Border Crossing From Malaysia to Thailand at Satun

We crossed the border from Malaysia into Thailand at Satun in February, 2018.  There is a lot of conflicting information regarding the process and requirements for land border entry into the Kingdom.  The following is a full account of our experience crossing from Langkawi, Malaysia into Thailand as US Citizens.

Many online sources and travel agents in Malaysia indicated that we would be given NO MORE than a 15 day visa exemption if arriving by land.  This was contrary to the 30 days given on arrival at an international airport.  Before leaving Malaysia, we visited the Thai Embassy in Penang to inquire as to the amount of time granted for US citizens.  The officer asked whether this was our first visit to Thailand in that year, and confirmed that first time US visitors would automatically be given 30 days, regardless of entry point.  He did not mention how this would change if this were a subsequent visit.

There are many options for end to end through tickets offered from travel agents on Langkawi.  They include transfer from your hotel to the ferry terminal, ferry from Langkawi to Satun, taxi from the border office to the bus station, and then bus or minivan to your final destination.  After comparing this option, we determined that purchasing through tickets would cost almost the same as structuring the trip ourselves.

The ferry trip from Langkawi to Satun is just over an hour, and passengers are given a Thai arrival form to complete while en route.  As we neared Satun, we left our seats to stand near the exit and beat the rush to the immigration line.  There is a short walk up a ramp from the boat to the border.  The officer on duty is behind the only window, which is to the right of the luggage scanner.

We handed in our arrival card and passport and had pictures and fingerprints taken, but did not have to supply a printed passport photo.  Contrary to what we had read, we were not asked to show a bank statement or cash proving available funds for our time in Thailand.  We also did not need proof of onward tickets.  The officer stamped our passports with a 30 day visa exemption and we were on our way, almost no questions asked.  This process was extremely simple and hassle free.

After immigration, we waited for a shared taxi to bring us to the bus station, where a minivan then took us to our next destination of Ko Lanta.  If you have any questions about this process, feel free to contact us!


You can read all about about our trips in Malaysia and Thailand, or see other posts from our adventures including our trek through Nepalcamper van-cation around Tasmania and misadventures in India.  They are sure to inspire your lust for travel!

Do you need long term travel in your future?  Go to our Planning Page where you can learn how to prepare for a lengthy trip, see how to never check your bags on planes, find out about travel security and make sense of travel insurance, amongst others.

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