‘Everything you need to know about getting from Singapore to Penang.’
Singapore to Penang – Overview
Welcome to the complete guide on how to get from Singapore to Penang. By the end of this article, we hope that you will completely understand how to get from Singapore to Penang. We have extensive experience visiting and travelling between these fascinating cities and want to share our experiences with you. Singapore and Penang both share Peranakan Culture and are fantastic cities to explore.
One of the first things you need to know about travelling from Singapore to Penang is that there are many modes of transport to choose from. Some of the most popular ways to get between Singapore and Penang include flying, taking the bus, and train. Each one of these forms of transport has pros and cons, which we will discuss in this article. Some of the main variables that you have to consider when you are getting from Singapore to Penang include price (how much you are willing to pay?), time (how much time should you spend?) and where you are staying in both cities.
Flying from Singapore to Penang (Option #1)
Getting from Singapore to Penang is super easy by air. We have flown on multiple occasions between Singapore and KL, and recommend it. This is the fastest way to get between these two cities by far. Furthermore, the airline fares are surprisingly cheap, especially if you use budget airlines such as Air Asia that offer discounted rates throughout the year. Here are the steps to get from Singapore to Penang by air:
1. Book your flight ticket well in advance.
Penang is a very popular destination among the culture-seekers and backpackers in Southeast Asia. The city is famous for its cuisine with a massive selection of hawker stalls and outdoor dining areas. It can get particularly busy during peak travel times, such as Chinese New Year, when both tourists and locals head to the Island. There is also higher demand for flights when Malaysians are heading home for weekends. Long weekend flights can get busy.
Since many budget airlines in Southeast Asia operate under the model of “booking early and saving more”, we strongly suggest booking your tickets from Singapore to Penang well in advance. This will allow you to save cash on the ticket, but also select the seats you want. You don’t want to be jammed at the back of the plane because all the front seats were already taken.
Which airlines service flights between Singapore and Penang?
When you are ready to book your ticket from Singapore to Penang, it’s good to know what airlines service this route. Fortunately, there are many airlines to choose from, including budget and non-budget airlines.
Here is the list of airlines that provide flight services between Singapore and Penang regularly:
Air Asia is particularly popular for flights between Singapore and Penang with their ever-famous ‘BIG’ sales. Since Air Asia is a budget airline, if you travel light and book your flights way in advance, you can save serious money.
2. Leave your hotel or home in Singapore and head for Changi Airport.
Singapore has a fantastic public transport system, making it super easy to get to/from Changi Airport. Once your flight ticket from Singapore to Penang is sorted, next head to the airport. Although the flight between these two cities is short and sweet, try to make it to the airport 2.5-3 hours before your trip.
If you are staying in popular areas such as Marina Bay or Chinatown, you can easily use the MRT to make it directly to Changi Airport. A popular hotel in the Marina Bay area is Marina Bay Sands (5-star, 9/10 review score). From there, it’s possible to walk directly to Bayfront MRT Station. Then, you can get to the airport without even stepping foot in a vehicle.
The MRT network in Singapore is efficient and cheap. Therefore, it’s the practical method to get to the airport for people on a budget. If you are travelling as a family with 4-5 people, then consider getting a taxi to the airport instead. With all your luggage, you might find it easier just to take a car if traffic is light along the way to Changi.
How long does it take from Marina Bay to Changi Airport using the MRT?
If you are travelling from Bayfront Station (in Marina Bay, Singapore), it should take you about 51 minutes (including average waiting and changing times, if any) to reach Changi Airport. You can expect a similar amount of time from other stations in the Marina Bay area of the city.
How much does it cost to take the MRT from Marina Bay to Changi Airport?
At the time of writing, the adult fare from Bayfront Station to Changi is $1.84 for adults using a stored-value card. However, if you used a standard ticket, the fare is $2.60. Therefore, you can save money if you use a stored-value card or Singapore Tourist Pass on your way to the airport. This is significantly cheaper than getting a taxi or private shuttle to the airport on your way to Penang.
When we were figuring out how to get from Singapore to Penang by air, we used a stored-value card. It was affordable and convenient to use, and we recommend using one opposed to traditional standard tickets.
3. Clear immigration, check-in and then board your flight to Penang.
If you took the MRT direct to Changi Airport, alight at Changi Station is attached to the airport.
Since Penang is located in Malaysia, you will have to clear immigration at Changi Airport before flying. Once that is done, check-in and board your flight to Penang. Changi Airport always gets rated as one of the best airports in the world, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding the correct gate for your flight.
How long does it take to fly from Singapore to Penang?
Most flights from Singapore to Penang are scheduled for 1 hour and 30 minutes. However, based on our experience, if the skies are clear and there is no line-up in Penang on the runway, the air time can be over 1 hour.
A flight time like this allows you to have a quick meal and a few drinks before landing.
4. Upon arrival in Penang, clear immigration and arrange transport to Georgetown.
Georgetown is the main tourist city on Penang Island. Therefore, when you land at Penang International Airport, you have to arrange transportation to get into the city centre.
You can either take a taxi or bus to get there.
Taking the bus is the cheapest option. You can choose from Bus 102, Bus 401E or Bus 306. However, Bus 401E takes your right to the heart of the historic area of Georgetown. Expect the bus ride to take you 45 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes depending on traffic.
Taking a taxi to Georgetown is more expensive. Usually, a taxi from the airport to Georgetown takes around 30 minutes. Expect the fare to be 25-40 RM. Also, take note that you can get a GRAB car from the airport as well.
5. Find your hotel near the historic area of Georgetown.
Georgetown Penang has some fantastic accommodation options right in the heart of the historic-UNESCO listed area. Many of the hotels have been converted from historic buildings into modern, elegantly renovated buildings.
A few of the highest-rated hotels in Georgetown include:
The Edison George Town (9.3/10 review score)
Seven Terraces (9.3/10 review score)
Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion (9.3/10 review score)
The review scores listed above are according to leading accommodation sites at the time of writing. Consequently, they are subject to change over time.
Taking the bus from Singapore to Penang (Option #2)
We are now going to explain how to get from Singapore to Penang by bus.
Numerous budget airlines fly between Singapore and Penang on a regular basis. However, the demand for taking a bus from Penang to Singapore still exists! The main reason for this is ‘price’!
Taking the bus from Singapore to Penang is still significantly cheaper than flying. Therefore, if you value saving money more than time, taking the bus is a good option. Consequently, the bus is still popular with backpackers and families trying to save some cash. There are times when budget airlines have major promotions that would make you second guess taking the bus, but most of the time, the bus is much cheaper.
Another reason people still take the bus between Singapore and Penang is that you can book a ‘night bus’. If you can find a way to sleep on the bus, you might wake up in the morning already in Penang!
Which bus operators offer bus services from Singapore to Penang?
Multiple bus operators service trains between Singapore and Penang. But, you can expect their routes and timetables to change frequently depending on demand and other factors.
At the time of writing, here are some of the bus lines servicing trains from Singapore Penang:
Golden Mile Complex in Singapore is a common place to catch departing buses for Penang. Billion Stars, Seasons, Starmart and Grassland coaches all usually depart from Golden Mile Complex.
Other pick-up points in Singapore include:
Golden Mile Tower
Where do buses from Singapore terminate in Penang?
All long-distance express buses from Singapore to Penang terminate at the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal. This is about 10 km outside of Georgetown. Therefore, you are going to have to arrange additional transportation from there to your hotel in the city.
How long is the bus ride from Singapore to Penang?
The bus ride from Singapore to Penang is approximately 10 hours. The ride is over 700 km, so it’s a long way! Keep in mind that this is only an approximation because certain variables such as traffic can change depending on the time and day you go.
Another factor to consider is immigration at the Singapore-Malaysia border.
If the border area is backed up the trip can take longer than 10 hours. We have travelled across this border on multiple occasions and it’s sometimes difficult to predict how long it will take to clear immigration. Just keep this in mind when you are deciding how to get from Singapore to Penang. Keep an open mind if you get delayed!
How much does it cost to take the bus from Singapore to Penang?
You can expect the bus ride from Singapore to Penang to cost anywhere from $40-75 Singapore dollars. Again, prices will fluctuate depending on variables such as bus operator, time of day, weekend/weekday, holiday season, and total anticipated trip time (more stops/less stops along the way).
How to get from Singapore to Penang by Train? (Option #3)
Although taking the train can be comfortable, this is not our first choice in terms of getting from Singapore to Penang. The main reason for this is that there is not a direct bullet train or speed train that goes between the cities. Therefore, we suggest flying or taking the bus unless you love taking a train. The ride is lengthy and requires different connections along the way. Nonetheless, we will outline how to get from Singapore to Penang by train below.
1. Make your way to Woodlands Train Checkpoint
The main train service that will get you from Singapore to Penang actually begins in Malaysia, not Singapore! Consequently, you have to clear immigration at Woodlands Train Checkpoint and make your way to JB Sentral.
To do so take one of the following public buses in Singapore to Woodlands Train Checkpoint: 170, 170A, 178, 856, 903, 911, 913, 950.
Alternatively, you can take the train to Woodlands Station. Then you can walk to the Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange. From there you can take one of these buses: 856, 903, 911 and 913.
