Tak Bai is a small town in the province of Narathiwat, known as the “Deep South” of Thailand.
Many regard this part of Thailand dangerous because of the Muslim separatists here. In 2018, a Malaysian was killed by a stray bullet aimed at policemen manning a roadblock.
Nevertheless, Tak Bai is still an interesting spot to visit, and close enough as it is just a river away from the town of Pengkalan Kubor in Kelantan.
This article is intended to help those wishing to take the Pengkalan Kubor-Tak Bai border crossing famous among the locals but not so among travellers.
The journey starts from Kota Bharu, Kelantan. From here, take the flyover heading towards Tumpat.
The tree-lined road is well-maintained and dotted to the left and right with village upon village. You will also come across a few Thai Buddhist temples with huge statues of Buddha.
Soon a signboard will indicate that the route to Tak Bai is on the left.
At the end of the road, there is a Duty Free Shopping Zone on the right and the Customs office on the left. You can park your car inside the Customs office compound.
If you do not wish to drive into Tak Bai because of the hassles of insurance and customs, you can enter as a pedestrian instead. Just head towards the jetty pier, where you can get your passport stamped at the immigration office nearby.
The ferry here is a small one, able to load six to seven cars and a handful of pedestrians. The ferry ride to Tak Bai takes less than 10 minutes.
After the ferry docks, head towards the immigration office, but not before filling up the compulsory white immigration forms sold for a small fee by people manning several desks located outside the building.
Once the forms are filled, you can proceed to the immigration office to get your entry stamps.
You are now officially in Tak Bai, Thailand.
How you spend your time here is entirely up to you. There are motorcycle taxis aplenty or you can just walk along the market area facing Sungai Golok and Pengkalan Kubor.
You can pop into one of the many food stalls dotting this stretch, where you’ll be pleased to know all transactions are carried out in ringgit. In fact, even the locals buy coffee and other stuff using the ringgit.
There are flea markets here so it’s nice to shop around. Alternatively you can snack on the many kinds of street food available. The coconut ice cream and coffee in particular are very nice.
Returning to Malaysia
Go to the immigration office to get your exit stamps, then walk to the jetty to buy your ferry tickets from a small hut there.
There are many travellers who do not bother to stamp their passports and simply travel freely between these two towns. But if you plan to do the same, do so at your own risk.
If you’re a thrill seeker, you can ride on one of the small boats back to Malaysia.
The ferry from Thailand is operated by the Thais.
Upon reaching Pengkalan Kubor jetty, queue up to get your passports stamped at a booth erected there.
You are now free to drive back home, thus ending your short journey to Tak Bai.
Khai and wife Amira are Malaysian travel bloggers who blog at Kaki Jalans. Their travels have taken them to almost all the countries in Asean and five countries in Europe. They are still actively travelling and adding to this list.