Ultimate Penang Airport Guide: Everything you Need to Know

This complete guide to Penang Airport will teach you how to get there fast and easy, find parking, and navigate Malaysia's third busiest air hub with great confidence. We'll also break down what are the best and most convenient direct flight routes that will get you to some of Southeast Asia, and the world's, most exciting destinations. All from our lovely Penang.

cheap flights to penang

Do you need to fly from Penang airport or are arriving in Penang by air? You have come to the right place, as this Penang Airport Guide will tell you all you need to know about one of Malaysia’s most important airports.

We will give you a complete low down on how to reach or leave Penang Airport, how to go from Penang Airport to George Town (where most of Penang best street art is), and what are the best cheap flights to Penang. We will also suggest hotels near Penang Airport, and give you a lot of other important information you must know to arrive in Penang by air and hit the ground running.

READ MORE60 Unmissable Things to Do in Penang

Get to Know Penang Airport

After Kuala Lumpur’s KLIAKLIA2 and Johor Bharu’s Senai, Penang Airport gets most of West Malaysia’s inbound traffic. It’s somehow a regional hub because it doesn’t get much international traffic from, for example, Europe, the USA or Australia. Indeed, there are no direct flights to Penang from London, Paris, or Manchester to Penang. One must stop-over in Kuala Lumpur.

But as of late, the situation has improved since Qatar Airways introduced a direct flight from Penang to Doha. From there, it’s easier to connect to Europe and other international destinations, all starting from Penang.

Where is Penang Airport?

Penang Airport is in Bayan Lepas, in the south-eastern corner of Penang, and close to some of Penang best beaches. It is about 20km from George Town, connected to town by the main coastal highway. It can also be reached driving along the Western side of the island, from the National Park at Teluk Bahang (read our guide to visiting Monkey Beach while there) via Balik Pulau.

It takes about 30 minutes by car and 45 minutes by bus to go from Penang Airport to George Town. Don’t underestimate Penang’s horrible traffic though: in rush hour (7 am-9 am and 6 pm-8 pm) the after-work gridlock can make getting to Penang Airport a real nightmare. Make sure you leave at least 3 hours before your flight, 4 if it’s an international flight.

MORNING BREAKFAST TIP: If Going from George Town to Penang International airport in the morning, you will pass by Joo Leong Coffe Shop. It’s one of the 6 Best Spots for Roti Bakar in Penang, the quintessential Penang famous breakfast of toast and egg. Don’t miss it, as breakfast at Penang Airport will be much more expensive and less delicious!

Penang Airport Transfer

There are several ways to reach Penang Airport, and the good news is, it’s easy enough to do so using public transportation, taxis or ride hail services like Grab Car Penang.
The following sections will explain in detail what are the options to reach Penang Airport from George Town and Batu Ferringhi, two of Penang’s most popular places.

How to Get from Penang Airport to George Town

Penang Airport Bus

Rapid Penang Bus 102 goes from Penang Airport to George Town via Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal (image by Flickr Creative Commons)

From George Town, buses 401, 401A and 401E depart from the main city bus station near the KOMTAR tower complex (check out the 13 Best Things you can do at KOMTAR) . A one-way ticket to Penang Airport costs RM2.70 and it takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach the airport. Time your connections wisely, leaving at least 3 hours before your flight’s departure to avoid traffic delays.

From Penang Airport, the bus bays are just outside the Arrivals Hall. Walk outside the gates, cross the car lane and keep walking to the left, where a path takes you to the bus stand. You have to wait for Rapid Penang Bus 102. Make sure that the bus you are getting on is headed towards Sungai Nibong – George Town, as there are other buses coming from the city and directed to the south of the island at Balik Pulau which also stop at Penang Airport.

Rapid Penang Bus services are a great way to reach the city on the cheap — just consider they run from about 6 am to 11 pm.

Penang Airport Parking

You can, of course, drive to Penang Airport yourself. It has a very convenient parking lot situated right in front of and in short walking distance to the passenger terminal. There are about 800 car bays, so there’s no real risk to arrive here and not find a vacant parking lot.

Penang Airport’s parking fee is RM3 per hour or part of. If you only need to drop off a passenger, you can do so by driving up via a ramp to the first floor, where Penang Airport departures lounge is, and stop briefly in front of the gates. Note that it can get busy at peak times.

How to get from Penang Airport to KOMTAR

KOMTAR is Penang’s highest building and is considered as the center of George Town. It’s around KOMTAR that you will find most accommodation, the backpacker enclave at Chulia street, and some of Penang’s best nightlife.

Usually, when new arrivals to Penang think of going “downtown”, KOMTAR is where they are heading first. The great thing is, it’s also quite easy to get from Penang Airport to KOMTAR.

