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Getting around

Getting around

Public transportation around the city is well organized (by Malaysian standards) with modern low floor aircon buses. Main public bus terminals are at jetty and Komtar building/mall where you can get a map with all lines. When boarding a bus you MUST have prepared exact change! All buses stop on their route, and if you don't mind going around the city a bit if you actually want to leave it, you have good chances of getting where you want. But if you're planning to venture out of Georgetown to the suburbs and beyond for a day's tripping, do bear in mind that the public buses stop picking up passengers after 10PM daily - apparently even on weekends and holidays. And if you need to take a taxi back to your quarters after midnight, be prepared to pay a 100% surcharge on top of the fare.

City taxis are required to charge according to the meter effective from August 2006

To & from the airport

  • Rapid Penang bus 401, 401A, 401E from the airport to Komtar and the Jetty, and vice versa) takes about 1.5 hrs depending on traffic, and the buses come once every 30 min. The bus passes through southern ekspres bas terminal for connections to mainland cities. The bus fare is RM2.70 (as of Dec 2015). Take gate exit 6 to find the bus stop.
  • There is also a direct "AT" (airport transfer) bus that stops less and will take 45 mins to get from the airport to the Jetty (via Komtar). The schedule isn't very clear and this bus is not well-advertised. From the Jetty to the airport, catch this bus at Terminal B. The fare is RM 2.70 (as of Dec 2015).

Walking

One of the best ways to sight see is to walk around Georgetown; but wear light clothes, start early in the morning, and put on plenty of sun-block during the daytime. When crossing the roads, remember to look both ways, even on a one-way street. Walking tours are available by local residents and Georgetown personalities, arrangement can be made direct or through hotels or guest houses. Individual tours usually start at 9.00 am and are tailored to suit.

Georgetown can be difficult to walk around because of underdeveloped footpaths. In places without footpaths it can be difficult to get around safely on foot due to the heavy traffic and prevalence of deep, wide open drains. Be careful about those, or walk on the side of the road in places without a footpath. If you are walking on the side of the road, try to walk against traffic as far over as you can so you can see the cars coming. Use the pedestrian bridges where available to cross the road. Some areas do not have crosswalks and instead have the pedestrian bridges that go over the traffic.

By bus

RapidPenang, the local bus service, features new buses. All bus stations and bus stops which are serviced by the RapidPenang buses are labeled with proper signboards to ensure user-friendliness. Buses are somewhat frequent on the main artery to Batu Ferringhi. Rapid Penang bus 101 bound for Teluk Bahang goes through midtown Pulau Tikus, (northwest end of) Gurney Drive, Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi and terminates at the Penang National Park entrance. Avoid so-called 'minibuses' because they usually go as far as Tanjung Bungah and can be poorly maintained.

Be aware that you have to hand over the exact fare, as the driver doesn't have change (of course you can pay more and resign the change). So when arriving e.g. at Penang airport from abroad, you won't get far with your freshly ATM-dispensed RM 50 notes. The fare from the airport to KOMTAR is RM 2.70, so buy a snack or similar in the arrival hall.

Rapid Penang bus 203 and 204 to Air Itam (RM1.50 adult) departs westward on Lebuh Chulia (the main backpacker hotel road) or southbound from the KOMTAR building are handy for visiting both Kek Lok Si Temple and Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) Funiciular Base Station, approximately 30mins south west of the city centre. The driver will inform you of when to alight. Bus 204 departs from the funicular base station to return to Komtar and onward.

The main hub for buses in Georgetown is KOMTAR, the tallest building in town. The secondary hub is located at the Pengkalan Weld (Weld Quay) ferry terminal. All buses depart from the ferry terminal will stopover at KOMTAR, but city centre-bound buses destined for KOMTAR may not go all the way to the ferry terminal; ask the bus operator. There is a new long-distance bus terminal at Sungai Nibong, refer to by bus entry.

Municipal Council of Penang Island provides a free CAT shuttle bus hop on hop off service in Georgetown which runs approximately between the Pengkalan Weld ferry terminal and KOMTAR every 20 min daily 6AM-12am, (including Sundays & public holidays). Visit for more details. An unofficial route map detailing the location of the CAT shuttle bus stops can be found here.

Also, foreigners can purchase a Rapid Passport for only RM30 and enjoy a week of unlimited travel onboard all rapid Penang buses.

RapidPenang has a very useful iPhone app ("rapid penang mobile icis") which features a GPS powered route planner and updated arrival/departure times based on the GPS equipped on the busses.

This website gives a useful list of bus numbers, their destinations, and route maps.

The Penang Hop On Hop Off buses services offers value for money - RM45 for a 24 hour pass if you intend to be out and about in the island, covering most tourist attractions.

By trishaw

These three-wheeled human-powered vehicles might be the best idea for a pleasant city tour. One can stop at any point to take a photo or buy souvenirs. Many trishaw riders are also excellent 'tour guides'. Negotiate the fare first before getting on a trishaw; it is advisable to hire them by the hour(around Myr30 per hour) for extended sightseeing.

By car

Car rentals may be a viable option, especially if you are planning to get off the beaten track and explore the rural western or southern coast of the island. Take note that Penang Island has quite a number of one-way streets and narrow roads. Many Penangites ride motorbikes and quite many of them have disregard for pedestrians, cars, and even their own lives, so you must be very careful when driving on the roads. Avoid driving during the rush hours between 7:30-9:30AM and 5:30-7:30PM. Motorcycle riders can be undisciplined and tourists should be extra vigilant of them.

Taxis

Taxis in Penang are equipped with meters but most drivers are reluctant to use the meters. Always haggle with the taxi driver and agree on a price beforehand.

At some high-end hotels, particularly on Batu Ferringhi, you may find blue SUVs marked "Teksi Executif" (Executive Taxi). These taxis do use the meter, but are hard to find on the streets.

As of May 2013, a taxi from the Queensbay Mall to Georgetown will cost 30 ringgit fixed (drivers around the mall will refuse to use the meter), though a bus ticket (bus 401E and others in the 300 series) are plentiful and cost 2 ringgit.

Über has recently come to Penang. Prices are very cheap when using Über X. A trip from Penang Airport to the north end of Georgetown was 21 MYR. Airport taxis have a surcharge and will cost you 50 MYR and up to get to Georgetown (April 2016).

Read more Penang travel guide at here.