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5 ways to get from Kuala Lumpur to Penang

by on August 28, 2015
 

The Challenge

We decided to look at five different ways to get from Kuala Lumpur to Penang most cost effectively taking a reasonable easy and comfortable route.

As the different types of transport would  leave from different places, in the interest of fairness, the Departure point was decided to be Kuala Lumpur Sentral (Railway) station and the Arrival point the Weld Quay (Pengkalen Weld) Main bus terminus in George Town, Penang. Apart from the most direct route of driving your own car all the way, this would also necessitate some changes of transport.

The Departure Point

Sentral Station is the major transit point in Kuala Lumpur. It is easily accessible by private car or taxi, commuter train (KTM Komuter), bus (RapidKL) and Light Rail (LRT with a station within KL Sentral) / Monorail (station through connected Mall).

All the methods suggested here,  either depart Kuala Lumpur from Sentral or have connections to the departure point (airport etc).

The Arrival Point

Pengkalan Weld Bus Terminus is the main Bus terminus in George Town, the Capital City of Penang, on Penang Island. There are easy connections to the Penang Airport at Bayan Lepas, the Intercity Bus terminus at Sungei Nibong, Penang and the Intercity train station at Butterworth on the mainland across from George Town.

Option 1: Road/rail, Air, Road (bus)

Stage of Journey

Transport
Option 1

Cost Transport
Option 2

Cost

KL Sentral to Subang Skypark Airport (SZB) Bus RapidKL bus  OR RapidKL LRT and KLAirport bus  ** Approx. RM3 – RM5.10 Taxi RM20 – RM25
Subang Skypark Airport to Penang Airport (PEN) Firefly
Both ATR72 turboprop aircraft
(depending on when purchased and time of day)
RM59 – RM293
Malindo (depending on when purchased and time of day)
RM59 – RM293
Penang Airport to Pengkalan Weld RapidPenang bus 401 to Pengkalan Weld (Ferry) RM2.70 Taxi (coupon system) RM46

Result:
Taking into account the variable times dependent of road traffic, we’ll use a best case scenario. It might be wise to allow some extra.  ** RapidKL (token from vending machine or ticket counter) then catch bus U 81 from Pasar Seni, RM3.00
   LRT from Pasar Seni or KLSentral to Kelana Jaya RM2.10, Then KLAirport shuttle bus RM3.00. Total RM5.10

  1. Travel to Subang Skypark : allow at least one hour, best case, whether by public transport or taxi although taxi may be slightly faster.
  2. Check-in / Departure time requirement : minimum 45 mins departure time cut-off for flights at this airport
  3. Flight time : 1 hour (plus getting out from the departure area, around 10 to 15 mins)
  4. Bus to city : 1 hour (you may have to wait for the next bus and the time taken for the trip. Taxi may be a little less.)

Total time taken : 3 hours 45 minutes.  Cost : between RM65 and RM364 depending on combination.

Option 2: Road/rail, Air, Road (bus)

Stage of Journey

Transport
Option 1
Cost Transport
Option 2

Cost

KL Sentral to KL International Airport 2 (KUL) KLIA Expres (Fast train) RM35 Bus to KLIA2 RM9.50
KLIA2 Airport to Penang Airport (PEN) AirAsia (depending on when purchased and time of day) Best Promo fare found RM49 Malindo (depending on when purchased and time of day)
Best Promo fare found RM69.95
Penang Airport to Pengkalan Weld RapidPenang bus 401 to Pengkalan Weld (Ferry) RM2.70 Taxi RM46

Result:
Taking into account the variable times dependent of road traffic, we’ll use a best case scenario. It might be wise to allow some extra time to allow for missed connections if you need to change from LRT to a bus for example.

  1. Travel to Subang Skypark : allow at least one hour, best case
  2. Check-in / Departure time requirement : minimum 45 mins departure time cut-off for flights at this airport
  3. Flight time : 1 hour (plus getting out from the departure area, around 10 to 15 mins)
  4. Bus to city : 1 hour (you may have to wait for the next bus and the time taken for the trip)

Total time taken : 3 hours 45 minutes. Cost : RM61.20 upwards, depending on combination and air fares available.

Option 3: Road

Stage of Journey Transport Cost Tolls payable Cost
KL Sentral to Pengkalan Weld private car [email protected]/km RM178 Tolls
Jln Duta
/ Juru
Penang Bridge
RM43.30
RM7
Total 50.30

Result:
Taking into account the variable times dependent of road traffic, we’ll use a best case scenario. It might be wise to allow some extra. Exit Kuala Lumpur from Jln Duta Toll on the Plus Highway, exit at Prai for the Penang Bridge.

  1. Travel to Pengkalan Weld :  allow at least three and a half to four hours, assuming light traffic, no stops and maintaining the permitted speed limit. In reality, the traffic leaving the city may slow you down and add to the time.
  2. Penang Bridge to to Pengkalan Weld : minimum 15 mins depending on time of day. There is usually heavy traffic on the bridge during morning and afternoon peak periods, before and after working hours.

