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Island life is THE best, so when we heard Langkawi was a stunning Malaysian archipelago formed of around 100 islands, we knew we just had to go. We spent a week here in early 2019, exploring as many beaches, attractions and islands as we could – from a sunset cruise sipping cocktails to the world’s steepest cable-car, we packed a lot in, in a fairly short space of time.
Oh yeah, and did we mention the special duty-free dispensation that Langkawi has, making it the cheapest place to drink in the whole of Malaysia? For more on beaches, beers and even an abandoned theme-park, read on for our Langkawi list of must-dos:
Things to do in Langkawi
1. Ride the SkyCab Cable Car and visit the Langkawi SkyBridge
A Bridge Too High? Langkawi’s Skybridge is the world’s longest free span and curved bridge (so they tell us) and around 2,100 feet above sea level. After the abysmal weather in Da Nang stopped us from seeing the new Golden Bridge in Ba Na Hills, we were determined to walk on this incredible structure (epic engineering at its finest!)
Getting there also involved the steepest cable car ride on earth (and a mild panic attack as Neil is not a fan of heights) – it was totally worth it though!
Once at the top you can also pay an additional fee to ride a small monorail down to the SkyBridge – however, the queue was pretty long so we just walked it instead (around 5 minutes). There are also a couple of gift shops and food outlets at the top, but they could do more to make the most of this incredible view.
2. Take a tour through the Mangroves at Kilim Geopark
When deciding between visiting either Langkawi or Phuket in Thailand, we chose Langkawi as we had heard great things about the mangroves which is a Malayisan ‘must do’. Known collectively as Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, the mangroves span around 100 square kilometres with an abundance of native flora and fauna. This isn’t really something that can be done independently so we opted to do a mangrove boat trip with Dev’s Adventure Tours.
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3. Go island hopping
There are around 100 beautiful islands around Langkawi so it is no wonder that island hopping here is one of the most popular day activities. There are numerous tour companies offering day trips to most famous Langkawi Islands (usually Dayang Bunting, Pulau Beras Basah and Pulau Singa Besar wildlife sanctuary) so you can go on a half day tour from as little as £8 / $10 USD / 40 MYR per person.
Read our blog post about our Langkawi Island hopping trip (including visiting Dayang Bunting eco park) >
4. Take a sunset dinner cruise
Sunset sailing and sips of ice-cold beer or cocktails is all you need to know here. Get out onto the ocean with unlimited BBQ food and drink, look out for wildlife and generally just enjoy your epic evening adventure.
5. Eat at the Langkawi night markets
Langkawi night markets, or ‘pasar malam’ (Malay for night markets) are held in a different location each night of the week usually from 5pm until very late, including locations such as Kuah Town (Wednesday and Saturday), Pantai Cenang (Thursday) and Padang Matsirat (Sunday). As well as delicious street food starting from as little as 2 MYR, you can also haggle over souvenirs or semi-legit clothing.
BOOK IT: Langkawi Night Market Tour >
6. Visit Langkawi’s waterfalls
Langkawi has many natural ‘attractions’ to visit including several waterfalls dotted all around the main island.
The most famous one (which we saw from the Langkawi skycab) are the Telaga Tujuh waterfalls – the name meaning ‘Seven Wells Waterfalls’, referring to seven natural pools that are fed by seven separate waterfalls in Mount Mat Cincang. They can also be walked to from the Langkawi SkyCab car park, but we noticed when passing near them in the cable-car that they looked quite dry and shallow, so it may be best to visit them during the rainy season.
The same is also true of Air Terjun Temurun waterfalls, which we didn’t visit because we thought they may be too dry. However, when in the rainy season, the waters cascade down 30 metres, with a swimmable natural pool at the base.
7. Parasail or partake in a cocktail at Pantai Cenang Beach
We were fortunate enough to stay right on the beach in Pantai Cenang, so we spent most evenings watching the sunset with a cold beer (drinks in Langkawi are cheaper than the mainland due to the duty-free shops) or going for long walks along the beach.
