The ethnic separatist insurgency in Thailand’s southernmost provinces has used violence for decades. Violence escalated in 2004, bombings are now common. Foreigners and tourists have rarely been victims. Various governments warn their citizens not to go there.
Taking the train to Malaysia means one has a choice between the eastern line that goes through the 3 most violent provinces or the western line traveling through 1 of the provinces. Travelers on the western line have to disembark for immigration and customs but do not change trains. Eastern line riders reach the end of the Thai line in Sungai Kolok, walk across the border to Malaysia then catch a bus to the Malay end of the line station. Last week three closely timed bombs killed 3 and wounded more than 50 in Sungai Kolok. It’s a no brainer for me to take the western route.
That makes visiting Kota Bahru near the end of the train line a long out and back trip from Kuala Lumpur. It’s a prosperous province capital with few tourists and a conservative Islamic culture. Seemed like a good place to stop overnight if just for the photography and food. Now it’s appeal will be weighed against the discomfort of out-and-back 13 hour sleeper train rides. I’ve have plenty of time. Might as well use it to get off the tourist trail for a few days at the beginning of the high season.
Haven’t looked into traveling by bus down the eastern coast of the Malaysia peninsula. The North-East monsoon season starts in November. That means the east coast will have rough seas and more rain than the west coast.