Thai Visa in Penang
Here are a few notes on visiting the Royal Thai Consulate in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.
The consulate is off Jalan Macalister, about 4km West of the Chinatown tourist area. GPS 5° 25′, 29.232″N ; 100° 10′ 23.694″E
The ‘just take a taxi’ folks can just take a taxi – it shouldn’t be too expensive. Cheapskates can take a number 101 bus for 1.40 MYR, then walk about 1 km.
Click (then click again) to expand the map. The solid red line is the bus 101 route. The dotted red line is the walking part. The pink line is an optional second bus (304) if you want to cut down on the walking.
The 101 bus starts at the Jetty (where the boats to Butterworth arrive/depart). There is a bus stop on the corner of Love Lane and Lebuh Chulia (opposite the 7-11), which is nice and easy for Chinatown residents. Ask for ‘Gurney Plaza’ to get the right fare. Buses don’t give change, so have 1.40 with you or you will end-up paying extra.
After passing through downtown’s Komtar bus station, the 101 goes along Jalan Burma/Burma road until Jalan Burma becomes a one way road (going the wrong way), whereupon the bus skips a block east over to Jalan Kelewei.
Look out for a big, tiered, gold Pagoda on your left.
If you have got off the bus already, turn left and walk down Jalan Cantonment.
Actually, the best bus stop is just after Jalan Cantonment, so get off the bus there, turn around and walk 20 metres back the way the bus came then turn right (South West) into Jalan Cantonment.
Then walk for about 1 km.
If you are a fan of bus travel, you could instead walk just one block over to Jalan Burma and catch a 304 bus, which will go quite close to the Thai Consulate (the pink line on the map). But it isn’t really worth the wait – by the time a 304 has shown up, you could have walked to the Consulate already.
Continuing along Jalan Cantonment – after the junctions with Jalan Biggs and Jalan Bell, take the next turning on the right, up Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman (the turning is opposite (Disted) college grounds). The Thai consulate is a big white building on the left. When I visited, the visa applications were being done in another building on the other (right) side of the road, but it is possible that this was a temporary arrangement.
The consulate’s visa section accepts applications from 0900-1130. Collections are at 1400-1600 the next working day (closed on Saturday and Sunday).
60 day tourist visas cost 150MYR (in 2016).
You need TWO passport photos and a photocopy of the data page from your passport.
There are no photo/photocopying facilities at the embassy. The area is quite remote from shops and businesses and there are no facilities nearby. Bring your stuff with you. The nearest copy shop is at Jalan Burma. I have heard that there is sometimes a guy in a van with a photocopier inside who parks outside the Consulate in the mornings, but I didn’t see him myself.
There is no “take a number” scheme. Just ask for a blank form from the counter, fill it in and hand it over.
The form for a tourist visa is the standard one used at all Thai embassies. There is a section for “Sponsor in Thailand (name and address)” but you can leave this blank for a tourist visa. The form does ask for the address of a hotel and the date of your last visit to Thailand, so have this information to hand.
Penang has always been one of the friendlier Thai Consulates. At 2016, no further supporting evidence (flight tickets, whatever) were needed for a Tourist Visa.
You will be given a receipt. Keep it, you will need it to collect your passport tomorrow afternoon from 2pm.
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To head back downtown, you can get the 101 bus on Jalan Burma (a block closer than where you came from).
As you arrive back into town, there is a confusing one way system, but stick with it – the bus does eventually go along Lebuh Chulia back to the jetty for Butterworth. It doesn’t go into the Komtar bus station.
One enterprising travel company has their minibus to Thailand pick up from the Thai Consulate. Fruitful Enterprise +60 16 414 4451 . Pickup 1430-1500hrs, departs 1530hrs. 4 hours journey to Hat Yai, 40MYR (plus onward connections to other tourist destinations in Thailand). There are plenty of other operators and they all seem to have 4pm buses from downtown Georgetown.
I went to Penang for a visa because (around 2014) the embassy in Kuala Lumpur started getting stingy with issuing 60 day visas (they want to see a return ticket and (arguably) pre-booked accommodation in Thailand). If you are travelling to Penang from KL – here’s a couple of travel tips:
A bus from KL to Penang is 5.5 hours and 40MYR. They leave pretty frequently from BTS (Bandar Tasik Selatan) terminal. Long distance buses to Georgetown arrive in Penang at the Express Bus station in the middle of nowhere (about 15km South of the tourist/accommodation areas). Taxi drivers there will try and tell you that a 30MYR taxi is the only way to get downtown. That is not true – there is a local bus stop at platform 1. Bus 401 goes to downtown for 2MYR. You might have to wait half an hour for one to show up.
If you can get a long distance bus that is going to Butterworth (on the mainland side), rather than Georgetown, (on the island), it is very easy to then take a ten minute ferry journey over to Georgetown (1.20MYR). Often, buses for Penang/Georgetown continue on to Butterworth, so check with your driver if you can stay-on the bus for the ten minute ride to Butterworth. If not, you might be able to just hop-on any passing big-bus from the Penang Express Bus Station to Butterworth station.
There are also trains from KL (old) train station to Butterworth for about 60MYR.
Georgetown’s Chinatown district (where most of the accommodation is) is a short (ten minute) walk South West from the ferry terminal where the ferries from Butterworth arrive. Turn left out of the jetty, walk one block then turn right down Lebuh Chulia.
Being a UNESCO Heritage area, Chinatown has some rather expensive accommodation, but there are also a few cheapies around if you hunt around the Love Lane/Lorong Love area. One option is ’75 Travellers Lodge’ ( at 75 Lebuh Muntri) which has dorms for 18MYR and doubles for 42MYR; or Western Oriental, next door for 15/30MYR (rates correct at 2016). There are a few others with similar rates, but the average place in Georgetown is more ’boutiquey’ and costs double that.
There is lots of great (and cheap) food all around the Chinatown/Little India area.
You can rent bikes for about 15MYR and motorbikes/scooters for about 30MYR.
Feel free to post any useful additions in the comments below. Please note that I am not an expert in visas – it is probably best to post specific visa questions on forums like Thaivisa, Travelfish, or Thorn Tree.
Written: Nov 2016 Last Updated Nov 2016