Malaysia hands down is one of my favourite countries. Ever since volunteering there when I was 18, it’s always been a little bit special to me. In January/February, when we got the chance to go again (to a different part, mind you) I was so excited. It was my first time to Langkawi, but (other than a few “it’s too touristy” reviews) I’d heard only good things.
We flew direct to Kuala Lumpur from Chengdu, and then caught a flight the next morning to Langkawi. Flights from KL to Langkawi only take about an hour and are super cheap… Cheaper than a train ticket from Chelmsford to London! (I know where I’d rather spend the weekend!)
Where to Stay
Our stay in Langkawi was broken into two parts: before and after staying on some neighbouring islands. Both times we stayed nearby Cenang Beach (the “main” beach of Langkawi). My #1 recommendation when staying near Cenang Beach is to do exactly that… Stay near the beach, but not along it. Yes, sea views are amazing, but when you’re on an island as beautiful as Langkawi it’d be a shame not to experience the true beauty of it.
This area of Langkawi did have a very “touristy” feel to it. Lots of places to sleep, eat, drink and buy all of the things you buy on holiday but never actually use once you get home. However, just behind the strip of shops and hotels are paddy fields, farms, mountain views and absolute peace and quiet.
Our first few nights in Langkawi were spent in a cozy little chalet surrounded by paddy fields. We couldn’t believe the contrast between here and life by the main road. We felt as though we were somewhere so secluded, yet were only a short ride away from the beach. Irwan, our host and favourite person on Langkawi, stayed in the chalet next door and definitely made our stay in Langkawi more memorable.
Our chalet was basic and comfortable. We couldn’t have asked for more. Waking up, opening the door and seeing buffalo and cranes in the fields outside were a particular highlight!
Our last few nights in Langkawi were spent in a similar location, however this time our villa had a few neighbouring villas, and felt like a home away from home! It was spacious and beautifully decorated. If we ever live in Langkawi, I’d definitely like to live somewhere like that.
Our host, Mary (a fellow brit!), picked us up nearby to take us to the villa. We didn’t see anymore of her during our stay, but she made sure we were comfortable, provided us with tips and a good supply of snacks!
What to do
Langkawi is not short of things to do and has activities suitable for everyone. Of course, first on our list was chilling on spending some time on the beach. Not only beautiful, but free!
You can get a different vibe depending on where you sit along Cenang beach. There are a few resorts and beach bars at one end, and not much at all on the other. Also, check before swimming as there were quite a few jellyfish at certain times of the day. You don’t want to add “peeing on someone to stop the sting pain” to the holiday memories!
Cenang beach is also in the perfect spot to catch the sunset. So be sure to head there in the evening at some point to catch it.
Hands down one of my favourite days on Langkawi was our last one when we went on a morning jet ski tour. All along Cenang beach there are people offering banana boat rides, and 15minute jet ski sessions. However, if you’re going to “splash out” on something during your stay in Langkawi, it should definitely be a 3-4hour jet ski tour. It was so much fun. And, having never ridden on a jet ski before, even I mastered driving it!
Of course, if shopping (or boozing) is more your thing, then you probably already know that Langkawi is a tax-free island. This means alcohol, among other things, is rather cheap! If you’re a fan of drinks on the beach, it’s a lot cheaper to bring your own than to drink at the beach bars. Think of it as a beach picnic.
I’d also recommend hiring a scooter. If you’re planning to stay in one area, then it’s not absolutely vital, but if you like a little drive about or to do things a little bit further afield, then it’s definitely worth your while. Just be safe!
Number one, eat local. This should go without saying really, but wherever you travel, local food is always better. Learn from our mistake. Maybe it was because we live in China and sometimes crave food that we can’t have… Maybe it was because we were in holiday mode and wanted to eat all the food. Whatever the reason, one evening a sign saying “Mexican and Italian food served here” caught our eyes. If we’ve learnt anything from watching nearly every episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, it’s that you shouldn’t make your menu too big. I ordered possibly the most disappointing burrito I’ve ever had, and let’s just say the “chorizo” on Harry’s pizza was definitely more like an ikea hotdog. It was definitely the most expensive meal and least delicious meal we had in Langkawi.
Number two, don’t stay on the main road. As mentioned above, our accommodation just off of the main road and away from Cenang beach, in our eyes, looked 1000 times better than that on the main strip. Even though it was pretty quite during the (hottest part of the) day, at night it was pretty crowded with people coming at you from all directions.
Number three, visit the nearby islands. Even though we only explored a tiny part of Langkawi, it’s definitely worth staying a few nights on some of the islands nearby. We spent time on Pulau Tuba and Pulau Dayang Bunting and absolutely loved them both. While I loved our time in Langkawi, our time on these islands was completely different and super chilled.
While we were there, Toast City Productions filmed a short video with Irwan, our host and also talented artist. Check it out below:
I’d go back to Langkawi in the blink of an eye and would love to check out some of the different areas. Have you been? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments.