Have you ever heard of the island of Langkawi off the coast of Malaysia? We hadn’t until a few months ago when we started to plan our trip there. Langkawi, known as “the Jewel of Kedah” is an archipelago of 99 beautiful islands in the Andaman Sea.
The islands showcase the best of tropical rainforests, white sand beaches, and unique geological formations. To see the large bays filled with lush islands transports you on to the set of a movie filmed on a lost island. Only it is not lost and there are a plethora of things to in Langkawi. We were stoked to arrive and spend just over two weeks exploring all of the activities and beaches the archipelago has to offer.
Things to do in Langkawi
Ten minutes after we left the Airport in Langkawi we were sitting at a local restaurant with our hosts ready to eat a delicious and filling lunch. There are local lunch spots all over Langkawi. Often they will be open air with a long buffet table dishing up spicy fish, crabs, chicken, and beef curries.
Grab a plate and dig in, someone will be around to tally up your total when you sit down. It will be one of the cheapest lunches you can have on the island. It’s a pretty local experience and you won’t find many foreigners here. However, never worry as Langkawians are happy to welcome you to eat with them.
Kilim Karst Geoforest Park
Kilim Karst Geoforest Park in Langkawi feels like a world away. It’s around 100 square kilometers of beaches, mangrove swamps, and stunning mountains that spread out in a maze to the Andaman Sea. It’s accessible for anyone and a must do while on Langkawi. A whole excursion here will take around half a day, but the entire time you will feel as though you have been cast in the next King Kong film.
Once you arrive at the car park you and your group will be able to hire our a boat on an hourly or half day basis. The small boat is your best and only way to get through the mangroves and see all the beautiful wildlife. Our favorite stop was to see the white-bellied fish eagles and kite eagles feeding. However, it’s also likely you will see mangrove snakes and kingfishers.
Located within the Kilim geopark are the bat caves (also known as Gua Kelawar) where you can view a bunch of Malaysian fruit bats inside a dark and damp cave – just what you came to Langkawi for! Another popular thing to do in Langkawi is to eat lunch at the floating restaurants here. They serve up delicious local food for an affordable price.
Join in a Yoga Session
You didn’t think we would travel all the way to Langkawi and not bring a yoga mat did you? In our 12 days on Langkawi, I knew I had to get myself on the mat and into a yoga session. On the morning of my birthday, I went to one of the most well-reviewed yoga studios on the island at Ambong Ambong.
It’s not really a yoga studio as it’s more like a beautiful wooden platform in the middle of the tranquil rainforest. For one hour a small group of us enjoyed the serenity and peacefulness of the Langkawi rainforest while stretching and breathing on the open-air platform.
Yoga sessions at Ambong Ambong run on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings at 8:15. It’s best to book in advance as the deck space isn’t massive and can only accommodate around 12 people. Afterward, you can have breakfast and a delicious cup of coffee at The Good Earth cafe on the Ambong Ambong property.
(Psst it’s also possible to continue your zen mood and stay at Ambong Ambong on your holiday like we did and we loved it!).
Get a Massage
You can’t go to Southeast Asia and not get a massage. They’re an amazing experience and affordable compared to the Western prices. We may or may not have had more than a few massages while on Langkawi. Okay, we had a lot of massages.
It’s well worth the investment to have at least one while in Malaysia. For cheap ones, you can easily find a few women to give you one while slipping into a small spa on the popular streets. However, to really indulge I suggest booking a massage at one of the resorts on Langkawi. We had the most incredible experience at V Spa in the Andaman Resort.
Langkawi Cable Car
The Langkawi Cable Car is probably the most popular thing to do in Langkawi and if you only have a few days in Langkawi this needs to be on your list. Also known as the Langkawi SkyCab it provides direct access to the top of Gunung Machinchang, showcasing amazing views over the island. The journey takes about 15 minutes, but during peak season you’ll have to wait in a rather long line to access the cable car.
Before you reach the top, you can hop out at the midway station which also provides 360-degree views. The top is also where the famous Langkawi Skybridge is located. It’s here you’ll be able to get many photos of you showing off your bravery in the open sky. There are even a few glass bottom points on the bridge to look down. Tickets start at 55 Malaysian Ringgit for international adults. Get tickets beforehand.
At the base of the cable car is Langkawi’s Oriental Village. The Oriental Village is a tourist complex filled with activities, shops, and restaurants. If you’re looking to get any souvenirs or do some shopping this is a popular place to head. It’s one of the best things to do in Langkawi for families. They have a few arcades and activities like 5d immersive rides.
