Travel guide Langkawi: all you need to know about this beautiful island in Malaysia!

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

Need some days to relax on a tropical island in West-Malaysia? Then Langkawi is the perfect destination! Part of an archipelago of 99 islands, this island has white beaches, turquoise bays and a climate that is pleasant almost all year round. In this travel guide, I will tell you everything about Langkawi and the fun things you can do and see here!

Tanjung Rhu paradise Beach


Langkawi: a beautiful island in West-Malaysia!

Langkawi is just a 30-minute flight from the mainland, or a 2.5-hour ferry ride away. A green island that seems to have everything: mountains, nature parks, the most beautiful beaches and clear blue bays. There are 98 other beautiful islands around Langkawi. Wherever you are on Langkawi, another island is always in sight in the distance. Perfect for a day of island hopping!

Did you know that: Langkawi is close to Thailand? You can cross the border by boat and travel from Langkawi to Thailand (or vice versa).

Pulau Dayang Bunting Island hopping

Most tourists on Langkawi are Malaysians. It is therefore very quiet outside of the national holidays (December & January).  Langkawi is a tax-free island and therefore you don’t pay taxes on alcohol which makes alcohol very cheap compared to the rest of Malaysia. The touristic centre of this island is Pantai Chenang. This city is certainly not beautiful, but it has all the facilities you may need. There are also two beautiful beaches near Pantai Chenang. Do you want to explore the rest of the island? Then renting a scooter does the job. Within half an hour drive you are already on the other side of the island.

Tip: we rented a scooter for MYR 35 (around €8 per day). A great way to explore the island.

Island hopping tour Langkawi waterjacket proof


How long do you stay in Langkawi?

I advise you to stay at least four nights in Langkawi. The island is quite large and there are several activities that you really shouldn’t miss here. In addition, Langkawi is also a place to relax. Doing nothing for a few days is also nice. Do you want to stay more than four days? Don’t worry. We stayed seven nights on Langkawi and were never bored.

Pentai Tengah Beach


Are you going before or after Langkawi to George Town?  Read the full travel guide for George Town here!


The 6 best activities to do and see in Langkawi!

1. Go up via steepest cable car in the world to enjoy the Skybridge!

On one of the highest mountains in Langkawi, you find an attraction that you shouldn’t miss! The Langkawi Skybridge Cable Car. This is the steepest cable car in the world and to be honest, I sometimes found it a bit scary. Normally, I am not a fan of this kind of attractions, but the view during the ride is phenomenal. Once you reach the top, you can also walk across the Skybridge overlooking the entire island. Make sure to check it out.

Malaysia Langkawi Cable Car lane

Tip: this attraction is extremely popular. So make sure you arrive there early or late in the afternoon (opening hours: 9 am to 6 pm). An express lane ticket is a good idea during holiday periods or national holidays. One hour after opening time there are already long waiting lines for the entrance.

An entire amusement park has been built at the foot of the cable car. That is a lot less fun and especially very busy. With our ticket we were allowed to go to the 3D Art gallery for free, which was nice. The Skydome, however, next to the entrance for the bridge, was a small disappointment. The admission prices of the cable car are high for foreigners. Fortunately, we have a smart budget tip for you!

Budget tip for the  Cable Car & Skybridge Langkawi:

You pay tens of euros less if you buy tickets in advance on the Klook website. We bought the “standard entrance ticket, normal lane”, but were told at the entrance that our tickets also applied to the express lane (i.e. you skip the line). We saved more than MYR59 (€12.80) per person by buying our tickets on Klook and were also allowed to cross the Skybridge for free!

Sky bridge view platform from above


Are you travelling to Kuala Lumpur after Langkawi? Here you find our budget travel guide for Kuala Lumpur!


