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Langkawi, officially known as Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah (Malay: Langkawi Permata Kedah) is an archipelago of 99 islands (an extra 5 temporary islands are revealed at low tide) in the Andaman Sea, some 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia. The islands are a part of the state of Kedah, which is adjacent to the Thai border. In 2008, Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah consented to the change of name to Langkawi Permata Kedah in conjunction with his Golden Jubilee Celebration. By far the largest of the islands is the eponymous Pulau Langkawi with a population of some 65000, the only other inhabited island being nearby Pulau Tuba. Langkawi is also an administrative district with the town of Kuah as the capital and largest town. Langkawi is a duty-free island.
|FOUNDED :||Establishment 1957|
Granted municipal status 2001
|TIME ZONE :||MST (UTC+8)|
|LANGUAGE :||Standard Malay is the official language, English is widely spoken and understood by the locals|
|RELIGION :||Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8%|
|AREA :||478.5 km2 (184.7 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||6°21′N 99°48′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.55%|
• Female: 51.45%
|ETHNIC :||Malay 79,146 83.51%|
Other Bumiputras 153 0.16%
Chinese 4,325 4.56%
Indian 1,747 1.84%
Others 217 0.23%
Non-Malaysian 9,189 9.70%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :||07xxx|
|DIALING CODE :||+6049 (landline only)|
On 1 June 2007, Langkawi Island was given a World Geopark status by UNESCO. Three of its main conservation areas in Langkawi Geopark are Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park, Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest park (Island of the Pregnant Maiden Lake). These three parks are the most popular tourism area within Langkawi Geopark. In 2014 Unesco allegedly issued a 'yellow card' warning threatening the status of the Geopark.
The Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark status was due for renewal in 2015, of which upon thorough inspection by the appointed Geopark Inspectors, Langkawi was issued the Certificate of Membership dubbed the Green Card by Asia Pacific Geoparks Network, under the auspices of the Global Geopark Network (GGN).
Tourists can enter the island via ferry from Kuala Kedah, Kuala Perlis and Penang. Or by domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) via Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Malindo Air, Rayani Air, or Subang Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB) via Malindo Air and Fireflyz providing budget connection to the island. International connection is available from Singapore via Tigerair and AirAsia, as well as from Guangzhou via AirAsia.
Islands and beaches
There are two main island areas: the Southern Islands, with a heavier tourist population and the islands to the north east which are more secluded with little tourist traffic. Langun Island has a fresh-water lake like Pregnant Maiden Lake only without the tourists and has Sand Spit Beach on its south-facing orientation. Dendang Island next to it forms a bay popular with Langkawi sailing yacht tour operators who favour the area for its natural beauty and peace.
Some of the most popular beaches are Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tengah, Burau Bay, Pantai Kok, and Datai Bay. Pantai Cenang is a picturesque beach with long stretches of fine white sand. It has numerous restaurants and bars for evening entertainment, several hosting live music and for watching the sun set. The beach is lined with tall coconut and casuarina trees. Pantai Tengah is separated from Cenang by a small cape. It too faces the setting sun and is populated more by hotels than bars, making it less busy in the evening. Burau Bay, fringed by rocky outcrops, is the favourite place of migratory birds in Langkawi. Pantai Kok is a quiet beach against a backdrop of limestone hills. Datai Bay has a combination of forests and sea, its white sandy beach is backed by lush forest.
Langkawi had long been at the periphery of, but closely associated with, the domain of the old kingdom of Kedah. Legend tells of a great snake ular-besar, the custodian of the Langkawi Islands, to which a new king of Kedah must sacrifice a virgin daughter whenever he first ascended the throne, or when a war was declared with another state.
The island of Langkawi was recorded in history by Chinese and other travellers. It was calledLong-ya-pu-ti (龍牙菩提) by the Yuan Dynasty traveller Wang Dayuan , and when the Ming Dynasty admiral Zheng He visited the region he marked the island as Long-ya-jiao-yi (龍牙交椅). In the 15th century, it was known toAcehnese as Pulau Lada or Pepper Island as they came over to plant pepper. In 1691, the French general Augustin de Beaulieu recorded going to the island of "Lancahui" (Langkawi) to buy pepper, and Beaulieu was required to obtain a license from Kedah's heir apparent then in Perlisbefore the penghulu or chief of Langkawi would sell pepper to him.
Langkawi was historically home to seafarers, such as the Orang Laut originally from the southern part of the Malay peninsula, as well as pirates and fishermen. It had been thought to be cursed for a couple of centuries - according to local legend, in the late 18th century, a woman named Mahsuri was wrongfully accused of adultery and put to death, and she placed a curse on the island that would last for seven generations. Not long after Mahsuri's death, in 1821, the Siamese army invaded Kedah, and attacked Langkawi. In the first attack, the locals decided to burn down the granary at Padang Matsirat to starve and drive out the Siamese army. The Siamese nevertheless finally captured the island in May 1822, killed its leaders, and many of the islanders were taken as slaves, while others were forced to flee. Before the Siamese invasion, there was an estimated island population of 3,000–5,000, and only a small proportion was left after the invasion.
The island was recaptured from Siamese rule in a campaign against the Siamese in 1837. In 1840–1841, the Sultan of Kedah, who went into exile after the Siamese attacks, was allowed to return by the Siamese, and the population of Langkawi islands recovered afterwards mainly due to settlement of immigrants from Sumatra. However, the Orang Laut who fled after the Siamese attacks did not returned. In 1909, the islands came under British rule under the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. The middle of the channel between Tarutao and Langkawi would become the Siamese border, and Tarutao would be part of Siam while all the Langkawi islands to the south would come under British rule. During the Second World War, Siam took control briefly as Malaya fell to the Japanese.
