The North-South Highway connects Penang to major cities on the West side of Peninsular Malaysia. Travel by highway can take anywhere from 4-5 hours with toll charges in between.
By Passenger Ferry
The Ferry Terminal or Jetty is where passengers board the ferry that plies between Penang Island and the mainland. Penang Island is just a 10- minute ferry ride from Butterworth. If you are taking a train to Penang from Kuala Lumpur or other cities, you may board the ferry to Penang Island from the ferry terminal at Butterworth, which is located next to the train station. Although it is possible to travel between the island and the mainland via the Penang Bridge, taking the ferry is also convenient.
7am-11pm** Departing from Penang island (Swettenham Pier) to the mainland (Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim)
6.30am-10.30pm** Departing from the mainland (Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim) to the island (Swettenham Pier)
Operating Intervals: 30 minutes (peak hours) & 60 minutes (non-peak hours)
Fare: Adult RM1.20 / Child RM0.60
* The ferry is free of charge from Penang island to the mainland - fare is imposed only from the mainland to the island
** Schedules are an estimation.
The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth takes approximately six hours. Taking the train is a comfortable way to travel within the country and it affords one the opportunity to see a lot of the countryside. The railway station on mainland Penang connects to the mainline which runs from Bangkok to Johor Bahru (for access from Singapore).
While downtown Penang might be small in size, there are various modes of public transportation available; from trishaws to free shuttle buses, standard city buses and taxis. It is also possible to walk around George Town and its surrounding neighbourhood. Public transportation is also available for more distant attractions out of George Town, such as the Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang Hill and the ones up in Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang or Penang National Park. Do check schedules and fares before deciding on your preferred mode of transport.
Taxis are easily available around the island; it is a common means of getting around by visitors. Be sure to agree on a price before boarding the taxi. Start by asking how much it is to get to your destination; you can negotiate on the prices quoted if you feel that they are too high.
Apps such as Grab is available in Penang. Simply download the app to start booking your trips. Payment is either by cash or credit/debit card.
The main public bus service is by Rapid Penang and it covers an extensive area both on the island and mainland. It also operates a Free CAT (Central Area Transit) bus service within George Town. KOMTAR Terminal is the central transfer terminal for buses that cover the whole of Penang Island. Simply ask around or look out for signboards to find out which bus route serves you best. Upon boarding the Rapid Penang bus, inform the driver of your destination, pay the amount required and receive a ticket for your trip. Remember to prepare exact change as no change will be given back as all buses do not carry change for safety reasons. *Fares are based on distance travelled.
Free Central Area Transit (CAT) Bus
Free CAT Bus (Central Area Transit) is a free shuttle bus service that operates within George Town. It is the most common means of transportation for travellers to get to popular local attractions for free. Trips are at intervals of 15 minutes. Look out for Rapid Penang buses that bear a “Free CAT Bus” sign.
Operating Hours: 6:00am to 11:45pm
*It is recommended to use Moovit app for schedules, stops and maps: https://moovitapp.com/index/en/public_transit-line-CAT-Penang-5390-1122251-697572-0
Driven purely on manpower, the iconic trishaw is great for going around George Town. Opt for a trishaw ride if you enjoy breezy rides. Be sure to agree on a price before starting your journey. The average rate is RM30 per hour for two-persons, depending on the distance between starting and ending points.
Renting a car offers great flexibility and convenience. They are charged by daily rate – all you have to do is pay a deposit and the car is yours to go anywhere with. Car rentals are available around town – most hotels can hook you up with one.
Bicycles and motorbikes also offer inexpensive and fun ways to explore the island. There is a shared bike system in the city and its surroundings and other bike rentals are also available along the hotel stretch of Batu Ferringhi.