Penang provides free shuttle service to historical sites and the service runs in a loop.
You can hop-on or off the shuttle at any point where the bus-stop signs shows the free shuttle service.
We boarded the shuttle bus from within Komtar (see picture). Frequency, isn't great but it is free and stops are near historical sites.
This morning, the 11th June 2013, I was at Komtar bus station, George Town, and asked a bus company official which route I need to visit "Suffolk House", (the former residence of Francis Light who founded Penang); to my amazement he claimed to not know, he asked a passenger who made a vague suggestion but implied that it was now a restaurant. Somewhat put out by this, I caught the bus to the foot of the Penang Hill Railway, only to discover, when I reached it, that it was closed for three days, for maintenance. My complaint is, simply, why did the bus company not have a notice to mention this to save travellers like me a wasted two hours, (waiting for the bus in town, the journey there and back, and waiting at the "upper terminus"?
Actually, it turned out well, for, not only did I see Suffolk House by chance on the way back - and well worth a visit it is too - but I also had time to take an excellent lunch at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel.
The point is: YOU WON'T GET ANY HELP FROM PENANG RAPID. (I shall now repeat most of this in an email to the company)
ETA: I don't think much of the route maps, either. It wouldn't do the company any harm to copy the Harry Beck style as used for London Underground
Rapid Penang is providing air-condition public buses to the locals and tourists. It is the most affordable way to travel around the Island. Unlike other cities in Malaysia, Penang has clean and assigned bus-stops in most places. I think you need a planned itinerary of the day with the bus number and expecting time of arrival, it should be fun to take the public buses to explore Penang Island with the sequence direction.
There are two main bus stations in downtown area, bus station next to Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal & Komtar Bus Terminal.
Make sure you have enough small notes, RM1 is very useful. The fare is range between RM1.40 to RM4.00. You can buy ticket on board.
So far, I have taken the following buses to see attractions:
1) Penang Hill ( take bus 204 from Jetty Raja Tun Uda)
2) Gurney Drive ( take bus 10, 103, 304 from Komtar main bus-stop)
3) Ferringhi Beach ( take bus 101, 102 from Komtar main bus-stop)
The main issue of taking public buses is sometimes it could wait up to 40 minutes for a bus.
You can take the Free Public shuttles go around the downtown to see heritage buildings.
Taking public buses can reduce the traffic congestion in the city!!
If you arrive by bus at Georgetown, I presume that you reach at Komtar. I am sorry if i m mistaken.
From Komtar to Tanjung Bungah, you can take bus, RAPID Penang number 101. Here is the route for this bus :
Weld Quay Bus Terminal - Gat Lebuh Chulia - Lebuh Chulia - Jalan Penang - Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong - Jalan Ria - KOMTAR - Jalan Magazine - Jalan Penang - Jalan Burma (Burmah Road) - Jalan Perak - Jalan Burma (Burmah Road) - Jalan Bagan Jermal. - Jalan Tanjong Tokong - Jalan Tanjung Bungah - Jalan Batu Ferringhi - Jalan Teluk Bahang - Jalan Hassan Abbas - Terminus - Jalan Hassan Abbas - Jalan Teluk Bahang - Jalan Batu Ferringhi - Jalan TANJUNG BUNGAH - Jalan Tanjong Tokong - Jalan Bagan Jermal. - Jalan Burma (Burmah Road) - Jalan Pangkor (Pangkor Road) - Jalan Perak - Jalan Macalister - Jalan Penang - Jalan Transfer - Jalan Sri Bahari (Sri Bahari Road) - Jalan Penang - Lebuh Chulia - Gat Lebuh Chulia - Pengkalan Weld - Pesara King Edward - Weld Quay Bus Terminal.
Hope it helps you.
There is such thing as a free ride !
Please use this bus when sight seeing around Georgetown, Penang.
It is really easy to get to Penang, I think you can get here in every possible way!
Coming by ferry is easy, as there are a fleet of eight ferries that link Georgetown on Penang Island and Butterworth on the mainland.
The first ferry departs from Butterworth at 6am, with the last one stopping about midnight.
Departures from Penang Island are from 5.30am.
Walk on pedestrian cost 1.2rm
Motor vehicles cost 7.7rm
Simon provides private personalized tours for small groups (preferably 1-3 pax) around Penang Island at reasonable rates and prices. he is able to bring you to both the major tourist attractions as well as places where Penang locals frequent. He can also customised to your itenarary to your preference. Do check out the below site if you need a car driver in penang....
Check out http://sspenangtours.webs.com
As far as I gathered, the bus fare is the same as the other local buses. The difference is that this bus is air-conditioned. Get enough small change ready so that you can pay the exact fare asked for because the drivers and their assistants on all the public buses never return you any change.
Be prepared to wait a lo....oo...ng time for your bus. Bring a book along with you. While waiting at Komtar bus terminus, get a mask or a handkerchief ready because while you wait, you will be inhaling all the exhaust fumes. You will surely stand out because all the locals are so used to it that it doesn't ruffle them one bit.
The Rapid Penang Bus Service runs fairly new, large, clean, air conditioned buses. They are very recognisable from any of the other various old battered buses run by other companies.
