Transnasional is one of the biggest coach service providers in Malaysia and plies on the Butterworth – Kota Bharu route twice a day. The Butterworth – Kota Bharu route is the east-west link of Peninsular Malaysia in the north, without having to enter Thailand via Hat Yai.
Penang Sungai Nibong – Kota Bharu Fares
Penang Sentral (Butterworth) – Kota Bharu Fares
Penang Sungai Nibong to Kota Bharu: 9.00am, 9.00pm
Penang Sentral (Butterworth) to Kota Bharu: 10.00am, 10.00pm
Kota Bharu to Penang (both destinations): 9.45am, 10.00pm
- Online through Easybook
- Online through BusOnlineTicket
- Online from CatchThatBus
- Transnasional ticket counters
The bus departs from both Sungai Nibong on Penang Island and Penang Sentral, Butterworth. I opted to board it from Penang Sentral as it means a shorter bus ride and is actually nearer to Jetty and KOMTAR by ferry than to travel down to Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal.
Yes, I find a 7-day train journey perfectly fine but dread a 6.5 hour bus ride. That’s me.
The interior of the Transnasional bus. The bus type on this route is the Business Club with 30 seats in a 2+1 configuration.
USB charging sockets are located between the double seats or at the side of the single seat. This was not switched on throughout the journey though.
Travelling down the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway with a slight drizzle. This 17km stretch of expressway is all the expressway this route has to offer.
The rest of the route runs mainly along the East-West Highway, which the term “highway” should be used loosely. Most parts of the East-West Highway is a very long and winding single carriageway, with just one lane for each direction.
The East-West Highway passes through the Bintang and Titiwangsa mountain ranges, making it a very, if not the most, scenic route in Malaysia. Note that I mentioned “passes through” and not “cuts through”.
This also means that this is not a bus journey for those prone to motion sickness.
Housing is also very spread out with a single home every 1 or 2 kilometers or more apart, and not clustered together like a kampung.
More long and winding roads.
Turning off the East-West Highway for a lunch stop at Gerik.
The bus at a rest stop in Gerik.
The Gerik rest stop only serves Nasi Campur or mixed rice for lunch. The toilet here charges 30 sen per entry on an honor system.
Buses parked at the Gerik rest stop.
The rest of the journey to Kelantan was long and winding too, but I didn’t get much pictures since it’ll look almost all the same once I piece them together. Some of the cliffs were also too close to the road for good pictures anyway.
The bus approached Tanah Merah just in time to get stopped at the level crossing by the passing 57/59dn Shuttle Timur from Tumpat to Gua Musang and Kuala Lipis.
The 57/59dn Shuttle Timur at Tanah Merah Railway Station.
Crossing the railway track on the bus.
First stop: Tanah Merah.
Second stop: Pasir Mas
Crossing over the Kelantan River to Kota Bharu.
Arrived at Kota Bharu Bus Station at 4.20pm, 6 hours and 20 minutes since departing from Butterworth.
Note that Kota Bharu Bus Station is beside Parkson and near Pasar Siti Khadijah, and NOT Kota Bharu Bus Terminal or Hentian Tesco Kota Bharu which is beside the Kelantan River and behind Tesco.
Some possible booking methods for Penang – Kota Bharu express buses are:
- Individual bus company ticket counters
- Online from 12Go Asia
- Online from BusOnlineTicket
- Online from CatchThatBus
- Online from Easybook
How do I book tickets online?
- Click here for a step-by-step guide for 12Go Asia.
- Click here for a step-by-step guide for Easybook.