Langkawi is easily Malaysia’s most famous beach getaway, just off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the Andaman Sea. Known as the “Jewel of Kedah”, in truth, the island of Langkawi is one of 99 islands that form the larger Langkawi archipelago.
Among the abundance of island paradises in Southeast Asia – Boracay, Phi Phi, or even Siargao – Langkawi can be, and often is, overlooked.
And that’s a pity. Due to its proximity to Singapore, Langkawi makes for an easy weekend getaway that offers a top-notch island experience to savour.
This is helped in part by the fact that Langkawi isn’t completely awash with the typical trappings of a destination made over to entice tourists – yet.
Sure, there are the beach resorts and shopping malls that cater to the everyday tourist but there are also parts of the island that have, quite surprisingly, retained their unspoilt nature. To this day, villages still thrive, filled with farmers and fishermen who continue to toil each day for their livelihoods.
Awarded the UNESCO World Geopark status back in 2007, Langkawi is rooted in folklore and offers an abundance of natural beauty.
Where to Stay
The accommodations on Langkawi are varied, catering to all tiers of budget. If you’re looking for cheap and budget hostels, Pantai Tengah is where you can find a host of budget accommodations. The area of Pantai Cenang offers a lot more variety in terms of lodging and food, so if you want more choices, that’s your best bet. These two areas are also where all the action happens so you’ll be sure to be in the heart of Langkawi.
For the upmarket travellers, Tanjong Rhu and Datai are the two areas where the luxury resorts are hidden away. While these resorts boast exclusivity, first class service, and serene peace, it is quite a bit of distance from the main hub of Langkawi.
Image by fslangkawi via Instagram.
For a Luxurious Escape
For that ideal island paradise experience, no accommodation can give you a better one than the Four Seasons Resort. Religiously rated as one of the best resorts in Langkawi, the Four Seasons will make you wish you can make it your home.
Eschewing your typical hotel rooms, the island resort offers private pavilions and residential-style villas that fit can the entire family, all of which providing sweeping views of the Andaman coast.
Jalan Tanjung Rhu, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Image by christingc via Instagram.
For a Mid-tier Holiday
If you’re looking for something more affordable, Temple Tree at Bon Ton, Langkawi is a great option. This boutique hotel has 8 antique and heritage buildings, each of them having a history on mainland Malaysia.
The Chinese-style house was originally built by a Chinese family in Batu Pahat, Johor and was located close to Singapore before being deconstructed and rebuilt on the Island. The Malay-style Black and White house was built in the 1940s in the southern Malaysian state of Negri Sembilan, now featuring a large outdoor garden, coloured windows, and a wooden bathtub.
Learn about the multicultural diversity in Malaysia’s history as you stay within the historic walls of Temple Tree.
Jalan Pantai Cenang Lot 1047, Pantai Cenang, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Image by ramonageanina via Instagram.
For a Budget Getaway
Pondok Keladi Guesthouse is there for all those who want to save every penny they can to splurge on everything else Langkawi has to offer.
The Guesthouse employs a very communal and relaxed environment, providing shared tables where guests can have their meals together while exchanging travel stories. Look out for the occasional monkeys and squirrels that are known to roam around.
It’s a budget-friendly, fuss-free accommodation that will suit the solo traveller!
Jalan Pantai Tengah, 07070 Langkawi
How to Get Around
As with most beach island paradises, there’s no developed, interconnected public train and bus service on the island.
The best way to travel around the island is by getting your own private car or motorbike. At the same time, you can hire a driver and leave the driving with him or take it upon yourself to drive around.
Grab Car is also available and is the most inexpensive option.
Day 1: The Town of Kuah, the Beaches of Langkawi, and the Eagle Square
Dedicate your first day to exploring what makes Langkawi tick, and the best place to start would be the town of Kuah. Although is it slowly becoming commercialised (bummer, but hey, duty-free shopping!), take the time to explore the town and you’ll catch glimpses of what life for the locals look like.
The Eagle Square in Kuah remains one of the most popular pit stops and attractions in Langkawi. The choice of an eagle stems from “Langkawi” which was named after the word “helang” which means eagle in Malay. The large and iconic eagle statue unfurling its wings makes for a great photo backdrop.
Persiaran Putera Kuah, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Image by margauxgoldy via Instagram.