There are lots of water activities available like parasailing or hiring a jet ski – sunset soccer games on the beach also seem to be the flavour of the day for local employees and beach-workers. Click here to book a water activity with Klook.
We opted to go to bars along Pantai Cenang Beach most evenings and indulge in cold canned beers and watch the fire-jugglers. Based on our week-long stay, the most popular bar on the beach seemed to be Thirstday, which we visited for lunch. It was pretty cool as I’d never been anywhere before where my bottle of beer was served in an individual ice-bucket! N-ice!…
Travelling around Malaysia?
8. Relax at the stunning Tanjung Rhu Beach
Or as we like to simply call it, heaven! One of the most stunning and beautiful beaches we’ve ever been to, this was a slice of paradise – we only got to spend a short amount of time here whilst on a mangrove / Kilim GeoPark tour but we could have stayed here the whole day.
Although it feels so remote and isolated, like we had the entire beach to ourselves, we discovered afterwards that there are a few hotel resorts nestled nearby so it is quite easy to visit. Langkawi is one of the best honeymoon destinations in Asia and Tanjung Rhu Resort and Four Seasons are two of the most luxurious resorts on the island. Compared to the busyness of Pantai Cenang Beach, this was so tranquil with tropical turqiouse blue waters – take us back!
9. Visit Eagle Square
We love random big things here at CK Travels (check out all the ‘big things’ we’ve visited in New Zealand). So when we heard there was a HUGE man-made eagle perched on the waterfront in Kuah Town, we just knew it would be one of the first things we visited (gauche is goood!).
Langkawi’s name derives from the Malay for ‘reddish brown eagle’ so this magnificent 12 metre high man-made statue looking out over the harbour makes total sense (we think!). It is an incredibly popular photospot – weirdly, whilst I was there, I was dragged into several pictures with an Asian tour-group and what looked to be their own personal professional photographer. Somewhere out there those photos exist…
10. Lagenda Langkawi abandoned theme park
We’re mentioning this as although Lagenda Langkawi DalamTaman in Kuah Town doesn’t appear to feature in any guide books, it was pretty interesting to walk around what felt like an abandoned theme park attraction.
Originally opened in 1996 (although it looks much older) and costing $10million, we were the only visitors to this huge park, and found several huge abandoned structures, bridges and buildings, including a colossal crocodile sculpture plus an underground cavern system that looked like it had come straight out of Hobbiton. The abandoned Celebration Gallery also felt Olympian in its scale – how can this park have so easily fallen out of favour?
We discovered this place purely by chance walking back along the coast from the large eagle / Dataran Lang sculpture – as such, we aren’t sure whether it is officially open to the public still, as it was gated all around. Read more about Lagenda Langkawi >
11. Laman Padi (walkable from Cenang beach)
Laman Padi is a free to visit rice and paddy museum, dedicated to preserving and promoting the traditional ways of rice farming. Although nothing special, it is a short walk from all the main hotels in Pantai Cenang and is a nice peaceful way to spend an hour or so, escaping the tourist masses and walking around the lush, green paddy fields – we also made friends with a rather adorable water buffalo there.
12. Duty free shopping (bring your passport)
A nice little added benefit when visiting Langkawi, drinks, spirits and perfumes etc can be bought much cheaper here than on the Malaysia mainland. However, whilst all the general stores sell beer and ‘softer’ alcoholic drinks cheaply, you can only buy true duty-free products from dedicated duty-free stores. Note: you need to take your passport with you when buying duty-free on Langkawi.
We also noticed that buying cans of beer was a lot cheaper in the independent, local shops than it was in say 7 Eleven and other chains (around 3 MYR per can of local beer).
13. 3D Gallery
Kitsch as f*ck but weirdly quite enjoyable, 3D art is a big thing in Malaysia and none more so than Langkawi where there is a dedicated 3D art museum.
The only reason we originally went is because the ticket price was included with our Langkawi Skycab admission – we went in as a joke but hey, it was a lot of fun. The queues to get a picture with each art-piece were not too bad, so if it is included in your SkyCab ticket, why not give it a go?
