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January 16, 2018

How to Travel from Kuala Lumpur to Penang (Bus, Train, Plane)

How to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Penang? This travel guide explains in detail the best way to travel on this route, featuring how to buy tickets and timetables

If you are traveling to Malaysia you should definitely check the Penang Island, one of the most beautiful places in the country. Let’s check below how to travel from KL to Penang by bus, train, plane and car.

kuala lumpur to penang
Penang Sunset. Photo by Ah Wei.

Kuala Lumpur to Penang: The Route

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, and Penang is one of the most visited areas in the country. If you are coming to Malaysia, you will probably visit one of them or both, as they are also some of top tourist hubs in the country.

It may be a confusing for some to understand Penang at the first moment. Penang is the name of a Malaysian state in the Northeastern part of the country, but it is also the name gives to the Penang Island. George Town is the state’s capital city, and it is located in the Penang Island.

Our guide will be mostly focused on how to get from Kuala Lumpur to George Town in Penang Island, which from there, you can easily reach other parts of the island. The distance from Kuala Lumpur to Penang is of approximately 350 km, and the trip duration depends on how you travel. However, regardless of the transport, it should not take more than a few hours.

Let’s check below the options on how to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

Kuala Lumpur to Penang by Bus

One of the most popular ways to travel on this route is by bus. In fact, buses are very popular in Malaysia, and they are usually relatively fast and quite cheap. There are many companies operating in this route, and buses leave KL to Penang day and night. The interval between buses is usually between 30 minutes to one hour.

George Town by Night, Penang. Photo by Davidlohr Bueso

Most buses leaving from Kuala Lumpur depart from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan, the main bus station in the city. There are basically two points of arrival in Penang. The Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal, which is the main bus terminal in the Island, and also Butterworth, which is ideal if you want to catch a ferry to George Town.

Here is a short timetable from Kuala Lumpur to Penang buses:

Kuala Lumpur - Penang $7 – $15 4h 50m
  •   Bus Express L 00:30, 00:30, 00:45, 01:00, 01:00, 01:30, 01:30, 01:30, 01:30, 06:30, 06:30, 06:30, 06:30, 06:45, 06:45, 07:10, 07:10, 08:00, 08:30, 08:30, 08:45, 08:45, 09:45, 12:30, 14:00, 14:00, 14:00, 14:00, 14:45, 15:15, 15:15, 15:45, 15:45, 16:00, 16:00, 17:30, 17:30, 18:30, 18:30, 19:00, 19:00, 19:30, 19:30, 23:59, 23:59
  •   Bus Express XL 01:30, 01:30, 06:30, 06:30, 06:45, 06:45, 07:10, 07:10, 08:30, 08:30, 09:45, 12:30, 14:00, 14:00, 15:45, 15:45, 16:00, 16:00
  •   Bus Express XXL 01:30, 01:30, 06:30, 06:30, 06:45, 06:45, 07:10, 07:10, 08:30, 08:30, 09:45, 12:30, 14:00, 14:00, 15:45, 15:45, 16:00, 16:00, 17:30, 17:30, 18:30, 18:30, 19:00, 19:00, 21:15, 22:15
  •   Bus Minivan 15 13:15
  •   Bus SVIP 24 00:00, 00:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:30, 11:30, 11:45, 12:30, 14:00, 14:00, 14:30, 14:30, 15:15, 15:15, 15:30, 16:05, 16:05, 23:59
  •   Bus VIP 32 00:00, 07:30, 07:30, 07:40, 07:40, 07:40, 07:45, 07:45, 07:45, 07:45, 07:45, 07:45, 07:45, 08:00, 08:00, 08:00, 08:05, 08:45, 08:45, 08:45, 08:45, 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 09:10, 09:10, 09:25, 09:25, 09:30, 09:30, 09:30, 09:30, 09:30, 09:30, 09:30, 10:00, 10:00, 10:00, 10:00, 10:00, 10:00, 10:00, 10:00, 10:20, 10:20, 10:20, 10:30, 10:30, 10:30, 10:30, 10:30, 10:45, 10:45, 10:45, 10:45, 10:45, 10:45, 10:45, 10:50, 11:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:30, 11:30, 11:30, 11:30, 11:45, 11:45, 11:45, 11:45, 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, 12:30, 12:30, 12:30, 12:30, 12:30, 12:30, 12:30, 13:00, 13:00, 13:00, 13:00, 13:00, 13:00, 13:00, 14:00, 14:30, 14:30, 14:30, 14:30, 14:30, 14:30, 14:30, 15:00, 15:00, 15:00, 15:00, 15:10, 15:10, 15:10, 15:15, 15:15, 15:15, 15:15, 15:15, 15:15, 15:15, 15:40, 15:40, 16:15, 16:15, 16:15, 16:15, 16:15, 16:15, 16:15, 16:30, 16:30, 16:30, 16:30, 16:30, 16:30, 16:30, 16:45, 16:45, 16:45, 16:45, 16:45, 16:45, 16:45, 17:00, 17:00, 17:25, 17:25, 17:30, 17:30, 17:30, 17:30, 17:30, 17:30, 17:30, 18:20, 18:20, 18:30, 18:30, 19:00, 19:30, 19:30, 19:30, 19:30, 19:30, 19:30, 19:30, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:30, 20:30, 20:30, 20:30, 20:30, 20:30, 20:30, 20:45, 20:45, 20:45, 20:45, 20:45, 20:45, 21:00, 21:00, 21:00, 21:00, 21:00, 21:00, 21:00, 21:30, 21:30, 21:30, 21:30, 21:30, 22:00, 22:45, 22:45, 22:45, 23:30, 23:30, 23:30, 23:30, 23:30, 23:30, 23:45, 23:59, 23:59, 23:59, 23:59, 23:59
  •   Bus VIP24 24 00:45, 01:00, 06:00, 06:20, 10:00, 10:30, 11:30, 11:30, 11:45, 13:30, 13:30, 13:45, 15:30, 17:05, 17:30, 17:45, 18:00, 20:30, 20:45, 23:30
  •   Bus Express L 00:00, 00:15, 00:30, 01:00, 06:15, 06:45, 07:00, 07:15, 07:30, 07:30, 07:30, 07:45, 08:00, 08:15, 08:30, 08:45, 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 09:15, 09:30, 09:45, 10:00, 10:00, 10:00, 10:30, 10:30, 10:30, 10:45, 11:30, 11:30, 11:30, 11:45, 12:15, 12:30, 12:45, 13:30, 14:00, 14:45, 15:00, 15:00, 15:30, 15:30, 15:30, 16:45, 16:45, 17:45, 17:45, 17:45, 18:30, 19:15, 20:00, 20:45, 21:30, 22:15, 23:00, 23:15, 23:30, 23:58, 23:58, 23:59, 23:59, 23:59
  •   Bus Express XL 07:00, 10:00, 10:00, 11:30, 14:00, 15:30, 21:30, 22:00, 23:59
  •   Bus Express XXL 07:30, 08:30, 09:00, 10:00, 10:30, 11:30, 12:15
  •   Bus SVIP 24 00:00, 00:30, 01:00, 06:30, 07:15, 07:30, 08:00, 08:30, 09:05, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 17:00, 19:00, 20:00, 23:30, 23:45
  •   Bus VIP 32 00:00, 00:00, 00:01, 00:01, 00:01, 00:30, 00:30, 00:30, 00:30, 00:30, 00:30, 00:30, 00:40, 00:40, 00:40, 00:40, 01:00, 01:00, 01:00, 01:00, 06:30, 07:00, 07:00, 07:00, 07:00, 07:15, 07:15, 07:15, 07:30, 07:30, 07:30, 07:30, 07:30, 07:30, 08:00, 08:00, 08:00, 08:00, 08:00, 08:00, 08:00, 08:30, 08:30, 08:30, 08:30, 08:30, 08:30, 08:30, 08:30, 08:30, 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 09:15, 09:15, 09:15, 09:15, 09:15, 09:30, 09:30, 09:30, 09:35, 09:35, 09:45, 09:45, 09:45, 10:00, 10:00, 10:00, 10:00, 10:00, 10:30, 10:30, 10:30, 10:30, 10:30, 10:30, 10:30, 10:30, 10:45, 10:45, 10:45, 10:45, 10:45, 11:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:30, 11:30, 11:30, 11:30, 11:35, 11:35, 11:35, 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, 12:15, 12:15, 12:15, 12:15, 12:30, 12:30, 12:30, 12:30, 13:00, 13:30, 13:30, 13:30, 13:30, 13:30, 13:30, 14:00, 14:00, 14:00, 14:00, 14:00, 14:00, 14:00, 14:00, 14:45, 14:45, 14:45, 15:00, 15:00, 15:30, 15:30, 15:30, 15:30, 15:30, 15:30, 15:30, 15:30, 16:00, 16:00, 16:00, 16:00, 16:00, 16:00, 16:00, 16:15, 16:15, 16:30, 16:30, 16:30, 17:00, 17:00, 17:00, 17:00, 17:00, 17:00, 17:30, 17:30, 17:30, 17:30, 18:00, 18:00, 18:00, 18:00, 18:30, 18:30, 18:30, 19:00, 19:45, 19:45, 19:45, 19:45, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:00, 20:46, 21:00, 21:00, 21:00, 21:00, 21:30, 21:30, 21:30, 21:30, 22:00, 22:00, 22:00, 22:00, 22:00, 22:00, 22:00, 22:00, 22:30, 22:30, 22:30, 23:00, 23:00, 23:00, 23:00, 23:00, 23:00, 23:00, 23:30, 23:30, 23:30, 23:45, 23:55, 23:55, 23:55, 23:55, 23:59, 23:59, 23:59, 23:59, 23:59
  •   Bus VIP24 24 00:40, 00:40, 07:30, 07:30, 09:00, 09:15, 09:15, 14:30, 15:30, 15:30, 18:30, 18:30, 20:00, 20:00, 20:30, 20:30, 20:30, 23:30, 23:30