Langkawi had been a haven for pirates which affected the northern part of the Malacca Strait. In a series of operations, between December 1945 and March 1946, the British cleared the pirates' land base in Langkawi and Tarutao. The British continued to rule until Malaya gained its independence in 1957.
Langkawi remained as a quiet backwater until 1986, when the then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad decided to transform it into a major tourist resort, helping to plan many of the islands buildings himself. The island rapidly grew as a tourist destination, and by 2012, it had received over 3 million tourists a year.
Langkawi receives more than 2,400 mm (94 in) of rain annually. Langkawi has a true dry season from December until February while March to November is a long raining season. September is the wettest month, when it normally receives more than 500 mm (20 in).
Langkawi, a cluster of 99 islands separated from mainland Malaysia by the Straits of Malacca, is a district of the state of Kedah in Northern Malaysia and lies approximately 51 km west of Kedah. The total land mass of the islands is 47,848 hectares. The main island spans about 25 km from north to south and slightly more for east and west. The coastal areas consist of flat, alluvial plains punctuated with limestone ridges. Two-thirds of the island is dominated by forest-covered mountains, hills and natural vegetation.
The island's oldest geological formation, Gunung Matchincang, was the first part of South-East Asia to rise from the seabed in the Cambrian period more than half a billion years ago. The oldest part of the formation is observable at Teluk Datai to the north-west of the island, where the exposed outcrop consists of mainly sandstone (quartzite) in the upper parts and shale and mudstone in the lower parts of the sequence.
An agro-based economy of padi and rubber cultivation and fisheries is fast being overtaken by a tourism-driven economy, taking into consideration the natural, unspoiled, ecological beauty of the island and major governmental emphasis.
The Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) development program is a Malaysia Government initiative to accelerate economic growth in the north of Peninsular Malaysia – encompassing the states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and the north of Perak.
The target for NCER is to achieve increased tourism receipts per visitor from MYR1,890 (US$600) in 2005 to MYR3,034 (US$963) by 2012.
Annual tourist expenditure is targeted to increase from MYR9.0 billion (US$2.86 billion) in 2005 to MYR21.8 billion (US$6.9 billion) in 2012 and MYR64.5 billion (US$20.4 billion) in 2020.
Mobile phone coverage is very good in all built up areas of Langkawi. Many affordable pre-paid phone and data plans are available. Recharge cards are readily available except for the very cheap TuneTalk which is harder to find and SIM cards almost non existent. It is best to buy this back in LLCT where no commission is charged on the SIM. Full reception and reasonable data speeds can be achieved on the beach and inside the resorts on Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah.
The main post office in located in Kuah Town. Mini post offices can be found in Padang Mat Sirat. There is no post office in Pantai Cenang, but you can buy stamps and send postcards in T Shoppe on the main road. Courier service, Poslaju shop can be found at Taman Berlian, Kuah.
Broadband is available and some Internet cafés can be found along Pantai Tengah, Pantai Cenang and Kuah. In addition, many of the upscale hotels and resorts as well as many restaurants provide free WiFi.
Prices in Langkawi
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$2.40|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$13.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$20.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$3.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$3.50|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$2.60|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.06|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$3.80|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$60.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$33.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$68.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$0.50|
Transportation - Get In
Langkawi International Airport is located at Padang Matsirat, on the northwestern part of the island. Over a million passengers pass through annually.
Direct flights are available to Langkawi from Penang, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Kota Bharu.
- Langkawi Ferry operates fast air-con boats from Kuala Perlis (RM18, 75 min), Kuala Kedah (RM23, 105min), Penang (RM60, 165min) (the ferry is freezing cold, so bring warm clothes), and Satun (RM30 or THB300, 75min), (Satun ferry to Langkawi: last boat departs Satun at 16:00.
- Tropical Charters operates ferries from Kuah Jetty to Koh Lipe twice per day during the high season (until 19th of April 2015) at 9.30am and 2.30pm from Langkawi and 11am and 4pm from Koh Lipe. During the low season, from April 20th 2015 to the 19th of May 2015, the company only has morning trips. After the 19th of May 2015, the ferry stops running until October 2015. Price is RM118 one way (RM100 if you book online), including the longtail boat transfer and Thai custom fee. Check in is at the inner entrance of the Jetty Point Food Court. Registration closes 30 minutes before departure. The trip takes 90 minutes. Arrival in Lipe is at the Bundhaya Resort.
- Telaga Harbour operates speedboats from Ko Lipe, Thailand twice per day during the high season, at 09:30 and 14:30 (RM128 1-way, RM248 return, 75min). These boats dock at the south end of Pattaya Beach. Bookings can be made online.
Transportation - Get Around
There is effectively no public transport on the island, so your choices are to use taxis or to rent a car, motorbike/scooter, or bicycle.
A taxi from the Airport to Pantai Cenang costs RM20. You can buy a coupon at the taxi desk in the airport. From the ferry terminal to Pantai Cenang the price is RM24. For those arriving at the Kuah Jetty and going into Kuah Town, the price is RM8.
By car or motorbike/scooter
Renting a car or motorbike/scooter is highly recommended due to lack of public transport. This can be done at the airport, the port complex, or from shops on Pantai Cenang. Refrain yourself from renting from touts, as many are operating illegally without permits and usually without insurance. Remember that accidents happen to tourists on motorbikes/scooters every day, so be careful although the traffic is not as chaotic as e.g. in Penang.
Renting an air-conditioned mid-sized sedan costs RM70-RM150 per day (depending on model, condition and length of stay) and a 150cc motorbike/scooter costs RM40 to RM45 per day. Cheaper but usually very used and older are the semi-automatic 115cc bikes for RM25 a day. A tired Proton with in Pantai Cenang maybe around RM60-90/day.
