she nods in approval and (without exit stamp, because we have to come back again) we went straight back to border gates and entered into Thailand. The closest sticker shop we found on Google Maps was:

MK. Sticker Car
Address: Phetkasem Soi 20, Hat Yai, Hat Yai District, Songkhla 90110

We reached above shop in about an hour and 10 minutes and it took additional one hour to get the stickers printed and affixed on car front and back. It costs us THB 200 for these stickers.

The requirements for Malaysian JPJ is that the your Thailand car should have stickers on front and back with white font on black background and should contain the official english translation of Thailand car registration number (which contains Thai characters) from Department of Land Transport of Thailand. You will have the translated english version mentioned in International Transport Permit or purple book and also on the Vehicle Inspection Certificate mentioned above.

We head back to Padang Besar, border crossing of Thailand, crossed the border again without going through the immigration process, head straight to Malaysian Immigration booths, go to the same booth and the immigration officer recognizes us and let us pass through. I parked the car besides JPJ parking area and went inside JPJ office, fill out and submit the form, provide all the documents mentioned above and waited for few minutes and they handed over the ICP to me finally!

The JPJ officer told me that if I will enter Malaysia again next time on the same vehicle than this ICP will be used again, therefore keep it safe somewhere and bring along next time as well.

Finally, we fulfilled all the legal requirements and now we can move freely inside Malaysia on our own vehicle :)




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