How to Travel from Ipoh to Penang Georgetown by Train and Ferry

by Jackie
A KTM train with yellow, blue, white, and red colors arrives at the Ipoh Station platform and will head to Butterworth Station

If you’re planning a trip from Ipoh to Penang’s Georgetown and are looking for tips on how to get to Georgetown by train and ferry, then you’re at the right spot!

Penang Island is 160 kilometers (99 miles) away from Ipoh, so it’s close in distance to travel between the two areas in a few hours. 

We’ve been to Penang three times and normally take a direct flight to Penang International Airport.

But recently took the travels to Penang from Ipoh with my mother-in-law. We originally landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and then took the bus from KLIA Terminal 2 to Ipoh, so we wanted to experience other transportation options. 

In this post, we’ll share our steps on how to travel from Ipoh to Penang’s Georgetown area by train and ferry and share other helpful tips.

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Quick Summary of Ipoh to Penang Train and Ferry Route

Here is a quick summary of the process, time duration, and cost required for this one-way transportation route to help with your planning. We’ll go into more detail in the next section. 

Public Transportation Process

Georgetown, located on Penang Island, does not have a train station. The closest train station to Georgetown is Butterworth Station on Malaysia’s mainland so you’ll need to transfer. But luckily, the train and ferry stations connect so it’s convenient. 

First, take the train from Ipoh to Butterworth. Then, take a short walk from the train station to the local ferry terminal. Afterward, take the local ferry from Butterworth‘s Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim Terminal to Georgetown’s Pangkalan Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal. 

Amount of Travel Time Needed

  • Train Waiting Time: 30 minutes
  • Train Ride: 1 hour 41 minutes
  • Ferry Waiting Time: 30 minutes
  • Ferry Ride: 10 minutes
  • Total: 2 hours 51 minutes (The waiting time is approximate as it will vary depending on scheduling)

Cost for 1 Adult

  • Train: 45 MYR 
  • Ferry: 2 MYR
  • Total: 47 MYR ($9.90)

Step 1: Buy Ipoh to Penang Butterworth Train Tickets Before Departure Date

It’s recommended to buy your train tickets a few weeks before your departure date. Trains can be full during the peak holiday season. 

You can buy the tickets directly from the official KTM website, reserve your preferred seat, and use your credit card for payment. 

We’ve used the KTM website before to buy train tickets from Kuala Lumpur Sentral to Ipoh and it was super easy! 

If your plans are more flexible, you can buy tickets based on availability on the day of departure. But if you have a larger group, you may not be able to sit together. 

Ipoh to Butterworth Train Schedule

To find the train schedule, access the website. Input your departure (origin – Ipoh) and arrival (destination – Butterworth), departure date, return date (if it’s a round trip or click on “I am traveling one way” for one-way travel), and the number of people. 

There are at least 6 trains that depart from Ipoh to Butterworth each day. The train takes 1 hour and 41 minutes. 

The first train departs at 10:34am from Ipoh and arrives at 12:15pm at Butterworth. The last scheduled train is at 10:41pm from Ipoh and arrives at 12:22am at Butterworth.

Train Cost 

The cost is 32 to 45 MYR ($6.75 to $9.50 USD) per person depending on the day of the week and the time of departure. Weekends cost a little more than the weekdays. 

Purchase Tickets

After choosing your seats (either forward or backward facing) and inputting your contact information, you’re now at the payment screen. 

You can use your international credit card to buy the tickets. We used our U.S. Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the transaction went smoothly. 

After the purchase, you’ll receive an e-copy of the ticket via your email. 

Print a copy of the ticket before your scheduled ride or save the e-copy to your phone. You will need to scan the ticket’s QR code to enter the train station. 

Step 2: Take the Train from Ipoh Station

Ipoh Station is the main train station. It’s located conveniently next to the Old Town area, so you can either walk or hire a Grab ride-hailing car via the Grab app (one of the most used travel apps in Malaysia). 

About 10 to 15 minutes before the train’s arrival, there is an announcement on the PA system to enter the train station platform. The entrance will list the train time and which platform number you’ll need to go. 

Scan your ticket’s QR code to enter the train station platform area and wait for the train at the specified platform number. 

Before your train arrives, look at your ticket for the car number. Find the car number on the platform and wait there. 

Once the train arrives, board the train and find your seat. On our train, each row had 4 seats (2 seats on the left side and 2 seats on the right side). 

People sitting on the comfortable seats on the Ipoh to Butterworth train route

There are designated areas to place large luggage. Backpacks and purses can be placed in the overhead compartments above your seat. 

The train leaves on time, so don’t be late! 

Now you can relax, listen to music, read a book, or take a nap during the train ride. The seats were very comfortable, so feel free to stretch out your legs and recline your seat. 

The train had free WiFi, but it was very spotty. Most of the time, the WiFi didn’t work.