Remember to have regularly check on your fuel level, petrol pump stations, (gas stations) are far from one another. However, rental agencies do not care how much fuel is in the tank when the vehicle is returned so do not spend more on fuel than you have to. Fuel only costs about RM1.90 a litre and you should return the bikes with the same filling level as you picked it up. Some rentals do check the level and mark it when you sign the slip.
At the gas/petrol station for the first time will confuse you. You will need to guess how much fuel you need and pay first. Most saloon cars if empty are RM50 to fill up and motorbikes are approximately RM5. Sometimes you fill up your car/bike and you haven't used what you have paid for not to worry you can claim this back at the counter.
Remember to drive safely and slowly on the island and on the left side of the road. There are tourists, children and animals like chickens, cows and even buffaloes crossing. Take care not to run over the beautiful snakes or monitors. Cattle and snakes like to lie on the road at night; the blacktop radiates heat.
Laws you need to know.
- Driver's Licence needs to be with you at all times.
- Seatbelts are mandatory in all vehicles. Fines given ranging from 50RM plus if not wearing.
- Helmet mandatory. Fines same as above but more importantly the hospital does not have facilities to treat head injuries you will have to get medivac out to Penang 45min+ and that's if the helicopter is available.
- International driver's license not necessary but must have text in English.
Road blocks are commonplace in Langkawi; they are mainly interested in locals with no licence/tax disc. Make sure you have the above items and you will have no problems.
You can rent bicycles in many of the hotels. Expect to pay RM10-30 per day.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
Pantai Cenang - The most popular beach in Langkawi, features fine powdery sand and many beachfront restaurants and bars. Located at the south-western tip of the island, 2km long.
Pantai Tengah - Located just south of and contiguously with Pantai Cenang. 1km long. Means ‘Middle Beach’. Peaceful and tranquil alternative to the hustle and bustle of Pantai Cenang. All inclusive resorts popular with families.
Pantai Kok - Isolated, relatively undisturbed stretch of beach in the western part of Langkawi Island, 12km north of Pantai Cenang. Telaga Harbour as well cable-car ride to the peak of Mat Cincang Mountain and the Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls are located here.
Tanjung Rhu - northernmost tip of the island. Centuries-old limestone caves, mangroves, waterways, limestone crags and sandy beaches make it a nature lover's paradise. This beach is made up of 2 long stretches that include Tanjong Rhu Resort and Four Seasons..
Datai Bay - The most expensive resorts are located here.
Burau Bay - Beach lined with rocky outcrops located at the West Coast of Langkawi. Nearby Burau island is also a roosting place for migratory birds.
Pantai Pasir Hitam - Means ‘Black Sand’. The sand is mixed in white and black shades, due to rich tin and iron ore deposits.
Pasir Tengkorak - Very beautiful small beach in the North of the island.
ATMs and Money Exchange booths are available at the Langkawi Airport, at Langkawi Parade Shopping Complex, next to Underwater World at Pantai Cenang and at Cenang Mall.
Langkawi is a duty-free island, and alcohol is significantly cheaper here than in the rest of Malaysia.
Hotel tariffs and retail goods are exempt from government duty. Visitors with more than 48 hr stay in Langkawi are exempt on items like wines and liquor (1 liter), tobacco (200 cigarettes), apparel, cosmetics, souvenirs and gifts, food and food preparations and portable electronic items (one item).
Shop around before buying: the airport is probably the most expensive place to buy anything. Shop in Kuah town for batik, tobacco products and chocolate confectioneries.
- Langkawi Parade Megamall (Langkawi Parade Shopping Complex), A-14-15 Pokok Asam, Kuah (In Kuah, 10 min ride from the Kuah Jetty), .Daily, 10AM-10PM. One of the largest duty-free shopping complexes in Langkawi. A one-stop shopping location for wines & liquors, chocolates, local souvenirs, clothing & beachwear, luggage, home decor, electronics and much more. Grocery store on bottom level offering fresh and frozen foods.
- The Zon Duty-Free Shopping Complex (Pantai Cenang, next to Underwater World), . Daily, 9AM-7PM. Cheap place to buy cigars, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, clothing, electronics, chocolates, and biscuits.
- Kompleks Budaya Kraf (Northeastern Coast). Enormous handicrafts centre built in neo-Islamic style
- KV Tobacco, 136, Kompleks Kelana Mas (5 min walk away from Kuah, in an area called the Trimula), . Daily, 1:30PM-8:30PM. Well stocked tobacco and cigar shop. Easily recognisable by a big orange signboard, and door painting by the left. Has a variety of Cuban cigars, rare European smoking pipes and packed tobaccos. Knowledgeable and friendly shop owner.
Practically all resorts have their own restaurants and many tourists choose to eat in, but there are lots of other options as well. Be adventurous and strike out on your own to savour the numerous foods at the stalls and restaurants all over Langkawi.
Generally, restaurants are expensive and the portions are smaller there than at stalls, so you may want to order more than just a main dish at a restaurant. Also, if you don't like spicy food, watch out: Langkawi people like their food hot, and even if they tone things down at your request, you may still find your food challenging to eat. Try one of the many seafood restaurants, but beware of certain restaurants advertised in the brochures targeting tourists. An example of such restaurant is the 'Coco Beach Restaurant', close to the airport.
If you choose to order seafood or fish, take note if the price is by weight or by a set price for the dish. The unwary can be hit with a much larger bill than expected. Also, beware of restaurants telling you that they only have the bigger size lobsters available, as that is what they tell everyone (a common practice at Coco Beach Restaurant and Palm View Restaurant, at Pantai Cenang). When your lobster or crab is served, you will discover that you will definitely be paying for 900g of shell instead of meat! To counter this, order fish, squid and prawns, to be safe.
