Surprised by Langkawi

It wasn’t originally on our radar but Langkawi turned out to be a worthy stop.

We decided to stay where most others stay – Pantai Cenang, the most developed strip of beach on the island. Compared to some Thai beach resorts though it is barely developed at all. There are plenty of overpriced restaurants but strangely also some cheap, authentic local places. It’s not a bad mix.

One of the unique things about Langkawi is that it is a duty free island, so alcohol is a lot cheaper than the rest of Malaysia. A can of beer is around RM2 from a convenience store, opposed to RM6-8 elsewhere in the country. Draft beers at a bar can be had for RM5. Strangely though this doesn’t translate into much nightlife at all, aside from a couple of overpriced or dull looking bars. There is one shack style bar slap bang in the middle of the main strip which was good fun though.

The Pantai Cenang beach is also fairly nice, but we were sure there was better elsewhere.

However Langkawi is a big island, with no public transport so your own wheels are almost essential. Luckily scooter rental is affordable and petrol very cheap.

We decided a swim in a waterfall would be fun so headed straight to the seven wells waterfall in the north west of the island. After parking we hiked a short way to the base of the waterfall and after admiring it me and Alex jumped straight in. It was quite cold but very refreshing and really pleasant to swim in unlike some waterfalls we’ve visited.


The best thing was the rocks that created a natural waterslide! It was a bit scary but after seeing Alex tackle it and not die, I went for a few goes too and it was awesome.


It turned out afterwards that the seven wells were actually at the top of the waterfall, up a long trail. So we didn’t properly see it, but who cares? It was fun.

We could have visited the Langkawi cable car, as we passed it on the way to the waterfall but with our budget in mind, and mindful of the fact it was quite misty, we decided to give it a miss.

Next we decided on some beach time so headed to Tanjung Rhu, home to apparently the best and most isolated beach on the island. It adjoins a resort and when driving up we were handed a list of ‘rules’ to abide by while on their private property. It was definately worth the drive. We were greeted by a beautiful beach with hardly anyone on it, surrounded by greenery.


Nearby the beach were mangroves, and we wanted to do a tour of them. Unfortunately it was excruciatingly expensive, at around RM250 (£50) for an hour, which was well out of our price range.

We also paid a visit to the black sand beach, which at first looks like the result of an oil spill but is actually caused by a combination of minerals unique to the area. This was not one for sunbathing.



Both days we went out we stumbled across night markets on our way back. They seem to have one in a different location each day as many of the vendors were the same. The food was SO cheap and SO delicious. We especially liked these small crispy crepes which went for 50 sen each (£0.10).



On the way back we pulled over to see the sun setting over some rice paddies.


It doesn’t get the best rep but we quite liked Langkawi. Have you been? What did you think?

Practical Info

We arrived via direct ferry from Penang. The ride took around 2 hours and was one of the roughest ferry trips we’ve ever taken. Even I felt ill and I never get travel sick. The ticket was RM60 each plus a small surcharge for our hostel to book it. There are 2 ferries a day and they strangely leave at 8.15 and 8.30am. Quite why they couldn’t stagger the times a bit I’m not sure.

Scooter rental cost around RM30 per day and petrol RM2.10 (£0.40) per litre.

We stayed at The Cottage, at the west end of Pantai Cenang. It is most definitely a budget backpacker place but it was clean and fairly decent. Rooms were pretty small, even more so with Alex sleeping on the floor, but overall it was decent. 7/10

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