Langkawi, also known as the Jewel of Kedah, is an island part of Malaysia located on the Andaman Sea.
And once upon a time, mystical folklores may have existed amongst us, do you believe in them? Or perhaps you’re a beach and wildlife type?
An island riddled with mystical stories from healing waterfalls to a lake which helps infertile women fertile. In fairness, I believe it adds to the charm of this beautiful island. It’s also home to not only pristine white beaches, and an ancient forest but also the Langkawi big five – flying fox, flying snakes, flying squirrels, flying lemurs, and flying dragons!
Did I mention Langkawi was declared a World Geopark by UNESCO and also a duty-free island? Got to sneak that in there!
I visited Langkawi in November 2018 and this beautiful island left me wanting to go back for more!
This is a guide where I will share with you what to expect before visiting Langkawi as well as the best things to do here plus food, how to get around, where and what to do in Langkawi. I hope it will give you a better idea of what to expect, also a destination to visit in the future!
Before you go:
How to get to Langkawi?
I arrived here by catching a domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur Airport (KLIA) via Malaysian Airline or you can do the following:
- Boat: There are many slow ferries head out to Langkawi daily from Kuala Perlis, Kuala Kedah or Penang. Or there are ferries from the mainland which could be the cheapest option for getting to Langkawi and it takes around an hour and a half to reach the island – arriving at Kuah.
- Plane: Langkawi International Airport is located on the northwest side of the island in Padang Matsirat. There is a multitude of airlines going there daily such as AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, Tiger Air, Silk Air, and Firefly all operate budget flights to Langkawi. The flight takes approx 45 mins.
Tip: I arrived from the UK to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur) and took Malaysian Airlines 3 hours later (after landing at KLIA) to Langkawi. The reason is KLIA is an international airport and Malaysian Airline is located at the same airport so it only took us 30 mins to get to the second terminal. If you are spending few days in KL or other parts of Malaysia before going to Langkawi, you can take the budget airlines like Air Asia which could be cheaper, but keep in mind they are located at a different airport.
What is the Weather like in Langkawi?
Langkawi like most South Asian countries and island experiences 2 types of weather – hot and rain(Monsoon season). All year round the temperature is around 32 degrees. The hot dry season is from December to April, and sometimes you may find the waterfalls have less water and when we went in mid-November, it was running a little dry too.
The Monsoon season is from May to November, and you will experience torrential rain but normally last between 30 minutes to an hour or two and clears for sunny weather. Just bring an umbrella and you’ll be fine. There’s no right or wrong time to visit, except the waterfalls might have less flow during the dry season.
Get a Sim Card in Malaysia:
When in Kuala Lumpur airport, make sure to get a Sim card from the phone shops there. There will be several shops selling this, and you can get a good deal. The main operators in Malaysia are Maxis, Celcom, Digi, U Mobile, and Tune Talk. Check the deals amongst the shops there, normally they have prepaid sim card with tons of data and some calling minutes included or data for social media included.
Tip: I bought a Sim card with unlimited data plus minute on calling and texting and tethered it with my friend which ultimately saves costs. The local sim card will be useful for you to download the Grab car app which is the Uber in Malaysia.
WARNING – Malaysian telecoms reuse the sim card in a short space of time. Meaning when I got my sim card, the last person who had the same number might have had it 3 weeks ago. The main problem is with the Grab car app. Like Uber it registers your phone number, and my sim card was already registered to a previous person and I can’t use Grab car. I had to message them to fix the issue and that took days!
How to get around in Langkawi?
Langkawi has no public transportation, the best way to get around is by a renting a private car or motorbike or if you don’t drive like me, there’s a taxi or hire a private taxi – you can negotiate a daily price. But Grab taxi is much cheaper than a private car with driver.
Taxi: If your hotel does not provide a shuttle bus, you can get a taxi. When you arrive at Langkawi airport, as soon as you get out from the gates — you will be greeted by several taxi men/women trying to get you to take them. Just say no, find the designated airport taxi and give them your address. They have a fixed rate and you pay at the airport, and I find they are cheaper than the local taxis.
Grab Car: Download the Grab car app which is the Uber of Malaysia (Uber does not operate in Malaysia). Key in your destination, and you can check the price on there as well and compare with the Airport taxi. With the Grab app, you can pay by cash at the end of the journey.
For new Grab users only: Use Promo code – GRABLANGKAWI
Tip: People here love Whatsapp, we made friends with our Grab driver on our second day, and he asked to message him anytime we need him – even though he does not use the meter but he was honest to use the price shown on the Grab app.
Safety and Language
The main language is Malay, and there will be some who speaks Chinese as well. And most will understand and speaks a very good level English, so it is easy to get around and communicate.
In terms of safety, I find Langkawi safe – the local people are very friendly and accommodating – can’t tell you about the other tourists but of course, like anywhere be aware of your items. The biggest safety concern is probably the Monkeys! I kid you not, they are cunning thieves and will take your phones and food if shown, and raid your fridge in your resort (if doors are unlocked).