For a taste of simple Malay-style breakfast, just walk up to a small stall opposite the Underwater World in the mornings and feast on the famous freshly-prepared banana leaf-wrapped nasi lemak (steamed rice in coconut milk). The price is most affordable at less than RM 2 for a pack. Go local and enjoy this with a glass of hot teh tarik or really good local coffee. This very unassuming stall is just simple and great (clean too!) The nasi lemak comes with curried beef, squid in chili, friend salted fish or chicken.
- AddaMaya Café (Pantai Cenang (near Haji Ramli's; or opposite Nadia's Comfort Inn)). Small, cosy place for meals and coffee. The chef can whip up great meals - from local dishes to western fast food easily (and in that little cabin of his). Problem is, it can get a bit dusty as it is located fronting the main road. Locals like to come here for good food at reasonable prices.
- Rafi's Place (sandwiched between Restoran Aliah's and Tomato Nasi Kandar on Pantai Cenang). Rustic shack. No visible signboard either but ask around and you will find Rafi's. Rafi is a Penangite but has been on the island since 1988 so he considers himself very much local. Ask him for recommendations and he'll happily tell you. Ample parking space in front of his 'shack'. Good ambiance especially early mornings. nasi lemak (RM3), local tea and coffee (RM1).
- Tomato Nasi Kandar (Opposite Langkawi Boutique Hotel). Typical budget Indian food establishment with patrons all day (and night!) long. Very crowded even in the wee hours of the morning. They serve an enormous variety of dishes, from the flavoured roti varieties to naan, briyani and kebabs. The standard is quite high - to an extent where the meal is extremely value-for-money. The only problem is that their waiters are exceedingly bad at taking orders. RM1-3 for roti, RM 4-10 for main dishes.
- Restoran Fatimah (near the Kampung Tok Senik Resort on the road to Ulu Melaka). Try this for really authentic Malay food. Their lunch spread is amazing - so amazing that they attract bus loads of Malaysian visitors. Just enjoy the food and leave your cultural baggage and complaints behind as you will be in a totally different ambiance but friendly, nevertheless.
- Restoran Almaz, northern end of Pantai Cenang (Next door to the 'Laman Padi Rice Garden' and across the road from 'Casa Del Mar'). A really nice little restaurant with Roti and Indian food that is very tasty and cheap. We were incredibly impressed with the food and were over the moon with the price. 0.80-12RM.
- Artisans Pizza Cafe (Pantai Cenang). Offers freshly cooked pizzas with both traditional and Malaysian toppings. The satay pizza and sambal pizza are particularly good. You can dine in or takeaway and they also deliver to guesthouses and the beach. Their house specialties: Hungarian Goulash and Madam's Fishbake are particularly recommended. Tomato soup is also great. RM 15 for main courses. RM 30-38 for 11 inch pizzas.
- Babylon Mat Lounge & BBQ (Right on Pantai Cenang). Mats are laid out on the sand for guests to sit on and there is a low table with a candle. They also have a live band or playlist that is passed off as a DJ. In contrast to the atmosphere, the staff are quite rude compared to other places.
- Breakfast Station (A couple of min walk from Restoran Haji Ramli). Lunch starts/breakfast ends at 12PM. Great Balinese decor, rustic with cozy ambiance. Fantastic and fantastic Nasi Lemak. The Western spread is a pleasant surprise. Best omelette in town. Lavazza Coffee from RM5.
- Cenang Boat Quay, Pantai Cenang. Offers a variety of pizza, German sausages, pasta, local dishes and fusion food. Opening in April 2009 is a grill fish hawker. The concept here is by individual hawker selling the different styles of food. Sunset view at the Quay.
- Champor Champur, Pantai Cenang. Moderately wacky fusion food in a fusion setting courtesy of a Dutch-Malaysian couple with an affinity for Africa. Great ambiance - feels like eating in an outdoor garden.
- Difiqa (Pantai Cenang, close to Red Tomato). Great for tasting Roti Canai at breakfast with some very spicy dips as accompaniment, Less than RM5 for 2. Great tasting local coffee and fresh fish too.
- Fat Mum Restaurant, Pantai Tengah, . Just up the road from Awana Resort. Great authentic local Chinese seafood restaurant, good food for a reasonable price.
- Hole in the Wall Fishfarm & Restaurant, Kilim River, northeast part of the island (Call for free shuttle), 049675301. Floating on the river, part of the amazing scenery of the Kilim Mangrove Forest. They serve the freshest Malay style seafood you will be able to eat on Langkawi island. The traditional dishes of freshly caught fish, prawns, crab, lobster. are famous. Shuttle service from Kilim jetty to the fishfarm restaurant and return is free of charge for lunch and dinner guests (However, if your bill is less than RM50, you have to pay an absurd amount for the shuttle. The logical workaround here is to order the cheapest available item to make the bill RM50) If you book a Mangrove Tour, you will most definitely end up having your lunch here. However, you may want to give their package buffet a pass and try their dishes.
- Restoran Haji Ramli (Pantai Cenang). Open till 1AM. Your Nasi Campur haunt by day and run-of-the-mill Tom Yam shack by night. 'Ikan Bakar' - Grilled fish and other fresh seafood a'la carte after 3PM. Fresh terubuk (shad) which is unheard off in the mainland! Grab a couple of fist-sized prawns and cuttlefish (squid) cooked Tom Yam style for a gastronomical lesson in local seafood. Their seafood dishes average RM4-4.5 per 100 g, and they can be cooked in a myriad of different styles that will surely suit your tastes. Meat dishes vary from RM6-12. RM 10-20 for a complete meal.
