This is a story about our Road Trip to the South of Thailand: The Lenggong – Pengkalan Hulu – Betong Connection! Also covered are our tips on crossing the Malaysian-Thai South Border and clearing customs quickly.
Instead of spending a horrendous amount of money, as a result of last minute year-end holiday planning, we decided on a road trip to South Thailand to satisfy our nosy snouts, our food cravings, our need for culture-exchange and play time! The plan had been to roll on the north south expressway in the wee hours, exiting (no.143) at Kuala Kangsar for highway route 76 passing by Gerik/Grik to Pengkalan Hulu then switching to route 77 which leads us to the border. We ended up starting late morning.
We stopped by Lenggong town for a quick break but didn’t have time to visit the Archaeological Museum. Here’s the blue metal tank junk just outside Lenggong town.
It seems that Lenggong is a popular Archaeological destination in Peninsular Malaysia with many caves of importance(read more here). What a waste.. No time to explore!
Given more time we would have loved to hike up Bukit Kepala Gajah (Elephant’s Head Hill) for Gua Gunung Runtuh (Fallen Mountain Cave) where the archaeologists found the Perak Man – Malaysia’s oldest complete human skeleton found in 1991. The remains of this late 50s man, was dated to have lived over 11,000 years ago. There had been many more artifacts and animal bones found next to him. In 2004, they excavated another complete skeleton from cave nearby called Gua Teluk Kelawar (Bat Cove Cave). A female skeleton known as the Perak Woman apparently died in her 40s and lived over 8000 years ago.
There are many roads, caves and trails spread out in this hilly area. It’s very confusing so if you are visiting, it might be a good idea to find a guide. Pressed for time, we decided to stop at this one cave because you could drive your car right up to the entrance.
After quick walkabout in a littered chamber, we had to leave. After another 30 minute drive, we reached Pengkalan Hulu, the town where you can buy your Thai car insurance, exchange your Ringgito to Thai Bahto. We continued on route 77 until the Malaysian immigration & JPJ (Road transport department).. All nicely built and pretty much a quiet riot really.
You can review the application process at these booths.
You have to get your immigration cards at an information booth at the start of the building. If you can’t read Thai like us and hate filling up cards, you can pay the eager Thai clerk to complete it for you at RM2 per person. Probably in collusion with the immigration officers. Small fee or not, you decide.
Then you wait your turn on the queue to get your passport stamped and your pretty face registered in their system with the webcam (birdflu/H1N1 screener?).
Next, we head to the car registration section, show your car registration paper and the officer will complete the data entry and churn out a Thai declaration form – to declare that you are the rightful owner and not smuggling that particular car in. Costs about RM16. The document is very importanté! You will need to return it when you ‘check-out’ of Thailand at the customs.. otherwise, wave bye-bye to your car!
The whole process took about 45mins with some assistance from a few regular border crossers. The Thai’s and the immigration officers weren’t very helpful, preferring to stare, smile and stare. Maybe the language barrier?
Having settled all the paperwork… We are now officially in Thailand!!
What you need to have to drive across the border to Thailand
- Original copy of Car registration – Apparently certified original copies from our local police station might be approved as well. We brought the originals. You will provide this to the car registration/declaration office at the Thai immigration. This form you must keep close to you as you will need to return it to them when you return back to Malaysia.
- Thai 3rd party insurance – purchased from Pengkalan Hulu or Betong. You won’t need it to cross immigration but you will need it if you go further than Betong. Price and policy terms varies a little between different Thai insurance brands, car and duration of coverage. Best to get it to prevent the hassle of dealing with the Thai authorities, in the unfortunate event of an accident occurring.
- Valid Passport
- RM2/20Baht for the someone at immigration office to fill up the Thai immigration cards – you could do it yourself if you can find the immigration card(!)
(Thai South Border Checkpoints Contact)
- Is Traveling to South Thailand Safe?
- Can i smuggle rice back?
- Can i smuggle people back?
- Are there still cowboy/girl towns here?
- Do you get to fire magnums, ak-47s, bazookas and lob grenades here for fun?
- Is black magic still prevalent here? Where can i obtain it/them/that?
- If you play around with a Thai girl’s heart, will they put a curse on you? Will i carry the curse back to Malaysia?
- Are ghost and ghoulies a big part of the Thai society? Why are there so many movies about them?
- Are car parts cheaper in Thailand?
- Are Thai’s really just about Tom Yam?
- Is it still cheap to shop here?
- Are Thai’s prettier, handsomer, macho’er, sexier than Malaysians? (Including the transsexuals)
- … and the list goes on…
To have some of the silly questions answered, read more…. (oh, yes, this post will definitely span many, many installments.. stay tuned!)