When most people think of Langkawi, they think of a single large island nearby the Thai-Malaysian border. Bet you didn’t know that Langkawi is actually an archipelago of almost 100 islands off Malaysia’s west coast!
There are quite a few amazing beaches to visit around Langkawi, as well as some really amazing day trips around the area.
Planning a trip to Malaysia? Check out my Malaysia travel guide.
Getting to Langkawi
From Penang: take the ferry from Swettenham Pier in the north east corner of Penang directly to Kuah Jetty in Langkawi. There are two daily ferries departing at 8.30am and 2pm. The trip takes about 3 hours and ticket costs around RM 70 (USD 17).
Useful tip: pack a light sweater as they blast the air conditioners in the ferry and it can actually get quite cold.
You will need to take a taxi from Kuah Jetty in Langkawi to your preferred area of stay. Taxis from Kuah Jetty to Pantai Cenang cost RM 30 to 40 (USD 7 to 10). There are no buses in Langkawi.
From Koh Lipe: speedboats depart from Pattaya Beach and take about 1.5 hours
Top Things to do in Langkawi
Day 1 – North East Langkawi
Langkawi Sky Bridge and Cable Car – this is the longest free spanning bridge in the world. The bridge is 125 meters long, hangs about 100 meters above the ground and is located 660 meters above sea level. You get an awesome view of the entire Langkawi archipelago, and it’s a pretty impressive bridge in itself.
Seven Wells Waterfall – also known as Jalan Telaga Tujuh by the locals. This waterfall is located right near the Langkawi Sky Bridge, and best visited on the same trip. There is a deep freshwater pool at the lower level which is great for swimming. You can also climb the 600 stairs to the upper levels where there is a natural infinitely pool right up the top. Worth the climb!
Day 2 – Explore the Beaches
Visit the beaches – assuming there is good weather, you could really spend all three days exploring the beaches on Langkawi. There are so many to choose from. You can spot beaches on the map by the Malaysian word Pantai.
Some of the best beaches to put on your list are Pantai Tengah Beach, Pasir Tengkorak Beach, Shark Bay Beach, and Pantai Tanjung Rhu.
Pantai Tanjung Rhu is the nicest beach on Langkawi. It is located in the far north east corner of Langkawi. It can be quite a drive but that keeps the crowds away. You will have to register with the guard before they let you onto the beach.
I recommend skipping Panti Cenang Beach. It is the most well-known, and therefore most crowded beach. It’s OK to stay in this area, but there are nicer beaches to spend your days sunbaking on.
Day 3 – Day Trip Near Langkawi
Dayang Bunting Island – this island is located just south of Langkawi and has a tranquil freshwater lake nestled between the mountains. It is commonly visited as part of a one-day island hopping trip around the Langkawi archipelago which I highly recommend. It is great to see some of the smaller surrounding islands. You can find options like this for under USD 30.
Langkawi Nature Tours – I haven’t personally been on these trips but have heard great things about the Nature Cycling Trip with Dev’s Adventure Tours. You will get to explore the rice paddies, forests, and villages on Langkawi for 3-4 hours. It’s a great way to see the local side of the island.
Some Great Places to Eat
Pantai Cenang Night Market – there is a night market with loads of food almost every night on Langkawi. Thursday nights are conveniently at Pantai Cenang.
Nasi Dagang Pak Malu – this local restaurant serves the dish Nasi Dagang for breakfast. It’s about a 20 minute drive from Pantai Cenang, but you get to eat at a beautiful spot looking out across the rice paddies. Open from 8am until about 2pm (closed Tuesdays).
Yellow Beach Café – if you’re craving some western food after two weeks in Malaysia then I recommend this spot right on the beach for dinner. It is located right on the beach at the southern end of Pantai Cenang, amazing when there’s a good sunset too.
Where to Stay in Langkawi?
The liveliest area to stay on Langkawi is Pantai Cenang. While the beach here isn’t the nicest, there are plenty of facilities such as restaurants, beachfront bars, and accommodation for all budgets.
The Kasbah Langkawi – a social hostel located on the northern end of Pantai Cenang Beach with either a rather large 20-bed dorm or private twin rooms. It’s a popular spot with the bohemian crowd.
Pondok Keladi Langkawi – (this is my preferred spot) private rooms about a 20 minute walk from the southern end of Pantai Cenang Beach. It’s set in relaxed natural surroundings, feeling like you’re almost at the edge of the forest and away from the busy tourist area.
For a quieter area, you could also consider Pantai Kok. This is located in the north west of Langkawi nearby the cable car and waterfall. The beach is nicer and there are still enough restaurants and bars around to keep busy.
Getting Around the Island
There are no public buses or trains on Langkawi. This is an island best explored with your own private transport.
I recommend hiring a scooter for around RM 30 (USD 7) per day plus fuel costs. Roads are generally good quality and safe for riding.
You can also rent bicycles for about RM 15 (USD 3.50) per day. However, this is a large island and cycling won’t get you too far.
Taxis can be quite expensive at around RM 18 for a 15 minute ride. You can hire a taxi driver for the full day at a flat rate (around RM 100) and split it with other travelers from your hostel to make it more economical. The driver can take you around the island and wait for you at each destination.
Where to Next?
There are loads of amazing destinations to visit next from Langkawi. We recommend going one of two ways:
- Head north to Thailand to visit the amazing islands around Trang and Satun Province. Read my complete island guides right here on Koh Lipe, Koh Mook, Koh Kradan, and Koh Libong. They’ll all within a 1 hour boat trip of each other and make for the perfect island hopping adventure.
- Head south to Malaysia and work your way through some of my favourite destinations in the country like Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Melaka.
Photo credits: Langkawi Sky Bridge by ZHI ZENG from Pixabay