- Mimi (A few min walk from Underwater World, on the opposite side of the road.).Greatest 'ikan bakar' or grilled fish with tantalizing self-made sauce. Also offers a variety of traditional Malay dishes like tomyam and 'ayam masak merah' (chicken cooked in non-spicy sauce). Snapper or grouper RM4/100 gram.
- Orkid Ria Seafood Restaurant, Lot 1225 Jl Pantai Cenang, .11AM-3PM. Dinner: 6PM-11PM. Some tables having water views. They have fresh seafood displayed out front. Choose from a wide range of cuisines, including dishes prepared in Malay, Thai, Chinese and Western styles.
- Rasa Restaurant (Pantai Cenang). Good Malaysian food with reasonable prices. Seating available outdoor in courtyard overlooking main road or inside.
- Red Tomato Restaurant and Lounge, 5 Casa Fina Ave (Pantai Cenang, in front of Underwaterworld tel), . Every day from 9AM-10:30PM.Red Tomato Garden Cafe used to be opposite AB Motel but moved 800 m down the road in May 2011. Now it has become Red Tomato Restaurant and Lounge and has still retained its charm and great dishes. Look out for the owner's red VW Beetle parked in front of the place. Has great western breakfast and lunch menus, and pasta and tasteless pizza for dinner. Home made bread, good choice of cheeses. Gluten free pasta is available. Air-con and terrace seating, Free WiFi and a red piano. Owned by a German lady.
- Rose Tea 2 (Pantai Cenang). Closed on Friday. Thai food. Great service.
- Sun Cafe (Pantai Tengah). A friendly and relaxing restaurant that offers a variety of Western food, Italian food, and Malaysian food. Hot and cold beverages, cappuccino to milkshake, fruit juice, mocktail. If you love fish, try their fillet of barracuda. They are also open for dinner too. Also famous for the very nice restrooms.
- Taj Mahal, Landcon Square (opposit Zon Shopping Mall). Huge open sided restaurant, also has an air-con room opposite for hot days. Specialises in Arabic and North Indian dishes all of which are very healthy, very tasty and very cheap. Very popular with locals and with Indian and Arabic holidaymakers. Great place to just sit around for a few hours occasionally ordering another batch of fresh flat breads and dips.
- T. Jay's Italian Bistro & Pizzeria (Pantai Cenang, 0pposite Underwater World), . 8AM-11PM. Though this place looks a little sleepy, they make some great wood-fired pizzas.
- Telaga Arabic Cafe and Restaurant (Pantai Cenang). The same kitchen serves an indoor dining area and a large outdoor area across the street. Good good with reasonable prices. Stay and enjoy some of the best hookah/shisha (tobacco water pipe) smoking anywhere. While good, the food is not as great as some Middle Eastern restaurants in Kuala Lumpur.
- Tulsi Garden, Pantai Tengah. Good Indian food (northern and southern). Quiet place to have dinner and chat with friends. You can ask the chef to tone down the chili or spiciness levels.
- USSR Restaurant (Telaga Harbour Park). Russian fare. Waterside restaurant with tables overlooking the harbor. Managed by Russian expats who serve up the real deal.
- Wonderland, Lot 179, 180, 181 Pusat Perniagaan Kelana Mas (Kuah), . 5:30PM – 11:30PM. Locals claim that Wonderland serves up the best seafood on Langkawi Island; offering local favourites of traditionally cooked seafood entrees, the chilli crab is especially flavorsome. Service is friendly and prompt and the atmosphere is lovely.
- Feast @ Sheraton. International buffet and ala carte menu. A varieties menu from unique local cuisine to western dishes. Choose to dine inside in air-conditioned environment or having your dine at terrace while enjoying the nature environment overlooking the Andaman Sea.
- La Sal at Casa del Mar (Pantai Cenang, on the beach). As expected on holiday, dining is a relaxed, quality experience at your Home by the Sea. Food offers the best in Modern Asian and Western Cuisine with a focus high quality fresh produce and is served by attentive and friendly staff. The bar offers a wide variety of wine from the old and new worlds. The cocktail list is exciting and innovative with themed cocktails around our sunset, pool side relaxation and post dinner period.
- The Light House (The edge of Pantai Tengah). Fantastic food on the beach wonderful views.
- The Loaf, Lot No. C9 Perdana Quay (Telaga Harbour Park), .8AM-11PM; closed Thursday. Japanese style bakery & bistro owned by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, ex-Prime Minister of Malaysia. Quality breads and full meals. Amazing view of the harbour and the yachts especially if you have your breakfast al-fresco outside. Attentive staff. Try Tun's Favourite Breakfast set (2 softboiled eggs, a bowl of mutton curry and thick toasted bread) with coffee and orange juice. Good place to have a leisurely breakfast. Bread from RM4.
- Mare Blu (Perdana Quay, Telaga Harbour Park), . The only authentic Italian restaurant on Langkawi island. The restaurant offers typical Italian food, good wines and draft beer. The Mediterranean style surrounding is just beautiful and the tables are set up right on the waterfront.
- Papadam (Pantai Cenang (near Underwater World)). Indian restaurant that also serves Arabic food.
- Sunsutra, Jl Teluk Baru (Pantai Tengah). Fine dining restaurant that serves great Western food too. If you're a big fan of lamb, you must try their lamb shank. Tender and full of flavours. Its portion is huge too! Good for someone who wants a hearty meal.
- Unkaizan, Lot395 Jl Telok Baru Pantai (Near to Awana Porto Malai), . 6PM-11PM. Japanese restaurant, with excellent food and wonderful service.
