Will I need to drive my own vehicle to conduct my everyday life (work/school/shopping) at my destination?
The location of your residence and your comfort level with driving in the city will most likely be the determining factors on whether you decide to drive your own vehicle or not. Taxis and buses are quite useful within the central part of the city, but as you get further into the suburbs, having your own car will make life easier.
How can I legally drive a vehicle in this city?
It is legal for foreigners to drive in Malaysia with a foreign driver's license for up to three months from the last date of entry as stated on his/her passport. You can also drive legally in Malaysia using an international driver's license up to a maximum of 12 months from the last date of entry as stated on your passport.
Expats are encouraged to convert a foreign license to a Malaysian license, as it is a legal form of identification and will ensure a much smoother process in the event you have an accident and need to file an insurance claim. In order to convert to a Malaysian driver's license, you will need to have a valid Employment Pass or Dependant Pass, but you will not have to take a driving test..
What side of the road do people drive on?
Similar to the United Kingdom, people drive on the left-hand side of the road. If you are not familiar with this, take your time and be extra cautious.
Describe typical public transportation an expat might use to get around the city.
Penang's public transport system is efficient and moving around by taxis, buses, and trishaws (three-wheeled vehicle) is fairly inexpensive. Taxis in Penang do not use their meters. The taxi ride price will be negotiated before the ride takes place. Motorcycles and bicycles are also fun and inexpensive ways to get around. You can either own these or rent them.
If you are adventurous, try the bus system. Getting the routes down may be challenging at first, but once you do, it is a very reasonable way to get around town.
Could an expat also use public transportation to get out of the city—to surrounding towns, recreation areas or suburbs? If so, list options.
Yes, besides using taxis, there are many buses that will take you to most major centers in West Malaysia.
The main bus terminal in Penang Island is Komtar for local rides and Sungai Nibong terminal for domestic departures and on the mainland is Butterworth. You may also use the ferry or the Penang Bridge to cross over to the mainland. For trains, the railway station is situated in Butterworth. Furthermore, domestic and international flights leave from Bayan Lepas International Airport.
In regards to transportation, are there any safety issues I should be aware of?
Traffic accidents are probably the number one health hazard in Malaysia. Bus and taxi drivers drive aggressively, so you need to be alert and aware when traveling by either mode. If you are driving yourself, it is recommended you learn your way around during non-peak hours before attempting to drive during peak hours.
Where do I buy tickets/tokens/etc. for the major public transportation?
If traveling by bus, a ticket collector will collect your money after you have taken your seat. When traveling to neighbouring states, you are required to purchase tickets at the respective counter at Komtar, Sungai Nibong or Butterworth before boarding the bus. If traveling by train, your tickets can be purchased at the station. Tickets are also available at the KTM counter at the Penang jetty.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.