Langkawi is a beautiful island in the Andaman Sea about 30km from the northwestern coast of Malaysia. We visited Langkawi in May 2015 during our 5 month trip around the world and spent a few wonderful days there.
There are several reasons that make Langkawi a very attractive island to visit, such as it’s accessibility, the fact that you can visit year-round and the beautiful white-sand beaches.
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The ultimate guide to Langkawi
In this post you will find everything you need to know to plan a perfect trip to Langkawi island.
Quick facts about Langkawi:
- Langkawi, also known as Pulau Langkawi (Pulau means Island in Malaysian), is not just the name of the island, it’s actually an archipelago counting almost 100 islands, big and small!
- The currency on Langkawi is the Malaysian Ringgit, €1 is worth almost 5RM (4,64 at the moment of writing this article). Check the current exchange rate at XE.com.
- The largest town on Langkawi is Kuah but Pantai Cenang is the most popular place to stay for tourists (read more below).
When to visit Langkawi
While Langkawi doesn’t experience a strong monsoon like the East Coast, there is a wet season (September-October). However, don’t feel like you have to avoid these months altogether, it usually only rains for a couple of hours (often at night).
Dry season is January to March, so if you want to maximize your chance of sunny days this is the best time to visit Lankawi. Keep in mind though that this is peak season and prices will be higher. Temperatures are higher as well, the average temperature is well above 30 degrees Celsius.
We visited Langkawi in May, which in my opinion was a great time to visit. We had both sunny days as well as some cloudy afternoons but no rain whatsoever. The islands wasn’t too busy and there was plenty of accommodation available for a good price.
How to get to Langkawi
There are 2 ways to get to Langkawi: you can travel either by plane or by boat. We flew to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur with Malindo Air (for just €13 per person, including luggage!).
If you are traveling from the neighboring island Penang, you can hop a ferry. The ferry goes twice a day and takes around 3 hours. The price for a one way ticket is 60MYR (which comes down to €13 as well).
You can also take a ferry from the mainland to Langkawi, this ferry departs from Kuala Perlis and costs 18MYR (approximately €4,50). Travel time is around 1h15min and you will arrive in Kuah, Langkawi’s largest town.
More information about ferries can be found here.
Where to stay on Langkawi
We stayed at Pantai Cenang, a lovely village located on the West coast of Langkawi and about 8km from the airport by car.
If you are looking for a nice budget accommodation I highly recommend
NR Langkawi Motel. We had a nice spacious room on the ground floor, with large attached bathroom.
The only slight disadvantage is that the hotel is located a bit further away from Pantai Cenang. We hired a scooter (more below) so that wasn’t a problem for us.
Paid price per night: 100MYR (€25/$28,50)
How to get around on Langkawi
There is no public transport on Langkawi. There are lots of taxi’s but if you want to explore the island at your own pace, do as we did and rent a scooter (or hire a car if you prefer).
The main roads on Langkawi are in good condition, the secondary roads can be unpaved and a little more challenging (but fun!) to navigate. Petrol is around 2.50RM per liter (we paid 7RM for fuel in total).
How to rent a scooter on Langkawi: practical information
We paid 70RM for the scooter rental, this was the price for 2 days (so 35RM per day). In general, the longer you rent a scooter, the lower the price per day.
There are plenty of rental places in Pantai Cenang. I rented ours across the road from Rasa Senang Chalet.
Also read about the best islands to visit in Southeast Asia
The best things to do on Langkawi: 2 day scooter itinerary
The best things about having your own transportation is the freedom to pull over wherever you want. To take a picture of a beautiful view. Or to have a break at a cute cafe to have a great coffee.
Or chill out at a nice beach to relax and read. We did all of these things (and more) during our 2 day itinerary on Langkawi.
Day 1: exploring the East side of Langkawi on a scooter
Itinerary: Pantai Cenang – Kuah – Tanjung Rhu Beach – Pantai Cenang
We made a short visit to Kuah to check the ferry schedule. After a coffee at a nice cafe we continued our journey. However, if you like shopping, there are some great duty-free outlets in Kuah! Unfortunately we didn’t have any space in our backpacks…
Tanjung Rhu Beach
Tanjung Rhu is a lovely beach in the Northeast of Langkawi. Unlike to beaches in Pantai Cenang you may end up having this beach entirely to yourself…
To get there we followed the coast road (Jalan Tanjung Rhu) which ended at
Tanjung Rhu Beach.
