The vast majority of tourists arriving into Malaysia do so via one of the country’s international airports. Kuala Lumpur remains the main transport hub of the country although there are swelling number of flights coming directly into Penang and Langkawi as well. There has been a recent rise in budget flights to smaller destinations with some exceptionally cheap domestic fares (sometimes under RM20 one way) which offer superb value when pitted against a ten hour bus journey.
Air Asia is one of the biggest budget air carriers in Southeast Asia and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) LCCT terminal is their major hub. From here there are direct flights as far as Taipei, Australia, Manila, India and London. Other no frills airlines using KLIA include Silk Air, Cebu Pacific and Berjaya Air, the latter having short-hop services to the popular Malaysian tourist haunts of Pulau Tioman, Pulau Pangkor and Pulau Redang.
KLIA handles more than 34 million passengers per year making it the 14th most popular airport on the planet. There is a wide choice of eating and shopping including international high street names such as Burger King and Starbucks, the latter with free WiFi internet. Getting to KLIA from the city centre is easy with direct bus and train connections from Pudu Raya Bus Terminal and KL Sentral Train Station. The train takes less than half-an-hour and costs RM35 while the bus costs RM15 with the journey lasting around 90 minutes.
Penang International Airport is another important gateway into the country and popular with visa-runners from Phuket and Bangkok. The airport is also the base of the no frills wing of Malaysian Airlines called Firefly.
International flights arrive here from Medan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Banda Aceh, Bangkok, Perth, Taipei, Phuket, Jakarta, Koh Samui, Macau, and Guangzhou. There are domestic connections with KL, Kota Kinabalu, Johor Bahru, Kuching and Pulau Langkawi. And the terminal is located around half-an-hour from Georgetown or the popular beach resort of Batu Ferringhi.
Pulau Langkawi International Airport is the smallest of the three major Malaysian air gateways and mainly deals with tourist traffic from around the region. Flying here is a good option rather than taking a lengthy overnight bus and then a ferry, so check out what budget deals are available and try to book several weeks in advance. Air Asia is the major carrier but Berjaya Air and Firefly also have services here.