It is hard not to fall in love with the capital of Malaysia: one of the youngest capitals of Southeast Asia wins hearts with its bold youthful and cosmopolitan character. The rich colonial heritage coexists in harmony with state-of-the art skyscrapers, lush parks are a welcome oasis of tranquillity to escape to after the world-class shopping marathons, and ethnic dishes of Chinese, Indian, Muslim and Western cuisine make your mouth water. The Petronas Towers, the highest twin towers in the world, rise proudly in the heart of the capital, commanding views over the modern bustling city.
How to get from Penang to Kuala Lumpur
Depending on the means of transport, the main starting point for your travel from Penang to Kuala Lumpur may be the town of Butterworth on the mainland part of Penang state or any of the two bus stations on the island. The both bus stations on Penang and the railway station in Butterworth are easily reachable from Georgetown.
From Penang to Kuala Lumpur by train
Trains from Penang to Kuala Lumpur depart from Butterworth train station. To get there from the island, take a ferry. It plies its route on a daily bases from 5.30am till 11.30pm and takes sheer 15 minutes to whisk you to the mainland. From the ferry pier it is a matter of a couple of minutes walk to the train station with the route clearly marked. You can also take a free shuttle van from the ferry terminal to the train station.
The new train station which has replaced the old one closed back in 2011, is not big. It is fully air-conditioned but there is actually nothing more there except for ticket counters, waiting halls and toilets. No food court and no souvenir stalls either.
There are three morning trains leaving for Kuala Lumpur. 5am (#9231) and 7am (#9211) trains are high-speed trains covering the distance between Penang and the Malaysian capital in about four hours. Tickets cost from MYR59 to MYR79 depending on the class of the car. The first train (#9231) is the fastest one and can bring you to Kuala Lumpur by 8.35am, but note that to get to the train station by the time of its departure you will need to take a taxi/a bus from the island as the ferry does not operate at that early hour.
There is also train #1 leaving at 8am. It is a tad slower and takes 5¼ hours to get to its destination, but the lower price of the tickets (MYR34) compensates this drawback.
Afternoon and evening trains #9233 (3pm), #9209 (5.45pm) and #9215 (7pm) arrive to Kuala Lumpur in the evening. If you are planning to use these ones, be sure to book your accommodation in Kuala Lumpur in advance as it may prove next to impossible to get a room to your liking at night.
Note that #9215 train operates only from Friday to Sunday; all the other trains are daily trains.
In Kuala Lumpur, trains arrive to Kuala Lumpur Sentral, which is also a real architectural delight. A large-scale intermodal transport hub, Kuala Lumpur Sentral is the point of origin of many intercity routes all over Malaysia and Singapore, as well as KLIA Ekspress and KLIA Transit high-speed airport trains. KL Monorail Sentral Station is easily reachable via overhead bridge from KL Sentral.
From Penang to Kuala Lumpur by bus
With an endless list of bus departures from Penang to Kuala Lumpur you are never short of choice. Buses depart every 15-45 minutes and take from four to five hours to reach Kuala Lumpur depending on the bus station you are heading to.
If you are going to take a bus from Penang to Kuala Lumpur, you have three basic options.
Option #1 is to hop onto a bus at the main bus terminal on Penang Island in Sungai Nibong (MYR38-MYR39). Located some 10 km from the old city area of Georgetown, it is reachable both by taxi (MYR30) and numerous city buses (MYR2). The trip to the bus terminal from Georgetown normally takes about 20 minutes but is dependent on traffic – leave Georgetown at least one hour prior to your departure. The most useful city bus route from Georgetown to the bus terminal is 401.
Option #2 Some bus companies use the other Penang Island bus terminal, Komtar, which is much handier if you stay in Georgetown as no long taxi ride is required to get there. All of the buses leaving from Komtar then pass through Sungai Nibong terminal before leaving the island over the bridge. If you wish to start your journey to Kuala Lumpur at Komtar bus terminal, look for Economy Express, Super Nice Express, Yakin BG Express or KPB Express buses. Tickets cost MYR41 which is a bit more than in case of Sungai Nibong bus terminal, but you do not need to spend any extra ringgit on a taxi or a city bus ride. There are fewer departures from Komtar than from Sungai Nibong, and if you are in a hurry to leave the island you may want to check departures from Sungai Nibong or Butterworth bus terminals instead.
Option #3 is to take a ferry from Weld Quay in Geprgetown to Butterworth and choose any of the buses, e.g. *KKKL Express operating from the temporary bus terminal connected to the ferry pier by a walkway. Tickets are sold at a similar price as in case with all the other departures from the island (MYR38-MYR40).
Tip: Billion Stars Express, Seasons Express, Super Nice Express and KPB Express all offer VIP buses with only three seats per row instead of usual four what actually guarantees a more comfortable ride.
Note: There are no toilets on board the buses plying the route between Penang and Kuala Lumpur. All buses, though, make one or two bathroom stops en route which helps survive this 4+ hour journey.
In Kuala Lumpur, buses from Penang call to the southern TBS; to the northern Hentian Duta terminal, to KL Sentral and to centrally located Pudu Raya. The latter is the closest drop-off point to Bukit Bintang/Tengkat Tong Shin area, both teeming with accommodation of all varieties and especially those geared towards travellers on a budget.
With an endless list of museums, churches, mosques and temples, historical buildings, shopping opportunities and natural attractions in and around the Malaysian capital, the time spent in Kuala Lumpur is never enough. You can make your visit as diverse and busy as you wish but by all means try to find some time for a very special experience which visiting of any of the following places can enrich you with:
Petronas Twin Towers are easily a whole-day destination. From getting up to the Skybridge on the 41st-42nd level and to meditating to the intricate dance of the fountains at the foot of the towers after dark, you will hardly find a moment for boredom.
Menara Kuala Lumpur may seem just a humble relative of its more famous counterparts elsewhere but it definitely offers the best view of the city with Petronas Twin Towers right in front of you. The revolving restaurant is a great place for an elegant lunch or diner, too.
Kuala Lumpur boasts many green areas and zoos, but Kuala Lumpur Bird Park located in the scenic Lake Gardens is an absolute stunner, especially if travelling with your little ones in tow. The natural aviary with freely flying birds transports you right in the heart of a rain forest.
Batu Caves with the iconic image of Lord Murugan look cheerful and colourful from outside with all those Hundu deities meeting visitors at the entrance gates just at the foot of the stairs, but the system of million-years caverns at the top does impress even more.
Central Market is every shopping lover’s start destination which combines food venues, shops, entertainment programs all under the same roof of an amazing art deco masterpiece. Central Market gives you a real taste of KL shopping which goes far beyond the exquisite boutiques of Suria KLCC next to Petronas towers.
Your onward travel from Kuala Lumpur
Venturing further south from Kuala Lumpur, popular destinations which can be reached overland from the Malaysian capital, include Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat and Singapore.