Rapid Penang Bus service number 102 is perfect to reach George Town on the cheap, as it goes direct from Penang Airport to KOMTAR, and takes about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the traffic. Other routes that service KOMTAR and Penang Airport directly are buses 401, 401A and 401E — just consider that all these buses run from about 6 am to 11 pm.

Getting cheap public transport from Penang Airport to George Town will become more difficult if your flight lands after 11 pm. In this case, you will have to consider using Penang Airport taxi or a ride-hail service like Grab Car (read our reasons why using Grab Car is better than taxis in Penang).

Penang Airport Taxi

penang_airport_taxiYou can catch a taxi from Penang Airport to George Town by using the pre-paid taxi booth situated just outside the arrivals hall. A trip to anywhere in George Town costs around RM40 (USD10) depending on the time of the day and rush hour traffic.

Again, we care to stress that you should avoid taking unofficial taxis if at all possible. Trust us: someone will come and ask you if you need a taxi ride. If you really want to take a taxi from Penang Airport to George Town, please purchase the fixed price coupon from the booth right outside of Penang International Airport’s arrivals to avoid being overcharged.

On the other hand, if you want to save some money, or if you arrive at Penang Airport late at night and you want to avoid overnight fees, your best bet to travel from Penang Airport to George Town is using Grab Car. We have already explained why we think that Grab Car is better than taxis in Penang, but we will state it again: it offers the most comfortable, quick and cheap rides between George Town and Penang airport. A Grab Car from Penang Airport to George Town costs in the region of RM 20/25 for up to two passengers and luggage.

Exactly right: if you want to avoid any hassle after an international flight, why don’t you consider pre-paying for your own private car with driver? We have had good experiences with the service provided by Klook, a trustworthy travel company in Malaysia. Click here to book your private transfer from Penang to George Town or vice-versa, and reserve a private car or van with driver to bring you and your loved ones safely at your destination.

How to Get from Penang Airport to Batu Ferringhi

Batu Ferringhi is the tourist township on the popular northern coast of the island, where most of Penang’s upper end and beachside hotels are located. Many international tourists decide to spend their time here, and it must be said, however, that Batu Ferringhi is quite far from either Penang Airport (about 30km) and George Town (about 15 km).

what to do in penang in 3 daysThe cheapest way to get from Penang Airport to Batu Ferringhi is by catching Rapid Penang Bus 102 to KOMTAR in George Town (RM4), and from there, change to Bus 101 which goes all the way to Batu Ferringhi for another RM4. The buses are modern, comfortable and air-conditioned, and some even have onboard wi-fi.

But consider that this trip will take you a minimum of 2 hours between waiting times, potential traffic, and so on. And also, if you have a lot of luggage, it won’t be very convenient.

Important Tips to Navigate Penang  Airport

Penang airport lounge has many seating rows and a lot of shops to while away your time (image credit Flickr Creative Commons)

Penang Airport is developed on two levels: the departures are on the first floor and the arrivals on the ground floor. Once you have landed, you will walk along with the other passengers to clear immigration formalities (only if you are arriving from a foreign country), and then proceed downstairs via a set of moving escalators. This is a good place to pick up a Malaysia Tourist SIM Card for your upcoming trip. If you don’t need to collect any baggage, you can simply skip the carousels and walk out of arrivals through the customs’ green lane — no need to worry unless you are carrying any prohibited items.

The check-in desks are on the top floor, to the right side of the departure hall. If on one hand, the desks of MAS, Malindo, Scoot and JetStar are never too busy, it’s wise to arrive well in advance for any AirAsia flights. The company serves many routes from Penang Airport, and there are often long queues when one needs to check in luggage.

Penang Airport is one of AirAsia’s hubs, and it is recommended that you arrive earlier if flying with them as check-in procedures are often slow (image by Flickr Creative Commons)

If you have no luggage to drop and have already checked-in online — you can do that up to a few hours before your departure — you can just walk to the .departure hall. International departures can be accessed from the center of the first floor, while you have to follow to the left in order to catch a domestic flight. Show your boarding pass and off you go.

AirAsia staff helps travelers check in at Penang Airport’s self-check-in kiosk (image by Marco Ferrarese)

If you haven’t checked in before arriving, Penang airport is one of the few in Malaysia where you can find machines that can print your boarding pass. This works best for AirAsia flights. Bring your reservation number, or visit the AirAsia website, go to the check-in section, and ask for the code you need to scan at these machines and get your boarding passes.

