Penang is a cultural melting pot located on the northwest coast of Malaysia. For such a small island, Penang has so much to offer – vibrant culture, colourful heritage, amazing food, urban wonders, and untouched rainforest. At its heart is George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a city rich in history.
It’s the perfect place for cultural immersion after days of sun and sand in Krabi.
There are 3 ways to travel the 490km distance from Krabi to Penang: a 10-hour minivan, which costs $32, an indirect 8-hour minivan from $30, and a 5 to 6-hour indirect flight (excluding transfer time) with a price from $81.
The minivan is our preferred option when travelling from Krabi to Penang. You can either take a direct 10-hour minivan from Krabi to Penang or take 2 minivans for 8 hours (excluding transfers) – from Krabi to Hat Yai and then from Hat Yai to Penang.
Also, the minivan operates with much fewer emissions compared to the 2 flights you will have to take otherwise.
There are no direct flights from Krabi to Penang, so you’ll have a few hours of layover in Kuala Lumpur. The fastest indirect flight takes 5 to 6 hours. Note though that considering the transfers to and from the airports, you don’t really save a lot of time with the indirect flight, and you spend so much more!
A few notes when crossing the Thailand-Malaysia border
Do be careful about what you try to bring in to Malaysia. You’ll have to pay hefty fines or receive heavy punishment if you are found with any of these:
More than 1-litre of liquor
Even a few grams over the 225g-limit of tobacco per person (that’s around 200 cigarettes)
Over 3 new wearable items and 1 new pair of shoes
More than 1 electric or battery-operated personal hygiene equipment
Unlicensed weapons, counterfeit bills or coins and illegal drugs. These can lead not just to huge fines but even the death penalty!
Although it takes 10 hours to travel by land from Krabi to Penang, we think the minivan is still a good choice. It picks you up from your hotel in Krabi and takes you straight to George Town in Penang. And it only costs 1,000 THB ($28.50), more than half the price of taking an indirect flight!
Bai Ngoen Krabi Tour offers only 2 trips daily, so we recommend you book online on BookAway to secure a seat.
The minivans park at Komtar Terminal, which is within walking distance from most hotels in George Town.
Customs & Immigration
Around 5 hours into your minivan journey from Krabi to Penang, you will arrive at the Danok Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam border. Located between Thailand’s Songkhla Province and Malaysia’s Kedah state, this is the two country’s busiest land border.
This isn’t as complicated as other borders in Southeast Asia though. Immigration offices on both sides of the border have drive-through lanes, although you might still have to get off the minivan with your luggage for customs.
Ten hours straight on the road too long for you? There is also an option to divide your minivan ride from Krabi to Penang with a stopover at Hat Yai. If you take this route, you’ll have 1.5 to 2 hours in Hat Yai to stretch your legs and eat lunch.
Step 1: Krabi to Hat Yai by Minivan
Duration: 4 hours Cost: 400 THB ($11)
My Son Krabi Tours offers 2 daily minivan trips from Krabi to Hat Yai. They operate on the following schedules:
From Hat Yai Bus Terminal, you’ll have to take a 10-minute taxi or songthaew to the city centre. KST Travel and Nominatee Tour depart from their respective offices in the city, while Adang Sea Tour offers free pick-up from the centre.
Travel time from Hat Yai to Penang is around 4 hours. You can easily book your ticket online via BookAway, with fares from 470 THB ($13).
Nominatee Tour and Adang Sea Tour drop off passengers at Komtar Bus Terminal, which is within walking distance to most hotels in George Town. If you want to be dropped off at your hotel in the city centre, book with KST Travel.
Around 1.5 hours into your journey from Hat Yai to Penang, your minivan will stop at Danok Sadao in Songkhla Province for Thai immigration & customs. And then, they will take you across the border before stopping again at Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah for Malaysian immigration & customs.
Drive-through immigration booths are available on both sides of the border, so the procedures are quite simple. However, you will still have to get off the minivan for a customs check!
Krabi to Penang by Flight
Duration: 6.5 hours, excl. transfers Cost: $81
There are no direct flights from Krabi to Penang, but you can book an indirect flight that makes a stopover in Kuala Lumpur. The fastest indirect flight takes around 5 to 6 hours.
Although it seems like you are able to save 4 to 5 hours compared to taking the minivan, keep in mind 2 things: you still have to add the travel time to and from the airports, and you have to be at Krabi Airport at least 2 hours before your flight.
When you add all that up, you don’t really get to save a lot of time when taking the flight and you have to pay double or triple the minivan rate! Still want to take an indirect flight from Krabi to Penang? Below is a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Krabi City Centre to Krabi Airport by Minibus or Taxi
Duration: 25 minutes Cost: 250 THB ($7)
If you’re coming from Krabi city centre, we recommend taking a taxi to reach the airport. It takes only 25 minutes to cover the 15km distance. You can hail one from the street or book online beforehand via Klook. Rates start at 470 THB ($13) for a 3-seater car.
If you’re coming from other areas like Ao Nang and Ao Nam Mao Pier, you have the option to book a cheaper shared minivan. A ticket costs only 250 THB ($7) when you book a ride via 12go.Asia. Take note that travel time with the minivan is 1.5 hours
Krabi Airport Shuttle operates on the following schedules:
Penang Airport is located 18km south of Penang city centre, George Town.
To complete the final step of reaching your hotel, you have two options: take a 30-minute taxi or the 1-hour bus. Rates start from 30 MYR ($6.50) and 3 MYR ($0.65), respectively. There are several bus lines available from Penang Airport to George Town, so make sure you board one that stops near your hotel.