UPDATE: The new bus service of Rapid Penang, using U101 will get you comfortablly in a modern aircon bus from Teluk Bahang, Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah to Komtar (downtown Penang). An excellent way to travel.
Taxi is expensive from the beach areas of Teluk Bahang, Batu Ferringgi and Tanjung Bunga to downtown areas of Gurney Drive or Komtar and Chulia Street.
But you can just hop aboard the regular schedule public bus "KGN & Hin" which ply the route until 9pm or so at night for less than RM2.
So there is no reason why you cannot venture out the distance to the Butterfly Farm or enjoy beach sport activities on Batu Ferringgi Beach or shop for souvenir at the tourist bazaar stalls outside Golden Sand Hotel every night.
Or if you are staying at the Beach, to go to Gurney Plaza or Prangin Mall (near Komtar) for shopping or Gurney Hawker Center to sample the delightful array of local Penang dishes.
Just be prepared for long wait. And the bus conditions are bearable, depending on outside natural wind rather than fully enclosed aircondition and the seats may be not the most comfortable.
Good news that a new fleet of modern public buses under a new state run company will start in the middle of the 2007 or thereafter.
Starting in August 2007, there is a new bus service called Rapid Penang. The buses are new, comfortable and the bus do not wait to pick up passengers.
The main bus exchanges are at Bayan Baru (at Bukit Jambul Complexs), Komtar, Weld Quay (Ferry Terminal) on the island and Megamall (Sebarang Jaya) and Butterworth Ferry on the Mainland.
There are connections to Teluk Bahang, Balik Pulau, Air Itam, Batu Maung on the island and Kepala Batas, Bukit Mertajam and Nibong Tebal on the mainland. U704 and U705 cross the Penang Bridge. There are buses to all the major shopping places including Queensbay Mall, Tesco, Gurney Plaza, Prangin Mall, Bukit Jambul Complexs, Midlands One Stop, etc.
So enjoy this new comfortable bus service. There are plenty of maps and the bus drivers seem happy to answer questions of passengers trying to get on the right bus to their destination. A transformation of public bus service in Penang long overdue but working now.