Art in Paradise 3D Museum
At the base of the Langkawi Skycab is the 3D museum. If you’re looking for a unique thing to do in Langkawi then definitely head to Art in Paradise. It’s the perfect place to take photos and selfies, so if that’s not really your thing perhaps give this a skip. The museum has plenty of fun murals that will transport you to another time and place. If you’re traveling alone you may want a tripod as it will be hard to resist photos here.
So essentially you could plan to spend a whole day between the 3D museum, oriental village, and SkyCab as well as the other attractions in the area. It’s a one-stop shop kind of place!
Go Waterfall Trekking
Unlike Bali, Langkawi isn’t an island filled with an endless amount of waterfalls. However, for those looking for a break from the beach and looking for a free thing to in Langkawi, there are a few nice hiking paths that lead to waterfalls.
A few notable ones are:
- Seven Wells Waterfall: Also known as Telaga Tujuh has a total vertical of 91 meters. It’s named Seven Wells because of the seven natural pools that have formed at different levels by water streams flowing down.
- Temurun Waterfall: Located near Datai Bay this is a three-tier waterfall with shallow and deep pools to enjoy. At 200 meters this is the tallest waterfall in Langkawi. Watch out for all the monkeys and don’t feed them – they get aggressive!
- Durian Perangin Waterfall: A large waterfall in the middle of the forest on the northern part of the island complete with a series of pools and bridges. Great for families!
Dataran Lang or Eagle Square is essentially a huge eagle statue looking out to sea ready to take flight. The eagle is the emblem of Langkawi. It’s said that the name “Langkawi” actually came from the Malay words “helang” for eagle and “kawi” for reddish brown.
It’s easily the islands most recognizable monuments and draws in crowds especially during sunset. You’ll see the beautiful bird all over the island, but as mentioned one of the best places to watch them feed is the Kilim Geopark. You can see Eagle Square on a full day tour.
Take a Sunset Cruise
Langkawi has so many beautiful islands (99 to be exact) the whole place almost looks unreal. One of our best nights we had was spent cruising around the islands on a sunset dinner cruise. This gives you a chance to see the islands in the evening light and get to know other tourists staying on the islands.
The dinner cruises last around three hours and include a local dinner with drinks. It’s possible to get in the water and enjoy a “salt water jacuzzi” so bring your swimsuits! The sunsets seen from The Andaman sea are truly magical and something to remember.
Jet Ski Around the Islands
Langkawi is made up of 99 islands and they are all drop dead gorgeous. A popular thing to do on Langkawi is gone on an island hopping adventure. There are two main ways to see all the different waters. By boat and by a jet ski. For the thrill seekers, I highly recommend hopping on a jet ski and seeing the islands on a guided tour. The jetski allows you to get up close to the crazy rock formations and to actually jump in the water!
I would suggest looking at the weather when choosing on a date to do the tour. We went on a rainy day when the water was incredibly choppy and it made for a less than ideal ride. I would much prefer to go jet skiing on a day where the water looks like glass! Our jet ski tour left from Pantai Cenang Beach with Mega Water Sports. Our guide was fantastic and easy to get along with. Prices are RM 750 for a single rider and RM900 for two people on one jetski for a four-hour tour.
Enjoy the Beaches
Chances are you came to Langkawi to enjoy the beaches. The island has some pretty beautiful white sand beach and turquoise water. Although it’s a bit too murky for great for diving or snorkeling, it’s still nice to relax by the shore and take a paddle every once in a while.
Pantai Cenang is the most popular area of Langkawi and where you will find many resorts and restaurants. The beach here is beautiful but crowded especially at sunset. We stayed at Casa Del Mar which was located literally steps away from the water, but it was one of the last hotels on the stretch so it was fairly quiet.
Datai Bay has been named by Nat Geo as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and after relaxing here I can’t say they are wrong. Datai Bay is quiet and tucked away from most of Langkawi. So if you want a quiet beach escape Datai Bay is perfect. However, it’s only accessible by staying at either The Andaman or The Datai.
Shop Till You Drop
I didn’t know this before arriving in Langkawi, but the island is actually duty-free. Since 1987 when the island was declared duty free foreigners and Malaysians have been traveling to Langkawi to stock up on chocolate, beer, cigarettes, perfume, and other goods. Note that not every store on Langkawi is duty-free, and the tax-free prices only apply to specific items.
There are many duty-free shops around the island to shop till you drop. We are not big shoppers but popped into a few just to check out the scene and were surprised with how busy the shops always were. It’s not great consumer products and it’s more targeted towards mainland Malaysians and expats who come for cheap booze. If you’re looking for something to do in Langkawi at night, you will be able to shop in the stores till the late hours.
