Malaysia is one of our favorite countries in the world, where we feel like at home, especially in Langkawi. It was April 2014 when we arrived there for the first time. We applied for a Workaway volunteer job on a yacht. It was our first volunteering experience, and we planned to stay in Langkawi for two weeks. But in the end we spent there about three months! In April 2016 we came back to Langkawi to spend one more month there.
Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands at the very north of Malaysia, about 30 km off the mainland, and it is very close to the border of Thailand. The main island is the biggest of all islands of an archipelago, but it is still quite small. As it is only some 20 km wide and 15 km long. So that means you can explore it in a couple of days or even in 1 day if you don’t have more time.
Getting to Langkawi
Langkawi has an International Airport. There are direct flights to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur, Kota Bharu and Penang. There are direct flights to Langkawi from other countries as well. But at this time only from Singapore and Guangzhou (China).
From Langkawi there are direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Kota Bharu and Penang in Malaysia, to Singapore and to Guangzhou in China.
Of course, flying is not the only option. There are ferries to and from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis and Penang.
If you are traveling in Thailand and want to visit Langkawi, you can board a ferry in Satun or Koh Lipe. There are ferries to Satun and Koh Lipe from Langkawi, as well. Journeys are short – about 90 minutes only. Here we have wrote about our experience traveling from Langkawi to Thailand by boat.
Transport in Langkawi
There is no public transport in Langkawi, only taxis. So, if you want to visit several places and you are on a tight budget, rent a scooter. Prices vary, depending on the bike shop. It can be as high as 70 RM per day (15.9 EUR / 17.9 USD), but it can be 30 RM per day (6.8 EUR / 7.7 USD), as well. 40 RM is a good price if you take a bike only for a day or two.
The best prices are in Hoe Sin Motor, few kilometers away from the ferry terminal. There you can get a scooter at the rate of 30 RM per day. They give a discount, if you rent a scooter for few weeks or a month. Then the price is 200 RM (45.45 EUR / 51.15 USD) for a manual and 300 RM (68.20 EUR / 76.72 USD) for an automatic scooter.
Guest houses and hotels in Langkawi
The most popular places, where most of travelers stay, are Cenang and Kuah Town.
Cenang beach (and the road parallel to it) is a busy place with wide range of restaurants, plenty of shops and busy nightlife. Most backpackers choose to stay in Cenang, as there is a big choice of budget guesthouses and hostels.
Prices in Cenang: Double rooms starting from 50 RM (12 EUR) per night. Bed in a hostel dorm – starting from 16 RM (4 EUR) per night.
Kuah is the biggest town in Langkawi. There are plenty of affordable hotels and guest houses, good restaurants with wide variety of food, few malls and several duty free shops.
Prices in Kuah: Double rooms starting from 40 RM (10 EUR) per night. Bed in a hostel dorm – starting from 24 RM (6 EUR) per night.
Hotels and guesthouses, both cheap and expensive, can be found in Padang Matsirat as well. But as Padang Matsirat is far from the most popular beaches and Kuah town, it is not too popular among tourists. If you are searching for a relaxing atmosphere away from crowds, you can find it in Padang Matsirat!
Prices in Padang Matsirat: Double rooms starting from 52 RM (13 EUR) per night. Bed in a hostel dorm – starting from 28 RM (7 EUR) per night.
Luxurious hotels can be found in Datai Bay, Pantai Kok and Tanjung Rhu.
Food in Langkawi
There won’t be a problem to find a good restaurant, as there are a lot of eateries and restaurants in Langkawi, especially those which serve Malay, Indian and Chinese food. There are restaurants simply everywhere! When walking, for example, in Kuah or Cenang, you will see a restaurant after a restaurant.
Few of my favorite local eateries in Kuah are Dsa, Wonderland, Restoran Haji Ali, Nasi Kandar Al Aiman and Saloma Nasi Lemak Kukus Daun Pisang. But there are really so many good local eateries out there! Just wander around and try to out the food at different places. You won’t be disappointed. But if you will, next time just go to another place.
There are many restaurants where you can get western food as well. Even though I eat only local food (OK, sometimes I have a BigMac, haha), I know quite a few popular western restaurants. Such as The Pier Restaurant and Bar in Kuah town, Red Tomato in Cenang and German Food Corner near Langkawi Cable Car. Local expats seem to love these places.
If you are a fan of street food, you will like Langkawi’s night markets. They are held every day, but each day in a different location. See the list below to know where to head on any particular day. The opening hours are 17:30 – 22:00.
- Monday – Jalan Makam Mahsuri Lama, Ulu Melaka, Langkawi.
- Tuesday – Kedawang (near Pantai Cenang).
- Wednesday – Kuah town.
- Thursday – Kampung Temoyong, Mukim Kedawang, Pantai Cenang.
- Friday – Padang Lalang, Air Hangat, Langkawi.
