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Visitor Information

The main Tourism Malaysia office is located at Level 56, KOMTAR Building (Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak), on Jalan Penang (tel. 04/264-3494), but for walk-in inquiries, the tourism information office is opposite the Clock Tower in downtown Georgetown near the port (tel. 04/262-2093; Mon-Fri 8am-5pm). There's another Tourism Malaysia information center at Penang International Airport (tel. 04/642-6981; daily 8am-9pm).

Getting There

By Plane -- Penang International Airport (tel. 04/643-4411; airport code: PEN) is 20km (12 miles) south of the city, but in rush-hour traffic, the airport transfer can take over an hour to Batu Feringgi. Taxi coupons at fixed rates are purchased in the Arrival Hall: RM45 to Georgetown, RM75 to Batu Feringgi.

Malaysia Airlines (tel. 1300/883-000; www.malaysiaairlines.com) has about 20 flights to Penang each day from KL, plus connecting flights from all over the country and region. Other full-service airlines that service Penang are SilkAir, Thai Airways, and Cathay Pacific. Low-cost carriers also fly to Penang, including AirAsia, Firefly, and Tiger Airways.

By Train -- Trains arrive at the Butterworth Railway Station (tel. 04/323-7962), on Jalan Bagan Dalam (near the ferry terminal) in Butterworth, on the Malaysian mainland. Most times there will be taxis waiting, but if you arrive late at night, sometimes not. The station staff can help call a taxi for you. If you're in the mood for adventure, follow the signs and walk from the train station to the ferry terminal, and take a boat across to Penang Island .

By rail, the afternoon train from KL arrives around 11pm, or you can take an overnight trip from KL to Butterworth, which takes around 10 hours. Tickets costs RM85 for first-class passage or as low as RM17 for economy class. The prices vary greatly depending on whether you choose upper or lower berth (for overnight trains) and what class of passage you take. Call KL Sentral (tel. 03/2267-1200) for schedule information.

By Bus -- There are a few VIP buses in service to Butterworth or Georgetown. The trip from KL is about 5 hours, and most buses arrive at the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal south of Georgetown near the airport. There's a taxi stand at the bus terminal; fares are about RM40 to Georgetown and RM60 to RM70 to Batu Feringgi.

Aeroline (in KL tel. 03/6258-8800, in Penang tel. 04/657-2122; www.aeroline.com.my) buses depart daily at 9:30am and 3:30pm from Corus Hotel, on Jalan Ampang in KL; round-trip fares are RM120 for adults and RM60 for children.

By Ferry -- The ferry to Penang is nestled between the Butterworth Railway Station and the Butterworth bus terminal. It operates from 6am to 12:30am daily and takes 20 minutes from pier to pier. Ferries leave every 10 minutes. Purchase your passage by dropping RM1.40 exact change in the turnstile (there's a change booth if you don't have it). Fare is paid only on the trip to Penang; the return is free. The ferry lets you off at Weld Quay.

Getting There

By Taxi -- Taxis are abundant, but be warned that they do not use meters, so you must agree on the price before you ride. Most trips within the city are between RM20 and RM25. If you're staying out at the Batu Feringgi beach resort area, expect taxis to town to run RM50. The ride is about 15 or 20 minutes but can take 30 minutes during rush hour.

By Bus -- Buses run all over the island and are well used by travelers who don't want to drop cash on taxis. Rapid Penang (tel. 04/238-1212) operates a handy service from Georgetown to Batu Feringgi for only RM4. Bus #101 has stops at Weld Quay, KOMTAR, Chulia Street, and Batu Feringgi Road outside Rasa Sayang Resort, at the Holiday Inn, and all the way out to the Butterfly Farm. It operates every 5 minutes from 5:20am to 10:30pm. Get exact change from your hotel's cashier before you set off.

By Car -- Self-driving is not a bad idea in Penang, and cars can be rented through Avis at the Penang International Airport (tel. 04/643-9633; www.avis.com.my); rates start from about RM200 per day for a small sedan, but you can often find good promotional rates. There's no need to have an international driver's license.

By Bicycle & Motorcycle -- Along Batu Feringgi, there are bicycles and motorcycles (little 100cc scooters, really) available for rent. I don't recommend renting the scooters. You can never be certain of their maintenance record, and Penang's drivers are careless about watching your back. A sad number of visitors are injured or worse because of scooter accidents. I also am not a fan of bicycle rentals here, due to the same reasons.

By Trishaw -- In Georgetown, it's possible to find some trishaw action for about RM30 for an hour. It's kitschy and touristy, and I completely recommend it for traveling between in-town sights, at least for a few trips.

On Foot -- Georgetown is really about exploring the sights between the sights -- back alleys where elderly haircutters set up alfresco shops, streets where you'll see bicycle repairmen fixing tires in front of their stores, and more -- and the best way to get a feel for everyday life is by traversing the city on foot. Start wandering early in the morning, by the waterfront, down the back alleys, before the heat of the sun takes hold -- the lighting is perfect for photography and you will find fantastic subjects here.

Fast Facts

Penang's area code is 04. The banking center of Georgetown is in the downtown area (close to Ft. Cornwallis), on Leboh Pantai, Leboh Union, and Leboh Downing, but you'll find ATMs in KOMTAR and other smaller shopping plazas as well. Internet cafes come and go, so it's best to ask your hotel's concierge for the closest place to your hotel, or use the hotel's. If you're in town, Chulia Street, the main drag for backpacker tourists, has Internet access in a number of places.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.