I took a train from KL Sentral to Butterworth on the 30th. of November, 2016. Please take note that for seats numbers 13A, 13B, 14A & 14B share a table in between. 13C,13D, 14C & 14D also share a table in between. Other numbers do not have any table. Try the numbers below 13 if you do not need any table. I had to share tables with strangers during my train journeys both ways because I picked 13A. The train's seating allocation map at the website during booking was completely inaccurate. The train journey took 4 hours and it was generally comfortable except the toilet was flooded.
A view inside the train from KL Sentral to Butterworth:
On the 1st of December, I took a van from Penang to Hat Yai for a short 3 days trip. It cost RM75 for 2 ways trip (probably there was a discount when buying tickets for 2 ways trip). The journey took about 4 hours as the van would stop at various destinations within Penang to pick up passengers. The van would stop for toilet break once during the journey. At the border, the luggage was not required to be brought down from the van at both sides of the immigrations. However, luggage was required to be brought down from the van at Malaysian immigration. The rules may change, so it's best to check with the driver.
I am aware of one case that the passsenger's luggage was left at the roadside unattended by the driver when he drove off. There was a misunderstanding that food was not required to be brought down. The luggage full of food was still required to be brought down because it's a luggage.
During weekend, RM1 was required to be paid at Thai immigration. During weekday, RM1 was required to be paid only after 12pm (Thai time zone I suppose). I was told that RM1 was for overtime which sounded ridiculous to me. The queue at the immigration was longer during weekend. Therefore, it's highly recommended to avoid crossing the border during weekend and best to leave early during weekday to prevent paying for "overtime payment".
I stayed at Chudchada Place. It was a clean and comfortable hotel. It was slightly further from the town but it was worth it. We had 3 persons sharing a room. 300 baht per night was paid for the extra bed which was not that comfortable. The hotel is quiet. You can easily find food by walking to the market nearby, two branches of 7-Eleven and Tesco Lotus Extra. It cost 60 baht to travel by tuktuk to the town. We had 3 persons, so it only cost 20 baht per head. A hotel room in the town might cost us beyond 120 baht for sure. It was walking distance to Central Festival Mall and Diana Plaza. Honestly, we could have skipped Central Festival Mall because of the lousy food at the food court and it was a typical modern mall with nothing interesting in my eyes.
It was raining throughout my 3 days trip. So, it was impossible to visit the floating market which I heard was slightly pricey and mainly targeted tourists. Most of our time were spent at Big C, Tesco, Kim Yong Market and Santisuk Market. Generally, there was less language barrier in Hat Yai for Malaysians because the muslims normally could speak Malay and some Thai/Chinese could speak Hokkien, Mandarin or Hakka.
A view from water stained windows of the new Lee Garden after the rain:
Slippery when wet! Very wet road after the rain:
Basically, Hat Yai is just a usual destination for Malaysians and Singaporeans to shop. The normal items shopped were soap, shampoo, tooth paste, tooth brush, junk food, cooking ingredients, Mama instant noodles, backpack, bag, clothes, etc. Without over spending, 300-400 baht should be sufficient for a 3 days trip in Hat Yai. There was nothing much interesting about Hat Yai based on my opinion. I enjoyed the street food though.
Some popular Thai chili paste:
Some popular Thai chili sauce:
Mostly black and white clothings were sold during my trip because the king of Thailand passed away recently:
Laksa at the buffet in the new Lee Garden (unfortunately 4 out of 5 of us had food poisoning. The person who did not have food poisoning did not eat an laksa):
Food court at Central Festival Mall. You can forget about eating here because the food are horrible for Thai standard: