Georgetown - Getting Around

Date Links: Wed 01/06 │ Thu 02/06 │ Fri 03/06 │ Sat 04/06

Accommodation: Traders Hotel

Walking: One of the best ways to sight see is to walk around Georgetown; but wear light clothes, start early in the morning, and put on plenty of sun-block during the daytime. When crossing the roads, remember to look both ways, even on a one-way street

 Municipal Council of Penang Island provides a free shuttle bus service in Georgetown which runs approximately between the Pengkalan Weld ferry terminal and KOMTAR every 20 minutes Mon-Fri 6:00am to 11.40pm, plus Saturdays 7:00am to 2:00pm - no service on Sundays or public holidays - see: CAT Free Shuttle Bus Route & Sights along the Way

Public transportation around the city is not very well organized. There are, however, buses that ply the length and breadth of the city, and even one that can take you around the island itself. Having said that, there is a chance you master the system by going either to the KOMTAR building or the ferry terminal. There, all busses stop on their route, and if you don't mind going around the city a bit if you actually want to leave it, you have good chances of getting where you want. But if you're planning to venture out of Georgetown to the suburbs and beyond for a day's tripping, do bear in mind that the public buses STOP picking up passengers AFTER 10PM daily - apparently even on weekends and holidays (as of November 2006). And if you need to take a taxi back to your quarters after midnight, be prepared to pay a 100% surcharge on top of the usual quoted fare. 

Trishaws cater to tourists and charge around RM30 per hour. However, these trishaw rides are becoming more of a curiosity rather than the norm as the number of trishaw peddlers are now lower in number than before. However; These three-wheeled human-powered vehicles might be the best idea for a pleasant city tour. One can stop at any point to take a photo or buy souvenirs. Many trishaw riders are also excellent 'tour guides'. Negotiate the fare first before getting on a trishaw; it is advisable to hire them by the hour for extended sightseeing.

You may also rent your own motorbike or little scooter to get around. These shops can be found along Chulia Street and also Penang Road. Cost around 25 ringgit for 24 hours rent. Deposit is 200 ringgit but most do though accept other currency as well.

Street names can be confusing: the street signs are in Malay, but locals will invariably use the old English names, e.g. Pitt Street instead of Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Beach Street instead of Lebuh Pantai, etc.LebuhJalanLorong, etc. are the Malay words for street, road, lane, respectively.

Georgetown is a pedestrian nightmare as there are very few footpaths. In places without footpaths it is almost impossible to get around on foot due to the heavy traffic and prevalence of deep, wide, disgusting open sewers.

Going to and from the airport (Rapid Penang bus 401, 401A, 401E from the airport to Komtar and the Jetty, and vice versa) takes about an hour, and the buses come once every 30 minutes. The bus fare is RM2.70. This is in contrast to the official taxi fare of RM38 with a journey of about 45 minutes from the airport to downtown Georgetown, and vice versa.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, "City taxis are required to charge according to the meter effective from August 2006" (from "Penang: Pearl of the Orient", published May 2008). However, as in Kuala Lumpur, many taxi drivers have no respect for the law or at least believe that foreigners have no legal rights and will even try to cheat foreigners.

Therefore, taxi rides within the city may cost up to RM20; agree on the fare before you get in. Taxis can also be hired for a minimum of 3 hours at RM25 per hour. A good way to see the Northern and Western parts of the island if you don't have your own vehicle.


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