Where to Stay on Langkawi
Hands down our time on Langkawi was made most memorable by Casa Del Mar on Cenang Beach. We weren’t sure what to expect with Casa Del Mar set on the busiest beach in Langkawi and because it has no major “big brand” name recognition. However, it surpassed every expectation we had and turned out to be one of our favorite boutique resorts in a long time. The most stand out features of the hotel is the staff, vibrant gardens, and super inviting rooms.
Service at the hotel is a clear priority and it is not something unique to our stay. Take one look at their reviews on Tripadvisor, Agoda, or Booking.com and you’ll see literally thousands of glowing five-star reviews. We felt so at home here and it starts and ends with great staff and management. Maybe that’s why its name literally translates to “house by the sea.”
The hotel is located on Cenang Beach the primary tourist hub in Langkawi with a number of restaurants and beach bars around. It is the busy hub of the island, but the Casa Del Mar location is at the end of the strip allows for guests relaxation.
Our room was a sumptuous deluxe room that had a small courtyard leading right out to the beach. It was so spacious with comfortable seating, a table, and a desk. We work from the road and love a large comfortable desk so we felt right at home. It only got better with an espresso machine and a TV with HBO/Showtime (we love movies). To make us even more at home the bed was wonderfully comfortable and the towels were some of most plush we’ve ever had in a hotel room.
A service that stood out to me was the turndown service – it’s the best we’ve ever had! For turn down, they dim the lights, play jazz music, light candles, spray a relaxing room spray, and have mugs ready to go with your choice of chamomile tea or hot chocolate – instant relaxation.
The gardens and exteriors of the resort carry a lot of Spanish influence with bougainvillea working their way over tan building edges. It’s an attractive property which would explain why outside guests love to walk onto the property to snap their photos and grab a bite to eat.
We spent a lot of time relaxing on the resort grounds and swimming in the central pool. I don’t know what it was, but something about a sparkling clean blue tile pool looks so inviting and luxurious. It’s a spot where you can truly unwind and catch up on a book. Tasha and I both got some time to read our books, The Great Alone & Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Tasha’s love novels & I love non fiction books). There’s also a well-equipped fitness center which we put to use every night.
A few other key elements that we loved at Casa Del Mar are:
- Top notch breakfast spread
- Free bike rentals to venture into town
- DVD room and library
- The staff literally bring free alcoholic drinks to you at the pool every day
- Amazing spot to watch sunsets in Langkawi.
Seriously, don’t hesitate when booking here! (Looking for other places to stay in Langkawi? See our full guide here)
How to Get to Langkawi
Langkawi is a Malaysian Island situated in The Andaman sea between the coast of Kedah and the border of Thailand. The easiest way to access the island is by air into the Langkawi International Airport.
Daily flights run from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Penang, Hat Yai, and Phuket. We flew visa Air Asia, a low-cost budget carrier throughout Asia for very cheap. There are also ferries that operate between the mainland and Langkawi.
How to Get Around Langkawi
Langkawi is not huge, but the best way to get around is still with a car. It’s possible to rent a car at the airport for your holiday. Unlike a lot of other Asian countries, we found there to actually be order and laws to the driving here. Visitors can also rent a moped to get around the island. Check car rental prices here.
Out Favorite Restaurants on Langkawi
We had a lot of meals on Langkawi, but here are the ones that stuck out as amazing!
- Tide Restaurant at The Westin: The theme of this restaurant changes frequently. When we were there the restaurant was called Bhar and specialized in Middle Eastern cuisine. Yes, it was amazing.
- Tepian Laut and Jala at The Andaman: Tepian Laut is more Malay inspired food while at Jala you can pick from a fresh open seafood market. Both were among our best meals on Langkawi.
- Wan Thai in Kuah Town: Hands down the best Thai food we’ve had in a very long time.
- Red Tomato: The best place to grab a pizza on Langkawi!
- Unkaizan Japanese Restaurant: Would you believe we ate here three separate times? Unkaizan specializes in Japanese cuisine and is where we got our sushi fix on a few times. It’s even one a few national awards for some of the best food in Malaysia for like a decade straight. The staff here is the friendliest!
Plan Your Trip to Langkawi
- Langkawi Airport is very small and easy to travel in and out of. You can get most places on the island within an hour from the airport.
- Travel Insurance: We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. Natasha is a bit of a worry wart and would rather stay safe than sorry. World Nomads is ideal for flexible and great plans!
- Water: Some of the water on Langkawi is safe to drink. Make sure to bring a travel water bottle and fill up to stay hydrated. Southeast Asia has a huge plastic waste problem so try your hardest not to contribute to it. One of our favorites is the Lifestraw Go.
- Adapter: Malaysia uses the British plug. Grab a universal travel adaptorso you never have to go unplugged.
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