Visitors to Penang should have no problems navigating the island as anywhere is easily reachable within a couple of hours. Taxis are relatively inexpensive and simple to find whilst the bus system is extensive enough to service most tourist amenities. Walking is the preferable way to get around historic Georgetown and getting lost in the quaint backstreets is an experience all of its own.
Many visitors use peddle bicycle cabs or ‘trishaws’ to get around town, although these have been usurped by motorised modes of travel and are only really utilised by tourists. You can find them waiting outside most hotels and tourist attractions but remember to haggle tough to avoid paying way over the odds.
Arriving into Penang via the international airport is relatively pain-free as the small terminal has taxis waiting outside which ferry passengers to Georgetown or the popular beach resorts such as Batu Ferringhi. Bus services are also available but really only used by backpackers intent on saving every last penny.
Coach travel in Malaysia is extremely cheap with comfortable air conditioned vehicles offering meals and movies on board for long distance journeys. Only a handful of services travelling by Penang actually make the detour onto the island so travellers have much better choice by travelling to Butterworth first and connecting there. The bus terminal is next to the port and railway station.
Those enchanted by the romance of rail must take the ferry to the mainland port of Butterworth where train services ply the historic route north to Bangkok or south to Singapore. This may not be the cheapest or fastest method of getting around, but moving slowly over the scenic Malaysian landscape is perfect for those with time on their side.
Visitors wanting to reach the mainland can catch a ferry from the Penang Island every 20 minutes from early in the morning until late in the evening. The trip takes less than half-an-hour. And even today you can still catch regular boats to Langkawi or Indonesia from Penang’s main getty.