Just before getting to the beach we came across a gate with a guard where we had to fill out an environment protection form.
The great thing about Tanjung Rhu Beach? Besides the beautiful white sand, amazing view and crystal clear water the major selling point of this beach is the fact that it’s so calm and quiet… We spent a very relaxed afternoon here!
Important note: a section of the beach is off-limits as this is part of the exclusive Tanjung Rhu Resort.
Day 2: exploring the West side of Langkawi on a scooter
Itinerary: Pantai Cenang – Teluk Burau (Langkawi Cable Car and Sky Bridge) – The Datai – Pantai Cenang
The Langkawi SkyCab
On the second day of our ‘Langkawi on a scooter exploration trip’ we drove to Teluk Burau, the starting point of the Langkawi Cable Car, also known as the SkyCab. The Cable Car starts at the foot of the Machincang mountain and takes about 15 minutes to reach the Top Station, 708m above sea level.
Fun fact: the Langkawi Cable Car has been added to Malaysia Book of Records for ‘The Longest Free Span Mono-Cable’.
The entrance fee for the Langkawi Cable Car is 55RM per adult.
The Langkawi SkyBridge
Once you arrive at the top of the cable car it’s only a short walk to the SkyBridge, where you will find yourself 100 meters above the ground…
Another fun fact: this is the longest free span and curved bridge in the world!
A ticket for the Sky Bridge costs 5RM per adult. Tickets for the bridge are available at the Top Station of the Cable Car.
When exploring an island, I usually have a map. However, on our second scooter day I forgot my map so we just drove around and went where the road took us.
That is how we end up at the Datai, a five-star resort on the northwest coast of Langkawi, and literally at the end of the road.
When we ask the guard if we can have a coffee at the resort, he was very welcoming and told us to park our scooter. We headed down a green lane to a large and fancy looking building.
At the entrance we were welcomed by two friendly employees. Once again, we asked if we could have a coffee.
We were then redirected to employee no. 4 who asked us if we wanted to have a drink in the lounge or at the Beach Bar. A bit confused we looked at each other and said: uhm, the Beach Bar please.
But of course, Sir, Miss, one moment please, the friendly lady replied. We settled down on a luxurious sofa, a little uncomfortably because we were the only one in the huge and quiet lobby.
One minute later, the friendly lady called us and led us to a golf cart. We hopped aboard and yet another employee drove us to the Beach Bar.
At this point we started to get a little worried about the costs for this yet to be ordered drinks, fortunately we had gotten enough cash at the ATM that morning…
The golf cart zigzagged around the resort grounds and I have to say: the villas looked stunning.
When we arrived at the Beach Bar we were welcomed by a whole team of staff and led to a comfortable sofa with a mountain of pillows and a beautiful view over the bay.
We ordered our long awaited coffee; when the waiter arrived with a tray it wasn’t just coffee. No, there was coffee, cookies, cashew nuts, cold water, a fruit skewer and a cold scented towel. What a service!
Again we shot a worrying look at each other, this could end up costing our entire daily budget… But first, we drank our delicious coffee, nibbled on the provided nuts and fruit and sipped our ice-cold water.
We spent a comfortable hour on a sofa so soft it felt like we were sitting on a cloud. We didn’t dare to order another drink so we asked for the check and were amazed this wonderful experience ended up costing only 30RM (€6,50/$7,50)!
A little reluctant we headed back to our scooter (after being driven back to the lobby by golf cart, imagine having to walk somewhere;-).
If we ever go back to Langkawi, I would love to stay at this resort for a night. Though I better start saving up because the villas cost a lot more than a cup of coffee…
Update March 2019: reader Stanley informed me that unfortunately it’s no longer possible to have a drink at the Datai unless you are staying there:-(
You can download the map of our 2 day Langkawi scooter itinerary below. Check out my other posts you want to read more about my Malaysia travel budget, 2-week itinerary or my guide to the Perhentian Islands and Tioman Island.
This post was updated in March 2019