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.
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!
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!
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.
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).
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!