Day in the Life: Langkawi

Lying 30 kilometres off the coast of northwest Malaysia, between Penang and the Thai border, is Langkawi, a stunning 99-island archipelago and one of Malaysia’s most popular tourist destinations. It is not really surprising that Langkawi has become one of Malaysia’s top holiday spots. The beaches are long and beautiful, the locals are friendly and the turquoise hue of the sea must be seen to be believed. Langkawi can be reached by sea, or it is just a one-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, making it an obvious first stop for overseas visitors to Malaysia. While it is popular, it has managed to avoid the burnout experienced by some of the overcrowded party islands north of the Thai border. At its core it is a peaceful place where you can get away from the crowds and get back to nature.

The beautiful turquoise seas around Langkawi. Pic: Joanne Lane.

Langkawi is much more than a beach destination, offering lots of things to do for travellers of every taste. Diving, island hopping, eco-tours and the famous cable ride are just a few of the great things to do here, while the fresh fruit, seafood and wonderful Malay dishes will keep food lovers happy. With so many islands and so much to so, you will need much more than a day to discover the charms of this magical archipelago. However, here’s an example of one action-packed day on Langkawi. A Day in the LifeHire a car or motorbike to tour the island (those seeking a more active adventure can rent a bicycle). Drive through the main town Kuah where you can take pictures with the eagle at Dataran Lang (Eagle Square) in the CHOGM Park commemorating the 1989 Commonwealth meetings held here – scenic Lagenda Park is also in this area – then visit the Underwater World marine aquarium at Pantai Cenang where you can get a glimpse of some live penguins. Just 19km north of Kuah is Pantai Pasir Hitam beach, which is famous for its black sand. You could follow this with a visit to the Handicraft Culture Complex and then return towards Kuah via the Galeria Perdana. The gallery exhibits the awards, gifts and souvenirs that have been presented to the former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad. From here head north stopping along the way at the Air Hangat Village where you can soak in hot springs, buy souvenirs or watch cultural shows. However the reason to visit this part of the island is to see the magnificent Tanjung Rhu beach – quite possibly Langkawi’s most beautiful arc of sand. It’s a good place to linger for lunch or a snack—a coconut drink or rojak (Malaysian fruit salad)—and enjoy the scenery. Here three tiny islets lie just off the beach and just beg you to swim out or even walk to them at low tide.

Tanjung Rhu is possibly Langkawi’s most beautiful beach. Pic: Joanne Lane.

The Langkawi Cable Car in the west of the island is the perfect way to end the day. It’s a thrilling experience being taken to the heights of Mount Machinchang with stunning views of the coastline and the Seven Wells waterfall below. However, the real highlight is to walk the sky bridge at the top that is suspended above a gap between the mountain peaks.  If you still have time before dusk, on return to the car park continue up the road and then take the short hike up to the Seven Wells for a dip at the waterfall.

Ascending the lofty heights of Langkawi on the cable car. Pic: Joanne Lane.

Other things to do Those who enjoy diving or snorkelling can join day trips going to the Pulau Payar Marine Park (30km south of Langkawi) to enjoy the breadth of coral and underwater life. There’s also a daily feed time for baby sharks. There are also eagle feeding and mangrove boat tours departing from different places around the island or you can island hop between places like Pulau Singa Besar (Big Lion Island), Dayang Bunting (Pregnant Maiden) and Beras Basar Island (Wet Rice Island). Accommodation It’s best to book ahead especially during school holidays and festive seasons. Prices start from as little as RM50/night (USD $15) at Kuah or Pantai Cenang right through to five star hotels for RM500/night (USD $150) along the southern coast. Transport Getting there & away – Firefly, AirAsia and Malaysian Airlines fly from domestic points such as Penang and Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi. There are also direct flights from Singapore and Thailand. Ferry services operate around the clock from Penang, Kuala Perlis and Kuala Kedah. These arrive and depart from Kuah Jetty. Getting around – You can hire a car from about RM80 / $24 per day with a current driver’s license. Bicycles and motorbikes are also available. Free maps of Langkawi are available at the tourist information booth at the airport or the Kuah jetty. Taxis are in good supply everywhere.

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