A Langkawi Travel Guide – Quick Guide
The quicker the guide, the less confusing it gets, the easier it gets for you to retain information and the less daunting it will seem. That’s the theory behind this Langkawi travel guide anyway.
In this Langkawi travel guide I’ll try my best to avoid filler content (except for the tiny rant about poor coffee), so you can get all the info you need as soon as possible.
In the interest of staying true to that, let’s get started.
Use the table of contents to navigate through the Langkawi travel guide, skip the sections that bore you, find the parts that are relevant. Any questions then feel free to contact me.
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Langkawi Travel Guide Part 1 – Things To Know Before You Go
What is a Langkawi?
Nobody knows for sure, but the most common suggestion is that it is a mixture of the word “Helang” (eagle) and the word “Kawi” (red marble, aka the colour of the eagles).
Langkawi is actually an archipelago, consisting of 99 islands in the Andaman sea off the western side of the peninsular that stretches down to Singapore.
Langkawi has been a UNESCO Global Geo-park (whatever the hell that means?) since 2007.
Longest Length Point to Point:
*Pulau Langkawi (The main island) only. The total surface area of all 99 islands is 479 km².
Where is Langkawi?
Langkawi is located off the west coast of Malaysia, towards the northern end of the country near the border with Thailand. The main island for the sake of avoiding confusion, is commonly just referred to as Langkawi.
What’s The Weather Like in Langkawi?
Being a tropical destination, it’s humid, hot, liable to rain at any given moment (obviously this can be avoided better in the dry season) and a great place to get yourself naked and swim at the beach!
Speaking of the dry season, it runs from November – April. This means that it is the peak season for tourism as well.
The island is protected from both sides by Sumatra and then mainland peninsular on the other side so is less likely to experience major storms and damaging winds.
Average Rainy Days:
January and February average the least with 4 days.
September and October average the most with 22 days.
Average Water Temp:
How Long Should I Stay in Langkawi?
Given Malaysia’s relaxed visa policy of 90 days visa free, you should never feel the pressure to rush around like a headless chook, so you can spend as much time as you like guilt free.
I think that at a minimum 5 nights, on the condition that you like the beach and are happy to spend some time in the sun. I personally spent 7 nights here and I was busy nearly every day, although I did spend a bit more than some people are willing to do on some of the activities on offer.
I also met people who had been here for 2 or 3 weeks, living the beach bum lifestyle without a care in the world.
For me, 1 week is perfect, you can always come back if you love it as much as some people obviously seem to.
At a maximum I would say 1o nights, for a first time visitor, but if you don’t like the beach you might get bored, because when you start looking into other ways to pass the day, the activities can get expensive!
How to Get to Langkawi?
Langkawi has its own airport, so there are a lot of flight options, with all the connections going through Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. You can also fly directly to Penang.
The more common mode of transport for backpackers is the ferry. The most common connections being to/from Penang (3 hours), or to/from Koh Lanta (Thailand) via Koh Lipe. This journey takes just over 8 hours to complete.
The ferry costs are below, shown by the departure cities local currency first.
KOH LANTA – LANGKAWI;
฿2,550 ($84 US, $122 AUD, £64, €74)
PENANG – LANGKAWI;
84 MYR ($20 US, $30 AUD, £16, €19)
*Price and conversions are done at the time of publishing and are subject to change.
BOOK YOUR TICKET HERE!
How Expensive is Langkawi?
This is a hard one to judge because everybody has different budgets and expectations.
One thing to note is that Langkawi is a duty free island, so cigarettes and alcohol are very cheap.
A coffee from Starbucks will cost you RM 13.90 ($3.40 US) for a cappuccino grande. But then even if it was free, why would you drink a coffee from that shit-hole anyway?
Breakfast could cost you RM 16 at Mcdonald’s or you could find a little place like Warung Coffee Langkawi and get a better value for money meal, only spending RM 8 for en english breakfast.
