How To Travel From Kuala Lumpur to Penang

If you want the easiest route to travel to Penang from KL, taking the plane is the fastest and most convenient but definitely not the most interesting route. If we had more budget for this trip, we would’ve booked with Air Asia since their home country is Malaysia!

Since my family was feeling a bit more adventurous for the new year (as we travelled in January, the beginning of 2017), we opted to take the ETS train from KL to Butterworth and then a ferry from Butterworth to Georgetown, Penang.

Apparently, you can travel the whole country of Malaysia (even crossing over to Singapore) with their train system. How very first-world! Wish the Philippines had the convenience, too!

We chose to purchase our tickets ahead of travel time from KL Sentral station across (& connected to) the hotel where we were staying. You pick a number, fall in line and pay. Very efficient.

The line wasn’t too long except there was a cancelled train at one point forcing us to wait longer as they had to give way to passengers having to leave on that train to re-book. We were OK to wait since there were seats and it was fairly comfortable, not hot or cold. We must have waited about 45 minutes here.

A one way platinum ticket for the ETS train costed us 79 MYR or about 891 Php – fairly cheap. Children ages 2 – 12 get additional discount too. For two of my kids, I paid 44 MYR each which is about 496 Php.

On the day of travel, we were pleased with our seats that looked new and clean. I told my kids this train would look very similar to trains traveling across Europe (since that is on our bucket list!).

We had lots of time to talk to each other and loved that our seats faced each other! It would be terribly awkward to sit across a stranger. Glad my husband settled this correctly.

ets fast train malaysia penang kl

I highly do recommend you to choose your seats wisely so that you can have your own table to your own group or family. You can block off the same set of seats if you like 🙂

We sat right next to the exit door close to a bathroom and in front of the TV monitors (to the delight of my 9 year old son, and to my dismay :P)

Travel Tip: If you easily get dizzy like me, please choose a seat that faces the direction of your train’s movement. If that is not possible (let’s say the train is fully booked and you cannot change seats), bring a doggie bag / plastic bag to catch your vomit 😛

There are on-board monitors to show you which station you are currently stopping at. On our way to Butterworth, we only stopped thrice. Going back though to KL Sentral from Butterworth, we stopped about 13 times but the time of travel was just about the same – amazing!

ETS train penang kl

This photo shows how empty a train usually starts but it gets really full so I advise you to pre-purchase your tickets online or at any stations before your departure date and not on the spot as to not miss out on seats!

ets train malaysia

Our platinum tickets came with snacks. I’m guessing it is one of the differences we had with the gold ticket holders which seemed more cramped in another section.

bullet train malaysia

The snacks we got. Nothing fancy and something I really wouldn’t really buy for my kids but at 3.5 hours worth of travel time, it is something to munch on.

If you do get hungry or thirsty, you can opt to purchase meals from the small canteen at the other cabin (I suppose this is where the gold ticket holder are staying).

ets train malaysia food

Rice meals, sandwiches, coffee and milk tea are your basic choices.

They have a few seats and small tables too where you can finish your meals.

After the 3.5 hour trip, we finally arrived Butterworth and wanted to catch the ferry at once. Little did we know that there is a long walk with stairs to get to the port. Good thing there is a free shuttle every 15 minutes given to priority passengers like the elderly, pregnant or families with young children. Many of the people with heavy luggages went to line up here, too. Find the cue fronting the entrance to the station.

Find out more about our Ferry Trip to Georgetown Penang in the Part 2 of this blog post coming soon!

Rest Before You Fly at Wellness Spa, KLIA2

To conclude a vacation in a stressful manner at the airport defeats the purpose of your restful and relaxing week with your family. Good thing there is the Wellness Spa at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport or KLIA2. Situated just 1 floor above Starbucks, a small child-friendly area and beside many food establishments, this organic airport spa is surely well-worth your money.

wellness Spa klia2

Managed by the Plaza Premium Lounge group worldwide, expect top notch service while you wait for your flight – delayed or not.

