Travel Guide to Langkawi Island

Langkawi island, known as the ‘Jewel of Kedah,’ is an archipelago of islands off the coast of northwestern Malaysia. A duty-free paradise home to waterfalls, mangroves, lush forests and white sandy beaches; there’s something here for everyone to enjoy.

'Eagle Square' in Kuah Town. The Eagle is the symbol of Langkawi and can be seen all over the island. Here in the main town of Kuah there is a large statue of the bird looking out over the sea. Malaysia

We were lucky enough to spend 8 nights on Langkawi island over Christmas and New Year; here’s everything you need to know if you’re planning a trip to this beautiful island.

How To Get There

The main island, Pulau Langkawi, is less than an hour away from Kuala Lumpur by airplane. There are several domestic flights a day with Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia at very reasonable prices. Keep an eye on Air Asia’s website prior to your trip for sales and offers.

If time isn’t an issue then why not consider taking a ferry across to the island from Kuala Kedah, Penang or Kuala Perlis. Click here for the ferry timetable and prices to Langkawi island. (If you’re backpacking through South East Asia, it’s worth noting that Langkawi can also be reached by boat from Thailand.)

Once you’ve arrived, you’ll see the airport Taxi Counter by the baggage claim area. One way taxi fares from the airport are fixed so there is no need to haggle. It takes around 10 minutes to get to Cenang Beach and costs around 20 MYR depending on the number of passengers.

When to Go?

Typically, Langkawi’s dry season is between December – February, and the rainy season March – November.

The island has one of the most stable climates in Malaysia with day time temperatures averaging between 30-35 and around 28 at night, making it an ideal holiday destination all year round. So no matter what time of year you choose to visit, you can expect warm temperatures (yay!)

The sun sets over Cenang Beach

Langkawi island is the perfect destination if you’re after some Winter sun, we visited at the end of December and the weather was hot and sunny for the majority of our trip. Mornings were a little overcast but the clouds disappeared by lunchtime. It rained a couple of times for an hour or so late afternoon, but generally the weather was great.

How Long Should I Stay?

Langkawi is pretty small; you can reach one end of the island from the other in less than 45 minutes. We spent a week here which seemed like the perfect amount of time to both explore and relax.

Considering the island’s size, there are many activities from island hopping to jungle trekking, so we’d recommend staying here for a week if you want to see as much of the island as possible. If you’re pushed for time, 4-5 nights should be enough.

Where to Stay?

Surrounded by restaurants, hotels and shops; Pantai Cenang (pronounced Chenang) is the busiest beach town on Langkawi island and in our opinion, a great place to be based during your trip.

There are tons of hotels to choose from ranging from hotels to resorts –  whatever suits your budget. We stayed at the Cenang Plaza Beach Hotel, a mid-range hotel located on the main strip and less than a minutes walk to the beach.

We enjoyed our stay; the hotel is in a perfect location if you want to be close to bars and restaurants. Our room was cleaned daily and the staff were very friendly and helpful. If you’re looking for something a little quieter, you may want to consider the nearby areas of Pantai Tengah and Pantai Kok.

If you’re not interested in staying on the beach, Kuah is the main town in Langkawi and has many restaurants and duty-free stores.

Keep in mind that it’s cheap and easy to reach any part of the Island by taxi or motorbike.

How Much Money Will I Need?

Like most countries in South East Asia, Langkawi is relatively cheap compared to the Western World. If you’re travelling on a budget, willing to stay in a low-budget guesthouse, chill on the beach and eat local malay food you can expect to spend as little as 100 MYR per day.

A typical breakfast on Langkawi Island. Buffet style hot plates offering multiple fish, meat, vegetable, rich and noodle dishes.

Of course there are more up-market restaurants and luxury hotels on the island if money isn’t an issue during your trip.

Transportation on Langkawi Island

For an easy and convenient way to see the island we’d recommend hiring a car or motorbike. There are plenty of car rental companies to choose from when you arrive at the airport.

We rented a motorbike for 24 hours costing only 35 MYR. It was a fun and cheap way for us to explore the island on our own time and we’d highly recommend it. Click here for more information on how you can rent a bike on Langkawi island.

If you don’t fancy driving you can rent a taxi with a personal driver who will take you wherever you want to go; a four hour trip costs 140 MYR. All taxi fares are fixed and reasonably priced; you can find the rates clearly on show at any taxi rank on the island.

Eating & Drinking

Malaysian cuisine reflects its multiethnic population; a truly delicious combination of Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes – we had some fantastic food here.

There are tons of restaurants on this tiny island catering for all budgets, we ate out for every meal during our stay.

Check out our post on the Best Places to Eat and Drink in Langkawi.

Me Goreng, available on Langkawi island for as little as 30MYR

The average price for a main meal at a restaurant was around 30 MYR, with Western food being more expensive. If you’re happy to eat with the locals you can fill your belly for less than 10 MYR.

With a large Muslim population, drinking on the island was an unexpected hurdle for us as several restaurants did not sell alcohol. If you like a cheeky cocktail or two, you can read about our favourite watering holes on the island here.

You can also get a drink on the beach which comes to life after dark. Make-shift bars set up on the sand selling cheap cocktails, beer and shisha into the early hours.

Small trailers offering alcohol and shisha pipes set up for work at night on Cenang Beach

The Beaches

If you you enjoy relaxing on the beach, you won’t be disappointed on Langkawi island.

Cenang Beach is without doubt the most popular beach on the island lined with hotels and restaurants and you can hire sun beds for 10-15 RM per day.

