Getting From Kuala Lumpur to Penang - 5 Easiest Options

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Penang is a booming tourist and traveler hub in Malaysia with centuries-old heritage buildings, mouth-watering hawker foods, and plenty of fun things to do. It’s definitely a must-visit in your Malaysia trip and will probably be one of your most enjoyable cities to travel in. However, most foreigners will start their Malaysia itinerary from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. So today, we’re going to look at how you can travel from Kuala Lumpur to Penang all by yourself like a local!

These options are based on my own experiences. Three of the options are traveling by buses, while the other two being flight and electric train. I included all the details that will get you right to your final destination. And I only included the more preferred options rather than jamming all the possible methods into this article.

So, without further due, let’s dive right in and see how you can get from Kuala Lumpur to Penang by yourself!

Kuala Lumpur Night Light City View Petronas Twin Tower Sunset

Option 1 – TBS to Sungai Nibong (By Bus – The More Economical Way From Kuala Lumpur to Penang)

Traveling by bus between cities is the most economical way to get around in Malaysia. As long as there are no festivals happening, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll get yourself a ticket even without prior booking.

The main bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur is Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS). Kuala Lumpur Sentral (KL Sentral) used to be the main bus terminal but it was replaced by TBS several years ago to ease up the congestion. Most of the buses now depart from TBS and only a few buses service between KL Sentral station and other cities.

In TBS, get yourself a ticket to Sungai Nibong, Penang. (Be careful not to book Nibong Tebal, they’re both located in Penang but Nibong Tebal is in the mainland near the border of Kedah) It’s the main Penang bus terminal.

The ticket costs around RM40, and typically takes around 5-6 hours during the day and 4-5 hours at night when there is less traffic. It could be shorter if you’re traveling during the midnight hours. Note that there will be several stops along the way for resting and for passengers to use the toilet.

If you’re traveling during the day, the buses might also stop for lunch or dinner, which could add another 30 minutes or an hour to your journey.

Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal is located in Sungai Dua, which is located quite far away from Georgetown if you’ve booked your accommodation there. Tourists and travelers usually won’t stay in that area, so here’s how to get to Georgetown.

There are mainly three ways to get to Georgetown.

First, by GrabCar. If you’re not sure what it is, it works like Uber but with a fixed fare. But you’ll have to download the app into your mobile and register before you’re able to book a trip. Paying by cash is possible if you do not have, or don’t want to use your card.

Second, by using a taxi. There are a lot of taxi drivers right outside of Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal. They’ll come after you once you got off the bus. If you’re into it, just ask and fix a fare before going on board. Most of the taxis run on a meter so you’re not likely to be scammed, though it will probably be more expensive than GrabCar.

Here’s my suggestion, use GrabCar if you want cheaper fare and willing to go through all the troubles of registering. Use the taxi if you want to get it done quick.

The third way would be using the RapidBus. This is the cheapest way to get to George Town, but you might have to wait a bit because the buses don’t really have a punctual schedule.

Here is a summary of the total costs of this way of travel.

  • Intercity bus from Kuala Lumpur (TBS) to Penang (Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal) – RM40
  • GrabCar to Georgetown – RM16-20 or RapidBus to Georgetown – RM2

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Option 2 – KL Sentral to Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal, Penang (By Bus)

Even though KL Sentral is not the main bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur anymore, there are still a few buses that service the journey to other cities. For this method, you might want to book your bus several days before your trip. Bus tickets run out pretty quickly if you travel from KL Sentral.

Choose this method if you’re living really close to KL Sentral, and don’t want to take the trouble of getting all the way to TBS. Be noted that the bus ticket from KL Sentral might cost more than that from TBS.

The main company which services buses departing from KL Sentral is Nice.

A summary of total costs using this method:

  • Bus ticket from KL Sentral to Penang (Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal) – RM52
  • GrabCar to Georgetown – RM16-20 or RapidBus to Georgetown – RM2

See how you can travel Penang at under $20 per day here!

Option 3 – TBS to Penang Sentral & Ferry to Weld Quay (By Bus & Ferry)

If experiencing an authentic ferry trip from mainland Penang to Penang island is your thing, then this method is for you.

Here are two reasons why you should go for this method.

First, you get to enjoy the ferry trip, which has been operating for more than a hundred years in Penang. And it’s freaking cheap to hop on board!

Second, the ferry will stop in Weld Quay, which is located literally in Georgetown, which will save you the trouble of getting from the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal to this area.

The construction of Penang Sentral has just recently been completed. Everything there is new and fresh, kinda like a shopping mall, but with many franchise restaurants. You’ll have no problem getting to the ferry as the signboards and instructions there are very clear and easy to understand.

