Explore The Jungle With This Cross-Country Railway Ride In Malaysia


Siti Ayeeshah Zaki •  Mar 17, 2022

The Shuttle Timuran or the East Coast Railway Line (ECRL), nicknamed the Jungle Railway, is a hidden gem known almost only to locals. It brings you cross country from towns near the Singapore-Malaysia border to the Malaysia-Thailand border, taking you through Malaysia's dense forests (hence its nickname!).

With the Singapore-Malaysia Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) finally open, if you're looking to explore Malaysia the local way, you might want to consider this unique train ride!

Important note: Information gathered for this article is based on past sources. With the pandemic still ongoing, rules and restrictions may change. Please check with local operators before planning your trip.

Jungle Railway Malaysia

Credit: mvpmadisonw on Instagram

The Jungle Railway train journey is one that is almost unparalleled. It travels over 520 km through Malaysia's kampongs and jungles, making it a hit with the locals who want to get from place to place.

The tracks were built in the 1900s and paves ways through rivers and mountains, so expect to travel across muddy waters, bridges and plantations!

P.S. Johor Will Be The First City In Southeast Asia To Use The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit!

Credit: Patrick Str on Facebook

So if you're looking to backpack across or explore Malaysia the local way, this might just be the way to do it. You can travel the entire span of Malaysia by boarding at Gemas, a small town in Negeri Sembilan, near the Negeri Sembilan-Johor state border and staying on till Tumpat, a district in Kelantan.

P.S. Have you checked out Victoria Bridge, the longest railway bridge in Malaysia?

Credit: louiseiswandering on Instagram

According to those who have traveled the tracks, those looking to experience this incredible journey should do so in the day. Although there are trains that make overnight journeys (P.S. If you opt for this, they have sleeper train options!), the dark means you'd miss exquisite Malaysian jungle & kampong views.

Credit: louiseiswandering on Instagram

However, those heading for this adventure should note that this train ride is not one for those on a strict schedule. Trains from both directions run on the same line. They are carefully scheduled to pass each other only at certain train stations. This means that you may end up waiting at a train station for long periods of time waiting for the opposite train to pass.

Fortunately, this also means that if you're craving something slow-paced, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this train ride is for you!

P.S. Check Out These 8 New Malaysia Hotels & Resorts In 2022 To Check Out For Your Next Vacation

Credit: louiseiswandering on Instagram

More recent accounts of travellers enjoying the railway mention trains away from the rickety image you might expect. It seems some trains have been replaced with more comfortable air-conditioned versions, and some videos even mention cafes onboard ? And although HHWT hasn't been able to confirm that yet, it might just be something to look forward to!

Credit: kpp.jp on Instagram

Truly an adventure, the Jungle Railway may not be for those looking for complete comfort. What it does promise however, are beautiful Malaysian sights and authentic, local experiences.