In the middle of the beach there is a watersports area where you can hire jet skis, banana boats and arrange boat trips.

Pantai Cenang, the most popular beach on Langkawi Island. Many tourists and locals alike frequented this beach to relax and swim throughout our stay on the Island. Malaysia

Pantai Cenang, the most popular beach on Langkawi Island. Many tourists and locals alike frequented this beach to relax and swim throughout our stay on the Island. Malaysia

The beach is beautiful but beware that it can get very busy and we were slightly disappointed with the amount of noise and disruption from construction work that was happening along the beach during our visit in 2016.

A 15-20 minute walk south and you’ll find yourself on Tengah Beach which is usually less crowded compared to it’s neighbour but it can be a trickier to find sun beds.

If you prefer something a little quieter, we’d highly recommend a trip to Tanjung Rhu, which was our favourite beach on the island.

Two boats moored on Tanjung Rhu on a beautiful day, Langkawi Island, Malaysia

A view of a small number of islands off the coast of Tanjung Rhu Beach, Langkawi Island, Malaysia

This beach is secluded and gives breathtaking views of the Andaman Sea. Mistaken by many to be a private beach, it is in fact only the Tanjung Rhu Resort and Four Seasons Resort which are private; the public can freely use the Eastern Side of Tanjung Rhu beach which is just as beautiful. There are a couple of roadside stalls selling drinks and street food, but keep in mind that there are no sun beds to rent here.

Burau Bay and Pasir Tengkorak Beach are also worth a visit if you have time.

Excursions and Activities

For a small island, we were surprised by the amount of things to do here. Outdoor activities include taking a trip on Langkawi’s famous Cable Car & Skybridge, island hopping by boat/jet ski, mangrove and kayaking tours at KILIM Geoforest Park, jungle trekking and sailing to name a few.

Read our post on 8 Fun Things To Do In Langkawi.

The view from the platform connecting the ground level and the sky bridge via cable car on Langkawi Island, Malaysia

There are also several waterfalls located on the island, our favourites were Telaga Tujuh (known as Seven Wells Waterfall) and Temurun Waterfall.

The scenic views surrounding Telaga Tujuh Waterfall were not a sight to be missed. Langkawi Island, Malaysia

If this sounds a little too adventurous for you, spend the day shopping at one of the island’s duty-free stores. There are also tons of reasonably priced spas and and massage parlours if you fancy a pamper – you can treat yourself to a 30 minute neck and back massage for around 25 MYR.

What to expect during Christmas & New Year 

We spent Christmas and New Year with our family on the island in 2016; there was a great atmosphere and everything was open and running as usual.

Although many people on the island do not celebrate Christmas, the festive period is still acknowledged and we were greeted with ‘Merry Christmas’ by happy locals throughout the day.

We enjoyed eating ‘Christmas dinner’ at The Cliff, a more up-market restaurant offering stunning views across the beach which we’d highly recommend if you’re looking for something a little more special on Christmas Day. We reserved a table via their website about a month before Christmas.

The bar at The Cliff restaurant, overlooking Cenang beach

We spent New Year’s Eve on Cenang Beach and it was one of the best New Year’s we’ve ever had; the beach was lively and full of people lighting lanterns into the sky.

You could buy tickets for events at some of the larger beach-front bars, but these were pricy and we wouldn’t recommend it as there were plenty of cheap shacks to buy cocktails and beers on the beach.

The atmosphere was great (child friendly too); there were firework displays at midnight and plenty of music to keep you dancing into the early hours.

Watch the best bits from our trip to Langkawi island (Music: Outlines by Mike Mago & Dragonette)

Check out our list of 8 Fun Things To Do In Langkawi.

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Travel Guide to Langkawi Island, Malaysia

 

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9 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    4th December 2017 / 6:16 pm

    Hi,

    Were did you eat New Years dinner? Was it hard to get a table?

    Kind Regards

  2. 4th May 2017 / 9:54 pm

    I’m visiting next month and this post is going to come in really useful – thank you! x

  3. 11th February 2017 / 6:20 pm

    Langkawi used to have a really cool Reggae bar by the beach! Does it exist anymore? The last time I visited was in 2013.

  4. 22nd January 2017 / 9:05 pm

    Cable car and sky bridge were by far my favorite parts of Langkawi. Didn’t realize there were waterfalls there, may have been due to my stomach poisoning and inability to move/function like a human being (that darn fish curry did me in). Looks like you had a great time and lovely video on Youtube!

  5. 20th January 2017 / 3:35 pm

    What a gorgeous place to spend the holidays. This is great info. No need to look anywhere else if someone wanted to go there. I’ve never heard of this place, but now I want to go! haha

  6. 17th January 2017 / 10:38 pm

    What a post. I have to say that I was a little jealous reading it because I would have loved some time off over Christmas! Lol! All of the information here is great and the photos are really fun. I am going to have a look at flight costs for this place (hopefully they aren’t too expensive). I would go for the food alone. Your Santa hats on the beach gave me a giggle. Lovely!

    • rosieb
      19th January 2017 / 11:54 am

      Haha got to get into the Christmas spirit somehow!! We’d definitely recommend it – get in touch if you decide to visit and need anymore info! 🙂

  7. Anonymous
    17th January 2017 / 12:29 pm

    Wow! You did a great job documenting everything that one needs to know to visit Langkawi. The food looks great.

  8. Tom
    15th January 2017 / 10:33 pm

    If I didn’t already want to go there… I do now! The pictures are amazing!!

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