Comprising 99 islands, Langkawi lies in Andaman Sea, off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Its main island, Pulau Langkawi, takes its name from the reddish brown eagle that has also become the symbol of the island. The archipelago is known for its natural resources. It may be small but it is packed with all kinds of natural wonders — glorious waterfalls, white beaches, mangrove forests, brackish rivers, limestone cliffs, and diverse wildlife.
While Langkawi’s popularity as a honeymoon and backpacking destination in Malaysia skyrockets, it remains unheard of to most Filipinos. During my visit, the manager of the hotel where I stayed shared that there were not many Pinoy tourists who grace the island with their presence. In fact, he added, we were the first Filipinos to check in at his resort that year and it was the middle of July already.
If you’re planning to set foot on Langkawi, here are some things you might need to know.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
How to Get to Langkawi
There are no direct flights to Langkawi from Manila, which means you will have to connect somewhere and I bet it’s going to be Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. From KL, you have three options:
- By air. You can fly to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur. AirAsia flies to Langkawi 8 times a day. Fare is around RM120 (PHP 1625). It’s fast and there’s no need to take a ferry. Just make sure you have enough allowance when booking a connecting flight.
- By bus. There are several bus companies operating to Kuala Perlis and Kuala Kedah, which serve as jump off points to Langkawi. Make your way to Puduraya Bus Terminal or Duta Bus Terminal and get a ticket. Fare ranges from RM 30-RM 40.
- By train. Take the sleeper overnight train to Kuala Perlis! At KL Sentral, book a second-class berth (as low as RM34) onboard the Senandung Langkawi Train to Arau Station, third to the last stop. The train’s final destination is Hat Yai, Thailand so make sure you wake up early the next morning or else you’ll find yourself in Thailand. The train leaves KL at 9:20pm and arrives at Arau Station at 8am. From here, take a cab to Kuala Perlis and hop onto a Langkawi-bound ferry (RM18).
Of the three, I like the train option the most and for many reasons. First, you can save a room night; meaning you won’t need to check in at a hotel that night because you’ll be spending the night on the train. Second, it is almost as cheap as the bust but it’s more comfortable because you get to have a bed and you can move around inside the train. Lastly, you get a good view of the Malaysian countryside in the morning.
Where to Stay in Langkawi
Most hotels, hostels, and resorts in Langkawi are clustered along Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah. You might want to just pick accommodations here because this means you’ll be staying near major establishments including the island’s top restaurants, stores, and attractions. The beach is wide and fine, and the sunset is nothing short of breathtaking.
Hotel aggregators are good places to start looking. For hotels and resorts, you might want to check out Traveloka. I have tried only one hotel here — Langkawi Tropical Resort.
Places to Visit in Langkawi
Here are some of the most popular tourist spots in Langkawi that you might want to check out. The photos will take you to a detailed description of the place sprinkled with some of my personal experiences.
Where to Eat in Langkawi
Seafood is the island specialty. (Duh?) Our little yummy friends from the bottom of the sea are relatively cheap here. The road parallel to Pantai Cenang is bordered by lanes of restaurants offering plates of scrumptious seafood delights. And because Langkawi is in the northwestern tip of the country, the Thai influence leaking southward is evident in the cuisine. Here are some dishes you might want to sample:
Of all the restaurants I tried during my 2-day stay, we liked Orkid Ria the most. You can read my review here.
Getting Around Langkawi
There are many ways to get around the island. In other destinations, the bus is the obvious choice but I don’t think it holds true for Langkawi. Some of the points of interest are not along the bus route. But here are more ways:
- By bicycle. From RM12 per day. Great way to see the island but it can be a little bit too tiring especially around the hilly parts.
- By motorcycle. From RM40 per day. You need to pay for the gasoline, though.
- By taxi. Cabs in Langkawi use the fixed rate system and not the meter. Short distances can cost up to RM15 and longer distances RM25.
You can also strike a deal with a cab driver to take you on a tour around the island and wait for you at each stop. It is usually at RM100 for 4 hours and additional RM25 per succeeding hour. That’s what we did and we were able to visit the destinations listed above within 6 hours. And because we were a party of 2, we divided the cost.
That’s about it! I’ll try to add more information to this post each time I set foot on the rising star destination of West Malaysia.