The easiest way to reach Penang Hill is by the Penang Hill Railway. The new train was operating since April 2011. I was visiting Penang Hill on 28 April 2011. It was under testing period, so the ride was free.
The modern Swiss-made air-conditioning train can load up to 80 passengers each way. Each ride takes around 11 minutes. And it has a stop in the middle of the hill. It is 30 minutes each train going up and down.
The train does not go fast, so it is a nice to sit on the train and enjoy the views surrounding the green mountain.
Weekdays: 6:30 - 21:00
Weekends: 6:30 - 22:00
Malaysian: RM5 one way
Non-Malaysian: RM17 one way
* Take bus 204 from Jetty Raja Tun Uda to Penang Hill Railway.
For more information: Penang Hill Website.
Before the Penang Bridge was built, about twenty years ago, beside flying, the way to George Town is by the double decker ferry with long queues on both sides.
It is fun just to take the ferry as a walking passenger to enjoy the ride, the sea and wind and the view.
Ferry services schedule between Georgetown and Buterworth
Georgetown (Penang Island Ferry Terminal - Pangkalan Raja Tun Uda)
- First ferry departure : 0530 am morning
- Last ferry departure : 0030 am after midnite
Butterworth (Mainland Fery Terminal - Pangkalan Sultan Abdul
- First ferry departure : 0600 am morning
- Last ferry departure : 0100 am after midnite
Some ferries carry only vehicles while some both carry both passengers. All walking passengers will go to top floor of ferry terminal to embark and disembark.
The ferries are named after various islands in Malaysia - Pulau Undan, Pulau Talang-talang,
Pulau Angsa, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Rimau Pulau Kapas, Pulau Pinang, Pulau Paya
Fare are charged only at Butterworth side:
Passenger Adult: RM1.40, Children under 12 years: 60 sen
Motorcycle (inclusive of pillion rider) RM2.00
Motorcar (including station wagon, four-wheel drive, three-wheel commercial vehicle, motorcycle with side car) RM7.70
Lorry (2 axles with 4 wheels) RM13.20
Lorry (2 axles with 6 wheels) RM27.50
There are restrooms on ferries. There are steep stairs between upper deck and lower deck of ferry. Mind your head too. You will know what I mean.
Fun to ride the ferry although there is waiting time. The ferries are multi-colored. In the good old days, they were all yellow.
The Penang Bridge is a vehicle only - no pedestrian or bicycles allowed unless special permission is obtained in a bicycle competition or annual marathon bridge run.
It is 13.5km and maximum speed limit is 80km per hour. Do not speed, as there is a great chance you will get a ticket with constant speed monitor. There is no stopping allowed in the middle of the bridge span for photography or viewing.
The toll is only from Butterworth side. It is RM7 for cars, RM1.40 for motorcyles. Vans, 4WD are RM12 or above.
You can get a "SMART Tag scanner" or "Touch n Go" manual card to avoid the longer queues. If "Touch n Go" top up card is originally purchased at the office at Butterworth side of Penang Bridge, the charge is RM5.60 instead of RM7.
Both prepaid cards are used along Malaysian highways.
Georgetown is the largest town in Penang and also where the cruise ship docks. This City has grown borderless as all available land on the island utilized. The habour and Prangin Mall all within this 1.5 kilometer distance
The original area of colonial Georgetown should be within the 1.5 kilometers radius from the port.
Star Cruise ship docks at the Swettenham Pier at the northern edge of the small Penang port. The smaller Gemini could dock by itself alongside the pier. Whereas the largest Virgo would park itself away from the pier and passengers would be ferried that short distance to the pier by its own lifeboats.
As usual customs and immigrations officer would be on duty to facilitate the disembarkation into Penang Island.
Star Cruise had tour buses on stand by to ferry visitors to the Prangin Mall for shopping or to the further Kek Loke Si Temple in Ayer Itam for sight seeing.
In Penang itself, there are 3 notable shopping Malls. Prangin Mall is in the heart of town between Prangin Road and Magazine Road. Then the further but more popular among the locals, Gurney Mall in Gurney Drive. The last one is out of town at the area of the airport Queensbay Mall.
I think the tour bus from Star Cruise would after problems of having kids around. In case you need to move around on your own, it is easy to get taxi from the pier to Prangin Mall and return. Moreover, the Mall would offer genuine and fakes for your choice
In the past, the road in front of the pier was Weld Quay, now Pengkalan Weld ran into the area of the Prangin Mall. The distance should be just above one kilometer. Now with the re-alignment of the seafront Expressway, the road Prangin Lane is a turn off from this Express Road.
Taxi and rickshaw would fill up the area where the passengers leave the port area. Taxi is not a common commodity in Penang, fare for the short distance may be considered exorbitant. Many taxi operators refuse to adopt the meter system. I have not got an update perhaps this is all changed.
I understand that the bus service has now changed for the better, not a bad idea to ask around. It is perfectly in order to use a Rickshaw. This is an antique transport means but now revive as a tourist attraction. It is only for convenience but not necessary cheaper in fare when compared to the taxi.
Penang Hill lies about 5km west of the George Towns city centre and makes for a fun afternoon outing especially when combined with a trip to the nearby Kek Lok Si Temple. Running up the 821-metre high hill is a funicular railway which was built by the British between 1906 and 1923 at a cost of 1.5 million Straits Dollars, so that the British officers could journey up the hill for convalescence or simply to relax and enjoy the cooler air. The funicular railway was only open to the public on 21st October 1923.
