The short answer is no – read on to find out why and learn about why using the bus system in Penang is a much better idea.
The Penang bus system was a pleasant surprise. We found the buses very easy to use and took at least one each day. They are cheap, clean, air-conditioned and the routes easy to navigate. We caught buses to Batu Ferringhi beach, the Straits Quay mall at Tanjung Tokong and even up to Penang Hill and the huge Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple.
The Penang buses website is super easy to navigate and the trip planner lets you search for buses between two points of interest rather than just street names which can be challenging for visitors to remember. You can try it here. Make sure you carry small change as most fares are 1.50 and no change is given.
We took this one on our last visit – stopped off at the Quay Straits Mall half way and then planned to get back on – only we discovered it does not come back into the mall so we had to walk along the highway to the next stop.
I would not recommend that detour, it was so hot walking along the highway looking for the stop but the trip to the beach was fun. If you have time make them two separate days out. The bus also goes past the floating mosque which looks glorious at sunset and a great stop off for photographers.
Shoppers might like to go mid-afternoon to see the evening markets before you head home. The fare is about MR 2.70
Most half day tours charge RM30 or more and really you can make your own way here quite easily. We spent about 1.5 hours up here and met a guy who had actually walked up. Quite doable for anyone with an average level of fitness who is not scared of a bit of heat. Me, I would take the bus every time!
From here we decided to visit the Kek Lok Si Temple so we took a taxi there. The temple was much better than Penang Hill in my opinion.
After our visit, we walked down what felt like a very long hill but at home we would consider a short walk, to a little township where we took the bus back to the centre of Penang.
You can also take route 203, 204, 502.
The CAT (Central Transit Area) is a free shuttle bus makes a loop around the city, and while it won’t save you much time, it will give you respite from the humidity and is an excellent way to rest up while getting around town and check your email. Using this service, you can visit the Weld Quay, Little India, the Museum, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Ist Avenue Mall, Fort Cornwallis. The local tourism authority have outlined a great list of the attractions along the route here.
You can buy a one week pass for the bus at a very reasonable price that saves you having to carry small change for the bus. Read more on the Rapid Penang Tourist passport. This pass also offers discounts on tourist attractions.
There is also a Hop On Hop Off service is due in coming weeks but at RM40 for a 24-hour pass and RM70 for a 2-day pass. Unless you are pushed for time, you would be better buying a weekly bus pass. If there are a few of you, a Taxi rented for the day would be a much better option.
Taxi’s in Penang are equipped with signs saying that all fares are metered, but we found some drivers still like to negotiate a price. Best to check before you take off. We found them quite affordable and the drivers easier to deal with than the drivers in KL. Still, it is also best to take a taxi from an official taxi rank if you can, there is one at Komtar and another at Weld Quay, they are also at most major hotels.
We used Georgetown Taxis: (04) 229 9467 on our trip and called them from our apartment before we went out. The drivers were friendly and helpful and we were happy with the service.
Many drivers offer their services for a full day – we had to ask us if we wanted to hire them. We did not do this on this visit. However, I have done it in KL, and it is an excellent idea if you strike a driver with good language skills.
Ask them to take you somewhere local to eat – you are likely to discover someplace you never would by yourself. It is also an easy way to get to some of the attractions out of town. If are you on a short visit you could see two or three places in the time it takes you to see one by bus.
Hopefully, this has helped you to decide the best way of getting around Penang for you and your travel companions.
Uber is no longer offered in Penang however they have an alternative called Grab that operates exactly the same way.
You could always rent a bike too!