2. Visit the most beautiful beaches on the island

White beaches, green palm trees and a crystal clear sea: Langkawi has a number of beautiful beaches. We checked them all our for you.  Below you will find our findings:

Pantai Cenang: central and busy beach

This is the beach that borders directly on the city of Cenang. Here you will find the most tourists, as well as many hotels and restaurants. There are plenty enough activities to do in the water: from renting jet skis to parasailing and bananas rides behind speedboats. On the beach, you can buy basically everything and around you it’s one big social gathering of kids, families, couples and vendors. The beach itself is beautiful and the sand is perfectly soft. Click here for the location of this beach on Google Maps.

Sunset Corona on the beach

Pantai Tengah: central but nice and quiet

The Pantai Tengah beach is only a few hundred meters from Pantai Cenang but has a completely different vibe. This beach is almost completely empty, even in high season. You may find a few hotels and a few beach resorts here. When you arrive, be sure to walk a little to the left, as there is a beautiful section of the beach hidden behind a large rock. Click here for the location of this beach on Google Maps. On this beach, we enjoyed many beautiful sunsets.

Pentai Tengah Beach sunrise

Pantai Kok: quiet beaches in the west

Pantai Kok has quite beaches. Easternmost you will find a long beach that offers a view of sailing boats and an island just off the coast. The western beach is partly a private beach of the Berjaya resort. The public beach here is not accessible by vehicle, it is only accessible if it is low tide, on foot from the other beach. This beach is completely empty and really beautiful. You look out on all kinds of rocks that protrude from the sea and on the mainland you have the green mountains of Langkawi. Click here for the location of this beach on Google Maps.

Pentai Kok Beach Langkawi Malaysia

Tanjung Rhu: the most beautiful beach of Langkawi

All the way to the northeast of Langkawi you find the beaches of Tanjung Rhu. From here you will have a view of several beautiful green islands and you can see Thailand in the distance. It is relatively quiet here. Monkeys are playing under the trees and sometimes try to steal your food.  You can buy fresh coconuts at a small stand and there are some cute restaurants nearby. Click here for the location of this beach on Google Maps.

Tanjung Rhu Beach droneshot

Definitly go to the northernmost beach (click here for the location), but also stop at the slightly more southern beach (click here for the location). There are several small shops here where you can buy fresh fried rice. Then continue to the right, where you pass a number of luxury resorts (including the Four Seasons resort) and you will have the beach completely to yourself. Here, you really feel like you’re in paradise!

Tanjung Rhu Four Seasons beach

Pantai Pasi Tengkorak: local people and skulls …

This beach is also called Skulls Beach. There used to be a huge prison on the Thai island named Ko Tarutao. This island is just in front of Skulls beach and was surrounded by crocodiles and sharks. When prisoners escaped, they were usually killed by these murderous beasts. Their bones then washed ashore on this beach. Hence, the name Skulls Beach.

Nowadays you mainly find many local families here. The beach itself is certainly not the most beautiful beach, but with the accompanying story and view of other islands, it is fun to visit. Click here for the location of this beach on Google Maps.

Note: Datai Bay is also close to Pantai Pasi Tengkorak. Unfortunately, this beach is only accessible to visitors of the two expensive lodges here (The Andaman and The Datai), so save yourself the seven kilometres of driving: do not go here.

Skull Beach sunset Langkawi

3. Visit the islands around Langkawi!

Langkawi is part of an archipelago that consists of 99 islands. Most of the islands are uninhabited and much smaller than the main island of Langkawi. It is possible to hop on an island by boat and visit these beautiful places. There are all kinds of different tours that you can do, to islands far away or just nearby. You will visit beautiful beaches, green islands full of monkeys and hidden lakes and enjoy the special nature.

Pulau Kentut Besar Island Island hopping Langkawi

Half-day island hopping

We went for a half-day trip to nearby islands. We visited a freshwater lake, we saw sea eagles and we relaxed on a pearly white beach. A wonderfully relaxed afternoon! Also in for island hopping? It is possible to book a boat trip to different islands online as we did. Click here for more information and prices.