2. Take the KTM Shuttle Train to JB Sentral
From the Woodlands train checkpoint you can take a KTM shuttle train to JB Sentral. ‘JB’ in this case stands for Johor Bahru. The train frequency here is not extensive. Therefore, be sure to have all of your times sorted beforehand. The ride from Woodlands Train Checkpoint to JB Sentral is about 5 minutes, just across the Causeway. You can refer to the KTM site for more information about times and prices.
3. Ride the train from JB Sentral to Gemas
The next step in getting from Singapore to Penang by train requires you to take the KTM from JB Sentral to Gemas. Both of these points are in Malaysia.
At the time of writing there are four different departures from JB Sentral to Gemas:
The train ride from JB Sentral to Gemas usually takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes.
4. Take the train from Gemas to ‘KL Sentral’ in Kuala Lumpur
The next step in the train journey from Singapore to Penang is a stop at KL Sentral. This is a large transportation complex in Kuala Lumpur that is surrounded by convenient hotels (such as Hilton Kuala Lumpur and Aloft)and NU Sentral Mall. This is a great place to spend a few nights before making your way farther north to Penang.
Usually, there is one daily train to Butterworth that you can take to avoid a transfer at KL Sentral. In addition, there are two northbound trains from Gemas to KL Sentral at 4pm and 4.30am.
The train ride from Gemas to KL Sentral typically takes 2.5 hours. However, the train at 3 pm to Butterworth takes about 6 hours and 45 minutes (but avoids a transfer at KL Sentral!).
5. Ride the train from KL Sentral to Butterworth.
Butterworth is a city on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia near Penang. If you transferred at KL Sentral, you should now plan on heading north to Butterworth.
There are usually 5 to 6 daily train departures from KL Sentral to Butterworth. The times vary, so you are best to double-check on the official KTM train site for your intended dates of travel.
The train ride from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth takes about 4 hours and 15 minutes.
6. Take the ferry from Butterworth to Georgetown (Penang)
After you arrive in Butterworth using the train, you will then take a ferry from Butterworth to Georgetown.
Georgetown is the famous city on Penang Island that is loaded with cultural attractions, markets and tons of great hotels. This is most likely where you will want to stay once you reach Penang.
The ferry usually takes about 15 minutes to cross from Butterworth to Georgetown and departs every 20-30 minutes. Hours of operation are usually between 5 am to midnight. Simply follow the signs from the train station to the ferry upon arrival in Butterworth.
How much does the entire train ride from Singapore to Penang cost?
You can expect the entire train ride from Singapore to Penang to cost between $40 – $60 Singapore dollars. Remember, the cost of this trip will change over the course of time. Additionally, depending on what class train you get the price can vary by a small margin. That’s why we have included a range, and not a definite amount.
How long does the train ride take from Singapore to Penang?
The entire train ride from Singapore to Penang takes approximately 14 hours. Add on some time if you are resting along the way or spending time in Kuala Lumpur. Lots of tourists have a layover in Kuala Lumpur and then head up to Penang to break up this long journey.
Where should you stay in Penang to be close to attractions and cultural sights?
Georgetown is the main epicentre for tourism on Penang Island. Consequently, we strongly suggest that you book a hotel near the historic area of Georgetown. This will ensure that you will be able to walk to the major attractions in the city, which will cut down your travel expenses. Fortunately, there are tons of great places to stay in the eastern portion of the city.
Victoria Garden Hotel (3-star, 9.1/10 review score) and The Prestige Hotel Penang (4-star, 9.2/10 review score) are two great options within walking distance of the ferry terminal.
Yeng Keng Hotel (4-star, 9.1/10 review score) and Tien Hotel. Residence (4-star, 9.3/10 review score) are two excellent ‘central’ options right in the middle of the historic centre.
Additional points on how to get from Singapore to Penang
As you can see from the information presented above, You have three main options when you want to get from Singapore to Penang: Fly, bus or take the train.
Flying from Singapore to Penang is definitely the most practical and efficient way to get between these fantastic cities. If you want to save time and unnecessary headaches, this is the way to go! However, it is usually the most expensive method. We suggest booking your flight early and looking for deals from budget airlines. You might be amazed by the deals you can get!
Taking the bus is the next best option, in our opinion. It’s cheap and reasonably reliable. You might get delayed at immigration at the border, but that is ‘built into’ these cheaper fares! If you are trying to save cash and could care less about the time, the bus might be best for you. Some people are tired of flying when they travel so taking the bus can be a good alternative. You might also be able to bring along more luggage on the bus than on a flight.
Taking the train from Singapore to Penang can be a scenic and somewhat comfortable option. You don’t have to worry about as many delays. But you have multiple transfers along the way and it takes a long time! Unless you are a real train lover, we suggest flying!
We hope that this step-by-step guide on how to get from Singapore to Penang has been informative. If you do require any more assistance please don’t hesitate to send us an email at any time. We would be more than happy to provide you with additional information about these two fascinating cities in Southeast Asia.