Overall I would say that no, Langkawi is not expensive, but it can be, especially some of the activities.
What Is The Currency?
As a part of Malaysia, they use the Malaysian Ringgit (symbolised as RM or sometimes as MYR)
Conversion rate at the time of writing for 1 MYR;
- $0.24 US
- $0.36 AUD
Or alternatively, 1 of each of the above currencies respectively will give you;
- 4.05 MYR
- 2.80 MYR
- 5.50 MYR
- 4.50 MYR
Langkawi Travel Guide Part 2 – Things To Know Once You Arrive
How do I Get Around in Langkawi?
Once you land or get off the ferry, you’ll be wanting to get a SIM card in my opinion. Download the application called Grab, it is a ride hailing app.
Don’t link your credit card to Grab, always pay cash. That way if you cancel a ride for the driver not being on time he will not be able to charge you.
The Grab app is one of the most useful for those travelling around Southeast Asia so you should have it anyway.
From the airport to Pantai Cenang, where I recommend you stay, will cost you roughly RM15 ($3 US, $5 AUD, £3, €4), and from Kuah if you arrive by ferry approximately RM 25 ($6 US, $9 AUD, £5, €6).
Grab is also a good way to get around the island if you’re in large groups that can split the cost of the car, but for most people I would recommend a scooter.
Scooters are the best way to get around for anyone who isn’t in a large family group with children. You will get the freedom to stick to your own schedule and the roads of Langkawi are very very safe!
A scooter will be cheaper as well if you’re spending 1 week in Langkawi, because you’ll be discounted for a longer duration.
Scooter rentals will cost between RM 25-35 per day depending on the type of scooter and the length of your rental period.
To fill up a scooter tank will cost you RM 5, which is about 4/5ths of a tank. You need to pay before you fill up.
You can technically ride around the entire island in a single day but you will be rushed and you will miss a lot of stuff.
Where to Stay in Langkawi?
Stay in Pantai Cenang, it is far more interesting than Kuah, which is where the ferries depart from. Kuah can be visited for a day but you will be glad that you listened to me and chose to stay in Pantai Cenang instead.
Pantai Cenang is in the southwest corner of the island, it has a beach with a lot going on and the prices are reasonable for food all things considered.
There are plenty of options for those of all budgets, a dorm room will set you back between RM 20-50 per night.
The pick of the bunch is Langkawi Dormitorio, but you may need to book in advance as they are often sold out due to their popularity.
If you come by ferry you will get off in Kuah, home to the large eagle statue.
Where to Eat?
I’m not going to tell you where to eat, it’s up to you at the end of the day. All of your western fast foods have found their way to Langkawi.
You have Subway, Pizza Hut, Mcdonald’s and KFC as well, not to mention a few others.
I did eat at Huggin’ Hippos and Mexitalia on the beach and can’t complain about either, but you can pick and choose whatever you feel like.
What about Nasi Lemak?
Well you go right ahead. I know there’s blogs out there that swear by trying this dish and that dish and blah blah blah. Yes try it out, I did and I didn’t find it all that amazing.
I will try recommend good places to eat if I so happen to stumble upon them, but I won’t be telling you about all these local dishes and how amazing they are unless they actually have that effect on me.
Get spaghetti bolognese if that’s what you crave, you’re in charge.
**Disclaimer about the following map**
This map is not my recommendations of the best places to eat on Langkawi, it is simply a number of the places I recalled eating at.
I had the idea of mapping places I eat a while after having left Langkawi so some information is missing.
Click on each location to hear my brief thoughts about it, whether good or bad.
I Love Coffee More Than Life Itself! Where Should I go!?
Ok, time for some bad news.
The coffee on Langkawi is mostly bad. They have a very sweet taste to it, even in the coffee chain shops like Old Town White Coffee. However this problem isn’t true for the whole of Malaysia so don’t panic.
