If you're lazy like me and the rest of tourist population, take the Swiss-made furnicular up to Penang Hill. The tram will take half an hour to creep to the top and you'll see little vegetable farms and colonial houses along the way. Sure this is touristy but what the heck, it beats walking uphill with a knee-impaired spouse for hours.
Cost for a 2way ticket : RM4.00
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.
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
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!!
Our holiday was enhanced by choosing to jump on some of the local buses in Penang. The buses are privately owned and we were told that they go through regular mechanical checks to ensure that they are safe to be driven. Sometimes there will be more than one service provider on the same route. If you are told the number of the bus you need to catch, be aware that a different provider will have a different number.
Buses are very shabby and usually have ripped seats because they are so old. The engine bay is often covered with old blankets stuck down with tape in an effort to muffle the noise. Those facts accepted, you can sit back and enjoy the ride.
In the centre of Georgetown at the Komtar and Prangin Mall, all the buses appear to terminate. On a couple of ocassions we boarded buses ready for the half hour journey to Battu Ferringhi and the driver would do his sales pitch on the footpath shouting out to everyone that the bus was about to leave. They never do until the bus is full!! Generally, buses seemed to go to Battu Ferringhi every half hour (roughly). The cost is very cheap and doesn't seem to go over 2rm. We also used buses to get to Guerney Plaza and we found the bus drivers were all helpful to us. If you tell them your hotel or destination and it is well known, they have no problem in stopping and letting you know when it is time to disembark. It also seemed to us that you could hail a bus even if you were not at a designated stop. Give the bus a try!!
We caught a bus into Georgetown from Bay View one day...it costed 2 RM (we were told we got ripped off, it should have cost 1.5 RM). The trip in was great because it was much cooler than being in a taxi and not as squashy. We also got to see a lot more along the way.
The bus was easy to catch and they seemed to come past the hotel every 15 minutes or so...
Taxis are very common in Penang...they take you everywhere for very little. It usually costs 20 - 55 RM per hour but you can pay more or less depending on how good you bargin... ;) You can wave a taxi down anywhere along the street but ALWAYS ask the price before getting in...and always try to bargin the price down unless you know that it is a fair price.
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
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.
This service started on 18 Nov 2014, while introduction period, it gave free service for a few days to all passengers and tourists. Started 24 November 2014, all passengers need to pay for a ride, the ticket is either valid for 24hours or 48hours ride. They are at least 7 buses run on the road at a time, the frequency is about 30 minutes. Plan for a ride to see Penang by riding HOHO bus, it is RM45 for international visitors and RM19 for Malaysian. Please bring along your student Id to enjoy a discounted rate.
It is very cheap to use public transport to get around Penang. There are only two busses from Batu Ferringhi to Gerogetown, Hin busses no 93 - blue colour and Milan busses - yellow colour. One way ticket from Batu Ferringhi to Komtar is only 2RM per person. Busses are no the best quality and drivers are driving like maniacs. We also witnessed when driver swapped his seat with another driver while the bus was going in the middle of the traffic. But they get you where you want to and they are definitely cheap. Forget about schedules, they only drive when the bus is full. It is usually every 15-30 minutes during the week.
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.