Thursday, September 6, 2012

Advice: Clubbing Malaysia and Thailand with China

A traveler friend is planning to visit China and wanted to explore Malaysia and Thailand also in the same trip and contacted me for some suggestions.

Here goes his email message:

Assalam o Alaikum!
How are you?
I'm going to China next month Inshallah and want to include Thailand and Malaysia in my itinerary. I know you helped a guy prepare one for a similar tour. I want to travel by ferry as well. Some guys from Malaysia group advised me to take ferry from Malaysia to Thailand. I just need to know where do I book and shall I get my visa from Pakistan? Which airlines would be cheapest for travelling to these three countries. Is it possible that I go to Malaysia by by an airline then to Thailand by ferry and then to Shanghai by a different airline? Do airlines allow this?

Following is my response:

Walaikum Salam Sohial

I am fine, thank you. Here goes my two cents:

1. Visiting Malaysia and Thailand on the way to China:
Clubbing Malaysia and Thailand with China makes a lot of sense and can be done without spending significantly more than China-only trip.

2. Ticketing Tricks:
Based on my previous experiences and observations with other travelers, you have two options; Sri Lankan Airlines and Thai Airways as they both take a layover in Bangkok before continuing to China.

Ticketing systems of both the mentioned airlines allow you to opt for a long stopover in Bangkok against additionally fare, which should not exceed PKR 5,000 imo. During this stopover you can visit places in Thailand and Malaysia but you have to come back to Bangkok to catch your onward flight.

Effectively, it will be something like that:

To evaluate your airline options more precisely, you may use the Matrix Software before visiting your travel agent:

3. Traveling between Thailand and Malaysia and the Ferry Obsession:
As hinted above, your main ticket will only cover Thailand and China. For Malaysia and then back to Bangkok, you may need to arrange extra tickets. However, this is easy and cheap as there are a lot of budget airlines operating in South East Asia. Following website is very good for comparing routes, schedules, and fares :

Exploring is also worthwhile.

Once you choose one, the ticket can easily be booked through airline's website.

You can do one way of this trip through ferry but this would be very challenging. Although I have no personal experience of this journey but I am sure there is no regular ferry service between the major cities of the two countries so one has to changeover multiple times which requires extra days, traveling temperament, and good knowledge.

Googling led me to the following useful links:

Alternatively, I suggest you to take a ferry between Penang-Langkawi - or any other same-country islands. Imo, cross border ferries might also have immigration issues especially with the Pakistani passport.

4. Arranging Visas - Trickier than Traveling:
Out of the three Chines visa is the most difficult to get. But I am sure you must have already figured that out. And please do let me know, how you arranged one?

Malaysian visa is the simplest and can be arranged within 3-4 working days for PKR 1500-2000. Here is my experience of getting Malasyian Visa:

After Chinese visa, the biggest hurdle is arranging the Thai visa. Actually Thai visa is very easy to get usually, however, in your case you would require a double entry visa which is a bit more expensive and complex. First entry would be utilized when you land into Thailand the first time and the second entry would be required when you come back from Malaysia. This situation is arising because you will have two different tickets - one for China while the other for Malaysia. If these two tickets can be combined than a single entry visa would suffice, which is actually near impossible for reasons I will explain below.

For abundant clarity, I may not provide you with any help for arranging visas other than experience sharing. Your best bet would be the travel agent whom you will book your main ticket from.

Following order would be advisable for visas:
1. China - single entry
2. Malaysia - single entry
3. Thailand - double entry

Just to mention, one month is quite tight for arranging all these three visas. So better start now with a travel agent who is not only efficient but knows you well.

5. Alternate Route: Pakistan-Malaysia-Thailand-China-Pakistan
I note in your email that you are looking for a ticket which takes you to Malaysia first, from where you take ferry to Thailand, and continue to China. This would be an ideal scenario and would eliminate the need of Thai double entry visa. However, there are a couple of issues; first the ticket would be expensive, ~PKR 20,000 extra, and secondly you might need proof of onward journey at Malaysian entry point as mentioning the ferry thing would make you a definite target at immigration.

6. Case Study:
This is the complete details of the itinerary I developed for another traveler friend, which you can also use for reference:

So this is my input; I hope you will find that helpful and enabling. Please don't hesitate to revert back once you finalize the plan.

Btw, I would be putting the above on my blog so that other travelers may also take note of it.

Happy travels



  1. I would say it will be the Great Voyage of Discovery of the Rich Culture...He will find same faces but with Diff Religion, Culture & Likes and Dislikes....
    Have a Happy Time Buddy !!

  2. I wonder if you have been to Laos. If so, how to get its visa.