Penang transport like the public buses can get you across the island reliably. And there’s even a free shuttle that goes around George Town!
However, both the heritage zone, George Town and the industrial zone, Bayan Lepas are prone to rush hour traffic jams! And the narrow roads don’t help in this regard.
There are future plans for a monorail system to connect between the north and south of the island. But till then, these are the current modes of transportation in Penang!
Table Of Contents:
1. Getting Around Penang With Public Transport
The main public bus system in Penang is known as Rapid Penang.
Fares are affordable (Typically RM1 – RM4) and they have routes to cover most parts of the city!
1.1. Getting From Airport To City Centre
After your touchdown at Penang International Airport.
1.1.1. Penang Airport To Georgetown
Most first-time visitors to Penang will want to head to George Town first!
The fare should cost RM2.70. And there’s usually a bus leaving every 30 minutes to 1 hour from the airport.
These are the bus routes to look out for:
|Rapid Penang Bus||401||401E||102|
|Operating Hours||5:55am to 11:30pm||5:45am to 10:30pm||6am to 11:15pm|
|Interval||45 to 50 minutes||25 to 35 minutes||60 to 80 minutes|
The final destination of Bus 102 is Teluk Bahang:
Read this detailed guide on how to get from Penang Airport to Georgetown.
1.1.2. Airport To Queensbay Mall
Take Bus 306 to Queensbay Mall from the airport. The daily Bus 306 terminates at Hospital P.Pinang I with 47 stops in between.
The journey should take around 20 minutes and cost RM1-4.
|Rapid Penang Bus||306|
|Operating Hours||5:30am to 10:30pm|
|Interval||50 to 60 minutes|
1.2. Getting Around Central George Town/ East
Once in George Town, there are basically 3 methods for getting around.
1.2.1. Getting Around George Town By CAT Shuttle
The Central Area Transit Loop Line is a free shuttle bus system with many stops around George Town, and some of them are close to Penang attractions!
Operation hours are from 6am until 11:40pm for this hop on and hop off bus in Penang.
CAT Shuttle Route (Notable stops):
- Weld Quay’s ferry bus terminal (or Pengkalan Weld) – sit on the left for the best views
- Ferry Bus Terminal – British colonial buildings, Wisma Yeap Chor Ee and Wisma Kastam are here
- Little India (Chulia Street) – And Pinang Peranakan Mansion. The bus won’t stop here on Sunday from 7am to 1pm.
- Bank Negara – historic landmarks like the Town Hall and Fort Cornwallis
- Beach Street – Occupy Beach Street (Sundays only), China House, Art Lane Penang, etc
- KOMTAR – With another major bus terminal for buses that go on to Balik Pulau or Batu Ferringhi; There are 2 Penang shopping malls here (Prangin Mall and 1st Avenue Mall)
- Kampung Kolam – Mosques and clan houses like Khoo Kongsi
- Mahkamah – Religious sites like St. George’s Church, Goddess of Mercy Temple and Sri Maha Mariamman Temple
- Dewan Sri Pinang – Another chance to stop at British colonial landmarks (City Hall, Town Hall, War Memorial, etc)
- Kota Cornwallis – Fort Cornwallis and Queen Victoria’s Memorial Clock Tower
- Weld Quay Bus Terminal (via Magazine Road and Downing Street)
1.2.2. Getting Around George Town By Bicycle
Just watch out for traffic! And check the weather forecast for fierce sunshine or heavy rain before you decide to rent out some bicycles.
Where To Get A Bicycle:
- Some hotels offer bicycles for rent (or free) for their guests.
- You can also find bicycle rental shops along Armenian Street or Chulia Street. A simple single-gear bike costs between RM10 and 20 to rent per day.
- Link Bicycles have convenient docking stations around the city that make the returning process so much easier.
Read more: Love Lane Penang: What To Love About This Popular Street In George Town
1.2.3. Getting Around George Town By Vespa
Here is the recommended Vespa rental service that you can check out:
- La Belle Vespa Rental – Google Maps
1.2.4. Getting Around George Town By Rickshaw
Although not as common as they used to be, the 3-wheeled trishaw is another advantageous way to get around George Town.
You can find rickshaws at touristy areas like:
- The junction of Armenian Street (Lebuh Armenian) and Cannon Street (Lebuh Cannon)
- Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
- Citidel Hotel at Penang Road (Jalan Penang)
- Close to Fort Cornwallis
It’s a competitive business so peddlers will usually be willing to negotiate.
1.2.5. Walking Around George Town
For photography buffs especially, walking is the slowest but still the way to take stellar shots of architecture, street art, Penang food and people!
You can stop anywhere you want to (except busy roads of course) and it’s free!
1.3. Getting To Central Penang
Somewhere in the middle of the island (Air Itam) are 2 must-see Penang attractions! The majestic Kek Lok Si and Penang Hill!
Here is how you can get to these locations if you don’t have your own ride.
1.3.1. Getting To Penang Hill
If your destination is Penang Hill, you need to get yourself over to the Penang Hill Lower Station where you can get tickets for and board the funicular that goes up to Penang Hill.
For those starting their journey from George Town, look for the Rapid Penang Bus 204 from Pengkalan Weld (close the old jetty terminal).
With this bus, there are about 40 stops between Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) and the jetty. And therefore, the journey can take 40 to 50 minutes.
But bus 204 will take you to the Penang Hill Lower Station where you can buy tickets for the funicular train up to Penang Hill.
1.3.2. Getting To Kek Lok Si
Likewise, you can take a bus from George Town to Kek Lok Si Temple. Albeit with more options of bus routes.
