BANGKOK : Nok Air is offering overland travel to Georgetown, Penang Island, from Hat Yai, the closest point it flies to Malaysia.

This is its third Fly ‘n’ Ride route after ones established to Vientiane and Mukdahan earlier this year.

The extension bus ride to Penang started, 1 December, while it will also connect passengers on the Chiang Mai to Hat Yai route when it is introduced 1 January. Travel time can range from 5.5 hours up to 8 hours.

The roundtrip fares on the Bangkok-Penang fly ‘n ride route start from Bt4,980 with two options in the morning and afternoon. Meanwhile, the fares between Chiang Mai and Penang will start from Bt6,380.

A 12-seat minivan will pick up and drop off passengers at Ai Goh Hotel in Penang’s Georgetown area.

The overland connection is around 50% cheaper than flying the overall route, but is very time consuming and tiring for passengers. It also includes an overland border crossing.

Thai Airways International operates a single daily flight to Penang from Suvarnabhumi Airport selling at Bt8,890.

Thai AirAsia offers a low-cost choice at Bt5,380. The current promotion sells Penang at Bt4,680, which is even cheaper than Nok Air’s Fly ‘n’ Ride fare and a much shorter travel time.

However, from Chiang Mai, there are no flights to Penang forcing passengers to connect through Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur.

Since mid-March, Nok Air has been offering bus services from its destination in the Northeast, Udon Thani to the Lao capital and followed in July by Mukdahan from Nakhon Phnom and Sakon Nakhon.

The airline also has been combining flights, land transfers and ferry services to islands in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea since early this year, an initiative that Thai AirAsia copied from mid-October.

Nok Air has no trading agreements with travel agencies.