Much more tame and sanitized than its Thai counterpart, Malaysia's Padang Besar still attracts many Malaysians who come to shop for items imported from Thailand which are available in abundance at lower prices.
See Malaysia | Get In for details of Malaysian immigration requirements. The Malaysian immigration/customs checkpoint is situated near the town centre and is several hundred metres from the actual border and the Thai immigration complex.
Padang Besar is served by Keretapi Tanah Melayu's (Malayan Railway) Senandung Langkawi which runs daily between Kuala Lumpur and Hat Yai via Butterworth in Penang. Trains for Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth depart at 16:45 while trains for Hat Yai leave at 09:47.
State Railway of Thailand's daily International Express between Bangkok and Butterworth via Hat Yai also passes through Padang Besar. It leaves Padang Besar for Bangkok at 16:45, and for Butterworth at 08:20.
Padang Besar railway station - located behind the row of shops on the main road - has both Malaysian and Thai immigration facilities. Passengers must leave the train and go through the respective immigration procedures before re-boarding the train.
Please note that Thailand is one hour behind Malaysia. When it is noon in Malaysia, it is 11:00 in Thailand.
Direct express buses linking Padang Besar directly with Kuala Lumpur and Penang or Butterworth (the latter RM14, Aug 2012) are operated by Plusliner Bus Services and perhaps Transnasional (though it's not one of the towns on the Transnational website). If there are no direct buses available from KL, the alternative is to arrive at Kangar as there are local buses.
Express buses depart from Jalan Masjid in Padang Besar. From the roundabout walk down the main road one or two blocks, there is a ticket office in the street to the right. Plus Trans travel agent selling bus tickets for very normal prices to Penang, Butterworth, KL, Ipoh. Walk from immigration past the taxi stand in the first alley on the right. Look for the red sign board.
Local buses connect Padang Besar and Kangar.
The Malaysian immigration checkpoint is located at the edge of town. It is quite easy to drive from Thailand into Malaysia or vice-versa. Just make sure your insurance is in order. There is a distance of several hundred metres between the Malaysian and Thai checkpoints, with a duty free shopping complex in Malaysian territory in between. Most people do not walk but catch motorcycle taxis (RM3) which can be found in abundance in town and will bring you through the two checkpoints into the centre of Thai Padang Besar.
See the page for the Thai town of Padang Besar for details on how to cross the border from the Thai side.
Padang Besar town is small enough to get around on foot.