Do you think that overwater bungalows are outside your price range? How about spacious bungalows nestled between palm trees on a white beach? If holidays like this are merely a pipe dream for you, then Langkawi may be the destination that you’ve been looking for.
Where? An easy hop from either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi is located in the Andaman Sea, some 30 km off the mainland coast of north western Malaysia.
When? Best time of year to travel is the northern hemisphere winter – November to April when rains are lowest and you can expect several hours of sunshine.
Where to stay? Langkawi is divided into several uniquely-named districts. Catering to travellers of various budget levels and preferences, accommodation in Langkawi ranges from modest hostels for backpackers to luxurious beach resorts for the affluent.
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, 2 km long. Along the beach there is market where you can find all type of shops (free duty, tour, bars etc)
Pantai Tengah – Located just south of and contiguously with Pantai Cenang. 1 km 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.
For more information, check out this summary.
Which hotel? I can’t profess to have stayed in all of them on the island, but here are two of my favourites:
Berjaya Langkawi a mere 20-minute drive from the Langkawi International Airport, Berjaya Langkawi Resort at Burau Bay is on the north west coast of the island. Conveniently situated for both the Telaga ferry terminal (for boats to Koh Lipe) and the Cable Car / Hanging Bridge, the hotel is spread over a large site and features 412 rooms and suites, each with their own balcony. Also on site is a large pool, private beach, 5 restaurants and 3 bars. The sprawling nature of the site means that some of the rooms are best, and quickest, accessed by buggy (just call reception and they’ll come and pick you up).
Berjaya Langkawi is the only resort on the island that features individual chalets built elegantly on stilts above playful waves – no shared walls adds to the sense of privacy and exclusivity. There are five different types of rooms built in the rainforest, catering for couples and families, with some offering sea views. There are four different types of over-water bungalows, each with ample space and uninterrupted views of the ocean. Rooms can be configured to accommodate twin or double beds and if an extra bed is required, then the friendly staff will accommodate that request.
The resort features Pahn-Thai Restaurant, which is uniquely built on stilts over clear ocean waters and serves exquisite Thai cuisine with an extensive wine list in a fine-dining setting. Bookings are essential. However, if you can’t get a table don’t fear, the other restaurants on site are also fabulous. Dayang Café hosts a daily buffet. Mizumi is Japanese. Oriental Pearl is Cantonese. My favourite is Beach Restaurant, which, as the name implies, overlooks the private beach and offers western and Indian cuisine. The steaks are highly recommended. The restaurant also has a good selection of wines at affordable prices.
Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort Designed in the style of a traditional Malay village, Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa, Langkawi sits along the white sandy beaches of the famous Cenang Beach in Langkawi, Malaysia.
The beach resort and spa offers a relaxing atmosphere amidst a lush tropical environment. 355 guestrooms and suites are housed in clusters of single- and double-storey wooden chalets built on stilts, and each with spacious verandas overlooking stunning views of the ocean or the surrounding landscaped gardens. The double beds are comfortable and spacious and rooms also have sufficient space for roll-away beds for a third person.
Food and beverage outlets include Spice Market, an all-day dining restaurant; the newly launched Cba, a beachside restaurant and bar; Pelangi Lounge located at the main lobby; and Cascade Pool Bar, a poolside refreshment bar.
In addition to a versatile line-up of water sports and outdoor activities, the Malaysian beach resort also offers a new wellness and rejuvenation facility that includes a spacious, state-of-the-art Fitness Centre equipped with the latest range of techno-gym equipment and machines; and the re-branded Pelangi Spa with its signature offerings of holistic, oriental massage therapies in a Zen-inspired setting.
What to do? Other than the beach activities, here are some ideas:
Skybridge and cable car: Langkawi Sky Bridge is a 125 metre-long curved pedestrian bridge that offers an exhilarating (and sometimes terrifying) view of the verdant Gunung Mat Cincang, Telaja Tujuh waterfalls, and several islets surrounding Langkawi. Set 700 metres above sea level, it is only accessible via the final station of the Langkawi Cable Car ride, which is priced at RM35 for adults and RM25 for children (two to 12 years old). This sturdy bridge can accommodate up to 250 people at a time, and is fitted with double steel railings, an enclosed wire mesh, and two triangular platforms.
Underwater world: Set along the vibrant Pantai Cenang beach town, Underwater World Langkawi houses more than 500 species of sea creatures including harbour seals, rockhopper penguins, seahorses, as well as flamingos and mandarin ducks. One of the highlights is a 15-metre walkthrough underwater tunnel, where you can enjoy close-up views of sharks, giant stingrays, and green turtles.
Gunung Raya: With an altitude of 881 metres, Gunung Raya is hailed as the highest peak in Langkawi. According to local beliefs, the mountain is the cursed form of a giant called Mat Raya, who had once lived on the island. The dense rainforest is home to numerous wildlife such as leaf monkeys, flying foxes, macaque monkeys, squirrels, mountain hawk eagles, white bellied sea eagles, and great hornbills. Gunung Raya is also a popular destination for hiking, but bringing a guide along is highly advisable as the trail can be quite challenging for novices.
Wildlife Park and Bird Paradise: Langkawi Wildlife Park & Bird Paradise houses over 2,500 exotic birds from 150 species such as canaries, ducks, parakeets, owls, eagles, toucans, hornbills and flamingos. The park is fitted with a walk-in aviary and a 15 metre-tall manmade waterfall, where some of the birds are free to roam about and interact with visitors. Langkawi Wildlife Park & Bird Paradise also hosts animal feeding sessions for raccoons, crocodiles, pelicans, and hornbills.
Diving and Snorkelling: Just 30km south of Langkawi Island is Pulau Payar Marine Park, a prominent spot for snorkelling and diving. It is about 45 minutes away from Kuah Jetty and you can take either a catamaran or a speedboat to get there. One of Pulau Payar Marine Park’s best features is its Coral Garden, a secluded section filled with colourful corals. Those eager to explore the park will have to obtain permission from the authorities (fishing is strictly prohibited) before venturing into the waters; alternatively you can join a tour group, which is usually inclusive of snorkelling gear, lunch, and drinking water.
Waterfalls: Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls is a natural Langkawi attraction with locals claiming it to be the home of faeries. Set on Langkawi’s western headlands, its name means Seven Wells Waterfalls, referring to a series of seven connected natural pools fed by seven separate waterfalls in Gunung Mat Cincang. Visitors can enjoy a dip in the cool water or brave the steep climb to the top of the waterfalls. Adventure enthusiasts can brave the steep 45-minute long climb to the top of the waterfalls, past huge rocks and through the seven pools, where macaques, hornbills, and squirrels can be spotted along the journey.
Sailing: From daytrips to overnight to international trips to nearby Thai dive paradise Koh Lipe, a wide selection of boats offer vast arrays of sailing tours. The island currently has four marinas and several basess with top notch facilities for yachts around the islands. Some of the marinas are part of resort developments offering all the amenities of first class resort hotels in addition to acht services.