Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands on the Andaman sea, 30 km off the coast of Northwestern Malaysia. It’s main island is known for its beauty and wide range of tourist activities. As in most of southeast Asia, travelling throughout Langkawi is relatively inexpensive. This blog will shed light on how to make it even more affordable. Langkawi’s nature and vibrant culture are worth discovering regardless of your budget!"
If you are planning your own trip to Malaysia, check out this perfect 3-day itinerary to Kuala Lumpur (KL) to kick start your adventure!
What to pack:
Prepare yourself for hot and humid weather in Langkawi. Short sleeve shirts and sandals go a long way. Take into account that, unlike other parts of Malaysia, tourists can wear more revealing outfits….. as long as you cover your limbs! Don’t forget to bring windbreakers or thin jackets to survive the AC. As with other parts of Southeast Asia, they like their air conditioning ice cold. Pack mosquito repellent, sunblock, sunglasses, hiking shoes, binoculars, and a portable fan. Staying hydrated is very important in a tropical climate; fortunately bottled water is readily available throughout Langkawi.
240 MHZ (same as Singapore, the UK, and Ireland). A type G, three-pin power plug/socket will be needed.
Transportation to Langkawi:
There are many travel options to get to Langkawi; I strongly recommend flying, given the time and effort other options take. Flights from Singapore to Langkawi were expensive (it was Chinese New Year) when we travelled, so we crossed into Malaysia via the Woodlands checkpoint in Singapore and flew out of Senai Airport in Johor Bahru. Travelling to the airport cost $1 and since it wasn’t peak hours immigration was a breeze. Our round trip flights cost $110 each, a reasonable price given the holiday season. Outside of major holidays I would recommend flying from Singapore to Langkawi. Air Asia and Lion Air always have specials, with some as low as $60 round trip!
If your budget requires a cheaper option, ferry service is also available. Ferries operate from the cities of Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis, Penang or Satun (Thailand). Normally costing $5 USD, service can be crowded and limited. For example, service from Penang only runs twice a day, so your bus service to Penang must be planned accordingly. Arriving in Kuah, the district capital of Langkawi, can be very hectic as well. Factoring the cost of bus service and ferry service, I would still recommend flying!
Transportation in Langkawi
There are various bus and taxi options in Langkawi. On this trip I was travelling with a friend, so we decided to rent a car, which we found to be surprisingly affordable.
Renting a car
Arriving by plane, you will find all the car rental agencies right past airport luggage claims. In Langkawi you will find car agencies in Kuah as well as Pantai Cenang. Daily rates at all of the agencies were about the same ($10 USD). Just show them your driver’s license, sign the rental agreement and you’re all set! It is advisable to have your GPS and maps ready as most of the cars don’t come with navigation equipment. We ended up using Google Maps throughout our time in Langkawi. If you are returning your car to the airport, you will be asked to call back your rental car agent, which can be found on the rental agreement.
Driving tips for Langkawi
Cars are driven on the left side of the road. Visitors from other countries may initially find this frustrating, but don’t worry...you will adapt quickly! That was the case with my travel companion from Mexico. His first day driving he was very nervous, but by the second day he was an expert! Just take your time and you will be fine.
Accommodations in Langkawi
There’s accommodations for every traveler’s budget. Rooms in local hotels and hostels run from $20 USD to $300 USD. All have bayside balconies or terraces which overlook lovely green foliage. Western hotel chains are also well represented in Langkawi. These chains cater to clients with plenty of disposable income who want a distinctive local experience along with the amenities worldwide chains offer.
We stayed at the Sandy Beach Resort located in Pantai Cenang. Although we had a bit of trouble locating the parking lot when checking in (the hotel did not inform us they had a couple of buildings spread out in the area), our overall stay was a wonderful one. Our bed was very comfortable and we were happy with the hotel amenities (towels and a small set of shampoo and soap bottles). The room rates start from around $20 USD per night.
Tourist Activities in Langkawi
You have so many activities to choose from! Spend your time going snorkeling and scuba diving, going on a mangrove tour, seeing bat caves, climbing up a mountain, enjoying breathtaking views from a cable car, and on and on.
I highly recommend you combine a road trip and a packaged tour. This way you have total control of your schedule while exploring those areas you cannot reach on your own. Unless you own your own boat, there is no way you can island hop or explore hard to reach tourist activities such as the mangrove forest and incredible bat caves. In these cases a guided tour comes to your rescue. Morning group tours tend to be cheaper ($5 USD) and private tours run about $15 USD. Many of these tourist attractions are accessible by car: Tanjong Rhu beach, Langkawi Cable Car and Skybridge, Gunung Raya lookout, Dataran Helang (the huge statue by the Kuah beach), Langkawi Crafts Complex, Underwater World Langkawi and many more.
Food & Drink
Langkawi has a wide array of food options - something for every taste and budget! You can choose from Malay, Chinese, Arabic or Western food, with prices ranging from budget to very expensive. There is also a good mix of American chains (McDonalds, Starbucks etc) so you won’t miss home too much. Definitely try local delights such as mee goreng (spicy chili seafood noodles) and nasi lemak (coconut rice with dried fish and cocktail nuts)...you will save lots of $$$ and experience local culture at the same time!
Probably the most important question...where can I drink on a tropical island? First, grab your passport and stop by one of Langkawi’s duty free shops. There you will find a wide range of domestic and international beers. Afterwards head over to the Nest Rooftop BYOB Cafe. As long as you bring your own alcohol, you are allowed to stay without having to order anything - how many cafes in the world offer this service?? You may, of course, order food and non-alcoholic drinks and the prices are extremely reasonable. .
I hope you have enjoyed this Langkawi report. There are many ways to enjoy the local culture and stretch your dollars at the same time. I promise that memories of this beautiful place will stay with you always.
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