- Saturday – Kuah.
- Sunday – Kampung Raja, Mukim Padang Matsirat.
Street food is not the only thing you can get in these markets. You can buy fruits, drinks, meat, cheap clothes, shoes and souvenirs there as well.
You can buy fresh meat, fruits and veggies in wet market – Pasar Awam Kuah. It is located in Kuah, on Jalan Kelibang street. There is also one good fresh market on Jalan Pandak Mayah, where you can get veggies and fruits, too.
Some big supermarkets in Kuah, like Billion and Teow Soon Huat Deptartment Store, sell fruits and vegetables as well.
Grocery shopping on Langkawi is not mission impossible. There are a lot, really a lot, of small shops in Kuah and major touristic places. The best prices are in the biggest department stores and supermarkets. I already mentioned Billion and Teow Soon Huat Department Store. But Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia, Pasaraya Kean Hin and Pasaraya Borong Kuah are few more really good options for grocery shopping on Langkawi.
Beaches of Langkawi
Nature of Langkawi is beautiful and the island is peaceful. There are a lot of amazing places to visit on the island. And quite a few tasty dishes and sea are waiting to be tried. But unfortunately beaches of Langkawi are not among the most beautiful ones.
Don’t expect to see beaches like on Koh Rong Samloem. The water is quite dark here and it is not clear. In some places on the island it is because of mangrove swamps. Some of the beaches are just not clean themselves, unfortunately. And in some places sand is heavy and dark, too.
Buy hey, it is not that bad! Yeah, beaches are not among the nicest ones in the world, but they are fine and beach views definitely are amazing. As Langkawi is an archipelago of 104 islands, at least some of them must be visible from the main island, right? Yes! They are! Views become especially beautiful during the sunset. And sunsets on Langkawi are the most colorful during the rainy season, which falls between June and September.
Pasir Tengkorak Beach is my favorite beach in Langkawi. It is one of the cleanest beaches in Langkawi as well. Pasir Tengkorak Beach is located in the northern part of the island, in Datai area. Follow the road – Jalan Datai – and it will lead you to a parking lot. Entrance to the beach is on the left and it is shaded by trees. There are some picnic tables and some beach huts for rent as well.
Here water seems clearer and its color is nicer – the shade of blue is more intense. Water is shallow here, so you need to go quite far to be able to swim.
Be careful with monkeys! They wander around parking lot and the picnic-table-area. So, don’t carry food and shiny things in your hands. Hide your sunglasses and glasses, phones, cameras and hats, as monkeys can snatch them, too.
Pantai Kok Beach is located in the Eastern part of the island, in Padang Matsirat area, near Perdana Quay Lighthouse and Telaga Harbour. Pantai Kok Beach is a perfect place for picnic and families with children, as you can park very close to the beach and hide in the shade of trees. This beach is not secluded, it is very close to the road. But you still have some privacy there – just go more to the right until you see big rocks. Traffic there isn’t too active anyway, as it’s quite far away from busiest areas of Langkawi.
Water is quite transparent in Pantai Kok and the beach is not dirty, even though it is a popular picnic place.
One of the most popular beaches of Langkawi is Tanjung Rhu Beach. It is located in the north eastern part of the island. It is not as crowded as Cenang beach, and there aren’t many facilities. Just one restaurant, a couple of drink and food stalls, no bathrooms. There are souvenir stalls on the road, just before the beach.
Tanjung Rhu Beach is good for picnics and for those who want to spend few hours just lying around, reading and chilling, because there is a shade of rather dense trees on one side of the beach.
To get there you need to drive on Jalan Tanjung Rhu and then turn to a small coastal road which will lead you to the beach. Tanjung Rhu Beach is a public beach, but at one point on Jalan Tanjung Rhu there is an entrance gate and security guards. They won’t let visitors in after 5 or 6 PM (depends on time of the year). Entrance is free.
There is another beach just before Tanjung Rhu, very close to Scarborough Fish n Chip Restaurant, and it is accessible 24 hours. This beach is our favorite place for sunsets.
The most popular beach in Langkawi is Cenang Beach. But it definitely isn’t my favorite one. It is very crowded as a lot of restaurants and hotels are located directly on the beach.
Beach becomes less crowded and cleaner as well when you get closer to Casa Del Mar hotel. But still I don’t like that place, I can’t relax there.
The road (Jalan Pantai Chenang) that goes parallel to Cenang Beach is very busy, too. Plenty of shops, few big duty free shops, a mall, a lot of travel agencies and tour operators. That’s why majority of tourists stay on Cenang beach or near it.
Pantai Tengah is located south of Cenang Beach. Pantai Tengah is the very first beach we visited in Langkawi. It is more peaceful than Cenang, as there are not too many beach huts, restaurants and hotels. Here you can try various water activities – paragliding, jet skiing, banana boat ride.