Pulau Kentut Besar beach

Other options to see the islands of Langkawi

In addition to island hopping during the day, it is also possible to make a sailing trip during sunset. With a drink in your hand, you sail along the beautiful islands and watch the sun slowly set. This is possible from € 80 per person, including dinner. Click here for more information and to book online.

Are you looking for more action? Then consider island hopping by jet ski! Full of adrenaline you rush from island to island while you dock in places where nobody else comes! Possible from € 188 per person. Click here for more information and to book online.

Pulau Kentut Besar clear waters


Ready for cooler weather? The temperature in the Cameron Highlands is considerably lower than in Langkawi. Click here to read more about the Cameron Highlands!


4. Climb to the Seven Wells Waterfall

In the northwest of Langkawi, you have the Seven Well Waterfall. After climbing the stairs for five minutes, you arrive at the foot of the first waterfall, which is quite a big one. There are multiple viewpoints from where you can admire the waterfall.

Malaysia Langkawi waterfall

The other waterfalls are ten minutes’ walk away. However, these are not waterfalls, but small currents that slowly merge into one another a form a bigger waterfall. Perfect for cooling off (with children). The water has a pleasant temperature, much cooler than the sea.

A visit to the falls is fun and free. In addition to the waterfalls, you can also entertain yourself with a professional zip line.

5. Spend a relaxing day in the beach club at hotel Dash

At the southernmost point of Pantai Tengah beach, you find beach club Dash. With a large infinity pool, DJ and comfortable beach beds, this is the perfect place to relax in the afternoon. Even as a non-guest of the hotel, that is fine. Buy a drink and sit down on one of the lounge sofas in the swimming pool.

Click here for the location of beach club Dash. You can of course also spend the night here. Click here to book the hotel.

6. Explore the mangroves around Langkawi

Mangroves are located in both northeast and northwestern Langkawi. There are several tour operators who offer tours. You will sail through the mangroves where you can see crocodiles, birds and green nature. Furthermore, you will visit different beaches, admire caves and enjoy the cooling water.

A mangrove tour takes six hours and costs €30 per person. Click here for more information and to book online.

Public Pentai Kok Beach Langkawi Malaysia


Where do you sleep on Langkawi?

If you stay in Langkawi for a few days, we recommend that you stay near Pantai Cenang. This way you are centrally located and you have two beautiful beaches nearby. In general, accommodations are slightly more expensive on Langkawi, with huge outliers such as luxury resorts The Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons (easily 1000 euros per night). If your wallet is not that thick, you can find a number of good and nice hostels and hotels.

Bed Attitude Hostel Cenang Bed Attitude Hostel Langkawi

This cosy hostel is right in the centre and is brand new! You sleep here in shared rooms, however, due to the “box” layout of the bed, you have more than enough privacy. The public area has a kitchen, a big cosy sitting area and many things to entertain yourself with. And maybe more important, they have super fast wifi! You sleep here from € 5 per person.

Book now!

The Smith House €€The Smith House LangkawiThis delightful hotel with rooftop pool is located just outside the centre of Langkawi. A lot calmer and less hectic. The rooms are modernly furnished with a large bed that you want to crawl into immediately. The breakfast is delicious and every room has good wifi. You sleep here from € 65 including breakfast (two people).

Book now!

Villa Panji Panji €€€Panji Paji Tropical Wooden Home

This small-scale resort breathes tranquillity. You sleep in wooden villas with a beautiful interior. The swimming pool in the garden is perfect for cooling off and the beach is also within walking distance. The accompanying restaurant “Smiling Buffalo” is also nice. You sleep here from € 108 including breakfast (two people).

Book now!


Where to eat and drink on Langkawi!

When you walk through the centre of Pantai Cenang, you will mainly see many french fries chains, kebab shops and duty-free stores. No worries, if you look a little further, you’ll find plenty of nice restaurants and coffee shops. Below a list of our favourite restaurants.

