This was our first trip to Langkawi so we didn’t have any expectations. Malaysia’s weather channel predicted thunderstorms and plenty of rain for the week, however, we were greeted with blue skies and sunshine. We later learned from a local that the nearest weather station is located on the mainland and the islands often have their own weather systems.
South West Langkawi
We stayed in Cenang at one of Marriott’s new properties. It’s walking distance to great bars, restaurants and the main street of Cenang which is lined with shops selling cheap t-shirts, hippy pants, straw bags etc, the usual touristy stuff. Prices are good, thanks to Langkawi’s tax-free status, and basics like a straw hat start from USD $5 and t-shirts from USD $6.
The largest tourist attraction, Underwater World, is smack bang in the middle of the main street. Popular with young and old, they have over 200+ marine and freshwater species, a 3D movie theatre and an underwater viewing tunnel.
Most of the accommodation in the area is modest in nature and price, although we were excited to find two villa estates mid-construction, so we expect high-end options to come online within the next 12 months.
Driving Around Langkawi
While walking down the main street Alastair spotted a tour desk and impromptu hired a car to explore the rest of the island. It was a lovely sunny afternoon so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. It cost USD $25 for the day for a medium-sized sedan, including insurance (said the man at the booth on the side of the road).
Google Maps worked perfectly and we found our own way around the island with ease. Researching prior to arrival in Langkawi I feared the island would not have reliable Internet, however we didn’t have a problem at all. Even our accommodation registered 20mbps download and 10mbps upload.
South East Langkawi
After leaving Cenang our first stop was Kuah (17.2km) which is the main town and where you’ll find a small harbour and yacht club. There are a few bars here including Charlie’s Bar which is where we ended up returning to the following day for our sunset cruise with Captain Eva. The Westin and St Regis are both located in Kuah and have fantastic villas with views looking out over the water.
Image credit: The Westin, Langkawi
Nestled on a private beach close to Cenang, the Westin Langkawi is a refurbished resort with Thai-inspired architecture. The Westin comprises three large wings containing rooms and suites; several one and two-bedroom villas and a five-bedroom private villa surrounded by lush gardens. The resort also features several restaurants, a convention centre and four outdoor pools.
Image credit: St Regis, Langkawi
The St Regis Langkawi is nestled between Langkawi’s rainforest and the Andaman Sea, a short drive from Cenang. The architecture is grand: high ceilings and open spaces. It houses a spa, a fitness centre and five restaurants, however the main reason we visited the St Regis was to inspect the resort’s stunning overwater villas. Each of the villas are elegantly furnished and the villas are angled to offer each group of guests’ complete privacy when looking out over the water or taking a dip in private infinity pool. I have a feeling we’ll be back!
North East Langkawi
Heading north from Kuah you’ll pass Langkawi Wildlife park, a golf course and Kilim Geoforest Park where you’ll find bat caves and temples. We headed straight to Tanjung Rhu Beach to check out the villas at Four Seasons. Wow! Four Seasons was not what we were expecting at all – unlike the other resorts in Langkawi with a modern Malay theme, Four Seasons Langkawi takes influence from Morocco and resembles a desert oasis on the beach.
North West Langkawi
Heading west from Tanjung Rhu we passed Temurun Waterfall, The Els Club golf course and stopped at The Andaman for lunch. The Andaman Langkawi does not have villas, but boy do their chefs prepare a terrific meal! Further along the road is The Datai Langkawi – arguably Langkawi’s most exclusive resort and home to several luxurious private villas.
Image credit: The Datai, Langkawi
Langkawi Sky Bridge
From here we zipped over to the Langkawi Sky Bridge and then it started to rain… at which point we learned the cable car doesn’t operate in the wet and we should have circumnavigated the island in a clockwise direction. Noooooo! Many say it’s the “must do” activity on the island and from the view below you can see why.
Image credit: Pix Grove Blog
We made it back to Ceneng just in time for sunset at Dash Beach Club, followed by dinner at the popular Orkid Ria Seafood Restaurant on the main street. This local restaurant gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor. If seafood isn’t your thing then you’ll also find Italian, Indian, Chinese and Malaysian restaurants lining the main street.
4 days / 3 nights was just enough time for us to get around Langkawi, see the sights and get a feel for the island’s vibe, however I believe you need more time to really take advantage of everything Langkawi has to offer.
The highlight was definitely exploring the rugged coastline from the water – thanks to a sunset cruise with Captain Eva. Another wonderful highlight I was the warm hospitality – Langkawi definitely has an island vibe that is quite different from Malaysia’s mainland.
How to Get to Langkawi?
We flew from Kuala Lumpur to Penang; then from Penang to Langkawi. AirAsia flights were only $11 one way for a 30-minute flight. Yes, $11 each! You can also fly direct to Langkawi internationally.