TOP 10 Tropical Beach Destinations in ASIA- no.9: MALAYSIA, Langkawi Island

Lucky no. 9 goes to a beautiful place that I got to enjoy with a big bunch of my friends from Singapore (featured extensively in the pictures below). Take a look with me, Michal, Wen, Eve, Simon, Lukas, Nihar and Jeremy at …

Langkawi Island in Malaysia !

SCORES:

  • nature: 3/5 -> spectacular views but a bit ‘spoiled’ with civilization
  • party: 2/5 -> cosy beach bars opened till late
  • atmosphere: 2/5 -> quite touristy* but enjoyable as soon as you get out of the town
  • ease of travel:  4/5 ->no visa needed, easy scooter rental at the airport,  English is widely spoken and understood by the locals.

*why so touristy? here’s the first fun fact:

The island was legendary cursed in late 18th century for 7 generations by the beautiful young women named Mahsuri, after the local villagers wrongfully accused her of adultery and executed by stabbing.

The curse ended around 1987 with the birth of  Sirintra Yayee (8th grandchild of Mahsuri, now living in Thailand), and strangely enough a new era of Langkawi as a tourist destination began. The island was granted a tax-free status and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad decided to transform it into a major tourist resort, helping to plan many of the islands buildings himself . The island flourished as a tourist destination, and by nowadays receives over 3 million tourists a year…

FOR WHO?

Mostly for families and people who want convenient holidays and don’t mind the touristy feel all around them (banana boat rides, Mexican restaurants, cable car to the mountain top etc.). Mind that it’s quite difficult to experience truly Malaysian culture here.

:: My Singaporean family <3 :::

WHERE IS IT?

Langkawi Island is located 30km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia.  The island is a part of the state of Kedah, which is adjacent to the Thai border.

THE BEACH:

There are few beaches here, namely: Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tengah, Burau Bay, Pantai Kok, and Datai Bay, but due to time constrains we’ve been only to one. Pantai Cenang is a 2km long stretch of fine white sand. The beach is lined with casuarina trees and spectacular, tall coconut trees <3.

The water is not very clear so you can’t go snorkeling just off the beach.  However, there is plenty of watersports and attractions such as jet-skis, bananaboats etc. if you are into this sort of things. My group was more into smoking cigars, acroyoga and posing for odd pictures:

Along the beach you can find all type of shops, bars&restaurants, open till late. They are great for chilling,eating, watching the sunset and after dusk- fire shows to crazy loud drum’n’bass music.

BESIDES THE BEACH:

  • Advice no 1 -as always- : rent a car or motorbike/scooter and explore the island (especially that there is no public transport…).

Langkawi is not too big (only 25×40 km) and the roads are in a great condition and safe to drive. The rental offices are located at the convenient places – airport, jetty, or by Pantai Cenang beach.

The rate is reasonable (~30-40 RM for 150cc motorbike/scooter) but make sure you agree with the rental office how and when you are going to return it  (if your flight out is early in the morning, the office might be simply closed and you might loose your deposit).

Remember to drive on the left side of the road and enjoy the tropical views!

The gas is dirt cheap – you can fill up you bike for aprox RM5 but keep track of the fuel level, gas stations are quite far from one another (~10 km).

  • Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls aka Seven Wells, (Gunung Mat Cincang, Northwest corner of the island, 45 kms from Kuah, walking distance from Oriental village and cable car (10 min) )

We have been only to the base of the waterfall but if you climb 350+ slippery steps to the higher area you will reach the seven natural pools that this waterfall is named after. Legend has it that fairies used to come down to the pools to frolic- when we saw the inviting cold water we could not resist it either. The water felt amazing after a long bike ride!

  • Klim Karst Geoforest Park

My favorite part of the trip! You are seated in the long boat and swam around a park with a few stopovers:

Depending on your time/budget you can opt to see more or less:

Bat Cave was turned out to be smelly&scary but eagle* feeding was quite spectacular. We were not allowed to do it ourselves (too dangerous!). Instead we observed as our guide throw pieces of meat into the water and immediately large number of large birds appeared to fight for it.

*fun fact! One of the theory behind the name of the island involves combination of the Malay words ‘helang‘  (meaning “eagle”)  and ‘kawi‘ (meaning “reddish-brown” or “strong”)

 

::: Thick mangroves forest outside the bat cave :::

::: Tiny Fiddler (‘calling’)crab says hi :::

::: Prepare for many funky fish-like creatures that you can touch on Fish farm… if you dare (here : horseshoe crab) :::

  • The Langkawi Cable Car, taking you up to the peak of Gunung Mat Chinchang, where the Langkawi Sky Bridge is located.

The cable car ride strats from Oriental Village (watch out: tourist trap!). It costs around RM55 for foreigners. Wikipedia says that the The SkyBridge is at the top station of cable car which can be reached using an elevator/cabin on a track (SkyGlide, RM15 for foreigners) or through a small forest trail (RM5 for foreigners), the trail is only around a 10 minute walk but involves a lot of stairs. We did not get that opportunity though…

The trip to the top in the late afternoon looked promising…

But after a while we entered a milky cloud that successfully prevented us from seeing the precious view…

The viewing platform did not give us the promised views:

::: All that we were able to see in the ‘viewing’ platform ::: ::: Eve’s takes on the ‘selfie with a view’ :::

::: …and ours 😉 :::

::: Simon’s ‘rain dance’ and our over-excitement on a slightest glimpse of a view:::

HOW TO GET HERE:

It’s quite easy and straightforward, since there is an international airport on the island, with connections available from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and others. You can also enter the island via ferry from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis, Tamalang and Penang.

* fun fact: There’s also ferry service to a nearby Ko Lipe island in Thailand for a fun side-trip (operating October till June)!

ACCOMMODATION

There are many hotels available that you can search through booking.com. As a large group we rented a house through airbnb. Here’s view from our place;

OTHER FUN THINGS ABOUT BEING IN Malaysia:

Remember Malaysia is a Muslim country, so your daily ‘beer routine’ might be interrupted as it won’t be sold in some places (eg. local food court).

Prepare for the sight of wild animals. I managed to meet not one but two (!) specimens of extremely rare Malaysian tiger:

In summary, we enjoyed our short stay in Langkawi, even though for my taste it is a bit too ‘touristy’ and not wild enough. Although I must admit that the wild component was filled out with this crazy bunch: 

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