The Loaf – fresh bread and good coffee.
At The Loaf, in the centre of Cenang, you can eat the tastiest sandwiches, cakes and pastries from all over Langkawi. My favourite cake is a variant with chocolate truffle and Oreos! Thanks to the fast WiFi, this is also a great place to do some work as a Digital Nomad. Click here for the location of The Loaf on Google Maps.

The Loaf Bakery Langkawi

The Smiling Buffalo – coffee and pancakes
You drink the best coffee at the Smiling Buffalo. This nice coffee shop where you can have breakfast all day is located in a quiet place near Cenang. It is also used as a co-working space. Prices here are relatively high. Click here for the location of The Smiling Buffalo on Google Maps.

Cafe Bonobo – the best pancakes!
At the nice coffee shop Bonobo, you have super-fast internet (perfect for a few hours of work) and the best American pancakes on the whole island! They serve the pancakes with whipped cream and maple syrup. Click here for the location of Cafe Bonobo on Google Maps.

Pancakes

The Huggin Hippo – cosy beach club
At the Huggin Hippo, which is located on the beach of Pantai Cenang, you can enjoy a bite to eat. Order a smoothie bowl during breakfast and choose the salmon skewer in the evening! Click here for the location of The Huggin Hippo on Google Maps.

The Kasbah – happy hour and couscous
The Kasbah is slightly inland. This cosy hotel has attractive restaurants where you can eat well. They serve both Western and local dishes. There is a happy hour between 5 pm and 7 pm with a discount on cocktails. Click here for the location of The Kasbah on Google Maps.

Kasbah dinner Langkawi

The food truck market – local fresh dishes
You can eat Nasi Lemak, saté and local burgers at the food truck market in the centre of Cenang. Malaysian tourists, locals and western tourists, everyone is mixed up here. Perfect for a budget meal. Click here for the location of the food truck market on Google Maps.

Tip: there is a night market on the island almost every day. Ask at your hotel for a location near you.

Indiana Cafe – hostel and trendy breakfast place
Indiana Cafe is not only a nice hostel (click here to see more of the hostel), you can also have a nice breakfast or lunch there. We went for the smoothie bowl and pancakes but also the Lontong (Malaysian breakfast dish) smelled delicious! Click here for the location of Indiana Cafe on Google Maps.

Lunch Indiana cafe

Artisans – the tastiest pizza from Langkawi
Our Christmas Eve dinner: the super tasty pizza from Artisans, eaten on the beach. Artisans is a simple restaurant on the main road of Cenang, but the best pizzas of Langkawi are made here. Click here for the location of Artisans on Google Maps.

Beachclub Hidden – cocktails while the sun goes down
Beachclub Hidden is the most Instagram-worthy place of Langkawi anyway. You can view the perfect sunset photo including cocktail from the bean bags. The prices are a bit higher here. You can find this beach club on the beach of Pantai Tengah. Click here for the exact location of on Google Maps.

Hidden cafe at Pentai Tengah beach

Ah Chong beach bar – games on the beach
Ah Chong is a low key bar on the beach. You will find a lot of fun here in the form of games that are on the tables here and well-priced drinks. Perfect for a relaxed evening on the beach. Click here for the location of Ah Chong on Google Maps.


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Travel Guide Langkawi: where to eat, where to sleep and what kind of activities to do on this island in the west of Malaysia?


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2 Comments

  1. by Suri on 18 January 2020  14:47 Reply

    Ahah! So the Loaf is reopened! We never thought they'd make a come back after years of operating, and never returning a profit.

    And Artisan, yes, we totally agree that they make the best pizza in Langkawi (though there are pizza places ran by Italians living in the island).

    Awesome recommendations Charlotte!

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 19 January 2020  02:08 Reply

      Hi Suri! Yes they are back and I think they even have multiple branches nowaday! The bread was very nice!

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