Funnily enough I found Mcdonald’s to be “acceptably good”. Malaysians are also very late to rise people, so a cafe won’t open until 9 or 10am, which is frankly ridiculous, thus leaving you with little choice but to go to Mcdonald’s, or “Maccy Dees” as it is known.
Starbucks is trash and should be banished from the face of the earth. Not only do their coffees carry a strange taste to them, they also burn everything, serve too hot and are twice as expensive as they deserve to be.
If you enjoy Starbucks coffee, you don’t really know what good coffee is.
This isn’t to say that great coffees don’t exist on Langkawi, it’s just that I had normally had mine at McDonalds before the rest of Langkawi was even awake. I tried numerous restaurants as I ate lunch to see if they could make coffees and none of them could, they were all so sweet.
If you find a proper barista please share the information with me!
Where Can I do Laundry?
If you want self service then you can try the Dobi Kita self serve laundromats. They are quite cheap and have good Google reviews.
I personally did all of mine when I stayed at Boxpackers Langkawi for a token fee of RM 2, they let you wash your clothes, all detergent provided. They also have a ton of clothes lines out the back to air dry your clothes which is so much better than having them in the clothes dryer!
Alternatively some of the laundromats will allow you to drop and pick up later, for an additional fee. Captain Laundry Langkawi will even deliver the clothes to you.
I Need to Lift Weights, Any Good Gyms?
So this is second hand information. Although I did go here, it was the sultan’s birthday and they were closed, so I never got to actually walk around and see it for myself.
I did later meet a guy who spoke glowingly of it.
You seriously won’t beat that price anywhere in Asia, even in the cheaper countries. It’s a ridiculous bargain!
Being a cafe as well they have healthy food available, I am unsure on the water refills and protein shakes prices but they do have towels.
Keep in mind there isn’t a whole lot of choice on a smaller island like this, so temper those expectations.
Things to do in Langkawi
There is a lot to do in Langkawi, most of which you will be able to fit in to just 1 week. If you’re active enough and like to be about and moving all the time, then 1 week is sufficient time to do all of the best stuff on Langkawi.
If you prefer to relax and take things slow, that’s fine too. Not everyone has boundless energy, and Langkawi is just as good a place to relax as it is to be active.
So head over to the sister post to see just how much I was able to do within a week, as well as have plenty of time to relax during the afternoons.
Activities covered in the linked post include;
- Visiting the 3 main beaches.
- Seeing the 3 main waterfalls.
- Jetski island hopping.
- Zip-lining through the jungle.
- Going to the 2 highest peaks of Langkawi (one by scooter, the other by cable car).
- Heading in to Kuah to look around.
Other activities that I haven’t personally done, but which you might enjoy include;
- Island hopping by boat.
- Mangrove boat tour.
- Underwater world.
- Golf at Els Club Teluk Datai.
I don’t know dick about golf, but this course looks mint. I’d eat that grass.
(Shot with the Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6)
In closing, I’ll leave a few thoughts and tips that I gathered from my time in Langkawi.
- Go to Subway at the Kuah shops and they give you vouchers as if you’ve just arrived off the boat. The 3 vouchers from memory were good value for money.
- Box jellyfish do exist in the area and are potentially deadly so try to be careful when swimming, perhaps wear a long sleeve rashie. There is no reason not to swim though, it is very rare that people get stung.
- Toilets are not good quality on Langkawi for the public, so try to go to the toilet at your hotel or hostel if you need to do a Winnie the Pooh.
- If arriving or departing Langkawi by ferry, don’t pay the RM 20 fee for the crew to load your bags on for you. You literally need to carry them all of 50m and then you’re done.
- Malaysians make HORRIBLE COFFEE due to it being way to sweet, even when you ask for no sugar. I think it is the milk that they use. McDonald’s actually has the best coffee more often than not (Starbucks is a disgrace to coffee.)
- The waterfalls at the end of the dry season will not be flowing strongly. Keep in mind that it won’t always appear as it does on Google.
And that completes the Langkawi travel guide,