A journey up the hill takes about half an hour, and requires changing trains mid station. This is due to the difference in steepness. The lower section, which is 907 meters in length, has a steepness of 50.5% while the higher section, with a distance of 1313 meters, has a steepness of 51.3%. The system operates on a single track with passing loop, with two carriages one going up while the other coming down. The track forks into two to accommodate the two passing carriages. The original carriages which date from 1923 were replaced with newer ones in 1977. One of the original carriages is now displayed at the Penang State Museum. Be aware that you may have to wait a while in order to get on the train.
Admission: RM4 return.
Take bus 204 from George Town
I have been very happy with the tours and bus travel arrangement made by FTZ Travel, very honest prices. This included half-day sightseeing tours and onward travel to Singapore by VIP bus, and general information. Our driver and guide E.H. Tan grew up on the island and has many stories to tell. Manager: Danny Teoh.
The very efficient rapid penang bus service does great deals for tourists, you can buy a ticket for a week , month or however long you need and this enables you to hop on and off the buses as required. If I remember correctly the weekly ticket was 40myr which is about £8, travel is unlimited and buses are frequent.
Being the second largest city in Malaysia, there are few international budget flights connecting to/from Penang's neighbour cities, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta,and Bangkok. If you ever ask my personal opinion, I would suggest AirAsia since it is one of the best budget airlines in the world.
If you wish to purchase buy-on-board food, AirAsia also offers a rather fair price; however, it would be quite boring for someone to have a flight more than 3 hours without any entertainment. My suggestion is bring your own laptop and enjoy the show. Also, if you wish to shorten your time for check-in, you can also check-in online.
What's more, I never receive any flight delay alert, but I did for AirAsia this time. It really reduced my anger to certain extent for being notified for delayed flight.
Go Penang to Phuket by Firefly:
or Penang to Hat Yai by minibus, then bus/minibus to Krabi and Phuket,
or Langkawi to Satun by boat, then bus/minibus to Krabi and Phuket,
or november to may boat to Ko Lipe, Ko Lanta and Phuket:
If you only go to Penang for 2-3 days, I suggest you plan what you want to do before hand. Shop, sight seeing, eating, tours? Also, if ou are only going for short time I would fly. It is about $150RM one way from KL on Malaysia Airlines so might cost less onthe smaller domestic airlines. It only takes 50min. Penang Airport is about 45min from Georgetown which is city centre in Penang. Coach takes 4 hours. We went on Nice Coaches/Bus Company leaving from major train station in KL - cost about $57RM they give you plenty to east and drink and you get one rest stop. I myself are not keen on KL as to me it is just another big city.
Cabs in Penang are not metered. It is rather expensive. What we did was to hire a driver and car on a per hour basis. This would be more economical, especially as our hotel was in the Batu Ferringhi area and we wanted to visit several places. For example, we wanted to go the Penang Hill, and was told it would cost RM$30 for the 30 min ride. However, if we hired the car and driver on a per hour basis, it would cost RM$30 an hour, with a minimum hire of 3 hours. We ended up hiring the car and driver (through hotel concierge's contact) for 6.5 hours and managed to visit several places and shop at the same time.
We met Azali through this and found that he was patient, reliable and gentlemanly. He also spoke good english and had a good knowledge of Penang. We liked him so much that we hired his services once more during our trip to bring us for some last minute shopping and to the airport. We would highly recommend his services. His mobile no. is given below.
For direct from Singapore to Penang:
1. Singapore airline (SQ) return air tickets will costs around SGD484 with taxes - http://www.singaporeair.com/saa/en_UK/index.jsp while MH
2. Malaysia airline (MH) return air tickets will costs around SGD610 with taxes - http://www.malaysiaairlines.com/main_SG.aspx?lang=en-US
The cheapest airline will be AirAsia but departure is from Senai airport, Johor:
1. AirAsia (AK) return air tickets will costs around SGD131.30 with taxes - http://www.airasia.com/site/sg/en/home.jsp
we found that most hotels had their "own" taxis and frowned upon the "competition". however from the hotel where we stayed(bayview beach) there was a cab rank opposite and we found them to be most friendly and definitely cheaper in general. for long travel a daily fare can be negotiated. we travelled over to the mainland to the orangutan island and theme park. daily cost was around 170rm with tolls a bit more. we left at 9am and returned around 6pm
If you are travelling by Taxi or car from the airport to Batu Ferringhi or indeed anywhere on the north coast, be prepared for a traffic jams if you arrive during evening rush hour (18:00 - 19:00).
It took us ages to get through the outskirts of Georgetown, and the driving manners are awful, as they are in most Asian cities. It took us 75 minutes to complete the trip.
Fixed taxi price RM60 from the airport - sounded expensive but after the journey we realised why !
Firefly is the new budget airline in Malaysia. And Penang is the hub! From Penang, there are flights going to Kuala Lumpur (arrive at the old SUbang Airport Terminal 3), Langkawi, Kota Bharu, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, Phuket (Thailand) and Koh Samui (Thailand).
But looking at their website, their airplane seems a bit small and old...
So nice to have another low cost option.
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