Just mention the word Penang, and many thoughts come to mind. Either it’s the great beaches and seaside or heritage and historical elements; however the ultimate thing that would strike anyone’s mind would be the great Penang Food. It is undeniable that plenty of tourists, coming from regional states or even neighboring countries, take time off their busy schedule to make a journey across the majestic Penang Bridge into the Pearl of the Orient. There are also other ways to access this charming island, and on top of that, there are even more ways to get around the island itself! Penang’s public transport system is efficient, and offers plenty of interesting modes of transport such as the trishaw while having the usual taxis and buses!
The fastest method getting to Penang would be by flight. Penang is easily accessible by air with daily flights from major capitals from regional countries. It has direct links with Singapore, Bangkok, Medan, Xiamen, Madras, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong operated by Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, China Airlines and etc. For cheaper alternatives there is always Air Asia and Firefly Airlines, budget airlines that has the lowest rates for flights from Kuala Lumpur. Recently, SilkAir, Jetstar and Tiger Airways started direct flights from Singapore too. The Penang International Airport is about 20 km from the city center. To get to the city, you can choose the air-conditioned limousines plying the route using the coupon system by which fares between the airport and various destinations in Penang are fixed. The other alternative is using the Rapid Penang Bus 401E which operates between the Airport and Pengkalan Weld main bus terminal. The fare is RM 2.00 and departs every 30 minutes from 0600 to 2330. For those that wish to drive, there are rental car booths in the airport.
If flight isn’t an option for you, there is always the road and expressway! The North-South Expressway connects Penang to major states of Peninsular Malaysia. Once you reach Butterworth, which is the entry point to the island, you may either take the Penang Bridge or a ferry to cross from the mainland. The opening of the Penang Bridge linking the mainland of Peninsular Malaysia to Penang island has facilitated driving to Penang. A charge of RM 7.00 is levied on all classes of cars at the toll plaza in Perai on the mainland. No payment is required for traveling from the island to the mainland.
Do consider taking a ride in the historical ferries that transmute between Penang Island and Butterworth. From Butterworth, it is necessary to take the ferry to Penang Island. Operated by the Penang Port Commission, the ferry service is available for both passengers and vehicles. The ferry service is available for both passengers and vehicles; tickets are purchased at the Butterworth terminal. From Butterworth, visitors can take the ferry to Penang Island. Fares for passengers and vehicle charges are collected at the Butterworth terminal. An adult ticket cost RM1.20 while children between 5-12 years old have to pay a fare of RM0.60. No payment is required for the return journey.
Last but not least, there is always the option of the hitting the railway tracks! Taking the train is a comfortable way to travel within the country and if offers one the opportunity to see a lot of the countryside. The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth takes approximately 6 hours, and allows you to be pampered with first and second class passengers travel in comfort in the air-conditioned coaches. The Butterworth train station is located next to the Butterworth Ferry Terminal. Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM Bhd) also operates regular services from Alor Setar in Kedah and even from Bangkok in Thailand.
Looks like there won’t be much inconvenience getting to the Pearl of the Orient with so many modes of transports available, but how about your journey around the island? Traffic may be a hassle for some, so here are some modes you may consider. Generally, Penang's public transport system is efficient and moving around by taxis, buses or trishaws may be a fun way of catching the sights.
With the comfort of a driver and a private car, taxi would be a viable option. However, do take note that most city taxis do not use their meter. You may either insist on the meter being turned on or agree on a price before you hop in. Taxi is commonly available around the island. Buses ply the major routes around the city and island. All Rapid buses have a coin machine to collect fares. The main bus terminals are located at Pengkalan Weld (ferry terminal) and KOMTAR (ground floor). Rapid Penang, working hand-in-hand with the Penang State Tourism, offers free bus ride within Georgetown. The Hop On Free Central Area Transit (CAT) ply the route between Weld Quay Jetty and Komtar starting from 6am till 12midnight with a 15 minutes interval.
A famous mode of transport in Penang would be the trishaws. Besides the novelty of travelling in this three-wheeled vehicle, trishaws allow visitors the opportunity to enjoy the sights in Penang at a leisurely pace. You can also stop at any point to snap pictures or buy souvenirs. There is no standard fare and it would be wise to agree on the price before you get on the trishaw. The three-wheeled trishaw used to be a common sight on the island, but modern times have phased into near non-existence. Today, they exist as a novelty for tourists to enjoy. Trishaw-riders are usually congregated around the city centre.
With all the restaurant and hawker food plus the shopping and entertainment, it is no wonder that Penang remains a main tourist attraction in the South-east Asia region. To conclude it all up, there are plenty of choices of transport for you to get to Penang and also to travel within Penang, so what are you waiting for? Make a trip to this beautiful island today!