Step 3: Depart the Train from Butterworth and Follow the Signs to the Ferry Terminal

You’ve finally arrived at Penang’s Butterworth Station. Gather your luggage and belongings and head to the exit. 

Justin Huynh, Life Of Doing, pats his right hand on his mother's shoulder at the Butterworth train station platform

We just arrived at Butterworth Station and are exiting the station

To exit, you’ll need your train ticket to scan the QR code at the gate. Therefore, do not lose your ticket!

Afterward, turn left from the gate and follow the signs to the Ferry Terminal (Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim Terminal). It takes less than 10 minutes to walk to the Ferry Terminal.  

Justin Huynh, Life Of Doing, walks to the Ferry Terminal from the Butterworth train station

We are on our way to the Ferry Terminal!

You will pass by Penang Sentral, a shopping mall. If you need a toilet break or to eat something, feel free to stop by. 

We saw a KFC advertisement for potato wedges, so we had to try them. Wedges have been discontinued in the U.S. since 2020 so we did a quick detour to try them. Our verdict with the wedges – they didn’t have the same spices as what we’re used to but still crispy and worth trying!

Step 4: Buy Ferry Tickets from the Ticket Booth

Everyone taking the public ferry to Georgetown’s Pangkalan Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal needs to buy tickets. The ferry ride is 10 minutes one-way. 


The ferry departs from Butterworth to Penang every 30 minutes from 6:30am to 11:00pm. Check out the current schedule here

A TV showing the departure times for the Butterworth to Georgetown ferry

Here is the ferry schedule for your reference as of March 2024

Ferry Ticket Cost (One-way)

  • Children 5-12 years: 1 MYR ($.20)
  • Adults: 2 MYR ($.40)
  • Bicycle: 2 MYR ($.40)
  • Motorcycle: 2.50 MYR ($.53) 

As you can see, it’s very affordable to take the ferry.  

You can buy tickets online here.  

We recommend buying tickets at the Ferry’s Information Center just in case something happens with the train schedule. Just wait in line and tell the ticket agent how many adult or children tickets you need. 

People waiting in two lines at the Butterworth Ferry Terminal's Information Center to buy ferry tickets

The line to buy the ferry tickets goes quickly

NOTE: Credit card is only accepted as payment. 

But, if you only have cash, it won’t be a problem. We saw a local help a group of foreigners by paying for the group’s tickets via a credit card. In exchange, the group leader paid the local cash and thanked her for helping.

Step 5: Take the Ferry

Once you have your ticket, scan it at the ticket gate and wait in the waiting room. There is free WiFi if you need access to data. Since Malaysia can get hot and humid, the air conditioning works well here. 

When it’s time to board, line up and board the ferry. The ferry is only one level and has indoor seats. But they’re taken quickly during the high travel time. 

People boarding the public ferry from Butterworth to Penang Georgetown

It’s time to board the ferry from Butterworth to Penang Georgetown

There are a few seats outside so you’ll feel the breeze. 

Otherwise, you can stand towards the front of the ferry and hang out with the other travelers and those traveling by motorbike or bicycle. We did this route as the boat ride was only 10 minutes and stood outside with others. Luckily there was some shade, but we felt the warm breeze. 

The ferry was a smooth ride and didn’t have any choppy waves. Since we’ve been to Georgetown a few times, we usually see the view of Malaysia mainland from the jetty area. It was nice to see a different view of Georgetown from the ferry. 

A mix of tall and mid-high level buildings along the Penang Georgetown waters

This was our view of Georgetown as the ferry approached the Georgetown Port

Step 6: Depart the Ferry and Start Your Trip!

You’ve made it to Georgetown! Once the boat arrives at Georgetown’s Pangkalan Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal, wait for the motorbikes and cyclists to exit first. Then, pedestrians exit. 

Follow the exit signs and either walk or call a Grab ride-hailing car to your next destination or accommodation

What About Taking the Bus from Ipoh to Penang? 

It is possible to take the bus. 

You’ll need to travel to Ipoh’s Jalan Bendahara or Amanjaya Bus Station and then ride directly to Georgetown’s Sungai Nibong Station or Penang Sentral in Butterworth. 

If you arrive at Butterworth Penang Sentral, follow the signs to the Ferry Terminal to take the ferry to Georgetown. 

The bus ride is approximately 2 to 2.5 hours one-way. Buses depart once an hour and cost between 22 to 35 MYR ($4.60 to $7.40). Check out the bus schedules on Red Bus or Bus Online Ticket

Final Thoughts

We recommend taking the train and local ferry to get to Penang Georgetown from Ipoh. It’s a convenient and affordable option to travel by public transportation. We would definitely do this again on a future trip!

If you need ideas on what to do in Penang, check out our blog posts below: 

Like this post? Save it to your Malaysia Travel Pinterest Board.

A train arriving at the Ipoh Station and heading to Butterworth Station

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