Note that you do not have to pre-book the ferry ticket.

The bus ticket from TBS to Penang Sentral costs roughly the same as compared to Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal. You could save a little bit more money and time using this method if your final destination is Georgetown.

  • Bus ticket from TBS to Penang Sentral – RM40
  • Ferry ticket from Penang Sentral to Weld Quay – RM1.20

Penang Georgetown UNESCO Heritage Khoo Kongsi

Option 4 – KLIA2 to Penang International Airport (By Flight – The Quickest Way To Get to Penang From KL)

Flights are always the quickest way to get between cities. But it could be really expensive if you booked in the last minutes. If you’re lucky, you could get a flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Penang at around RM50, but if you book on the day before, it could be hundreds. And that does not include any luggage.

You could get the RM50 fares if you book at least a month before the flight date unless you’re really lucky.

The flight alone takes around 50-60 minutes. But you have to check-in earlier, depending on whether you have luggage to check-in or not. Your airline will send you an email and tell you exactly when to check-in.

For AirAsia and other lowcost airlines, you will need to get to KLIA2 instead of KLIA. KLIA2 is the main terminal for lowcost airlines. If you’re not sure, call the help center of the airline to confirm it.

There are 2 ways for getting from TBS to both KLIA and KLIA2. First, you can take the JetBus, which takes an hour’s bus ride at RM11. Second, you can take the luxurious KLIA Transit Train, which takes 30 minutes at RM38.40.

From KL Sentral to KLIA or KLIA2, you can either take the bus (Airport Coach) or KLIA Ekspress Train, which takes 30 minutes at a whopping price of RM55.

Remember to check the departure and arrival time of the buses, they don’t operate 24/7!

Traveling between KLIA and KLIA2 is easy, there is a free shuttle bus servicing between the two terminals, which takes 10 minutes. However, there is also a paid option for train service, which takes 4 minutes at RM2.

The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Penang will land you at Penang International Airport. And it’s located very far from Georgetown. I do not recommend taking GrabCar or taxis here, because it’s so far and it’ll cost a lot. Taking public buses is the most preferred way.

  • KL Sentral or TBS to KLIA2 by bus- RM11
  • KLIA2 to Penang International Airport – vary depending on flight date and how early you book
  • RapidBus From Penang International Airport to Georgetown – RM2-3

Option 5 – TBS or KL Sentral to Penang Sentral & Ferry to Weld Quay (By Electric Train Service, or KTM ETS & Ferry)

Now, this is a cool way to get from Kuala Lumpur to Penang. The service was just launched several years ago, so the electric train is still quite well-maintained.

Here are two things to know about ETS. Even though it’s an electric train, the traveling time is just a little bit shorter than buses. There are way too many stops along the way, and each stop takes more than 10 minutes. And there are more than half a dozen stops along the way.

Second, the train tickets are booked out pretty quickly especially when there are festivals going around. Book your ticket as soon as you confirmed your travel date to secure yourself a seat.

You can hop on the ETS train in KL Sentral or TBS, and the train will take you to Penang Sentral. From Penang Sentral, you can then take the ferry to Weld Quay, Georgetown in Penang island. Refer to the third option for more information on the ferry.

And no, you can’t get on ETS on the iconic Old Railway Station. The station only serves KTM Komuter service to other parts of Kuala Lumpur city.

The downside of the ETS train trip is that the ticket costs RM79, which is more expensive than buses.

  • ETS Train ticket from TBS or KL Sentral to Penang Sentral- RM79
  • Ferry ticket from Penang Sentral to Weld Quay – RM1.20

Penang Georgetown Street Art Fisherman

Wrapping Up The 5 Options For Getting From Kuala Lumpur to Penang

Here are my top 5 ways to get from Kuala Lumpur to Penang. I hope these details-packed options gave you insight and helped you in planning your trip in this beautiful country. Penang is a really wonderful country with heritage colonial buildings and amazing hawker foods. If you’re not sure where to stay, check out my in-depth guide to help you choose between Georgetown, Batu Ferringhi and Balik Pulau here. Still think these 5 options are too troublesome? Then book your bus tickets online here (they have the best prices!). Nevertheless, enjoy Penang and remember to check out my other Malaysia posts!

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Getting From Kuala Lumpur to Penang

Written by

Yen is a university student from Malaysia and a huge fan of Blues music and photography. His passion for travel can be traced back to 2016 when he spent 6 months traveling New Zealand. By blending into the locals and traveling long-term, he shares all the comprehensive and detailed travel ideas and guides for the countries with his footprints.

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