Penang is a beautiful island located off the northwest coast of Malaysia. Known as the “Pearl of the Orient,” Penang is a melting pot of cultures featuring a vibrant mix of Chinese, Indian, and Malay influences. If you’re planning a trip, renting a car in Penang can be a great way to get around and explore all that the island has to offer.
With a rental car, you’ll have the freedom and flexibility to travel on your own terms and visit off-the-beaten-path destinations that are hard to reach by public transportation.
Additionally, renting a car in Penang is relatively affordable, with many car rental companies offering low rates and attractive deals.
In this post, we’ll provide a full guide on how to rent a car in Penang. We’ll cover everything from the best car rental companies to tips for getting the best deals, as well as important things to keep in mind when driving in Penang.
Do you need to rent a car in Penang?
If you’re planning to stay in Penang for a few days, renting a car is a great idea.
A rental car will give you the freedom and flexibility to explore the island on your own schedule. You can take a scenic drive around the island, visit popular tourist destinations, and thoroughly explore the rural western and southern coast of the island.
Best of all, you won’t have to haggle with stubborn taxi drivers and not wait in the sun for crowded buses.
Here are some other reasons:
- Renting a car can be more convenient when traveling with a group or carrying a lot of luggage.
- Public transportation and taxi fares soon add up – renting a car may even save you money.
- With a rental car, you’ll have the flexibility to travel anytime without worrying about bus schedules.
On my recent trip to Penang, I decided to rent a car and explore the surrounding areas. One of my favorite drives was from Penang to Bandar Baharu. The journey took me through lush green countryside and quaint little towns, and the scenery was breathtaking. As I drove, I passed by paddy fields, coconut groves, and small villages, and I couldn’t resist stopping to take pictures and soak in the local culture.
I couldn’t have taken such amazing trips without a budget-friendly rental car. That’s why I found Discover Cars to be super helpful – I easily compared all the rental options available and found the perfect car at the best price.
What are the requirements for renting a car in Penang?
To rent a car in Malaysia, you’ll need a valid driver’s license from your home country and an International Driving Permit (IDP).
You should also have a credit card with the same name as your passport to use for the rental deposit.
Most car rental companies accept payment via debit or credit cards, and if you book ahead through Discover Cars, you can even pay with PayPal.
Additionally, you need to be at least 23 years old to rent a car in Malaysia.
Malaysia Car Rental Checklist
Here’s a checklist for renting a car in Penang, Malaysia:
- Driving license from your home country – at least a year old.
- Over 23 years old.
- International Driving Permit (IDP)
- Your ID (passport).
- Credit card, debit card, or PayPal for payment when booking the car online.
- A credit card in your name (not a debit card) for paying the deposit on arrival.
- Extra insurance if you prefer.
Tip: It’s always a good idea to pay for extra insurance when renting a car, so you’re fully covered in case of damage to the car.
What are some road trips from Penang?
Penang is a great starting point for road trips in Malaysia due to its central location and easy access to major highways.
This small town is known for its delicious seafood, and you can reach it in just over an hour by car. The scenic drive will take you through lush green countryside and rolling hills.
Merbok is another popular road trip destination from Penang, and the drive takes approximately 1.5 hours each way. This historic town is famous for its ancient Hindu temples and is a great place to explore Malaysia’s rich cultural heritage.
Tanjung Dawai is a charming fishing village that’s just over an hour’s drive from Penang. Along the way, you’ll pass through beautiful countryside and stunning coastal scenery. Make sure to try fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants in the village.
If you’re up for a more challenging drive, Mount Jerai is a great option. This mountain is located on the border between Kedah and Penang and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The drive takes about two hours each way, but the scenic views are worth it.
Finally, Ipoh is a bustling city that’s just over two hours’ drive from Penang. This city is known for its rich history, delicious food, and beautiful architecture. Take a stroll through the city’s historic Old Town and try some of the local delicacies before heading back to Penang.
How much does it cost to rent a car in Penang?
Prices for car rental in Penang vary depending on the type of car and rental company. On average, a small car can cost around $15 per day, while larger vehicles can cost more than $30 per day.
Some car rental companies offer discounts for booking early or for longer rental periods. Use a price comparison site to get the best deal – We recommend Discover Cars.
If you plan to rent a car during the tourist season from February to September, it’s best to book ahead to get the best deal. As demand is high at this time, prices will be more expensive if you wait until the last minute.
Tip: Daily car rental rates are lower for longer rental periods. So, if you extend your rental from two or three days to five days, the price may only increase a small amount.
Where should I rent a car from in Penang?
You can pick up your car from these car rental locations in Penang:
- Penang Intl Airport: Convenient, and some rental companies offer free airport pickup.
- Georgetown: Good location for exploring the city and nearby areas.
- Penang Sentral: For those arriving by train or bus.
It’s recommended to book ahead to get the best deal. Make a booking, and the car will be waiting for you at your chosen pickup spot.
Plus, booking ahead means you can compare car rental deals from different companies — A good site to use is Discover Cars.
What type of car is best to use in Penang?
For driving in Penang, a compact car is most likely the best choice. These are great for some of the narrow roads, and maneuvering around the local motorbikes will be much easier.
If you’re traveling with a larger group, you may want a minivan or SUV for the added space.
Also, think about the type of terrain you’ll be driving on. If you’re planning to explore the more rural areas on the western or southern coast of the island, a larger car with good suspension and higher ground clearance might be a good idea. However, if you’re just sticking to normal roads, a standard car will be fine.
Tip: If you prefer a manual transmission, make sure to book in advance as most car rentals in Malaysia are automatic.
Is driving in Penang difficult?
Driving in Penang might be a bit challenging if you’re not used to driving in crowded cities. However, with a little patience and some time, you’ll soon find it a rewarding experience.
The traffic can be chaotic in the cities during rush hours. Therefore, it’s best to avoid driving in build-up areas during 7:30-9:30 am and 5:30-7:30 pm.
There are quite a number of one-way streets – so always use a good navigation app, so you don’t get confused.
Also, take note that many locals ride motorbikes – and they tend to be a little undisciplined. You just have to take it slow and remember to signal and use your mirrors before turning.
Despite these challenges, driving in Penang has its benefits. Having a car provides a sense of freedom and keeps you out of the hot sun.
Is it a good idea to rent an electric car in Penang?
Electric cars are becoming more popular in Malaysia, and Penang is no exception. Renting an electric car can be a great way to save money on fuel and reduce your environmental impact. The island is small enough that a single charge can take you from one end to the other.
However, it’s important to note that the infrastructure for electric cars in Penang is still developing. There are currently only a few charging stations on the island, so it’s important to plan your route ahead of time to ensure you can reach a charging station when you need it. Additionally, the cost of renting an electric car may be higher than a traditional vehicle.
If you’re interested in renting an electric car in Penang, be sure to do your research ahead of time. Check the location of charging stations and make sure you’re comfortable with the cost of renting an electric car.
Tip: Make sure to book ahead if you’re interested in renting an electric car, as most rental companies have a limited supply.