Image by malaysiatravelresorts via Instagram.
Image by danielhungryhk via Instagram.
When visiting Kuah, be sure to make time for the famed beaches of Pantai Tengah and Pantai Cenang. Of the two, Pantai Cenang is undoubtedly the more famous. You can find many hotels, guesthouses, and a host of other accommodations stretching across both beaches.
Perhaps it’s because of the larger crowd that Cenang receives, it is the hub of beach activities, bustling with many activities from beach volleyball to paragliding. In contrast, the quieter Pantai Tengah is where you recline back into a chair, whip out a book and soak in the peace and tranquility as the waves gently wash up the shoreline.
Before you know it, the blue sky will change into hues of red and purple, signalling the time to dine in one of the many restaurants littered all over the beaches.
One place we’d recommend is Restoran Nasi Kandar Tomato, which serves up the Malaysian classic and popular Nasi Kandar (rice with toppings of your choice which usually includes a combination of curry, fish, egg, and okra).
Jalan Pantai Chenang, Pantai Cenang, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Daily 24 Hrs
Day 2: Ascend the Sky Bridge and Chase the Waterfalls
Start Day 2 with a visit to the Sky Bridge, one of Langkawi’s leading attractions that offer panoramic views of the island.
Located in the northwestern tip of the island, the Langkawi Sky Bridge is suspended some 2,300 ft above sea level, overlooking the Andaman Sea and several small islands.
To ascend to the Sky Bridge, take the cable car up from Oriental Village, but it does not bring you all the way to the viewing platform. From here you can either take a tram to the observation deck or choose to hike up the nature trail. Regardless of your path, you’ll be greeted with some breathtaking views at the top, making it all worthwhile (especially if you chose to hike).
Jalan Telaga Tujuh Teluk Burau, Langkawi, Kedah 07000
Daily 10 AM to 8 PM
Image by tyron.macleod via Instagram.
Langkawi may be known for being a beach paradise, but it’s home to several gorgeous waterfalls as well, and you’d be remiss to overlook it!
The Seven Wells Waterfall remains the most popular amongst tourists, perhaps due to its proximity to the Langkawi Sky Bridge. Its name comes from the seven natural swimming pools that you can find at the top. Take the SkyCab cable car up to Gunung Machinchang, and you’ll be able to see the Seven Wells on your right.
With the rushing waters over the years, the rocks are incredibly smooth, making natural slides which people are none too hesitant to slide down. With its popularity, be ready to mix with a sizeable crowd.
Mukim Padang Matsirat, Jalan Telaga Tujuh, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Daily 24 Hrs
Image by lokalocal via Instagram.
If privacy is what you want, Temurun Waterfall would be the better bet. Not many know of this particular one, and when the volume of water gets higher, the rush of the waterfall can be even greater than the Seven Wells or the popular Durian Perangin Waterfall.
Jalan Teluk Datai, Langkawi 07000, Malaysia
Daily 7 AM to 7 PM
Image by gastrognomethe via Instagram.
It’s your last night in Langkawi and we see no better way than to spend it eating and drinking away at Langkawi’s night markets.
The night markets here are a little special — they don’t operate from a fixed location. Every single night from 7 PM to 10 PM, the night markets roam to various locations in Langkawi, so do your research and hit up the markets for a happy tummy night!
You can find out the timings and places here.
Day 3: Chase the “National” Bird of Langkawi
It’s one thing to take a photo with the huge eagle statue “flying” imposingly at the tip of Eagle Square in Kuah Town, it’s another to see these creatures, which are at the core of Langkawi’s legend, soaring through the air. For a chance to catch a glimpse of the eagles, it’s time to travel to the north and visit the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park.
The Kilim Geoforest Park, making up one-third of the Langkawi Geopark, is an area surrounded by limestone cliffs and winding rivers that make it a great escape to get immersed in nature. Whether it is walking along the Mangrove boardwalks or taking a boat tour through the meandering waters, keep your eyes peeled for eagles swooping in to nab fish swimming near the surface of the waters.
It’s an eye-opening, National Geographic-like experience that you shouldn’t miss before leaving Langkawi.
Malaysia, Kampung Kilim, MY 07000 Kedah Langkawi Kilim Sungai Kilim
Daily 8:30 AM to 5 PM