Kuala Lumpur, the capital and largest city of Malaysia, offers cultural, culinary and shopping delights for both residents and visitors. However, the hustle and bustle can prove overwhelming at times, prompting an escape to Penang. This resort island boasts tranquil beaches, a well-developed tourist infrastructure and, arguably, the best and most varied food choices in Southeast Asia. The following are some of the ways of getting from Kuala Lumpur to Penang by land.
Those driving their own vehicles have the advantage of leaving whenever they want, stopping when it suits them and traveling at speeds limited only by the law. According to Google Maps, such a trip would take only 3.5 hours without traffic through the North-South Expressway/E1. Total distance runs about 353 kilometers.
The disadvantage of this method are contending with traffic and having to pay three tolls: from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh, Ipoh to Perai and across the Penang Bridge. Obviously, expenses for gas are also a consideration. Those wanting to avoid the toll and traffic on the bridge have the option of driving their cars onto a ferry. The boat travels from the Sultan Abdul Halim terminal in Butterworth on the peninsula to the Raja Tun Uda terminal at Weld Quay on the island.
A long-distance bus takes longer than a private car but allows passengers to lean back and enjoy the scenery while leaving the driving to someone else. Seats range from comfortable and basic to palatial, complete with individual movie tablets, food service and lounges on a separate level. Some bus services even grant insurance coverage for passengers and baggage to cover medical or lost baggage expenses during an emergency.
Express trips can take about the same amount of time as a car. Non-express runs last eight hours. For either type, websites have the appropriate online bus ticket. Passengers must be sure of the actual departure and arrival locations of their transport, given that over 100 companies vie for business from several terminals.
Like a bus, trains let passengers relax and take in the scenery but also avoids traffics and allow walking around different coars, using restrooms and eating. Travelers must get off at the Butterworth train station on the peninsula and then make their way to Penang Island by using the bus, taking a taxi or riding the ferry. Trips can take anywhere from over six hours to eight hours for overnighters. Tickets are available online or at train stations.
Even the least expensive seats are comfortable. The most comfortable accommodations are in the first-class sleepers, which contain storage areas, a TV and a bathroom. An attendant brings meals and refreshments on a trolley.
A more luxurious and infrequent train also plies the route but is meant especially for tourists who can afford the expensive fair. The consist includes observation, saloon and dining cars as a sleeper car with private cabins for the passengers. The interiors are paneled in wood and the five-star staff serves meals created by internationally renowned chefs.