Day 24, South East Asia, March – May 2013
Day 4, Penang Island, Malaysia
If you brought a copy of Malaysia’s travel book with you, then you’ll find this information redundant. However, for those that tempting to visit Malaysia or Penang in the near future, I hope you’ll find this information helpful in mentally preparing for the long commute/distance from the airport, into George town. There are 2 options to go to Penang Island (by ferry) or overland from the airport. I am sharing the overland option since that’s the one I used.
In echoing Kuala Lumpur set up, Penang airport sits on the outskirt of town. You can hire a taxi to take you into George town (the main town) which can be very expensive or go the backpackers’ route (i.e), the public bus. This is the least expensive route, but can be time consuming as it is Penang’s public transportation system. They will make frequent stops along the way. If you’re pressed for time, traveling by public bus is not recommended.
However, if you’re on a budget with time on your hand and needed to be resourceful, then the Penang public bus will be an amazing ally to your pocket book. All buses in Penang appear to be almost new, very clean and came equipped with heavenly air conditioning which is a wonderful relief from the swelling and humid tropical heat.
Most buses seems to stop at the gigantic high rise, shopping complex of KOMTAR (Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak) of George town. There are buses # 401, 401 E (China town), 204, etc…To take the bus, exit the airport door upon arrival and there will be a covered bus station on your left.
Depending on where you’re staying in George town, some of the bus will take you very close to your accommodation. You can use the KOMTAR stop as the transit terminal. KOMTAR is about 10 minutes walk from China town.
From the airport, take bus # 401 E which will take you to the KOMTAR building.
Once getting off of KOMTAR stop, you can hail a taxi from the taxi station, at corner of Jalan Penang and Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Long to get to your final destination. We paid RM $12.00 (2 person) from this taxi station to Muntri House on Lebuh Muntri in China town. This street is parallel to Lebuh Love lane. I am not sure if that’s a fair price for the taxi or not but we didn’t have a good orientation of the new town since it was pass 11 pm and we were tired and hungry.
Cost of bus ride: RM $2.70 (as of April 6th, 2013. Exchange rate was around $1.00 USD to RM$3.00). In essence, we paid less than $ 1 USD for over an hour bus ride.
Travel time: approximately 1 hour and 15-30 minutes, depending on traffic. I arrived to Penang airport around 9pm and it still took around 1 hour and 15 minutes, although the bus didn’t make that many stops along the way.
Most Malaysian are proficient with English so always check with captain/bus driver if you’re taking the correct bus number. All have been very helpful and courteous upon my asking for direction/help.
*** Prepare to give exact change as the bus driver/captain will not return any changes. You will need to drop your bus fare into a money slot box by the driver/captain). He will hands you a ticket.