As soon as you enter, there is a signboard of all flights boarding in the departure area on the hallway so you are reminded of yours, too!

Choose a quiet spot to read a book, watch a program on the tv, or snooze. Here, you’ve got leg room, and much less people for a more privacy which is such a relief if you have multiply children with you.

So convenient to have a shower in the bathroom for any emergencies your children might have! I would’ve taken a shower myself, however, I didn’t have a towel on me. It might be useful to have a small towel when traveling for instances like these!

They also serve a decent buffet and drinks for your hungry little ones and yourself!

These mini pies were delicious! We kept coming back for more!

Nice to see fresh greens and vegetables being served as well in an airport.

My 2-year old daughter specifically loved this hot chicken soup with noodles. She must have had 3 bowls full. (And I would say she slept well during her flight because of her full tummy!)

Rice meals are the best! My son had his fill and tried their variety of dishes before moving on to the desserts.

Here’s my dessert sampler which I had with piping hot chocolate or was it milk tea? The coconut pandan square is too yummy for words!

While I took the kids down to the very basic children’s lounge, my husband tried their back massage by a very skilled masseuse in this dimly lit massage room. He says he hasn’t had his back worked on like that in a looong time! There are more comfortable lounge chairs here where you can put up your feet and really get some sleep. Just remember to alarm your phone a few minutes before boarding time!

Wellness Spa
Mezzanine Level, International Departure
KLIA2, Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Opening Hours 7am – 12midnight daily

Hop On Hop Off Penang

One of the things I value dearly now that we are a traveling family of 2 adults and 2 kids (and at the time of this trip was 4 months pregnant!) is… convenience. Gone are the more adventurous and care-free days of travel where we would have minimal or even zero plans. Transportation is a big issue, obviously. I appreciate having the extra help and comfort whenever possible.

hop on hop off bus stop

Naturally, the idea of joining the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour in Penang (just like we did in Kuala Lumpur) was almost a necessity. You see, Penang, contrary to popular belief, is huge. Check out the map below:

hop on hop off bus penang

To be able to see many of the sights would take a very long time especially with young children. Instead of tiring yourself and your kids, I highly recommend booking a bus tour for your whole family so you can leisurely see the important sights from a vantage point, as we did on top of a bus. This kind young lady explained to us how the tour works.

hop on hop off malaysia

Since we got on the bus on a good time (make sure to get on it before noon when it gets hot and uncomfortable), we were able to stay on the upper deck and enjoy the breeze and scene.

upper deck hop on hop off bus

Because of the cool atmosphere and motion, my daughter got sleepy and even napped at one point during the ride! These moments really do energize you for the rest of the day.

My children liked seeing many of the interesting architectural buildings around Penang.

my little globetrotters hop on hop off bus

You’ll notice a mix of old and new in Georgetown.

penang malaysia old houses

And totally instagram-worthy places of interest!

Note down where the locals line up to eat. For sure, there will be good eats! I wish we had the time to stop or even line up for this local delicacy. It seemed like a delicious breakfast, whatever it was!

This Chinese Temple was one of the major stop overs for the Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour in Penang. You can choose to go down and do a little tour of your own before catching the next bus which stops approximately every 30 minutes or so.

I am reminded of my mother who loves people watching. You can watch people who like people watching for breakfast 😛

Those red lanterns signify how important the upcoming Chinese New Year is for the locals. Perhaps the celebration is a big thing here. Note that for travelers, it is probably is a good time to go!

This part of town is close to the jetty and boasts of more modern buildings and offices with a European-feel.

The Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours operates from 9am to 8pm daily. Ticket prize for adults is RM 40 while children above 5 years old is only RM 19. Tickets are valid for 24 or 48 hours. You can purchase tickets on the bus (convenient!), any kiosks or tour operators.
Hop On Hop Off, Penang, Malaysia