Coffe & Drink
Because of Langkawi's tax-free status, alcohol is much cheaper than in the rest of Malaysia. Religious Muslims do not consume alcoholic drinks, and while they do tolerate non Muslims who do, try not to behave in a rowdy imbibed manner near them, their houses, mosques, and please respect local culture and communal sensitivities. For those living on a budget, you can obtain alcohol at cheap prices from the local duty-free shops - the larger the outlets, the lower the prices. Expect to pay RM25 for 1L Absolut, RM45 for 1L Kahlua, RM60 for 1L Bailey's, and RM5-12for 330 ml can beer.
Sights & Landmarks
- Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls aka Seven Wells (Gunung Mat Cincang, Northwest corner of the island, 45 kms from Kuah, walking distance from Oriental village and cable car (10 min)), . This waterfall is named after the seven natural pools along its path. Legend has it that fairies used to come down to the pools to bathe and frolic. There are 2 viewing areas at Telaga Tujuh. The lower area is at the base of the waterfall and the higher area is where the 7 pools are. You can bathe in the pools and even slide down the slick rock between them. Be warned, to get to the 7 pools, you have to climb 638 steps which can get quite slippery when wet. As with most Malaysian tourist sites, the toilet facilities are not maintained and rubbish is strewn everywhere.
There is also a jungle trekking course available at the site which will lead you through a trail of about 2,500 m, up 2 different mountains. This trail is achievable with slippers, but it is best to wear comfortable hiking shoes or boots as some segments of the trail are nearly vertical. Be warned that these trails are not recommended for family trips.
- Gunung Raya (take the snaking paved road through the jungle). The tallest mountain on the island, at 881m. Spectacular views from the lookout point on the top. There is a resort hotel serving meals and indifferent coffee at the summit. There is a lookout tower which one may climb for RM 10. There is also a possibility to climb the mountain which requires good health as there are 4287 steps in the stairs.
- Crocodile Adventureland, Jalan Datai, Mk. Ayer Hangat (on the way to Teluk Datai), . Daily, 9AM-6PM, Show Time: Daily at 11:15AM & 2:45PM, hourly feedings. Over 1,000 crocodiles and alligators. Witness a boxing match of man vs crocodile, or take a ride in a rickshaw drawn by a crocodile. this attraction will not be enjoyed by some visitors, the crocodiles are inbred and deformed. Adult RM15, child RM10 (below 12 yrs).
- Laman Padi Rice Garden (northern end of Pantai Cenang, opposite Casa Del Mar Hotel), . 10AM-6PM. Rice fields and nice landscaping. Museum in English details process of cultivating rice. Free.
- Legend Garden (400 metres from Kuah Jetty beside the CHOGM Park and Al-Hana Mosque.), . 8AM-11PM daily. Beautiful garden located on 50 acres, designed based on Langkawi heritage. Adults: RM5, Children: RM2.50.
- Underwater World (Pantai Cenang), . 9:30AM-6:30PM on weekdays and 9:30AM-8:30PM on weekends. An indoor aquarium. Try to catch the feeding times (see website for details). RM38 for adults and RM28 for children.
- Eagle Square. The square, featuring a giant eagle statue, is beautifully landscaped with scenic ponds, bridges and coverd terraces, and is especially beautiful when illuminated at night
- Oriental Village. Asian-themed village featuring restaurants, an exotic snake charmer, jugglers, silat displays, traditional music, kite flying demonstrations, palmistry, portrait painting. A miserable elephant is forced to offer rides to tourists. In the future, a tiger may be added into the collection of their non-native wildlife. Rent a segway to scoot around Oriental Village.
- Galeria Perdana, . 10AM to 5PM, closed Mondays. Museum featuring gifts Malaysia has received from foreign countries. RM10.
- Wild Life Park. It is a zoo. Many wild animals to see.
- Ibrahim Hussein Foundation Museum (Teluk Datai), .10AM-6PM. Abstract paintings RM12.
Museums & Galleries
Langkawi has several museums giving an insight in to the life of the local population and also depicting the cultural history. You can get an idea of the history of Langkawi by going through this guide, which outlines various museums exhibiting art, history and much more.
Rice is the staple diet of many and this is true for this Malaysian country. The Rice Museum contains large paddy fields and in-depth knowledge about rice cultivation. This museum houses equipment used for rice cultivation and there is a rice farm, a shop, herbal garden and a rooftop garden. If you love novelty, you can check out the sumptuous rice delicacies available here. Visiting hours are 10am to 6pm every day.
Ibrahim Hussein Art Museum
The Ibrahim Hussein Art museum is a haven for art lovers. It was set up by the artist Ibrahim Hussein after 11 years of hard work. This museum, located at Pasir Tengorak, displays selected exhibits which were shown at the inaugural exhibition. There are art works from Hussein and other Malaysian artists here. This museum is open daily between 9am and 6pm, and the entry fee is RM 12.00 for adults.
Islamic Museum, Royal Museum and Heritage Museum
All three museums are located on the premises of the Craft Cultural complex, at Teluk Yu, Mukim Bohor. The Islamic museum has several galleries which showcase Islamic culture, while the Royal museum has artifacts related to royalty. You can get some idea about the Malaysian culture by visiting the Heritage Museum. There are different activities like shows, exhibitions and games held here. This museum is open daily between 10am and 6pm, and you need to pay in cash, as they do not accept credit cards.
Things to do
- Langkawi Cineplex, A-14-15 Pokok Asam, Kuah 10th floor of Langkawi Parade Shopping Complex (Level 10, Langkawi Parade Megamall), , e-mail: [email protected].Only movie theatre in Langkawi. Current Hollywood and local films. RM11.
