Destination Investigation: Langkawi, Malaysia
Visit date: January 2014 – 5 Nights
Overall consensus: Langkawi is very Ok.
I don’t mean that in a bad way, but not really in a good way either. The town is comprised of a very long stretch of road lined with restaurants, souvenir shops, and convenience stores all of which are very unremarkable.
Internet speed: Slow Under 100 kb/s
Does Langkawi have an ATM: Yes (Several)
There are three machines located inside the shopping mall, behind the yellow May Bank. It’s worth noting that May Bank will only let you take out 1000Rm per day and only one transaction per day regardless of the amount, so plan your trips to get cash!
Exchange Rate: Approx $1USD=3.33RM
Cell service: Yes, data available, no 3G however – 30Rm per month unlimited data (Hotlink)
Highs: What to do in Langkawi?
The sand: It’s very fine and white, though the water isn’t even close to as pretty as it’s Thai neighbors. Rent a beach chair, they run about 20Rm and up, for two chairs including an umbrella for the day.
The cable car: It’s said to be the worlds steepest cable car system takes you 700 meters above the harbor. Great views and kinda freaky on a windy day. 30Rm per person gets you a seat in one of the sky cars which take you to two lookout points high in the hills of the northwest part of the island.
The night markets: Every night on the island a different part of the island hosts a night market. We attended the Thursday market located behind the Chenang beach area.
The town is very spread out and nothing really wowed us.
The sewer grates: They really put a damper on walking around town. Now I know what you are thinking, sounds like a pretty petty complaint, right? Well you haven’t smelled them. Every 20 steps or so you walk over an exposed grate, and the heat hits you before the smell, whatever is coming out of the grate is at least 20F (7C) hotter than air temperature. Half a step later the smell nearly takes your breath away. We even came up with a breathing rhythm to make sure we were exhaling over the sewers and not sucking the foul air in. This is something Langkawi should really address.
Virtually no nightlife: There are a few small bars but it’s a very quite scene overall. This is most likely due to the reserved nature of the island and the majority religion Muslim.
The vibe: The town just doesn’t seem very fun, it’s hard to explain but it just didn’t feel like a vacation destination, it didn’t have that energy.
Rent a motor bike or a car: and drive around the island, you only need it one day for a tour and if you stay in town everything is walkable.
Stay in the Chenang Beach area: One of the prettiest beaches on the island, with the most restaurants/shops nearby. Budget rooms can be had for 50Rm with fan and hot water, air for 80RM and up. There are a number of higher end places too if that’s your thing.
If you are craving true beach beauty get out of Langkawi and head to Koh Lipe, Thailand. Trips can be arranged for about 88Rm per person each way.
Would I go back?
Maybe, if I was traveling from Thailand to Malaysia through the islands on the west side of the peninsula. Langkawi is one of the better ways to get to Malaysia to Thailand (or reverse) overland or Boat. Langkawi also has several daily flights to Kuala Lumpur to skip the bus rides in Malaysia. Getting to Koh Lipe, Thailand is super easy from Langkawi and I wouldn’t mind going this route again.