Langkawi – an Archipelago Made up of 99 Islands
Langkawi, an archipelago made up of 99 islands, is probably one of the most beautiful islands, or better one of the most beautiful archipelagos, I have been to. Is Langkawi worth to visit? I say: Yesssss, it is.
When I was in Kuala Lumpur (more about Kuala Lumpur) I had no idea where to head next. I visited Langkawi based on recommendations of my cousin but hadn’t done any real research beforehand. I must say that I was overwhelmed by its beauty. It is not a party island, not totally overcrowded and has a lot of small, tiny, stunning islands. So, not surprisingly I fell in love with the little paradise in Malaysia.
How to get to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur? Flying to Langkawi might be the easiest way to get to there. Cheap airlines will fly you to the island north/west of Kuala Lumpur on a daily basis. If you don´t book all the extras (which often come with cheap airlines) the flight can be a real bargain. Another way to get to Langkawi is by sea from several cities.
In Langkawi, alcohol is, like in all of the Malaysia, comparatively expensive. This has the positive side effect that there are not many drunk tourists. Actually, you will not see many young people just coming for partying at all. It is more a place for people who like it a bit calmer. Most people I saw there were families or tourist like me – well, I mean a bit older 🙂 Once again, I was positively surprised to see how cute natives are with younger tourists and I would definitely recommend going there with kids. I also reckon that Langkawi is a beautiful honeymoon destination and quite romantic.
However, though Malaysians are mostly Muslims there isn’t a strict dress code in Langkawi. I saw a lot of girls in bikinis (apart from the beach), as well as fully covered girls (I assume they were tourists from the Gulf Region). Though I never saw natives expressing their disapproval, I still recommend keeping in mind that it is an Islamic state and bikinis and extreme short hot pants offside the beach are not really appropriate.
Depending on the season you travel and what kind of traveler you are, I would advise not to book a hotel room in advance (probably only for one night or two). My tip is to decide where to stay in Langkawi once you get there. I made the mistake to book a room in “Kuah” because I heard that it is the town center and I thought, that the town center might be a good idea. It turned out that the town center was not really interesting and pretty far from the beach. Though I booked that room for 4 nights and paid in advance I decided to leave the hotel and look for another after the second night. I chose a room closer to the beach. Langkawi is a great budget destination (as many places in South East Asia) and food and accommodation can be quite cheap but Langkawi also has some luxury hotels if you want to spoil yourself.
There are heaps of hotels and resorts at the beach. If you don’t book online but ask for availability at the reception they most likely will give you a discount. I found a little room at a “resort” – a room with a beautiful view (well, though it wasn’t dirty, you can’t expect it a higher standard for so little money) and it was totally worth the 25€ a night (for 2).
Never feel ashamed to bargain in Langkawi and as long as your price expectations are not unreasonable and you are still polite no one will mind your bargaining. I actually assume that some bargaining is expected.
Is Langkawi a shopping paradise?
Langkawi is praised as a shopping paradise because there isn’t any tax on products. However, I learned very quickly that there aren’t any high-quality products and it is more households products that are offered. Also, the prices for beverages and food weren’t much better than in Kuala Lumpur, so it wasn’t my shopping personal paradise.
One negative aspect, that really bothered me, was the lack of public transport. There isn’t any public transport, like buses or trains, at all. If you want to see a little bit more of the island you need to rent a car, a moped, bike or take a taxi and, of course, do some island hopping by boat.
Like in Kuala Lumpur some taxi drivers try to overcharge you. It is a constant battle between the driver and the customer because some, or better say most, drivers try to rip you off. Apparently, there are fixed prices for certain distances, but most taxi drivers try to put another price on fares. This was actually really annoying.
A must see is definitely the skywalk and the cable car in Langkawi. For walking the skywalk you need to wear solid shoes otherwise, you need to rent some shoes because you will not be allowed to enter.
It surprises me, every time again, to see that the system of booking tours via hotels, or tourist stands, works perfectly in countries like these. You get picked up at the time you are supposed to. I have never made any bad experiences with that really old system of booking a tour. This makes me always wonder why Germany needs such a complicated way of booking and still it doesn’t guarantee any satisfaction. However, check out some companies and prices before deciding, but those tours turned out to be most fun and I got the see many beautiful spots.
How long to stay in Langkawi? It always depends on what you are looking for. It is a great island for relaxation and fun things to do. The Langkawi beach, or better the beaches in Langkawi, are extremely beautiful and if you do some island hopping you can experience several islands and beaches in Langkawi.
I personally thought, 5 days in Langkawi were optimal because I needed a big city after a few days in paradise. But if you enjoy the beach and the quietness you will surely enjoy staying longer.
Other than that it is a lovely island with friendly people and a beautiful scenery. I hope I will get the chance to visit the so-called Jewel of Kudah again.
If you plan to visit Langkawi (congratulations to that great decision by the way) you can book activities and tours in advance here.
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Check out my blog post on Kuala Lumpur for more information on Malaysia.
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