Don’t be surprised to see a squat toilet, it’s very common. No fear…they also have the western style toilets too. They normally come with a hose in the cubicle, it’s a way for you to clean up yourself after – your choice if you want to do it!
Bring hand sanitizer or wet wipes – only when you’re at rural areas where there might not be a toilet.
Where to stay in Langkawi?
Resorts: Langkawi is famous for its beautiful resorts, stay at a resort in the heart of the oldest rainforest in the world (one of) such as Datai -named one of the best places to stay by Time Magazine. Most will have their private beach. And yes, they can be expensive but it was worth it for the experience.
Prices can vary from £150 a night to over £500. I stayed at The Andaman Resort for 2 nights towards the end of my Langkawi trip, and it was worth it – all self-contained and the resort provides a lot of things to do within their compound plus it’s great to be so close to wildlife.
Airbnb: Alternatively, you can use Airbnb here and for the first 3 nights, we got an Airbnb which costs £50 a night and it was clean plus traditional breakfast.
Note: There’s a 5 Ringgit tax per night extra charge
Things to do in Langkawi:
1. Take a ride on Langkawi Cable Car
One of the must things to do in Langkawi is to take a ride on the Langkawi Cable car up to the top of Mat Cincang Mountain. Located at the Oriental village which you can explore after the ride — this is one of the best ways to get to the Sky Bridge.
The ride takes around 15minutes and be warned, it can be very hot inside the gondola, bring water is advised. There are windows you can open too.
Take in the impressive views of the lush rainforest and waterfalls on the way up, and stop by the observation deck to take in the views (one stop before the sky bridge).
Price (Correct as of 2019):
- The normal price is between 30 to 55RM per person but you share with others and queue. Alternatively, the express pass is between 90 to 105RM but it has their own lane with less queuing time.
- Both normal and express prices are Inclusive of entrance to SkyDome, SkyRex & 3D Art Langkawi
- Or get what we did for that extra thrill experience, and get a private gondola with Glass Bottom for 550RM per person.
2. Walk along the Sky Bridge
This is by far one of the most famous things to do in Langkawi. To reach here, take the cable car up, and when you’re up there- walk along the 125m steel pedestrianize curved bridge and enjoy the beautiful views.
Keep in mind, there are a number of wild monkeys around, please don’t feed them – they are very opportunistic. I was told to keep my phone away from the monkeys as they think it’s food. They see the phones attached to the humans and thinks it important so they figured it has to be food!
Tip: When up there, you have to walk down and up a pathway and stairs to reach the sky bridge – takes about 15mins. There is a lift for an extra cost.
3. Take fun pictures at 3D Art Gallery
Located at the Langkawi cable car, this attraction is included with your ticket price! Head over to the side of the cable car ticket area, and head inside for a fun and quirky experience. Take wacky pictures to send to friends or for the gram!
4. Take a dip at Telaja Tujuh Waterfall (Seven Wells)
Possibly the most famous waterfalls in Langkawi – the Telaja Tujuh Waterfall or Seven Wells waterfall in English.
Climb up over 200 steps, and there are 2 parts to the climb. To see the waterfall, turn left on the first stop. Climb on further upwards to the top if you want to see the seven wells. Up here, you can dip and slide down the natural rock slides. There’s a toilet area as well where you can change clothes.
There is a legend that fairies come play here and the water has healing powers – all the more reason to take a dip!
and watch out for snakes in the pathway plus monkeys and hornbills!
5. Wizz through the Geopark Zipline Adventure
CALLING ALL ADVENTURE LOVERS! Turn on your adrenaline senses on and experience being on top of the trees. It’s a Zipline Course tour! Spend approximately 1 to 2 hours on a zipline canopy course route and fly over the geopark, possibly the sky bridge, and seven wells. Prices may range from 199rm to 429rm (best to book either 15 day or 45 days prior).
OR there are companies like Sky Trex Adventures where you can do obstacle courses from tree to tree – prices vary from 60rm up to 80 rm per person.
6. Enjoy the pristine white sand at Tanjung Rhu Beach
There are a number of beaches here from private beaches at the resorts to public ones. From my experience, Tanjung Rhu Beach has one of the nicest sand and clean water in Langkawi. It’s not very crowded like Pantai Cenang – this spot is much quieter and family orientated.
There’s a mini beach bar where you can get drinks and sit on bean bags. And a local restaurant where you can sit on the beach and have laksa.
Tip: Toilet here is very rustic per se so bear that in mind.
Safety : Water is incredibly warm with a white sandy beach. I left my belongings on the beach and went swimming. There weren’t a lot of people at the time and thankfully, no one bothered with my things. Please be careful of your belongings and always keep an eye on them.
There’s another beach nearby called Pantai Kok – I hear it’s even quieter and more beautiful, check it out if you have time.