Total time taken : 3 hours 45 minutes to 4 hrs 15 mins. Cost : petrol + toll charges =  RM228.30 Obviously the cost will be reduced per person, the more people you have in the car.  **NB The Bridge toll of RM7 is only payable on the way to the island.

Option 4: Road (bus)

Stage of Journey Transport Option 1 Cost Transport Option 2 Cost
KL Sentral to Sungei Nibong Penang Bus from KL Sentral
RM74
(concession RM56)
Sungei Nibong to Pengkalan Weld RapidPenang bus 308 to Pengkalan Weld (Ferry) RM2.70

Result:
Taking into account the variable times dependent of road traffic, we’ll use a best case scenario. It might be wise to allow some extra especially if you’re travelling on or around public holidays or school breaks.

  1. KL Sentral to Sungei Nibong : approximately 31/hours
  2. Bus to city :  45 mins to 1 hour (you may have to wait for the next bus and the time taken for the trip)

Total time taken : 31/2 and 41/hours . Cost : Around RM77. For passengers eligible for concession (Seniors, passengers with Disabilities) RM58.

Option 5: Rail, Ferry

Stage of Journey Transport Option 1 Cost Transport Option 2 Cost
Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth Intercity Electric Train (ETS)
Book online.
ETS RM78
(concession RM34)
 Express Rakyat

Fares and to book all types

RM34 – 67 depending on class. (Concession fares available)
Butterworth to George Town Penang Ferry RM1.20

Result:
The time taken on the train is pretty much as per the timetable. The ETS stops at only the major stations and reaches quite decent speeds up to nearly 250kph on some sections. The Express Rakyat, is an older style diesel pulled train and offers more classes of travel. There is also an overnight train which takes around 8 hours.

  1. KL Sentral to Butterworth : The Electric Train will reach Butterworth in 3 hours 40 mins. The afternoon Express Rakyat will take nearly 61/hours.
  2. Ferry from Butterworth to Pengkalan Weld : between 20 mins and 1 hour depending on connection at the ferry terminal.

Total time taken : Between 4 hours and 4 hours 45 minutes depending on variables with Ferry connections.

Cost : RM34 – RM79.20 or about half if you are eligible for a concession train ticket. For Seniors, this does not require you to be a Malaysian, but you do need to be able to verify that you are aged 60 or above. Concession fares are 50% of the full fare, but must be purchased in person with ID.

If you would like more information on train travel for this route, see our recent review “Catch the train – Kuala Lumpur – Penang“.

Conclusions

Assuming smooth connections throughout, all methods are not too different time-wise.

Cost-wise, If you are eligible for a concession ticket, or are happy with a standard seat, train travel is good value for money.  Time-wise, you have the advantage of knowing when you will arrive at the end of that segment as you aren’t subject to traffic variations. Other advantages are that you can move around and there are easily accessible toilet facilities and a small bistro is available.

Flying can save you a significant amount cost-wise if you are able to get one of the low cost fares and make it to the airport inexpensively. Time saved is not that significant, although you may have more choice in the flight times available to you. You do need to check if your ticket includes baggage, and if they do, the amount.

Travelling by bus can be cost effective, the main disadvantage being the possibility of traffic delays. There are also a number of less expensive bus choices available and a number of departures each day. The more expensive buses provide you with a snack and a bottle of water.

Private car travel is a good option if you want to travel with more people as the cost per person will be reduced. You can also choose to travel at times that are likely to be less congested.  The highway has a number of well serviced Rest areas with clean bathrooms and restaurants Some also have fruit stalls where you can purchase locally produced fruits at reasonable prices. You will also have the car to get about once you arrive in George Town.

**TIP Do be warned though – Don’t park indiscriminately anywhere around George Town as city officials are quick to ticket and/or clamp your car and fines are designed to remind you not to do it again. Parking is not easy to find in the heritage area.

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  • Jo
    June 7, 2016 at 8:42 PM

    Thanks for the info! I just wondered for the private car option which company did you use or do you know any good companies starting in Penang going to Kl? and is the journey interesting or just long roads…? Thank you! Jo

    Reply

    • Profile photo of Lesley
      June 8, 2016 at 1:32 PM

      Hi Jo,
      We used a personal car, but all the major hire car companies are represented in Malaysia, at least in the major cities. There are two road options, the tolled North South Highway, or you could take the ‘old road’ which goes into the smaller towns along the way. There’s always something to see in these older towns and lots of good food to be found if you’re a ‘foodie’. I’m hoping to add more info on some of these in time. You could check out our story in Ipoh, which has some interesting things to see, whether you travel on the expressway or the old road. http://economytraveller.com/5-things-to-do-in-ipoh-a-day-trip/ or http://economytraveller.com/the-other-festival-in-ipoh/ . A word of caution – roads in Malaysia during festivals or long weekends are a nightmare, everyone is going somewhere. The highway is a straight and quick trip generally, there are well placed rest stops with generally clean toilets and restaurants. Better during daytime as most sections are unlit at night.

      Reply

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