Bus numbers include 201, 203, 204 & 502.
1.4. Getting To North West Penang
The north-west coast of Penang has a lot in store for people who want to spend time outdoors!
And when it comes to public transport, there are currently 2 bus routes from Rapid Penang that you can take to reach Batu Ferringhi (Bus 101 and bus 102).
1.4.1. Getting To Batu Ferringhi
Highlights Of Batu Ferringhi:
- Batu Ferringhi Night Market (Daily from 7pm)
- Batu Ferringhi beach
1.4.2. Getting To Teluk Bahang
Both bus routes, 101 and 102 will also take you to Teluk Bahang. This area is further west of Batu Ferringhi and here, there are several attractions that you can check out.
Highlights Of Teluk Bahang:
- Penang National Park
- Entopia By Penang Butterfly Farm
- Penang Batik Factory
- Tropical Fruit Farm
- Teluk Bahang Dam (Annual dragon boat festival, jogging venue, great views, etc)
- ESCAPE Theme Park
- Waterfall (Air Terjun Taman Rimba is family-friendly)
1.4.3. Getting To Balik Pulau
Those heading to Balik Pulau have plenty of options for bus routes that go towards the south of the island. Although you might have to transfer between different buses.
Bus Routes You Can Take To Balik Pulau:
- Bus 202 from the jetty to Paya Terubong where you can change to bus T502 to continue your journey to Balik Pulau; This takes close to an hour with a 2 minute walk
- Bus 502 – a direct journey from Jetty A stop to the bus terminal of Balik Pulau (Terminal Bas Balik Pulau); This takes about an hour
- Bus 401E from the east side of Komtar is a direct journey to Balik Pulau (Terminal Bas Balik Pulau) that takes 1.5 hours
Highlights Of Balik Pulau:
- Street art
- Saanen Dairy Goat Farm
- Ghee Hup Nutmeg Factory
- Pulau Betong fishing village
- Bao Sheng Durian farm
- Countryside Stables Penang
- Cycling tours in the countryside
1.5. Getting To Mainland Penang
Penang island may capture most of the attention from visitors but the mainland does have its own attractions too:
- Auto city – entertainment and food hub suitable for families
- Design Village Penang (premium outlet) and IKEA at Batu Kawan
- Nine Emperor Gods temple
- Froghill of Tasik Gelugor
- Penang Bird Park
Just to name a few!
1.5.1. Take A Taxi Or Ferry From Penang Island To Butterworth
By taxi, you’d get an immediate transfer from your hotel in George Town to where you want to get to in Butterworth. A drive across to the mainland from Penang Island will take at least 40 minutes.
Or you can take the 20-minute Rapid Ferry from Pangkalan Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal to Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal in Butterworth!
It costs RM1 to RM8 and Pangkalan Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal is walking distance (10-20 minutes’) from George Town!
Read this detailed guide on how to get from Penang Georgetown To Butterworth.
Read more: The Top KOMTAR Penang (Detailed Guide): Things To Do, Tickets, Food
Pros & Cons Taking Public Bus Around Penang
- Very affordable
- Covers most places of interest
- Environmentally friendly (shared transport = less emissions!)
- No need to find parking
- Subject to Penang traffic
- Need to have exact fare (no change given)
- Takes considerably longer than driving or taking a taxi
- No immediate transfer/ pick-up from your hotel
- Not convenient if you have a lot of luggage
2. Getting Around Penang With Grab Or Taxi
Like in most major cities in Malaysia, the e-hailing service, Grab in Penang is not too expensive and very convenient! Especially for one-way journeys from the airport or to and from Penang shopping malls and your hotel.
Pros & Cons Taking Grab Around Penang
- Prices are more or less fixed (unlike taxis – the ones that don’t use a meter!)
- No worry about finding parking
- Widely available in the city
- Will be affected by Penang traffic
- Can be hard to find a return Grab from more remote locations (e.g. Penang National Park)
- Prices may be higher on public holidays and off-peak times
3. Getting Around Penang With A Car Rental Service
Numerous car rental companies in Penang will rent out a small car (5 pax) for around RM150/day.
It’s possible to rent them from the airport too!
Pros & Cons Driving Yourself Around Penang
- Flexible travel at your own pace
- Less worry about missing departure as is the case for buses!
- Difficult to find parking in George Town
- Have to pay parking fees (except on Sunday)
- Need to avoid rush hour
- Not advisable for those with no prior experience driving in Malaysia
4. Getting Around Penang With A Local Tour Guide
And lastly, there’s hiring a private tour service like RayTheTour!
- Choose your own itinerary or let the guides take you around their hometown!
- English or Chinese-speaking guides
- Direct pick-up from your hotel, airport or anywhere else in Penang
- Drop off to your hotel after the tour
- Tour hours around 9am to 6-7pm
- Comfortable transport (either MPV or van)
- Parking fees and petrol costs are included
- RayTheTour does tours for Cameron Highlands, Ipoh and Taiping too!
- Travel time is dependent on Penang traffic
- Costly for solo and couple travelers
PS: They don’t do car rentals!
- How To Get To Penang Island From Kuala Lumpur (KL)
- Best Way To Travel From Langkawi To Penang (All Methods + Cheap Option)
Getting around Penang is more straightforward if you know which areas of Penang you want to explore! Because besides George Town, there is central Penang and north-west Penang.
Review the advantages and disadvantages of the available transportation in Penang in this guide. From bus, taxi, ferry, rental car services and private tours!