Backpacking Southeast Asia 2012: Destination no. 6 – Penang, Malaysia (Part 2)

On my previous post I shared about our day of strolling around the city of George Town, Penang. In this post I will share about the places we went to that is outside of George Town. The way to get around Penang is via their Rapid Penang bus system.

Tip no.1: If you’re staying at Penang for a week, you might want to buy the Rapid Passport for 30 MYR. With this you can have an unlimited ride on the Rapid Penang buses for a week. You just need to bring you passport with you when you purchase it.

Tip no.2: If you’re like us who are just staying at Penang for a few days, you can just pay the driver in cash. You will just need to know how much to pay for your destination and drop the exact amount in the machine beside the driver as you ride the bus. They don’t give a change, so make sure you drop-in the exact amount.

Tip no.3: A map like below should be available at your guesthouse, major Rapid Penang bust terminals, or tourist information booths. Grab one of this kind of maps before hand so you would know what bus number goes to what destination and know their schedules, so you can plan your sightseeing trip accordingly.

Our Itinerary:
The places we went to outside George Town were: Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque, Batu Ferringi Beach, Kek Lok Si Temple and Penang Hill. Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque and Batu Ferringi Beach are both at the northern side of Penang Island, Bus 101 and 102 passes by at both locations. So to go there from Love Lane, take the bus to Komtar (all buses pass through this station), then from Komtar take Bus 101 or 102. On the other hand, Kek Lok Si Temple and Penang Hill are at the center of the island. Coming from Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque or Batu Ferringi Beach, take the bus back to Komtar and then take Bus 201, 203, 204 or 502 to Kek Lok Si Temple and then from Kek Lok Si Temple take Bus 204 to Penang Hill. To go back from Penang Hill to Love Lane, there’s only one direct bus route which via Bus 204, it stops next to Red Garden, you’ll just need to walk to Love Lane from there. If you want to alight at the nearest bus stop to Love Lane, you need to transfer to Bus 401 at Komtar.

Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque
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It was low tide when we were there so we didn’t saw the full effect of the water to the mosque and how it makes it looks like it’s really floating.

Batu Ferringhi Beach
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You can enjoy the beach here even without staying at the luxurious hotels in the area. There are shower rooms and restrooms where you can do your thing at a cost. The beach is clean and well maintained but the sand is not as fine and white as we expected, the sands of the beaches in Langkawi are better. We didn’t try out the beach when we went here, we just enjoyed a few minutes of leisurely walk along the shore and then had our lunch at the Mc Donald’s across Shangri-La Hotel.

Kek Lok Si Temple
Too bad, we weren’t able to get inside Kek Lok Si Temple as it closes at 5:30 PM and we arrived there around 5:00 PM. We didn’t thought that there would be some traffic and that it’s a long ride from Komtar to the station by the temple. We left the Batu Ferringhi area few minutes pass 3:00 PM since we did some shopping after lunch.

Penang Hill
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At Penang Hill, we didn’t know that the train (cost 30 MYR for tourists) going up to Penang Hill has a scheduled interval. It was said that it’s best to be at the top of Penang Hill just in time for sunset as the view during that time is picture perfect. If we just arrived a bit earlier, we could have caught that moment. It was already getting dark when the train that we are on left the station and from the bottom station to the top, it’s about 15-20 minutes ride.

Tip no.4, based on our experience, good timing is the key here. We miscalculated the time and ended up not seeing Kek Lok Si Temple up close and the sunset at Penang Hill. We had no choice but to just charge it to experience and do better next time. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our few days of stay here in the wonderful island of Penang. We’ll surely be back.

So that’s the two-part post for our adventure and misadventures in Penang Island. Our next and final stop in Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur. We asked the help of our guesthouse in booking us bus tickets to Singapore. No need to think about bus scams here, unlike in Thailand they don’t scam tourist on booking bus tickets here. The bus trip is about 5-6 hours and costs 35 MYR. There is also a website where you can buy tickets that services Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Tip no.5, usually, the bus ticket that the guesthouse will offer is just the same as what the website will offer since the guesthouse have contact with the same bus companies affiliated with the website. The good part in getting it through the guesthouse is that they arranges a free transport service from the guesthouse to the bus terminal. The transport service is sponsored by the bus company, other tourists that booked tickets with the same bus company will be picked-up as well so the only down side is that if you were the first to be picked-up you need to wait until they get to fetch all guests.


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