7. Water sports at Pantai Cenang
One of the famous beaches in Langkawi. It’s a big beach and you can hire water sports here such as hang gliding or water skiing. The street nearby is lined with lots of restaurants and a shopping centre with your typical fast food places.
I’m personally not a fan of this area, it’s very touristy, not the best of vibes. The restaurants are local but with tourist prices. I found the beach underwhelming. It is not what I say the best beach to sit and sunbathe. I find the water is probably not clean with all the water sports going on.
However, it’s a good place for water sports and if you’re into nightlife.
8. Admire the Black Sand Beach in Langkawi Malaysia
Yes, you read that right! A beach with black sand.
Well, it’s a mix of both white and black sand but the view here is one not to be missed. There are souvenir shops nearby, and beautiful local boats floating around the Getty.
The locals believe the black sand is a curse from a mermaid as punishment to a fisherman who stolen her ring. Or it might have been from the rice fields that were burnt by farmers a couple of centuries ago.
Which story do you think is true?
9. Eat and Haggle at a Langkawi Night Market
Night market or Pasar Malam in Malay are held every night but at different locations. Ask a local where to go that evening or use the list below. Grab some street food and go on, practice your haggling! (Pasar- Market / Malam – Night).
# Monday – Ulu Melaka Night Market
Address: Taman Wawasan Indah, Kampung Padang Gaong, 07000 Opening Time: 5 pm to 9 pm
# Tuesday – Kedawang Night Market
Address: Kampong Chenek Kura, 07000 Opening Time: 5.30pm to 10 pm
# Wednesday & Saturday – Pekan Kuah Night Market
Address: Lencongan Putra 3, Kuah, 07000 Opening Time: 5.30pm to 10pm
# Friday – Ayer Hangat Night Market
Address: Jalan Padang Gaong, 07000 Opening time: 5.30pm to 10 pm
# Sunday – Padang Matsirat Night Market
Address: Kampung Padang Mat Sirat,07100 Opening Time: 5 pm to 10 pm
10. Explore the UNESCO Kilim GeoPark Mangroves and feed Wild Eagles
This Geopark is one of the most important ecosystems here in Malaysia and is a UNESCO Heritage site. It’s a very exciting 2 to 3 hours boat tour around the Geopark. You can visit the mangroves, explore a real-life bat cave, feed the wild eagles (your boat driver will do this), and visit a fish farm.
You can pick and choose your tour, what you want to see, as well as choosing a private tour or a group tour. This is definitely a must-do activity here in Langkawi.
At one point, you will be so close to Thailand, your phone service will switch to Thai telecoms!
Tip: One thing about the Fish farm – there will be more than 10 different types of fish here ranging from grouper to Stingrays which you can touch. But they are housed in small areas. Personally I would have avoided this bit.
11. Visit the Eagle Square
Once in a while, look up! You’ll frequently see wild eagles soaring through the skies. And no seagulls, thankfully!
The Eagle Square known as Dataran Lang in Malay is one of the most iconic spots in Langkawi. Located in Kuah which is the main town on the island and here, you will find an unmissable huge statue of an eagle about to take flight!
12. Must eat Seafood at Wonderland
This is the one restaurant you must visit! You have no idea how many locals have recommended Wonderland to me – from the airport counter lady to our hotel and Grab car driver.
It’s outdoor under a tent and fans – it gets very busy and perhaps, you may share a table. IT’S WORTH IT!
Their prices are worth it- order their famous fresh seafood and enjoy. Order squid, fish and crab and they have delicious other dishes as well.
Tip: They are only open in the evening!
13. Go shopping – Langkawi is a Dutyfree island!
Well, this title speaks for itself. Go ahead and go crazy – shop! There are lots of duty-free shops dotted around, and they are, as expected, much cheaper than in KL.
14. Visit MARDI Langkawi Agro Technology Park
Funnily enough, my Grab car driver suggested visiting here and how I regretted not going! It was a toss between Pantai Cenang or here due to time constraint.
If you are a fruit lover or interested in learning more about local fruits and vegetables- this place is for you! This park is the best place to visit to learn more about the local fruits and vegetables and how they are sustainably farmed here.
The park grows a wide variety. You can sample fruits like dragon fruit, jackfruit, durian, and rambutan during your tour. They aim to educate visitors on how the Malaysian Government is growing and showing their local produce.
15. Keep a lookout for the exotic Langkawi wildlife animals and flora
Further information and tips:
- There’s wildlife roaming around freely everywhere, please be aware of the monkeys on the road and also don’t feed them.
- Bring cash with you which will be very useful for night markets or street food. There are ATM at shopping centers and some bigger restaurants do accept card payment.
- Things to do 1 to 4 are all in the same area – it is possible to visit all in one day depending on your time
And this concludes my tips for visiting the beautiful island of Langkawi, Malaysia. I really hope that this guide will inspire you to explore this beautiful island and fall in love with it!