Getting Around Penang With All Penang Transport Options

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.

Rapid Penang Bus Making A Turn At Chulia Street, George Town, Penang
Rapid Penang Bus Making A Turn At Chulia Street, George Town, Penang – photo credits to len_j_p (Instagram)

Fares are affordable (Typically RM1 – RM4) and they have routes to cover most parts of the city!

Tip: Exact change is necessary!

1.1. Getting From Airport To City Centre

After your touchdown at Penang International Airport.

KOMTAR Bus Terminal In Penang
KOMTAR Bus Terminal In Penang – photo credits to shophoward (Instagram)

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.

Note: If you’re in a hurry, a taxi or e-hailing service would be a better option! As it takes almost 1.5 hours by bus to reach George Town from the airport!

These are the bus routes to look out for:

Rapid Penang Bus401401E102
Operating Hours5:55am to 11:30pm5:45am to 10:30pm6am to 11:15pm
Interval45 to 50 minutes25 to 35 minutes60 to 80 minutes

The final destination of Bus 102 is Teluk Bahang:

Which is perfect if you want to go directly from Penang airport to Gurney Drive, Batu Ferringhi or Penang National Park! Expect the fare to be around RM4.

Entrance To Penang National Park
Entrance To Penang National Park – Photo by Travelswithsun

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.

Queensbay Mall Penang Shopping Mall
Queensbay Mall Penang Shopping Mall – photo credits to davehooi (Instagram)

The journey should take around 20 minutes and cost RM1-4.

Rapid Penang Bus306
Operating Hours5:30am to 10:30pm
Interval50 to 60 minutes
Note: Alternatively, you can take Bus 401E too.

1.2. Getting Around Central George Town/ East

Once in George Town, there are basically 3 methods for getting around.

Bus Stop At George Town, Penang
Bus Stop At George Town, Penang – photo credits to mazahikokung (Instagram)

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
Weld Quay Ferry Terminal, Penang
Weld Quay Ferry Terminal, Penang – photo credits to julsonthemove (Instagram)
  • 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.
Main Courtyard Of Penang Peranakan Museum
Main Courtyard Of Penang Peranakan Museum – Photo by Travelswithsun
  • Bank Negara – historic landmarks like the Town Hall and Fort Cornwallis
  • Beach Street – Occupy Beach Street (Sundays only), China House, Art Lane Penang, etc
Giant Boardgame At Occupy Beach Street In Penang
Giant Boardgame At Occupy Beach Street In Penang – photo credits to ewchuah (Instagram)
  • 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
Khoo Kongsi Clan House
Khoo Kongsi Clan House – photo credits to wolf_goofydog (Instagram)
  • 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 HallTown 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

Cycling allows you to cover more Penang street art at your own pace. Or to see the more remote clan jetties of Penang!

Little Boy With Pet Dinosaur - A Penang Street Art Painting By Ernest Zacharevic
Little Boy With Pet Dinosaur By Ernest Zacharevic – photo credits to artversehaven (Instagram)

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.
Note: Check that the rental shop provides a helmet and bike lock!
  • Link Bicycles have convenient docking stations around the city that make the returning process so much easier.
Link Bikes At One Of The Docking Stations In Penang
Link Bikes At One Of The Docking Stations In Penang – photo credits to alfredokee (Instagram)

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:

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.

Trishaws Going Down Little India Penang
Trishaws Going Down Little India Penang – photo credits to cyclopseven (Instagram)

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.

Cost: ~RM40 – 50 for 1.5 hours
Note: Tip them after your ride! It’s not an easy job!

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!

Tips for walking in Penang:

  • Watch out for broken pavement and other obstacles like hawker stalls or construction works
  • Be extra alert at night
  • Malay words to look out for: Jalan (Road), Lorong (Lane) and Lebuh (Street)

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.

Duration: ~1 hour

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.

View Of Penang Georgetown From Atop Penang Hill
View Of Penang Georgetown From Atop Penang Hill – Photo by Travelswithsun

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.

Funicular For Penang Hill
Funicular For Penang Hill – photo credits to teetoolah (Instagram)

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.

Note: This same bus does a detour to Kek Lok Si Temple too!

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.

Kek Lok Si Penang From A Distance
Kek Lok Si From A Distance – photo credits to toutounepictures (Instagram)

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).

Cost by bus is around RM4.

1.4.1. Getting To Batu Ferringhi

Highlights Of Batu Ferringhi:

  • Batu Ferringhi Night Market (Daily from 7pm)
  • Batu Ferringhi beach
Batu Feringgi, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Batu Feringgi, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia – photo credits to penang_my (Instagram)

From George Town: Bus 101 & 102 from KOMTAR

Duration: 1 hour

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:

The Exterior Of Entopia Butterfly Farm In Teluk Bahang, Penang
The Exterior Of Entopia Butterfly Farm In Teluk Bahang, Penang – photo credits to kj_liew (Instagram)
  • 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)

From George Town: Bus 101 and 102 from KOMTAR

Duration: 1 hour, 15 minutes

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
Feed The Goats At Saanen Goat Farm At Balik Pulau, Penang
Feed The Goats At Saanen Goat Farm At Balik Pulau, Penang – photo credits to izatiehashim1 (Instagram)

From George Town: Bus 202/T502, 401 or 502 from Jetty A

Duration: ~1 to 1.5 hours

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
Design Village Premium Outlet, Open Air Shopping Mall In Penang
Design Village Premium Outlet, Open Air Shopping Mall In Penang – photo credits to nisairah375 (Instagram)

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.

Penang Ferry Between George Town And The Mainland
Penang Ferry Between George Town And The Mainland – photo credits to rlanh (Instagram)

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!

Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal (Butterworth)
Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal (Butterworth) – photo credits to arifuddinrahmad (Instagram)

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

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Covers most places of interest
  • Environmentally friendly (shared transport = less emissions!)
  • No need to find parking

Cons:

  • 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

Tips For Taking The Public Bus Around Penang

  • Have exact change ready before you board the bus!
  • Let the driver know where you want to get off.
  • There won’t be any announcements of bus stop names during the bus trip
  • If you plan to rely on the bus to get around Penang, pick accommodation close to KOMTAR

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

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

Traffic In George Town Penang (Chulia Street)
Traffic In George Town Penang (Chulia Street) – photo credits to len_j_p (Instagram)

It’s possible to rent them from the airport too!

Pros & Cons Driving Yourself Around Penang

Pros:

  • Flexible travel at your own pace
  • Less worry about missing departure as is the case for buses!

Cons:

  • 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!

Penang Tour - RayTheTour & Travelswithsun

Pros:

  • 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!

Cons:

  • Travel time is dependent on Penang traffic
  • Costly for solo and couple travelers

For inquiries and bookings, message them on WhatsApp or Facebook!

PS: They don’t do car rentals!


Further reading:


Conclusion

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!

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