Activities and landmarks in Langkawi
There are few attractions located in Langkawi Oriental Village, including the most popular ones such as Langkawi Cable Car, Sky Bridge and 3D Museum Art In Paradise. Oriental Village is located near Pantai Kok and Telaga Harbour.
Art in Paradise is one of the largest 3D Museums in Asia, whereas slope of Langkawi Cable Car is one of the steepest in the world!
Other popular attractions of the island are Underwater World, Langkawi Wildlife Park & Bird Paradise. Underwater World is one of Malaysia’s largest aquariums. It is located in Pantai Cenang area. Underwater World aquarium has few sections including Antarctic section where you can meet lovely penguins! Langkawi Wildlife Park & Bird Paradise is a large park near Ayer Hangat area. It has a large walk-in aviary and areas where mammals live. You can take part in animal feeding sessions, just like in Kuala Lumpur Bird Park!
All these attractions are not expensive. Langkawi Wildlife Park & Bird Paradise, Art in Paradise and Underwater World adult ticket price is about 9 Euro. Langkawi Cable Car ticket price is 10 Euro. As there are several attractions in Langkawi Oriental Village, you can buy combo tickets, for example: SkyCab + SkyDome + SkyRex + 6D Cinema for 14 Euro.
Our favorite place on the island is Gunung Raya hill. While the weather on Langkawi is mostly hot and humid, on the top of the hill it is way cooler. We went there quite often to cool off, haha. You can go there by a car or a motorcycle / scooter or climb there using the stairs. Kaspars has wrote an article about Gunung Raya Hill and how to get there.
If you are a nature and outdoor activities lover like us, go on island and mangrove tours and try kayaking. Tours usually cost 50 – 70 Euro per boat, depending on the company and duration. So, that means – the more people on the boat, the smaller price per person. But, note! There can be a limit, say, no more than 5 persons.
These tours can also include some extras, like bird watching and fish feeding. Go to Cenang beach or Tanjung Rhu beach to book the tour with any of many operators or ask at your guesthouse/ hotel!
Island hopping tour in Langkawi takes few hours. The boat usually drops you also on Pulau Dayang as well. Lake of the Pregnant Maiden is located there and it is very popular tourist destination. This lake is fresh water lake, where you can also go for a refreshing swim.
Kayaking is a good way to explore smaller islands and limestone formations around the main island, as well as mangroves. You can rent a kayak and explore the surroundings by yourself or you can go on a guided kayak tour. Kayak rent is 80 RM (20 EUR) per day but kayak tour costs approx. 200 RM (50 EUR).
Wanna thrill? Langkawi Canopy Adventures is an adventure park located on Gunung Raya hill. There are several levels of difficulty and a lot of attractions (zip line, ropes, climbing walls and so on). The adventure lasts 2 to 3 hours and it is a good way to get to know nature of the island and get an adrenaline rush. Unfortunately, the ticket is expensive – about 280 RM (70 EUR)!
If you are on Langkawi for a romantic holiday, go on a tropical charter! There are several companies that offer different cruises (private, day, sunset) on Langkawi island. The most popular ones are Tropical Charters, Damai Indah and Blue Water Star Sailing. Prices per person (food and drinks included) vary. Starting from 240 RM (60 EUR) and up to 400 RM (100 EUR), depending on type of the cruise and company. Private charters are more expensive. And the companies also organize special cruises for special life events, such as weddings and birthdays.
Two years ago, after our first visit of Langkawi, I wrote an article about free things to do on this island. It takes just one day to visit all places mentioned in the list. Read this article if you are short on time and on a tight budget!
Hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in Langkawi
I really hope you won’t have any health issues during your travels, but better safe than sorry… So, here is the list of few biggest and most popular hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.
Langkawi Hospital (Hospital Daerah Langkawi) – government run hospital located in southern part of the island.
Klinik Perdana and iCARE – two of many private clinics in Kuah town.
There are not too many pharmacies on the island. RX Pharmacy and Joe Pharmacy are the biggest and most popular ones. If you have mild health issues, like stomach pain or mild burns, pharmaceutics can help you.
Some basic medication (painkillers, diarrhea meds, gauze, antiseptic cream and liquid, etc.) you can buy in Guardian health and beauty store in Billion shopping mall.
As far as I know, doctors in Langkawi can help you deal with various health issues, but not with the most serious (critical) ones. If you are facing serious health problems, you should seek medical attention in biggest hospitals of Peninsular Malaysia. For example in hospitals of Kuala Lumpur or Penang. They are just 1 hour flight away. And there are several flights per day.
If you still have some questions about traveling in Langkawi, contact us!
Author: Una Baufala
Una is a traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. Apart from traveling and exploring new places she loves to read books. And she adores cats. Together with Kaspars they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since October 2013. WeAreFromLatvia.com is where she shares her travel experiences.