- Go-Karting, Lot67, Jl Pantai Cenang, . , Morac International Karting features a 1,000m track. RM35 for 10min in Swiss Hutless Kart or RM100 for 15min in faster YamahaKart.
- Golf (Northern part of the island), . There is a world-class, 18-hole golf course located near the Datai resort. RM400 for 18 holes or RM300 for 9 holes.
- Yoga Now, 15 Lorong Keramat, Pantai Cenang (Follow the signboards for Yoga Now on the road behind Rasa Restaurant - 10min walk from the beach.), , e-mail: [email protected]. Daily yoga classes 09:00-11:00 & 16:00-18:00. Traditional Hatha Yoga classes in English (also French, Dutch and Chinese). Run by an Irish/Malaysian couple. Yoga retreats and workshops are also available. RM50 for a 2hr drop in class, RM400 for a 10 class pass.
Tours can be arranged via any hotel or a multitude of online agencies. Prices vary; the ones given here are averages.
- Blue Water Star Sailing, . Private & sharing yacht charter cruises; cruise packages for sunset, full day or overnight cruises around Langkawi and in the Andaman Sea.
- Mangrove Tour Langkawi, . Educational and recreational tour. The tour slowly cruises the river and you will able to watch animals like birds, monkeys and eagles actively searching for food. You can experience for yourself the mangrove trees on your left and right banks of the river.
- Stardust Sailing Yacht, . Combined mangrove and sailing yacht tour incorporating eagle watching, sting ray feeding, a traditional fish farm excursion and a mangrove speedboat safari for 1 hour plus a 6 hour sailing yacht cruise to the Langun Island Sand Spit Beach and incorporating the Pirate Lagoon as well as fishing, salt water jacuzzi, join in sailing, dolphin spotting, tunnel cave.RM325 for an adult includes a big buffet, beverages and hotel transfers.
- Island Hopping Tours. You will be brought to several islands around Langkawi, usually the Pregnant Maiden Island and Pulau Beras Basah. A dive into the cool deep Pregnant Maiden Lake is a must. The tours take 4 hours and leave at 9:30AM and 2:30PM. They have pick-up service and can be booked from any hostel/motel at lower rates. RM25-40.
- Jet Ski Island Tours or Jet Ski Safari, . Breathtaking view touring the islands of Langkawi on a jet ski. You will be given a choice of three different tours. Private tours can be arranged. The tours take approximately 4 hours and leave at 9AM ending 1PM. They have pick up service and can depart from Pantai Cenang or Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort.
- Birdwatching Tours. There are over 200 species of birds on the islands. The best times to watch them are the early mornings or early evenings. RM200 Adult, RM120 child.
- Marinas. Four first-class marinas provide berths for many international yachts.
- Kayaking & Swimming Adventure. 4 hour tour. Paddle along the mangrove forest. Opportunities to see kingfishers, sea eagles, kites, plovers, herons, fiddler crabs and mud skippers. RM250 Adult, RM120 child.
- Jungle Trekking in the Rainforest. 4 hour tour. Pick up from your hotel. Lots of monkeys and birds. Junglewalla also offers tours suitable for families or advanced hikers.
Jungle trekking is free if you follow any of the numerous jungle trek routes available throughout Langkawi. The vegetation is not dense and will be a memorable experience. RM150.
- Mangrove & Limestone Cruise. 4 hour tour. Explore the mangroves forest and the ancient limestone outcrops and rock formations and possibly walking fish, Kingfishers, and Eagles.
Prices vary, depending on the quality of the guide as well as the package components. It can range anywhere from 70-200rm for adults. Alternately, you can charter the boat for 300RM if you are more than 2 people. RM200 Adult, RM120 child.
- Nature Walk. 2 hour tour. At sunrise or at dusk. See monkeys, insects, and flying squirrels. RM40 Adult, RM20 child.
- Scuba Diving & Snorkelling. Only around Pulau Payar Marine Park (20km south of Langkawi). There is a viewing platform for relaxation between underwater adventures. While Pulau Payar Marine Park does boast healthy coral and a good variety of fish, you will not be issued fins with your snorkel and the lunch the various tour operators supply is well below par. RM120-200.
- Eagle Feeding. While you are on one of the various boat tours, the tour operators will toss pieces of chicken to the eagles. This is a wonderful display, but encourages the eagles to rely on tourists for food, and not to hunt on their own. As a result, it is very destructive to the eagle population. Please do not support eagle feeding. Tell the boatman to keep the chicken for himself.
- Helicopter Joyrides, Pekan Baru, Kuah Town, . See Langkawi from Aerial View at a very afforable price. A new excitement in Langkawi. as low as 150 $.
- Cable Car Ride & Hanging Bridge (in Oriental village, close to Pantai Kok), . Ride the cable car to the top of Gunung Mat chinchang and walk across the 700m high Sky Bridge for a spectacular view of the islands and Thailand. Includes a very steep section which is spectacular both going up and coming down. Doesn't operate in bad weather. Also it doesn't run during the regular maintenance days, check before you go. Officially you are not allowed to take food and drink on the cable car, but they seem not to be checking backpacks (when unlucky and all your water is taken by the security, you can buy one at the top). If they are not operating, or you are really into hiking, you can trek partway up the mountain through the jungle. To do this, from the parking lot at Telagah Tujuh Waterfalls go left just before the road goes really uphill and then turn left again at the water reservoir. The trek is very steep most of the way and in a pretty bad condition because the contractors laying down the piping for cables littered garbage all the way to the top. Only attempt this if you are fit and have good hiking boots. Temperatures at the top of the mountain are 4-5⁰C lower than at sea level RM30 Adult, RM20 child (cable car RM45 and bridge RM15 for adult foreigners as of May 2016).
