Destination Investigation: Langkawi, Malaysia

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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.

The Basics:

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 quiet 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 motorbike 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.

15 thoughts on “Destination Investigation: Langkawi, Malaysia”

  1. Last time we were in Langkawi we stayed outside of town, didn’t even venture in and loved it. Will be interesting to see the “city”

  2. Appreciate your clear opinions on langkawi and also kampot. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell from the gushing guidebooks just how good somewhere really is. Sounds like you called it right on langkawi. Will give it a miss unless it’s very much en route.

    • Not every destination is as great as the guidebook makes it. Then again some people love a place that Adam and I don’t like at all. Everybody is different, so you just have to go and test it out for yourself.

  3. I loved Langkawi. Even though our hotel was a taxi ride away from Chenang Beach. Beaches where really nice, and the sunset was amazing! Felt relaxed.

    The gutter situation is bad, but I’m from Middlesbrough in England so I’m use to stink! Haha only playing.

    • We were lucky enough to be only a walk away from Chenang beach, a daily cab would of been a hassle. Sunset was great, best part for us. We just expected more that’s all. Haven’t been to to England yet, but hope not to smell that again!

  4. I couldn’t agree more with you. We also found Langkawi to be disappointing. We didn’t notice the grates though. By the way our posts are quite similar in what we wrote about Langkawi too. Haha

  5. I actually liked Langkawi for the most part-but I think I was there during a slow time. I liked that there was pretty good Arabic and Indian food close to Cenang beach. I liked that the beach was clear of trash and hawkers.

    I did not like: weird guys CONSTANTLY coming up trying to talk to me when I (not even in my bathing suit) just wanted to sit under an umbrella and read.

    • I agree it was nice to have a beach that clean and NO hawkers! Our biggest let back was the water was nothing compared to Koh Lipe. The Indian food was great but overall it was just lacking something in Langkawi. I can’t say we will be back there.

    • If you can get a cheap flight to Langkawi do that and then take the speed boat to Koh Lipe only an hour from Langkawi and about $25 each way. Also if you are coming from Thailand make sure to bring baht, not ATM in Koh Lipe. Damn money changers are EXPENSIVE!


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