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Cycling to Penang

Cycling journey continues many more miles

Cycling to Penang is great though many people think it's either impossible or not preferable because of the heat. I will tell you about my experiences. I have been on and of cycling to Penang at least a dozen times by now.

Sometimes local Malaysian look surprised when they hear I do that. In fact it's all not difficult. But is it a pleasure? Well, depending on from where you come, it's good to do and there's some great places to visit. Here's an

Penang is also hosting the very best bicycle shop in Malaysia, easy to find and with all the materials you need for you bike journey. Gary and his staff know what they sell as they are themselves cyclists.

You can find the shop at:

Gary Yap Chun Hong, 216 Carnavon Street, 10100 Georgetown Penang,

Cycling to Penang from Pulau Pangkor

Pulau Pangkor is located about 190 km south of Penang. For most people 190 km is too much to cycle in one day. The good news is that there are a few towns in between Pangkor and Penang where you find hotels so you don't have to cycle to Penang in a day.

Pulau Pangkor is located about 190 km south of Penang. For most people 190 km is too much to cycle in one day. The good news is that there are a few towns in between Pangkor and Penang where you find hotels so you don't have to cycle to Penang in a day.

Leaving Pangkor, Sitiawan, where I live is nearby, there are two roads north to Taiping. The first road leaves Lumut in the direction to Ayer Tawar (direction Ipoh) and then Bruas, 45 km from Lumut.

When I am cycling to Penang, this is my favorite route because this road is more quiet though follows a few slight hills. It's more scenic then the second road, which more preferred by locals.

on the way from Pantai Remis to Taiping

The second road follows roughly the coastline (though you won't see the sea) to Pantai Remis, 35 away from Pangkor, Here's a very nice and clean hotel. If you decide to take this road, there's a few slight hills on the way.

The turtle breeding station near Segari on the way to Pantai Remis is certainly worth a stop.

A few km after Pantai Remis you can leave this sometimes very busy road using the junction to Bruas. This road runs for about 10 km. At the end, you come at a T-junction, go left to Taiping.

The road to the right brings you to Bruas, 9km further. Follow the direction to Trong and Taiping, 30 km further on.

If you decide to follow the main road after Pantai Remis, Trong is just another 40km further. Both mentioned roads are in excellent condition.

Taiping is a really neat city. The Taiping zoo is a must visit. The setting in the hills and the way the zoo has organized the Taiping Zoo is great and it will give you a good day out. The nearby Maxwell Hills and Lake Gardens are beautiful.

After Taiping, you can cycle north, following road number 1. However, you can do some nicer roads. Follow the direction to Kamunting and then to Gerik.

You will follow the hills on your right hand site though it's all flat here. It's a pleasant and easy ride.

Cycling in China, Yangshuo near Guilin

After about 15 km you will follow the direction to Bagan Serai. This road is very quiet and swindles through the hills and there are no hard climbs.

At the junction with road 1, you can straight to Kuala Gula and Kuala Kurau. It goes through the flat lands and plantations. Kuala Kurau is 20 km from here. If you want to skip this, go on road 1, a few kilometers after the junction lies Bagan Serai.

In Kuala Kurau, a little fishing town, you have no choice, you have to go to Parit Buntar (there's hotels in town) and follow road 1 to Penang.

Road 1 is not a pleasant road to cycle. It's a busy road with lots of trucks and cars and follows many smaller towns before it comes to the junction to Bukit Mertajam.

From the junction to Bukit Mertajam bridge it's 9 km to the Butterworth ferry, it's 7 km motorway so be careful. There's little protection and no motorbike/bicycle lane.

Cycling to Penang from Betong and the Thai-Malaysian border

This road is less traveled by tourist but it's worth to do so. As a cyclist myself, I have done this road a few times up and down, so to say.

If you have already been to Langkawi and want to go into Thailand a different way, this is an excellent opportunity.

I will skip how to cycle to Betong, you can read it here. Betong is the Thai border town in south Thailand. The town is small and little used by foreigners but many Malaysians from Penang and other areas in north west Malaysia come here regularly for shopping.

The border is 7km away from the town center. After the border you follow simply the direction to Butterworth, the mainland city opposite of Georgetown, Penang.

Pengkalan Hulu can be your first stop, there's hotels and banks and only 7km from the border. After Pengkalan Hulu the next major town will be Baling. You will find some more serious climbing on the way to Baling.

Although the road is not going very high there's a few short but steep parts. But as it usually goes, what goes, must come down too.

On the bicycle in Pakistan, Karakoram Highway

Like Pengkalan Hulu Baling has a few hotels. Baling is a pleasant overnight stay. The town is surrounded by hills and there's some great walks to make in the surrounding. In fact, it's a much overlooked tourist area but worth a visit.

After Baling, the road will continue to be quiet for many kilometers. In fact, until some kilometers before the junction to Kulim, it will be quiet though the road looks like a major motorway.

After Kulim it will be busier but there's a motorbike lane so you will be safe. The part on the motorway from Kulim to Penang is not special, neither beautiful.

Alternatively you can go into Kulim and stay there a night. Kulim is a pleasant town that sees few tourists.

You can follow the directions to Butterworth on old roads, mostly following busy towns. But this too, is not really appealing. Both roads are busy with trucks, busses and cars.

The closer you come to Penang, the busier the roads and the less there is to see. Cycling to Penang from Betong is about 100km. The first, say, 60 km are mostly in the hills, mostly in the forests or plantations.

There's little traffic and it's pleasant and reasonable easy cycling. The last 10km to Butterworth are just to cover the distance to Penang. As I usually say: "you can't have it all".

Cycling to Penang from the north

Cycling to Penang from the north is not recommended as it follows mostly big busy roads and there's not much to hold your breath.

A nicer option is to take the boat from Penang to Langkawi and then a boat to Satun.

Bukit Mertajam junction to Butterworth ferry

Going into Butterworth is not a pleasant experience. There's one nice road in but it is hard to find, and even locals do not know it as it follows small roads where cars can't come.

If you want to use this road, please email me. Cyclist are not allowed to use the Penang bridge, don't try it, you will be send back.

Cycling to Penang is not for everyone?

Cycling to Penang with Johan

"Cycling to Penang is not for everyone." It's a statement I hear every once in a while. I disagree. Why would it be easier for me than for you?

A good example that cycling to Penang is absolute possible for everyone is Johan, a 9 years old boy from Penang.

Johan and I cycled the distance from Pangkor to Penang in 4 days, without a problem. Johan was cycling on a child bicycle with no gear. His story can be read here. If he can cycle this distance, everybody can do it.

Cycling in this part of Malaysia, cycling to Penang, is worth to do so. If you take your time, 50km a day is easy to do, especially if you have a decent bicycle. Even Johan cycled more then 50km a day.

In this part of Malaysia there is plenty to see. Most of what is described on this page is seldom visited by tourists. And I feel it's worth to go there.

Peter van der Lans Sitiawan Malaysia

Peter van der Lans is a Dutchman who lives these days in Sitiawan, Malaysia. He cycled from Holland to Malaysia, stayed a months in the Middle East, a year on the Indian Subcontinent and 2 years in China plus a year in the UK.

Over the last 7 years he cycled more then 78.000km. Although Peter is now living in Sitiawan, he has not retired from cycling. In September and October 2008 the journey in China continues.

This journey will be used to add valuable new information for his and websites.

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