Festivals and events
The Langkawi Festivals in Malaysia are such an extraordinary experience that a trip to Langkawi would not be complete without seeing some of them. All of these festivals are fun to get involved with. This is a time for you to let go and lose yourself in having an absolutely wild time. The natives actually expect you to get involved with dancing and singing as they celebrate. A few of the festivals center around water sports and competitions while some are national or religious.
Langkawi Water Festival of Kedah
The inhabitants of Langkawi respect their water sports festivals highly since sailing on the water has been their mainstay of life for generations. On the languorous beaches of Pantai Cenang is where the Langkawi Water Festival occurs. You can observe a number of games like water polo and extreme water sports but kayaking is the prominent attraction. The shoreline is overflowing with the colorfully painted kayaks lined up waiting to run the races. Everything comes to a close when the Labuan International Sea Challenge comes to an end.
Langkawi Craft Complex of Kedah
This complex of selling stalls plays host to an annual arts and crafts festival that will absolutely astound you. If exotic and exquisite handcrafted items are what you enjoy, this is a feast. Your senses will be overwhelmed with all the intense colors, complex patterns and such creativity. You can see the huge amount of effort put into the crafts. All kinds of souvenirs are available for purchase, and you will be pleased at the incredibly low cost for such remarkable artwork. Pewter, silk fabrics, beadwork, blowpipes, and much more fill up the stalls in the complex.
National and Religious Festivals
On August 31 a huge festival named Merdeka is observed to celebrate Malaysia’s independence from Singapore which happened in 1963. Parades, parties and events of all sorts are in full swing to commemorate this great national day. The venues are overflowing with natives shouting their thankfulness for liberty. The biggest ethnic feast is the Chinese New Year Festival. It usually falls in January or February and continues for 15 days with the Chinese community just having all sorts of entertainment.
All the major religions have their own festivals to celebrate specific parts of their religion. Muslims honor the Eid-al Fitr, the end of Ramadan. This is the Muslim community’s largest celebrated event. Hindus celebrate the festival of light known as the Deepavali and they also recognize Thaipusam which is a pilgrim celebration. Christians in Langkawi have the festivals of Christmas and Good Friday.
Despite low alcohol prices, Langkawi is predominantly popular with couples and families. Single travellers and backpackers may therefore be disappointed with the lack of nightlife. Most bars remain empty, particularly in the low season, and the 1-2 nightclubs may only seem worthwhile in the peak season, and even then only on Friday or Saturday nights. Overall, Langkawi provides a family-friendly alternative to Thai locations such as Phuket and Koh Samui.
- Chime Nightclub @ Sheraton. Takes on a complete personality change and is Langkawi’s hottest night spot, starting with “sun-downers” on the terrace. Features night live entertainment with stunning performance from musician band while DJ spinning the music all night long.
- Sunba Retro Bar, Jalan Teluk Baru (Pantai Tengah), . Until 3AM.
Things to know
Langkawi is a Geopark but still needs to improve its environmental friendliness. Don't participate in certain activities such as eagle feeding and monkey feeding as this harms the animals by encouraging them to become reliant on tourists and you may give them the wrong food.
Safety in Langkawi
Speedboats can often bounce off the waves at very high speeds and passengers can get quite strong jolts into the non-sprung seats, so persons with back or neck problems should not travel on the speedboats, but on the ferry. There have been reports of serious back injuries happening on the speedboats. They are also known as 'vomit comets' due to the number of people succumbing to sea sickness. Bring lots of water and be prepared for a bumpy ride!
Be careful driving around Langkawi at night. Although main roads are well-lit, some of the more minor roads are not very well lit and may pass through Kampungs (traditional Malay villages) or rural areas where the locals seem to take a very casual approach to road safety. Drive slow and watch out for erratically piloted motorbikes, pedestrians and livestock. Inside Kuah Town, watch out for errors in the road arrows - they may lead you into wrong lanes or into barricades. at night, watch out for water buffalo sleeping in the road.
Crime is generally not a problem on Langkawi, especially compared to the larger cities in Malaysia. In theory, you don't even have to lock your car, because it cannot get off the island without customs knowing about it!
Beware of smart wild monkeys. Those at Tengkorak beach attack humans who have food. If attacked, pick up stones (or just pretend to do so) and throw them at the monkeys, this will scare them away. Also, do not carry plastic bags as the monkeys associate these with food. Don't let them get too close to you or they will steal your (sun)glasses.
The biggest health risk on Langkawi is from jellyfish stings, especially during January - June season. Uninformed visitors are stung every day and the lifeguards on Pantai Cenang and the hospital treat more or less severe cases of jellyfish stings most days. There are several species of jellyfish in Langkawi's waters, while most will give you a nasty sting or a burn, there are some that will cause partial paralysis or even kill, in case of the lethal box jellyfish. If you have been stung badly, don't exert yourself physically as this will pump the toxins around the bloodstream and aggravate the symptoms. Vinegar is the only scientifically proven treatment for tropical jellyfish stings, apply it for 30 seconds to block toxin which has not yet been absorbed into the blood. To stay safe, swim only in stinger suit.
Langkawi can have a lot of mosquitoes depending on the time of year and location (i.e. Mangrove areas), so don't forget to use mosquito repellent. "Off" spray and various citronella or DEET based products are available in most supermarkets.
Average temperatures are hot or hotter; it's the tropics. Be sure to stay hydrated. You will need to drink about 3 litres a day and don't wait till you are thirsty to drink. Room temperature water preferably. De-hydration accounts for a large percentage of dodgy tummy holiday illnesses.