Expect to pay between 1-2RM for 10m-30m trips. Keep handy 1RM notes and some coins as some fares are 1.50RM.
When you get on the bus, ask driver how much to the part of town you wish to travel to. There is a silver box next to the driver with a slot in it that you can put your correct money in. He will give you change if you need to. He will also give you a small ticket as proof of fare purchase. They have buttons all over the bus to press for next stop.
Cabs do not run by the meter and is rather expensive, especially if they know you're a tourist! If your hotel is in the Batu Ferringhi area and you wish to get into town where Komtar & Prangin Mall is for some shopping, you can take the public bus run by 'Rapid'. There are bus stops all along the Ferringhi area (esp. in front of hotels like Holiday Inn, Golden Sands and Parkroyal). It costs RM$2 to get to town in about 45 min. The buses are new and the ride is comfortable.
Most of the services which pass through Ferringhi area also go past Gurney. Just ask the driver, who is usually very helpful. We paid $RM1.50 to get to Gurney area. (To get to Gurney, you need to alight at the bus-stop just before the Gurney junction, when you can see the Macdonald's sign from a distance. After that it is about 5 min walk to Gurney. Most services turn right towards town at that junction whereas Gurney is to the diagonal left.)
Cabs charge RM$30 to town and RM$25 to Gurney!
The taxi drivers in Penang, like the rest of Malaysia, do not use their meters. They simply give you a price and, if you thinks it's worth the effort, you haggle them down a bit.
They have the advantage so the problem is, how do you know what a fair price really is?
We faced that problem until we came upon what must have been a "Learner" driver. He actually used his meter. From the metered fare we worked out that the price given by the taxi drivers is about double the meter fare.
That gave us the little edge we needed in negotiations and we generally got the price down by at least 25%.
The other thing we did at the rank if we were refused by one driver was just call out "Anyone want a fare to ...... for RM.....?"
There was always one taxi driver who thought that amount was better than nothing.
Finding a taxi can be a frustrating experience, especially if you are 'off the beaten path'.
We were fortunate to find 'Morgan' (celphone 0164041753). Morgan the driver of one of 38 taxis that between them, using celphones and handheld radios, act as a fleet, so, if you can contact one and he can't make it, he contacts another.
You just tell them where you are and where you want to go. They even call back and tell you how long it will be in arriving.
It REALLY cuts down the waiting time. It also cuts down the frustration level of standing in the sun on the street waving at occupied cabs.
We used this system a lot on our visit to Penang and once the various drivers got to know us they turned from cab drivers to tour guides pointing out the various landmarks and historical places. If we wanted to change route, no problems (usually without a change in price).
I know it's a small thing but these guys really made our visit more enjoyable.
UPDATE: Penang Rapid is the new bus service implemented in August 2007. Rides starts with RM1 and up and provide comfortable rides in modern new buses to all major tourist destinations in Penang. This is a great boon to all locals and tourists alike.
Penang public bus system has been revamped last year and further changes and improvements are expected in 2007.
The three bus lines are:
1) Yellow Milan - serving the south west region from Bayan Baru, Jelutong, Teluk Kumbar, Balik Pulau to Komtar and Ferry terminal. Tourist destinations include "Snake Temple", near Airport area.
2) Red Transit Link - serving Air Itam area, Paya Terubong, Rifles Range, Dato' Kramat to Komtar, Ferry Terminal. Tourist destinations: Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si Temple.
3) Blue KGN Hin - serving Burmah Road, Pepper Estate, Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi, Teluk Kumbar. Tourist destinations: Botanical Gardens, Gurney Drive, Butterfly Farm.
Note a) The feeder minibus will go around the local area.
Note b) Orange color (Bas Sekolah) are school buses, Light Blue (Bas Kilang, Bas Pekerja) are chartered buses for factory commuters. "Bas Pesiaran" are tourist chartered buses. So if these buses do not stop for you, you know why.
Some times, some of the buses at the major stops will wait for the bus to fill up before moving. So it is a test of patience. The alternative is a much more expensive taxi ride which does not go by meter. Most of the buses are air conditioned, some are not or not working well. Have low expectations and enjoy the view or people watch while you get to your destination eventually.
Current Penang Island Bus system consists of 3 regional bus lines (Yellow, Blue, Red) with the Minibus (Green) operating within each region.
In the Bayan Baru area, the minibus is a feeder line that will go from Bukit Jambul Complexs to Queensbay Mall and then to Sungei Nibong Main Bus station. So for short distance in the neighborhood, use the Minibus. Just ask the fellow bus riders waiting at the bus stops or the minibus drivers if they are going to your destination. Everyone is helpful because the change of routes have happened recently. Fare is standard one ringgit.
Minibus are small. So mind your head if you are tall and need to stand all the way.
I did not try the buses in Penang but from the reviews by others, they seem quite affordable. I used the taxi as I was unsure which bus number to take.
The taxi is quite expensive by Malaysia standard as they do not go by meter despite laws to do so. Try not to take the taxi from the taxi stands as they charge a minimum of 8 ringgits. It is better to flag one from the road and try to negotiate the prices.
From Georgetown to Batu Ferringhi costs about RM20-RM30, while within Georgetown it would be RM6-RM12.