Changing Money and ATM at Penang airport

Penang Airport has a series of ATM machines in the Departure Hall. If you walk in, look for the Information Counter, and proceed to the left, walking between the big Departures Board and the Ban Heang shop. In this corner, you’ll find ATM machines from most Malaysian banks such as Maybank, CIMB, HSBC, Bank Islam and Ambank. These work with all international cards on the Visa or Maestro circuits, and are by far the best and cheapest option to withdraw Malaysian ringgits at Penang Airport.

The row of ATM machines at Penang Airport where travelers can easily withdraw Malaysian Ringgit (image by Marco Ferrarese)

You can also change foreign currency at the several money exchange counters scattered around the Departure Hall and after the immigration control in the Departure Lounge.
As in most airports around the world, currency rates are not always the most favourable: we recommend exchanging a small sum here, and then complete your operations either along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, or KOMTAR, one of Penang’s most famous shopping malls.

The CIMB Bank Money Exchange booth at Penang Airport (image by Marco Ferrarese)

Penang Airport Food

To be honest, Penang Airport doesn’t have a lot of eating options, and most are, as usual, at the inflated prices of airports all around the world. On the departure hall at Level 2, there are Mc Donalds and KFC outlets, and on the right side of the hall, you can find Old Town Cafe. There are also outlets of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks Cafe. But the cheapest restaurants are in the arrival hall: there is a nasi kandar spot, and a couple of other small restaurants.

Penang Airport has a Starbucks Cafe at the departure hall. You can chill here with a cuppa before your flight (image by Marco Ferrarese)

There is also a cigar lounge on Level 2, but most of the shopping outlets are after the police check or immigration desks, right before the Penang Airport gates.

Penang Airport Shopping

Penang Airport isn’t shopping-centric like KLIA2 in Kuala Lumpur, but has several interesting boutiques for your last minute needs.

The domestic terminal, beside a Starbucks Cafe and other food options, as a WH Smith for magazines, books, small souvenirs and snacks.

Nearby is Body Glove, offering a good selection of this international brand acclaimed surfer attire. For more clothing and accessories, walk to Shoepoint, Edwin Galaxy and Mutiara. They have the whole gamut, from woman to man and children attire.
And if you need to get a piece of jewellery for a distant loved one, Vinstella is your last option to get the precious stones you were looking for.

The Penang Airport Body Glove outlet, situated next to Gate B3 (image by Marco Ferrarese)

For something more “Penang”, the traditional biscuits sold and manufactured by Ban Heang are perfect and affordable gifts for family and friends. And did we say, utterly delicious?

Car Rental at Penang airport

Penang Airport has many car rental options to self-drive around the island and the rest of Malaysia. Most nationalities can drive a car in Malaysia for a month using their own country’s license, and it’s a popular option for those who want to see a lot or maximise their time in and around Penang. All the car rental desks at Penang Airport are located on the left side on the ground floor, very close to the arrival gates. Just walk out and to your right until you see the moving escalators, and you’ll find the car rental companies.

The long line of car rental operators available at Penang Airport, on the right-hand side of the Arrival Hall. You can get here by taking the moving escalators next to McDonald’s in the main Departure Hall (image by Marco Ferrarese)

There is a wide choice here. You can find Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, Europcar, Kasina Car Rental, Sixt and other major brands. Some of these companies allow you to drop off of the vehicle in another location – quite convenient if, for example, you land in Penang and want to fly back from Kuala Lumpur.

Hotels near Penang Airport

Penang Airport is not far from George Town, but if you have a very early flight you may consider staying at a hotel nearby to avoid traffic and waking up in the middle of the night.
We can recommend the following options:

DR Hotel is a simple hotel with cheap, serviceable and clean rooms, WI-FI in less than a kilometer from the airport. There is no shuttle bus to go there, so you have to either walk or call a Grab Car.

Southbay is a cosy apartment accommodation, about 1km away from the airport in Bayan Lepas. Spacious and equipped with all modern amenities, it’s a perfect choice for a group of up to 6 or families who need to stay close to Penang Airport.

Hotel Equatorial Penang
is a very well-established property set on a beautiful forested hill in 20 minutes drive from Penang Airport. And yes, they do offer airport pick-up (from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm) and drop-off services (5 am to 7 pm). Don’t hesitate to come here if you need a good pampering night rest before or after a long flight.

Most Popular Flight Routes from Penang Airport

The departure board at Penang Airport’s main hall (image by Marco Ferrarese)

Besides national MAS Airlines, Penang airport is a northwestern hub of low-cost giants AirAsia, Malindo, JetStar and FireFlyz (a low-cost subsidiary of MAS). Regular companies like Cathay Pacific and Qatar also use Penang Airport, which has some interesting regional connections to Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Myanmar, and Singapore.

