If you want to know how to get from Penang to Perhentian Islands ((Pulau Perhentian Besar & Kecil), you will first have to travel from Penang to Kuala Besut Jetty (where the ferry boats depart for the islands).
To get to K. Besut, you can take a direct bus, fly via Kota Bharu, drive or even take a long train journey via the Jungle Railway.
Taking a bus from Penang to Kuala Besut is the most popular and cheapest way to travel from Penang to the Perhentian Islands.
Perdana Express operate a twice daily service that departs from Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal on the island, then stops at Butterworth Bus Station (Penang Sentral) on the mainland, departing one hour later than from Sg. Nibong.
There is a choice of either a morning departure or a night bus to Kuala Besut, with a trip duration of around 7 - 8 hours..
Tickets cost roughly 50 RM for the bus from Sungai Nibong to Kuala Besut (slightly less for the bus from Butterworth to Kuala Besut).
The bus station in Kuala Besut is located around 800 metres away from the jetty where the boats depart from.
If you want to make a reservation / check departure times for these buses click here >
You will also find many places (hotels and travel agents) selling tickets for a minivan / minibus from Penang to the Perhentian Islands or from Penang to Kuala Besut.
These are more expensive than regular buses, but are an easy option for many travellers and you can often arrange for the minibus to pick you up from your hotel, or you can take them from KOMTAR.
On the downside:
They are far less spacious than regular coaches / buses, with a much smaller amount of leg room per passenger, which on longer trips like this, can become very uncomfortable.
They often drive too fast, making the journey a bit nerve-racking.
Ticket prices for the minivan from Penang to Kuala Besut Jetty cost around 80 / 90 RM and take between 5 and 6 hours.
You can also buy tickets for the minivan from Penang to the Perhentian Islands (including the round trip boat to / from Kuala Besut) for about 150 / 160 RM.
As there is no airport on the islands, you will have to fly to the nearest airport to the Perhentian Islands, which is located in Kota Bharu.
Flights from Penang to Kota Bharu Sultan Ismail Petra Airport are operated by Firefly (PEN - KBR) up to twice a day, and take just under an hour to make the trip.
Airline tickets on Firefly are fairly cheap if you book in advance.
From Kota Bharu Airport you will then have to take a taxi to Kuala Besut Jetty to catch the boat - the distance from Kota Bharu Airport to Kuala Besut is around 55 kms and should take around an hour.
During the islands open season, boats leave Kuala Besau Jetty throughout the day.
Don't expect a big ferry boat, most are small craft seating around 10 passengers.
Some are operated like regular schedule services, some by the larger resorts and some by local fisherman who will depart when they are full.
Regular, fast scheduled boats operated by Perhentian Trans Holiday Sdn Bhd depart from 08:00 in the morning, until the last boat at around 17:00 - departing every hour, on the hour.
The duration of the trip is between 30 to 40 minutes.
Boat tickets from the Kuala Besut to the Perhentian Islands currently cost 35 RM (one-way), 70 RM (return).
It is possible to travel from Penang to Kuala Besut by train, but not recommended as it involves a really, really long journey.
First you have to travel from Butterworth to Gemas in the south (by ETS train), then take the Jungle Railway Line from Gemas to Tanah Merah station (the nearest train station to Kuala Besut).
From Tanah Merah you will then have to take a 60 kms taxi ride to the jetty.
If you are planning your tour around Peninsular Malaysia and plan on stopping off at a few places on the way, you may think about travlling this route by train, otherwise, stick with the bus.
If you want to drive and have your own transport or a rental car, you can easily make the trip in around 5 to 6 hours (via route 4).
The distance from Georgetown to Kaula Besut Jetty is about 360 kms.
Once you arrive in Kuala Besut, you will have to leave your car there, then take the boat over to the islands.
Car parking is available at Kuala Besut Jetty for around 10 to 15 RM a day.