How to buy bus tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Penang

Buying bus tickets in Malaysia is pretty simple and can be done online in most cases. Here are some websites in which you can buy bus tickets from various bus companies in Malaysia:

EasyBook – one of the biggest travel websites in Southeast Asia and a great website to buy bus tickets in Malaysia and Singapore

BusOnlineTicket – another great option to buy bus tickets in Malaysia.

12go.asia – a great website for traveling in Southeast Asia, selling tickets for trips in various ASEAN countries.

Pros

  • Comfortable buses, often with WiFi
  • Departure from central Kuala Lumpur
  • High number of schedule options

Cons

  • A 5 hour bus ride

Kuala Lumpur to Penang by Train

Another option to get from the Malaysian capital to Penang is traveling by train. The train is probably a more comfortable option than the bus, and it can be also an interesting experience.

Trains actually do not travel to the Penang Island, so you have to travel to the last stop which is Butterworth. From Butterworth you can easily take the ferry to George Town, on a trip that takes approximately 15 minutes.

The trains are operated by KTM, and the route also does a number of stops in different locations. The trip usually takes from 4 to 5 hours, and some trains are quicker than the bus.  However, there are just a few trains running from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth in Penang daily, check the timetable below:

Kuala Lumpur - Penang $13 – $19 4h 25m
  •   Train ETS Gold 16:13, 19:53, 20:10, 20:10, 22:45, 22:45
  •   Train ETS Platinum 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 09:00, 11:00, 11:00, 11:30, 11:30, 15:35, 15:35
  •   Train ETS Gold 06:10, 07:30, 07:33, 15:30, 16:05
  •   Train ETS Platinum 04:45, 04:45, 06:10, 13:30, 18:00, 20:00

How to buy train tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Penang

Buying train tickets online in Malaysia is quite easy, even if you are not in the country. Easybook is one of the best places to buy train tickets in Malaysia online, but you can also get from 12go.asia.

Pros

  • Comfortable train
  • Some trains are faster than the buses on this route
  • High number of schedule options

Cons

  • A ferry trip is required from Butterworth to Penang Island
  • Few trains running from KL to Butterworth daily

Kuala Lumpur to Penang by Plane

Traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Penang by plane is probably the fastest option. However, it takes almost as long as the other options, as you will send some good amount of time getting from KL center to Penang. The same happens in Penang Island, as the airport is quite far from George Town.

The good news is that there are a number of daily flights connecting Kuala Lumpur and Penang. So you can travel at any time of the day, and prices are pretty competitive. The trip itself is pretty short as the flight takes approximately one hour.

It is also important to notice that there are two main airports in Kuala Lumpur. While some companies operate in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, others use the Kuala Lumpur Sultan Abdul Azziz Shah Airport. Some of the companies operating on this route are Air Asia, Malindo Airand Firefly.

How to buy plane tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Penang

You can click here to go to our flight comparison tool and check the cheapest fares on the route from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

Pros

  • Fastest way to travel
  • Various airlines options

Cons

  • Waiting to board in airport
  • Traveling time from the city center to the airport

Another option to travel inside Malaysia is by car, which for most tourists translates into renting a car. The trip from Kuala Lumpur is pretty smooth and there are no borders or check points.

Once you arrive in the Penang State you can travel to the Penang Island by car using the two bridges that connect the mainland to the island. Alternatively, you can also take the ferry to George Town.

How to rent a car in Malaysia

Renting a car in Malaysia is a straight-forward process similar to renting a car in Europe or North America. There are many companies offering this service in both Kual Lumpur and Penang. Bear in mind that if you will return in your rental car in a different city than where you pick it up, charges usually apply.

You can click here to rent a car in Malaysia on Easybook.

If you are traveling to Malaysia check our guide on where to stay in Kuala Lumpur.

Have you been to Penang or are you planning to travel to Malaysia? Leave your thoughts on the comment box below.

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