Langkawi has a reputation of being the best island to visit off the Malaysian Peninsula. Having been given UNESCO World Geopark status in 2007 for its forests, mangroves and Islands. In 1986, Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad started to transform the island into a flourishing island for tourism with an increasing number of tourists coming each year. Langkawi is a duty free island.
Langkawi is known for its beaches, untouched forests. It is what we thought would make a great holiday destination but to be honest we were left a little bit disappointed with the island. We enjoyed our time there but it is a place that we both know we will never return to. This is why………..
We visited five beaches during our time in Langkawi. This is what initially put Langkawi on the tourist map but like most well known beach towns in South East Asia things have become too commercialized in the Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah towns while other beaches are isolated or only have access through private resorts.
The beaches themselves have something missing, sure the sand was white but looked and felt more like a dusty sand than loose sugary pristine sand. The water lacks clarity with Thailand being so close, koh Lipe is only an hour away by ferry. You would expect the colours to be more vivid
There is no coral, you can’t see any fish, the nearest snorkeling is half way to Penang or in Thailand. The beaches are made more for water sports such as jet skiing and banana boating.
If you don’t have your own car or a motorbike then it makes it very difficult to get around Langkawi as there is no public transportation throughout the island. The taxi’s are set at a fixed price for each destination or you can hire a taxi for half day to a day. We hired a taxi for 125rm, around $40 for four hours.
If you want to see more than just Pantai Cenang then it is worth doing.
Langkawi is not in the same league as Penang when it comes to food. It is quite difficult to get any genuine Malay food, especially if you eat around Pantai Cenang which caters for tourists.
We found a couple of nice seafood restaurants which served by the weight. You could choose what you wanted to eat and then they would weigh it on the scales. For more genuine Malay food eat at the market that changes venue each day.
Interacting with locals
Langkawi is not the easiest of places to interact with locals unless you count the taxi driver, the resort staff or the person trying to sell you something in Pantai Cenang. We had a few conversations at the night market and had a chat with a local couple who we shared the cable car with to the top of Mount Cenang.
We didn’t go to the capital of Kuah as it doesn’t have any sightseeing places but we wish we had so we would get a better idea how the people live and a chance to interact with locals.
If you don’t mind spending your time in your resort, eating average food then Langkawi might be a place you like. You will definitely enjoy the island more if you rent a car even if it’s just for a day or two. Remember there is more to Langkawi than Pantai Cenang.