Where to stay in Langkawi
Langkawi is one of the most stunning places to visit in Malaysia and there is a huge variety of accommodation options for all budgets. Here are the best areas to stay at and some highly rated accommodation options.
Pantai Cenang beach
Pantai Cenang is the busiest beach in Langkawi with lots of nightlife and shopping nearby. Many affordable hotels are located here is you are on a budget. We were backpacking and stayed a few nights at the Malibest Beach Resort which offered cheap private rooms. Whilst the location was great (our balcony looked right onto the beach), the room itself was a little grim and outdated – good value but definitely not the Mali-‘best’ place to stay. Better accommodation options from our research include Langkawi Dormitorio hostel and if you have more to spend – Bon Ton Resort and Ambong Pool Villas Langkawi.
Pantai Tengah is lcoated just further south of Pantai Cenang, and has many resorts – but is a little bit more laid back. Accommodation choices include Bunk Inn at Shaka Langkawi hostel and The Frangipani Langkawi Resort & Spa.
Tanjung Rhu Beach
Tanjung Rhu Beach is without a doubt the nicest place to stay in Langkawi with BEAUTIFUL white sand beaches. Two stunning (but pricey) resorts are located there, the Tanjung Rhu Resort and Four Seasons. Go on – treat yo-self!
Kuah Town has many affordable hotels and good shopping, but lacks a decent beach. The town is located near the ferry terminal so may be useful for a one night stay if you are planning on getting an early ferry to Penang. A good hostel option is Tubotel hostel and mid range is Bayview Hotel. We stayed for 2 nights at the Bella Vista Waterfront and would only recommend booking the more expensive rooms – the basic rooms were horrific (we made a complaint and got an upgrade).
Pantai Kok is home to many high end family resorts with a modern marina and a peaceful beach surrounded by limestone hills and verdant jungle. Accommodation options include the Ritz Carlton, The Danna Langkawi and Berjaya Langkawi Resort. Berjaya is a great option of you are staying in Langkawi with kids.
How to get to Langkawi
There are two main ways to get to Langkawi Island – by plane or by ferry.
The quickest and most expensive option is to fly to Langkawi. You can book direct flights from many cities in Malaysia, as well as Singapore, Thailand (Phuket) and China (Chengdu and Guangzhou).
A cheaper and more slower way to reach the island is by ferry. There are regular daily services from mainland Malaysia (Kuala Kedah and Kuala Perlis), Penang island or Koh Lipe in Thailand.
Use 12Go Asia to find the best public transport options to get to and from Langkawi
How to Get Around Langkawi
There are no public transport options in Langkawi, so the best ways to get around are by doing a tour, or by taxi. Grab taxis are widely used by both tourists and locals, and the fares are really cheap! Download the Grab app here and use the code GRABCKTRAVELS to earn a free ride when you sign up.
Sim cards and pocket WIFI
Having data on your phone whilst travelling is almost essential these days – from planning your route around the city, booking a Grab taxi or for staying connected with friends and family back home. SIM cards are pretty cheap in Malaysia with generous data allowances and are available to purchase from airports, malls and convenience stores (bring your passport along for identification purposes).
You can also prepay online and collect a SIM from Langkawi airport. Just remember to make sure your phone is not locked to your local network provider before purchasing one.
Alternatively if you do not want to change your sim card then renting a pocket WIFI device might be for you. We’ve used them multiple times and love that we can both connect our devices to it, however the downside to the Malaysian ones is that there is a data allowance of 1GB per day. Pre-order one online with Klook for collection when you arrive at either KLIA or KLIA2 airport in Kuala Lumpur.
Other Malaysia blog posts
- The ultimate guide to Georgetown, Penang
- Exploring Kuala Lumpur from above – KL Tower and Eco Forest Park
- Tasting Malaysian cuisine on a Kuala Lumpur food tour
- The ultimate guide to the Cameron Highlands
- Visiting Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur for the Thaipusam Festival
- A cheap day tour in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
- Top things to do in Melaka, Malaysia
- Eating like a local on a Penang food tour
- A guide to Georgetown’s street art in Penang, Malaysia
- Jonker Street Night Market in Melaka / Malacca guide
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