Off the coast of the peninsula, Langkawi Malaysia is a tourist’s dream. Made up of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, Langkawi is named after the reddish-brown eagle that is found in the area. The main island is called Pulau Langkawi. The area is collectively called the ‘Jewel of Kedah’ for its abundance of natural marvels such as mangrove forests, jaw-dropping waterfalls, pristine white beaches, limestone cliffs, forests and a wide variety of wildlife.
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The best time to visit Langkawi
When planning to visit a place, picking the time of the year could be the deciding factor between you eventually liking or hating the whole experience. In the case of Langkawi, you might as well not worry about that at all. Protected from high winds and storms by the mainland on one side and the Sumatra on the other, Langkawi’s climate at 32 degrees Celsius remains pretty much the same throughout the year. Just keep an umbrella handy and you should be fine.
Arriving at Langkawi
The airport at Langkawi does not host international flights, so if you are coming by air, you will most probably land at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. From there you will have to take another flight to Langkawi. The most popular airline is AirAsia which has flights to Langkawi eight times a day. A ticket will cost you RM120. Flying is relatively easy, hassle-free and the preferred way of getting there if you’re not being too particular.
However, there are other ways to start your Langkawi trip. It all comes down to how much time you have and what sort of a mood you are in. If you are in the mood to see the countryside and just relax, then going by bus might be a good idea. There are many bus companies to choose from. Make sure you go to the Duta bus terminal or the Puduraya bus terminal to buy a ticket. An average bus ticket costs between RM30 to 40.
We saved the last option for the most adventure-loving travellers, and that is by train. There is something about travelling by train that gives that quintessentially globetrotter feeling. The way to reach Langkawi by train is to get a ticket for a second-class berth on the overnight sleeper train at Kuala Perlis. A ticket is quite cheap and should not cost more than RM34. The name of the train is the Senandung Langkawi train. Make sure you do not fall asleep, and get off at Arau Station which is the third to last stop. Otherwise you might end up in Thailand (now THAT would be an adventure!)
Leaving from KL at 9:20 pm, the train reaches Arau at 8 in the morning. Once arriving there, grab a cab and make your way to the ferry which will take you to Langkawi for RM18.
If you can, travelling by train is the best option. First of all, it saves you the cost of booking a room for the night as you get to spend the night on the train. It is more comfortable than the bus as you get to lie down, too. And you arrive at Langkawi in the morning, all fresh and ready to explore. Plus, you also get a taste of the Malaysian countryside in the early morning. There is also the added advantage of having more leg room to move about to stretch on the train as opposed to sitting in one position on the bus.
Where to stay in Langkawi
Pantai Tengah and Pentai Cenang are the main areas in Langkawi where almost all of the big resorts and hotels are located. If you are looking for guaranteed and well-known places to stay and eat, then it is recommended that you choose either of the two as your destination. You will be getting access to the beach and an unforgettable view of the sunset.
However, if you are more of the adventurous sort and are up for new experiences then venture out on your own or look up places on Airbnb or other online services. You might be able to save considerable moolah if you are willing to readjust your priorities.
How to get around Langkawi
Moving about is not that big of a problem and there are a variety of options available. You can rent a bicycle for RM12 for the whole day, but bear in mind that the going can get steep at places and it is recommended only for those who are physically up for the challenge. The upside is that you get to see brilliant views.
Or you could just rent a motorcycle, which will cost you RM40 for the whole day. But bear in mind that this does not include the cost of fuel, which you will have to fork out yourself, depending on how much you travel. The plus is again the view and the choice of making a stop wherever and whenever you want.
You can always use the cabs, which use a fixed rate system as opposed to the meter. On average, the cost for a cab is between RM15 to RM25 depending on the trip. Uber is also an option although not always reliable. You can also download the ‘Grab’ app which is a local version of Uber and much more prevalent in this part of the world. Most cab drivers also arrange tours and are open to arrangements for a lump sum charge. If you want to book a cab for 4 hours, they might charge you around RM100. However, for every additional hour, the rate might go up by RM25.
Overall though, it is advisable to rent a car or motorbike as travelling by cab can be quite costly. On average, after paying full coverage insurance, renting a car per day should cost you around RM145 per day. There are fuel stations all over, and the cost of a litre is about RM2.5. It is thus economical to rent a car where you are paying for fuel yourself. That way you will be aware all the time of how much you are spending. It is a pretty big island and going from one spot to another can make a significant dent in your wallet.
