If you’re planning on traveling around Malaysia and don’t want to fly everywhere, taking the train is a cheap and easy way to go.
For our week in Malaysia we stayed 2 days in Kuala Lumpur and 4 in Georgetown, 2 cities that are about 340 kilometers apart. Instead of flying, we decided to take the train from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.
Even though the flight is not very expensive on Air Asia, we both wanted to experience over train travel since we don’t get to do that very often. To get from Kuala Lumpur to Georgetown, we took the train from Kuala Lumpur to Penang (KL Sentral station) and then a ferry to Georgetown.
Read on to see how we booked tickets, what the trains were like and how much it cost.
Taking the train from Kuala Lumpur to Penang
Here is what you need to know about taking the train from Kuala Lumpur to Penang. Click the section to skip to it.
- Buying tickets
- The train schedule
- Coaches and Fares
- Leaving from KL Sentral
- The ride
- Ferry to Georgetown
Route and Map
KL Sentral is the transit hub in Kuala Lumpur and you will most likely pass through it coming from the airport or when you go around the city. This is also where you will be taking the train from Kuala Lumpur to Georgetown.
To buy tickets, you can do it online at the KTM website or buy them at KL Sentral. It seems they have changed their website since 2014 so it’s not user friendly and can’t book tickets on there anymore. Instead, I recommend purchasing tickets through 12Go Asia, where you can purchase tickets all throughout South East Asia and they have the train from Kuala Lumpur to Penang. Use the form below to search and purchase tickets for your Malaysia trip!
If you want to buy it in person, I highly recommend going to the station a few days before your intended date of departure since seats go fast, especially on weekends. For online purchases, buy them as soon as possible. They go fast online too!
These are the stations you need to know: Sentral Kuala Lumpur and Butterworth (Penang station).
The train schedule
There are two different schedules for the trains going to Penang, one at 15:50 PM arriving at 22:20 PM called Ekspress Rakyat and one at 20:00 PM arriving at 5:25 AM the next day called Senandung Langkawi.
Coaches and Fares
The day train has 1st and 2nd class seats called Premiere and Superior. Premiere costs 67 RM ($21) for adult and 38 RM ($12) for children. Superior costs 34 RM ($11) for adult and 21 RM ($7) for children.
The night train has 1st and 2nd class sleeper seats called Premiere and Superior. Premiere costs 80 RM (25) for the upper bed and 89 RM ($28) for the lower bed. Children costs 51 RM ($16) for upper and 60 RM ($19) for lower.
For non-sleeper seats on the night train, there are two classes, Economy and Superior. Superior adult tickets cost 34 RM ($11) and 21 RM ($7) for children. Economy class tickets are 19 RM ($6) for adults and 12 RM ($4) for children.
We chose to get the superior sleeper seats since we wanted to sleep during the train ride. For two upper bunk sleeper seats, we paid 80 RM which equaled to about $24.
Leaving from KL Sentral
We settled into our top bunks, putting our small luggage cases on top with our backpacks which fit pretty well. The only thing was that the bunks are not that long so I had to curl up a bit, for taller people they would definitely need to scrunch up their legs.
Our carry on case fit perfectly so if you have something similar to that size you can put it on your bunk. Each bunk has a privacy curtain which makes sleeping much more comfortable. However they don’t turn off the lights so it’d help to bring an eye mask and earplugs since we had a couple rowdy kids who stayed up pretty late.
Bunks come with a sheet and pillow and we fell asleep pretty fast after we took off. Temperature wise I was comfortable the whole trip with the sheet and a jacket.
The train workers come around and check your ticket once the train starts going so make sure you have it with you. Another thing to note is that it’s not a non-stop journey to Butterworth as the train picks up people on the way and makes several stops.
Once you arrive at the station, walk down to the left towards the exit and at the end, go up the pedestrian walkway (lots of steps) and follow that to get to the ferry terminal. Go up to the counter to purchase tickets which cost 1.20 RM ($.40) for adults and it is free on the way back.
The ferry ride takes about 15 minutes and once you arrive at the terminal, you can walk or take a taxi or bus to get to your hotel. If you want to take the bus but are not sure which one to take, ask the information desk. The bus station is right where you land.
We stayed at Hotel 118 in Georgetown which was easy to get to by bus from the terminal.
Taking the train from Kuala Lumpur to Penang is a fun and cost efficient way to get around!
Want to read about more Malaysia adventures? Here you go!