For other Asian countries and Australia, one has to fly — or travel by train/bus — to one of Kuala Lumpur’s two main International Airports, KLIA and KLIA2. Which brings us to explain:

Flights from Kuala Lumpur to Penang Airport

cheap flights to penang
(Picture credit: Flickr Creative Commons)

These days, flying to capital Kuala Lumpur often comes cheaper than taking one of the new ETS Trains from Butterworth — Penang’s transport hub, right across the first bridge, in Seberang Perai. You can check the best deals on flights from Penang to Kuala Lumpur on 12Go Asia, which accepts international credit card payments, and is a service we recommend.

Powered by 12Go Asia system

Consider that Kuala Lumpur’s two international airports serve most of AirAsia international flights, but are also a good hour away from KL Sentral, where the ETS train stops. It’s much faster to look for flights to/from Penang and Subang. Low-cost carriers Malindo and FireFlyz are the two companies with the bigger number of flights between Penang and Subang airports, closer to Kuala Lumpur city center.
Otherwise, this is our complete guide to taking a bus from Penang to Kuala Lumpur.

Landing at Subang Airport from Penang

Subang, a satellite city at the eastern edge of Kuala Lumpur’s metro area, has the capital’s second airport, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah — popularly called Subang airport. It is connected to KL Sentral by frequent taxi services or by bus.

Rapid KL Bus U81 stops nearby Subang airport’s arrival gates: walk outside, take a right and proceed until you see the bus stand on your right. In regular traffic conditions, it should take you about 25/40 minutes to reach downtown KL.
You should always take Grab in Penang and Malaysia, but if you really want to take taxis, use the pre-paid coupons sold inside the airport to avoid being overcharged.

Penang Airport Departures to Foreign Countries

A view of Penang island from the sky after taking off from Penang Airport (image credit: Flickr Creative Commons)

One doesn’t necessarily have to change flights in Kuala Lumpur any longer, as there are several direct flights from Penang Airport to some interesting international destinations. Penang is mostly connected to other cities in Southeast Asia, but also farther away to the Middle East and the rest of the world, thanks to the introduction of the Qatar Airways direct flight from Penang to Doha. This is a great hub to travel direct from Penang to Europe, Africa and North America.

This table has a useful breakdown of international flights leaving from Penang Airport:

For Thailand, one can reach Bangkok via ThaiSmile, or Phuket via FireFlyz.

For Singapore, several direct AirAsia and Scoot flights land daily in Changi International Airport, making the connection between the two islands a breeze.

For Indonesia, several companies fly to Jakarta and Surabaya in Java, or Medan and Banda Aceh in Sumatra.

For Vietnam, AirAsia has one handy direct flight to Ho Chi Minh City — a nice and quick getaway with some inspiring cities in the Mekong Delta.

One direct flight also connects Penang to Taiwan.

For China, flights traditionally catered to inbound tourism from Shenzen and Guangzhou, but have expanded as of late. Lucky Air now flies to Kunming, and there are also direct flights to Hong Kong via Dragon Air.

You can also fly from Penang to Yangon in Myanmar with a layover in either Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Bangkok.

For the Middle East and Europe, Qatar Airways now runs cheap flights from Penang to Doha.

Penang Airport Departures to other cities in Malaysia

Besides Kuala Lumpur, Penang Airport is well connected to other major cities in both Peninsular and East Malaysia.

AirAsia offers direct flights to Johor Bahru (check best prices on 12Go Asia), right across the causeway from Singapore, Langkawi island (check our complete guide on how to go from Penang to Langkawi), and Kuching (check best prices on 12Go Asia) and Kota Kinabalu (check best prices on 12Go Asia) in East Malaysia. When booked in advance, these flights are among the cheapest you can find — crossing the South China Sea to Kuching for RM99 or less is quite a steal.

Kota Bharu (check best prices on 12Go Asia)  and Melaka (check best prices on 12Go Asia) are served by FireFlyz and Malindo Air, cutting travel time from a 6/7 hours drive to about an hour.

Thanks for having read our in-depth guide to everything you can do in Penang Airport! Now we can only wish you’ll have a great flight to or from Penang!

Disclaimer: Flight routes and schedules to/from Penang Airport are constantly subjected to change. We are doing our best to keep this page as updated as possible, but forgive us if any of the information above has become obsolete since the publication of this post.

Also please note that, if you buy any flights through some of our links, we will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Consider it a small way to say thanks, and keep Penang Insider going.

And if you liked this, why don’t you sign up for our mailing list? We will send you immediately a FREE photographic eBook with some incredible pictures of Penang, and we promise, we will disturb you only about once a month with some good local advice you won’t find on the site ?


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