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Know Before You Go
- The best way to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgetown is to follow it's murals. There are over 50 paintings and sculptures on the walls of its 19th-century buildings. Go before 9 am to beat the crowds and the heat.
- If you want to travel to Penang during the height of its festival season go during fall. The island celebrates Diwali, Islamic New Year, Muharram and the Chinese Nine Emperor Gods Festival.
- Inside Penang National Park you can get an MYR 100 round-trip boat ride to the more remote beaches. Or if you aren't in a rush, you can get to these secluded beaches via an hour-long hike through the jungle.
- To taste the best durian in Penang, plan a visit to the rural western coast. You can stay at a durian eco-farm, harvest the fruit yourself and taste the different flavours of the region's famous stinky fruit.
- Stay online with a cheap prepaid data plan. The cell reception on the island is excellent, and the connection is faster than the free Penang Wi-Fi. You can buy a SIM card at the airport and top up at any 7-Eleven.
Getting Around Penang
- The best way to around Penang with minimal hassle is Uber. Regular taxis on the island are notorious for refusing to turn on their meter which has led to Uber becoming a more popular and affordable alternative.
- The public buses in Penang go to most of the island's main attractions like the Botanic Gardens and Kek Lok Si Temple. A 10-minute drive should cost you MYR 2, and the fare is paid directly to the bus driver.
- If you are going to be on the island for a few days, buy the travel passport from RapidPG bus. It costs MYR 30 for unlimited rides for one week, making it cheaper than using a taxi. But if you aren't going to be on the island for that long, the standard rate is MYR 1.40 for the first 7 kilometres.
- Trishaws are a fun way to explore Penang. You can either hire one straight from the street or go on a guided tour for MYR 160 per person.
- If you want to see more remote areas of the island, you can rent a car or a scooter. To avoid the stress of driving during Georgetown's rush hour traffic, plan to leave before or after 07:30 - 9:30 am and 5:30 - 07:30 pm.
When is The Best Time to Visit Penang?
The best time to visit Penang is from November to January. The island experiences its best weather, with pleasant temperatures and low humidity. But it is also high season, with tourists flying in for Christmas and New Year.
Make sure you book your accommodation a few months in advance to avoid prices shooting up to 20% or more.
Low season falls between May and October, the island's wettest time of the year. It's the best time to visit if you are after a quiet holiday and want to save money. Hotel deals are at their lowest, and the crowds are thin at popular tourist attractions.
Another shoulder season, are the summer months of February to March. The rising temperatures and humidity can make it hard-going for exploring Georgetown during the day, but you won't struggle to find great photo opportunities.
The island will also be quieter as many tourists leave after the New Year celebrations. To beat the heat stay hydrated, pack sunscreen and try stick to early morning or late afternoon explorations.
Airports in Penang
Penang International Airport
Penang International Airport is 16 km from George Town, the capital city of Penang. It's the oldest airport in the country and the third busiest airport in Malaysia. Penang serves as a hub for budget airlines AirAsia and Firefly as well as Malaysia Airlines.
Getting To and From Penang International Airport
The best way to get from the airport into George Town is the bus. The Rapid Penang Bus has three lines (401, 401A and 401E) running from the airport into town. The buses leave every 30 minutes and cost MYR 2.70 one way.
If you arrive in Penang after 10 pm, your only option is to take a taxi. However, be prepared to pay an additional 100% fee on top of the fare.
The taxi fare to and from the airport is MYR 38, and it takes 45 minutes to get into the city centre. If you are having trouble with taxi drivers refusing to turn on their meter, use an Uber driver and save yourself the hassle.
Cars, motorbikes and scooters can also be rented directly from the airport.