One other thing to keep an eye out for if you decide to drive, is that Langkawi is a right-hand drive area. For people who have been driving left-handed this might come as a bit of a shock and might take some getting used to. However, with the exception of Kuah Town and Pantai Cenang, the rest of the roads do not have too much traffic.
Similar to other South Asian countries, Malaysia is also very cheap. A major chunk of your budget in Langkawi will be spent on finding a place to stay, getting around and food (don’t forget to try the Langkawi chocolate shop, thank us later).
A decent guesthouse, renting a small car or motorbike, plus not going overboard on food, should be possible on a budget of RM200-250 a day. Keep in mind that this is a per person estimation. If you are alone, the budget estimates will be different.
The rest of your budget depends on the number and type of activities you have in your Langkawi points of interest. Rest assured you will never be faced with the question of what to do in Langkawi. Some attractions do not charge any fee, while for others it is relatively inexpensive. For example, the entrance fee to the wildlife park is only RM40, and the same in the case of the SkyCab.
Tours that are led by a guide and have more participants are more expensive, and depend on the activities included in the tour package. On average, a guided tour would cost approximately RM120 per person and per activity too. So, just make sure that you get what you signed up for.
One other area which might use up a lot of your dough is the shopping. Langkawi is a duty free port which is the magic word when it comes to shopping. You can shop to your heart’s desire at the Langkawi Shopping Mall. Thus, it is a good idea to keep a little cash in hand for the Langkawi shopping urge because you never know when something might attract you.
Rough 2-day Langkawi itinerary
Langkawi sells itself on its laid-back nature and its ability to provide an environment for all sorts of visitors. Whether you are looking to just lounge on the beach all day, or want to go island-hopping and experience the waterfalls, 48 hours in Langkawi can be whatever you want. So, things to do in Langkawi in 2 days comes down to individual choices.
Without getting into the details then and in no particular order, a 2-day Langkawi itinerary is just a rough guide with plenty of leeway to experiment and go outside the lines. It goes something like this:
- Go to Langkawi beach. There are many to choose from. Pantai Cenang is the main area frequented by tourists and its beach, though not quite white-sand level, is not bad. A little further out beyond the cape is Pantai Tengah which has a popular beach too. More out-of-the-way and secluded beaches include Tanjung Rhu and Pantai Pasir Tengkorak. So far this is all free. However, if you want to enjoy some water activities, then those will cost a little more.
- SkyCab is definitely not for those who have a fear of heights, but it is amongst the top Langkawi attraction tickets on every traveller’s list of things to do in Langkawi. It goes up 2.2 km to the top of Mt. Machincang, from where you can get a panoramic view of the island. Watch out for the monkeys though, and the fog. If you have managed to keep your breakfast down so far, then venture out on the SkyBridge which consisting of 125 metres of wire suspended over thin air, is one of the top (no pun intended) places to visit in Langkawi. Go ahead, we dare you to look down through the glass at the trees below. You’re a brave person if you managed not to scream. The cost of entrance is RM55 for grown-ups and RM40 for children. With this pass, you can also see the SkyRex, the 3d Art Langkawi and the SkyDome. If you choose to walk over the SkyBridge you will have to pay an additional RM5 and RM3 for grown-ups and children respectively.
- There are many waterfalls on the island and once again picking any is up to you. Our recommendation is Telaga Tujuh which is very popular due to the seven stages in which the water falls, hence the name which translates to ‘Seven wells waterfalls’. There is a lot of walking involved though, so be sure to bring your most comfortable walking shoes. If you like waterfalls, the Durian Perangin and Temurun waterfalls are pretty amazing too.
- Mangrove kayaking is an absolute must in Langkawi. Kayaking through the thick mangrove foliage is an absolutely unforgettable experience. Although there are many operators, opt for the one with good reviews. Most of them take about five hours and drop you off at the Hole in the Wall fish farm and restaurant. You can grab lunch from here.
- If you are still up for it, you can rent a bike for a tour through the riverbanks and rice paddy fields. Or you can book another tour which takes you into the rainforest. It is perfect in the evening when all the nocturnal animals come out. Being in a rainforest is an achievement in itself, but getting to see exotic animals such as lemurs and squirrels is unforgettable.
- Boating activities are what Langkawi is famous for. You need to book a tour that gives you a lot of activities in bulk. Some of the more popular ones are island-hopping, feeding the eagles, mangrove kayaking and watching the sunset. A normal cruise would start from RM450 and it goes up depending on the activities and how exclusive you want it to be.