The city of George Town on Penang Island is a delightful mix of history and culture with influences from the Chinese, Malays and Indians that make the island their home. George Town is well known for its colourful street art and great spicy food, and the Penang Ferry is just the way to make your way to this delightful city.
Down at the port there is a major transport interchange which is home to the Butterworth Railway Station, Bus Station and a taxi stand. Train or bus is the popular way to arrive, if coming from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital.
It can be difficult at first to figure out where the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal is because there is a lot of infrastructure that blocks your line of sight. Don't fret though, just move past the buses, keeping the train station on your left and look for the walkway.
The ferry is behind the bus terminal and past the train station
You will soon see a few signs confirming that the ferry is near. There's a lot of going up and down stairs and ramps to get you to the ferry (since you need to pass over a busy road) but just follow the constant flow of people who are always heading there, and you will find it.
Keep your eyes open for the many signs to the ferry
At the ticket gates, head over to the change counter on your left, and get the correct coins. The gates don't take bills - or certain Malaysian coins - so confirm at the counter before lining up to go through.
At only 1.20 Malaysian ringgit for adults, the trip across is a deal. And interestingly, this is only paid when travelling from the mainland to the island. Travel from the island to the mainland is never charged. Free travel - always a winner!
I took the ferry a fair few times during my visit to the area and every ride was a pleasure.
During the day, enjoy a clear view of the cruise ships often parked at the cruise jetty, the passing tug boats and other ferries on the same route, and the ships anchored in the harbour. A stunning sight is the Penang Bridge - a more than 13 km long feat of engineering that links Penang Island to the mainland of Malaysia.
The hum of the engines, the lap of the waves against the ferry and the soft murmur of the passengers makes for a mesmerizing journey. There is always a lovely breeze across the deck and you can sit for the journey or stand, as I preferred to, at the side or front of the ship for the best views.
Disembarking is simple - just wait for the ferry to berth and the attendant will open the gates to allow you off. Follow the flood of passengers off down the ramps, and you will find yourself at the George Town transport interchange where buses and taxis are stationed.
It's good to note, however, that if you are staying on the popular street of Lebuh Chulia, it is only a short walk from here, up the street to your left, and Lebuh Chulia is on your right. No real need for a taxi - unless you have a lot of baggage.
Ferries leave around every 20 minutes in the daytime, and around every 40 minutes at night.
This brings to mind the Toronto Island ferry in Canada. At Toronto's port you can catch a ferry to Toronto Island which has a small amusement park and is all parkland to enjoy for a day trip. Thanks for the photos for Penang!